Lost civilizations, mysterious artifacts, and vanished peoples have always fascinated those with an interest in antiquity. However, the first archaeologists were little more than glorified treasure hunters. It was only later that the scientific method and rigorous systems of recording and excavating archaeological sites were established in the field by people like C.J. Thomsen, Jen Jacobsen Asmussen Warsaae, and Flinders Petrie.
Scientifically-minded archaeologists tend to treat claims of the ‘lost’ or ‘forgotten’ with much more skepticism than their treasure-hunting predecessors. Yet, extraordinary claims about archaeological finds still occur in archaeology. An example of this is the Las Lunas Decalogue Stone. It is a stone found southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) described in Exodus 20:1-17 of the Hebrew Old Testament written on it. Some people say the stone pre-dates Christopher Columbus’ voyage to Hispaniola by as much as 1500 years. This is an interesting possibility, but how does it stand up to scrutiny?
Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. Photograph taken in January 1997 by Brian Haines. (Public Domain)
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