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Los Lunas Decalogue Stone: Wikis

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Coordinates: 34°47′07″N 106°59′47″W / 34.785217°N 106.996512°W / 34.785217; -106.996512

10 Commandment Rock.jpg

The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone is a large boulder on the side of Hidden Mountain, near Los Lunas, New Mexico, about 35 miles south of Albuquerque, that bears a very regular inscription carved into a flat panel. The stone is also known as the Los Lunas Mystery Stone or Commandment Rock. The inscription is interpreted by some to be an abridged version of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments in a form of Paleo-Hebrew. A letter group resembling the tetragrammaton YHWH, or "Yahweh," makes four appearances. The stone is controversial in that some claim the inscription is Pre-Columbian, and therefore proof of early Semitic contact with the Americas.

The first recorded mention of the stone is in 1933, when professor Frank Hibben, an archaeologist from the University of New Mexico, saw it. Hibben was led to the stone by an unnamed guide who claimed to have found it as a boy in the 1880s. The 1880s date of discovery is important to those who believe that the stone was inscribed by a lost tribe of Israel. The Paleo-Hebrew script was unknown to scholars in the 1880s, making a forgery at that time unlikely, and thus allegedly proving the stone's antiquity. However, the Paleo-Hebrew script is practically identical to the Phoenician script, which was known at the time, thus not precluding the possibility of fraud. One argument against the stone's antiquity is its apparent use of modern Hebrew punctuation, though amateur epigrapher Barry Fell argued that the punctuation is consistent with antiquity.[1] Other researchers dismiss the inscription based on the numerous stylistic and grammatical errors that appear in the inscription.

Most modern scholars question much of Hibben's research today because of his work with alleged pre-Clovis sites. In at least two separate incidents, Hibbens fabricated some or all of his archaeological data to support his pre-Clovis migration theory. [2][3] These missteps call the rest of his work into question, and, for many, undermine the validity of his claims about the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone.[4]

Archaeolinguist Cyrus Gordon once proposed that the Los Lunas Decalogue is in fact a Samaritan mezuzah, though this is hotly contested.[5]

Though the stone is sometimes cited by Latter Day Saint laypeople as evidence that supports the existence of the Nephites in Mormon archaeology, FARMS, a scholarly group associated with BYU, has no scholarship dealing with the site and does not make any evidentiary use of it, and Hugh Nibley, a professor at Brigham Young University and an apologist for the LDS Church, denounced it as a transparent fraud in an official LDS publication:[6]

Much study and care went into the preparation of this "ancient Hebrew inscription" near Los Lunas, New Mexico, yet a cursory glance was enough to reveal the crisp freshness of the newly-cut letters. Numerous other flaws appeared upon closer inspection. To anyone not determined to accept this inscription as genuine, it furnishes an interesting illustration of the pains to which people will go to produce a convincing-looking antique, and the impossibility of doing so without immense and laborious preparation.

Because of the stone's weight of over 80 tons, it was never moved to a museum or laboratory for study and safekeeping. Many visitors have cleaned the stone inscriptions over the years, likely destroying any possibility for scientific analysis of the inscriptions' patina. Nevertheless, comparing it to a modern inscription nearby, geologist G. E. Morehouse, a colleague of Barry Fell, estimated that the inscription could be between 500 and 2000 years old. [7]

The stone is accessible to visitors by purchasing a $25 Recreational Access Permit from the New Mexico State Land Office.

The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone is often grouped with the Kensington Runestone, Dighton Rock, and the Newport Tower as examples of American landmarks with disputed provenances.

See also

References

  1. ^ Fell, Barry; "Ancient Punctuation and the Los Lunas Text," Epigraphic Society, Occasional Publications, 13:35, 1985.
  2. ^ The Mystery of Sandia Cave, New Yorker, 71(16):66-83.
  3. ^ A Chronological Problem Presented by Sandia Cave, New Mexico. American Antiquity, 1940a 5(3):200-201.
  4. ^ Nature 426, 374 (27 November 2003) | doi:10.1038/426374a
  5. ^ Gordon, Cyrus, "Diffusion of Near East Culture in Antiquity and in Byzantine Times," Orient 30-31 (1995), 69-81.
  6. ^ "New Approaches To Book of Mormon Study", by Hugh Nibley, Improvement Era, January, 1954.
  7. ^ Morehouse, George E.; "The Los Lunas Inscriptions, a Geological Study," Epigraphic Society, Occasional Publications, 13:44, 1985.

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