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then we traveled over the surface of the water; then we climbed without eating,” he said it reads; “just when we were greatly in need of water, we had rain. Her translation is slightly more gothic: “I have come up this point. The other one met with an untimely death one year ago; dishonored, insulted, and stripped of flesh; the men thought him to be an object of care, whom I looked after, considered crazed, wandering in mind, to be tossed about as if in a wind; to perish, streaked with blood. I, Zakynerous, am dross, scum, refuse, just as on board a ship a soft effeminate sailor is flogged with an animal’s hide.” In 1949, Robert Pfeiffer of Harvard’s Semitic Museum arrived in Los Lunas to inspect the stone.He concluded that it was written in a mixture of Moabite, Greek, and ancient Phoenician—an orthography that is basically Paleo-Hebrew, the script of the Jews prior to their exile to Babylon.She has an easy, unpretentious manner, is quick to laugh, and absorbs knowledge like a sponge.Throughout the day I observe her patiently waiting for various men to finish speaking and then subtly correcting them, in a tone of voice that makes it sound like she is agreeing with them.Twenty miles south of Albuquerque in the Rio Grande Valley lies the town of Los Lunas, home to roughly 14,000 souls who tend to be religious but vote Democratic, and listen to country music but not Rush Limbaugh.Main Street coincides with Route 6, along which one passes the middle school, the Los Lunas Public Library, and the fire department.The gate that leads to the Indian Reservation land is located square in the middle of the desert, 16 miles west of Los Lunas. The ground is yellow, covered in a thick brush of thistles and sage bushes. ” Shetter points to another mountain, lower than Hidden Mountain and to the east of where we are standing. He is of the opinion that the inscription was a hoax perpetrated sometime in the 1930s.

There is also the fact, Taylor tells me, that Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband died in a plane crash not far from Los Lunas.

We will be crossing Indian land to get to State Trust Land, she explains. No whites can go there anymore, since UNM returned it to the tribe. I’ve been in this town 25 years and I’ve never seen it.” We begin the mile hike to the base of Hidden Mountain.

“I once came out here with some folks from University of New Mexico and Martin came and shut us down. Her tone when she informs him that we are going to be on Indian land is exactly the one I would have used: firm, but conciliatory. I ask Taylor who he thinks is responsible for the engraving.

Who wrote this code in the heart of the Rio Abajo desert, and in what language is it written? Since the stone’s discovery in the 1930s, three different translations appeared.

Robert Hoath La Follette, a lawyer and dabbler in archaeology, suggested that the inscription is a combination of Phoenician, Etruscan, and Egyptian letters that tell a halting, indeterminate tale of ambiguous survival and responsive weather: “We retreated while under attack … Perkins, another lay enthusiast, suggested that the inscription is an early version of Greek.

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