In November this year, the internet collectively lost its calm over a shiny, steel monolith that appeared apparently out of nowhere in the middle of the desert in Utah in the United States. A few days later, it disappeared into thin air. The mystery deepened as a similar monolith appeared thousands of miles away in Romania; on Wednesday, another report suggested that the monolith in Romania also disappeared.
So, what exactly is happening? Who put the monolith there? Could it be aliens? Or just someone trying to make a point? Conspiracy theorists have been burning the midnight oil trying to figure out what the monolith could symbolise.
We’ve come up with a timeline of events, in case you’ve lost track.
The monolith in Utah
Utah’s Department of Public Safety officers stumbled upon a mysterious monolith in the middle of rural countryside a week or two back. It was a routine event when the officers who were flying by in a helicopter spotted the object in the middle of the desert.
The team turned the helicopter around and inspected it, Pilot Bret Hutchings said the structure was between 10 and 12 feet high. It also did not seem like it was randomly dropped but had been deliberately placed there.
The pilot also shared how the team joked that if any one of them suddenly disappears, then the rest of them will make a run for it.
Four days later, the monolith disappeared. The Bureau of Land Management posted an official statement saying that the structure was possibly removed by an “unknown party" at night.
“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith,’ has been removed" from BLM public lands. The BLM did not remove the structure, which is considered private property."
Where is the monolith located?
The authorities at Utah had initially tried to keep the location of the monolith a secret in order to prevent adventure-seeking people from crowding. They failed. In the age of social media, especially Reddit, it’s next to impossible to keep information hidden.
The monolith, which is reminding everyone of 2001: A Space Odyssey, is located in the Moab desert in Utah. A Reddit user also shared the exact coordinates. Of course, anyone planning to visit now is too late since the monolith has disappeared.
What about the monolith in Romania?
Days after the first mysterious metal monolith was found in a remote, uninhabited desert in Utah, USA, now a second structure has appeared in Romania. The triangular, shiny pillar was discovered on Batca Doamnei Hill in Piatra Neamt city on Thursday. Coincidentally, it was just a few metres away from a popular Romanian archaeological landmark, the Petrodava Dacian Fortress. The fort was built around 82 BC and AD 106 by the Dacian people on ancient Europe.
Conspiracy theorists might chalk it up to the work of aliens, but most believe it is probably some dedicated prankster who happens to be a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
As of Wednesday morning, the one in Romania has been removed too.
“The 2.8 metre (9ft) tall structure disappeared overnight as quietly as it was erected last week,” journalist Robert Iosub of the Ziar Piatra Neamt local newspaper, who had seen the structure, told Reuters.
“An unidentified person, apparently a bad local welder, made it … now all that remains is just a small hole covered by rocky soil,” local reporters had discovered, he said.
Who removed the monolith?
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for placing or removing the monoliths yet.
However, a photographer named Ross Bernards claimed that he had seen four men removing the monolith in Utah and even provided evidence of the same.
Bernards wrote a detailed post on Instagram where he gave an eye-witness account of how four men came out of nowhere and dismantled the structure and took it away on a wheelbarrow.
Elaborating on how they brought down the structure, he added that the 4 worked in pairs and gave a few pushes to the structure when it went over to one side. Bernards said one of the guys also said to his friend, referring to the monolith, “this is why you don’t leave trash in the desert.”
After a few more pushes, the men eventually broke it down and took the parts away in a wheelbarrow. Bernards said one of them , while leaving with the wheelbarrow, also glanced back at them and said, “Leave no trace.” It was 8:48 and the structure had fallen.
What are some of the other theories?
Given that the year is 2020, of course, people are more inclined to believe that this could be the act of aliens. In fact, in the past seven days, people around the world have extensively looked up details about the OG monolith and possible theories behind it. For many, this is proof that extra-terrestrial life exists. Here, take a look at Google trends:
Another theory that has been doing the rounds on the internet says that the monolith could be the work of sculptor John McCracken. There’s just one problem - he died in 2011. However, his son, Patrick McCracken, thinks it is very much possible that the late artist would leave his artwork in a desert. He told The New York Times that the news of the monolith reminded him of a conversation he had with his father back in 2002. McCracken had then told his son that he wouldn’t mind leaving his artwork in remote places for them to be discovered later.
What does Stanley Kubrick have to do with it?
Almost as soon as news of the monolith appearing broke, people began drawing comparisons with Kubrick’s iconic movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s because in the film, monoliths appear and disappear out of nowhere with no possible explanation.
READ: Photographer Says He Saw 4 Men Take Down Utah Monolith in ‘Minutes’
READ: Internet Sleuths Feel They’ve Found Artist Behind Mysterious Desert Monolith. He Died 9 Years Ago
The movie is based on a science fiction novel. In the Arthur C. Clark science fiction legend, the monolith’s first appearance on Earth was three million years ago in Africa. It is alluded as a mystical figurine which confers intelligence on the life around it and the book/film suggest the monolith was responsible to save Great Apes by giving them the knowledge to use tools.
So, what now?
The monolith could have been made by McCracken and placed in the desert before his death. Or, as the pilot who discovered it two weeks ago said, it could be a new wave artist. Unless someone claims responsibility for the monoliths, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly who placed it, and who removed it. Crop circles, anyone?
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