Home Unexplained Mystery ancient Stone Slab—engraved with strange symbols no one can read, baffles...

Mystery ancient Stone Slab—engraved with strange symbols no one can read, baffles experts


A mysterious stone slab, covered with ancient symbols no one has been able to decipher has baffled experts ever since it was discovered. It remains unclear why the symbols were engraved and what message the ancient stone slab—which dates back thousands of years—is meant to convey.

montoro stela
The ancient stone slab stands at 1.5 meters high. Image Credit: Leonardo García Sanjuán and Marta Díaz-Guardamino / Antiquity 2017

Referred to as the “Stela of Montoro” the enigmatic ancient slab was unearthed in a farmers field in southern Spain.

Experts believe how the curious symbols engraved on its surface could be the earliest monumental script in the Iberian Peninsula. However, no one has been able to make sense of the symbols, leaving experts baffled. The stela contains elements reminiscent of other symbols that have been found half way across the world in the American Continent where countless strange shapes, circles, and lines were etched by ancient civilizations across the continent thousands of years ago.

Moonset On The Past. One of the most beautiful setting moons. by Wayne Snuggs. Ancient petroglyphs from the Jornada Mogollon People.  Image Credit: Wayne Snuggs

Even more interesting is the fact that the  “Stela of Montoro” reassembles in many aspects the so-called Cochno stone located in Scotland, a massive ancient slab which dates back at least 5,000 years.

cochno stone 3
Detail of cup and ring markings on the Cochno Stone. Credit: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Scientists believe that the ancient stela dates back to around the 3rd century BC, and contains different elements of Spanish, Greek, Iberian, Canaanite and South Arabian languages, making it an extremely worthy piece.

The stela itself isn’t small. It has a height of 1.5 meters and a width of 85 centimeters.

According to Cambridge Antiquity, the curious symbols were most likely engraved sometime between the 9th and 3rd century BC.

Experts wrote in the study how the “writing includes elements of a North Eastern Palaeo-Hispanic script, Graeco-Iberian script, Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite inscriptions, epigraphic South Arabian and Phoenician scripts.”

montoro stela 2
The inscriptions on the surface of the stone slab could represent graphemes from scripts from as far away as present-day Syria. Image Credit: Leonardo García Sanjuán and Marta Díaz-Guardamino / Antiquity 2017

The curious artifact was found by a farmer in the south of Spain in 2002. However, the item was dumped to the side of the field where it remained until 2004 when two rangers noticed the curious engravings and decided to take it to the Montoro Archaeological Museum where it remained for eight years.

The stela was thoroughly analyzed in 2012 when Dr. Garcia Sanjuan from the University of Seville found out that the symbols adorning the surface of the stela originate from different languages.

“It’s rare to find something like this – the inscriptions on this stela cannot be read. There isn’t a single script that makes sense of them. They seem to be an assorted collection of graphemes taken from different scripts and put together on this stone,” Dr. Sanjuán told IBTimes UK.

Experts have been left baffled by the ancient slab and have no idea why the engravings were made in the first place, and what message the slab carries.

There are two theories according to Dr. Sanjuán.

“What we have here perhaps would be local people – who were very probably illiterate people – replicating on a stone the signs that they have seen of or been told about, which they probably did not understand.”

“This would reflect very early contact between local people and people from outside Iberia – most likely Phoenicians coming from the eastern Mediterranean.”

(H/T IBTimes UK)

Source: Antiquity