If this late surge keeps up, 2020 may not just be known as the Year of the COVID but also the Year of the Monolith. Just days after a mysterious monolith was discovered in a Utah desert – only to disappear just as mysteriously – another mysterious monolith appeared in Romania. If it’s not aliens, is it a global art project, an elaborate worldwide prank, undercover government antennas or a 2020 version of the Tide Pod Challenge?
Let’s catch up with the Utah monolith first. Discovered by Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau workers conducting a helicopter count of big horn sheep in a southeastern Utah desert, they landed after seeing the odd object and their pictures and comments quickly went viral. The age of the monolith could not be determined, but Google Earth images showed it had been there a few years and some suggested, because the area was so remote, it could have been installed decades ago – illegally, as the government was quick to point out, because no permit for putting it on private land was ever issued. The 12-foot-tall silver triangular monolith spawned a myriad of rumors from aliens to strange cults, but because it appeared to be manmade, ‘an art project by the late artist John McCracken or one of his imitators’ was the likely winner. Unfortunately, before that could be verified, the Utah monolith disappeared on November 27, taken away by “an unknown party,” according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Meanwhile, in Romania …
“We have started looking into the strange appearance of the monolith. It is on private property, but we still don’t know who the monolith’s owner is yet. It is in a protected area on an archaeological site. Before installing something there, they needed permission from our institution, one that must then be approved by the Ministry of Culture.”
Neamt Culture and Heritage official Rocsana Josanu reported on November 26 the discovery of another monolith (photos and video here), very similar in size (13 feet tall) to the Utah one, at what many call the Holy Mountain or the Mount Olympus of Romania -- Ceahlău Massif (Ceahlau Mountain -- seen in feature image above), one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Romania. (Who knew Romania had one wonder, let alone seven?) If that’s not enough of a scandal, the monolith is just meters away from the Petrodava Dacian Fortress, one of six fortresses built between the first century BCE and the first century CE by the Dacians, a dominant culture in the area predating the Romans. The fortresses were built to defend the Dacians in the two Roman-Dacian Wars, which unfortunately ended with a Roman conquest.
This is a bigger deal to Romania than the Utah one was in the U.S. because it’s not only on private property but also in a protected area on an archeological site and a holy mountain of the Dacians with its own holiday. For anything to be built there, it needed to be approved by both the Neamt Culture and Heritage group and the Romanian Minister of Culture. Guess which ones it didn’t have?
So, what’s up with the monoliths all of a sudden? Both the Utah and Romanian structures appear to be manmade – the Utah one disappeared before it could be dismantled and traced, but the Romanian one appears to still be there and, because it’s on protected land in a popular tourist area, may be under heavy guard. Perhaps it can give clues to the origin of both.
In the meantime, isn’t it nice to find something in 2020 that isn’t contagious and deadly… or are they?