By the time I publish this, it'll probably be "old news" and, oh, I don't know, maybe the aliens will have landed by then, but seriously: what the heck, 2020!?
The monolith discovered out in the middle of Utah's Red Rock Country about a week ago disappeared on Saturday. Heck, for all we know, it disappeared before then, but Saturday is when the federal Bureau of Land Management's Utah office announced that the monolith had been removed by an "unknown party."
Unknown party, huh? I'm just going to meme what I know everyone is thinking right now:
In a statement posted on Facebook, the bureau confirmed that it had received credible reports that a person or group (aliens?!) removed the structure sometime on the evening of November 27th. They also said that they did not remove the monolith (which, as a reminder, was installed illegally) and that they don't intend to investigate its whereabouts because it's considered private property. Any further investigation would fall under the jurisdiction of the local sheriff's office.
The department initially reported the monolith's absence via Instagram and a post that read, "IT'S GONE!" In the same post, the department added, "Almost as quickly as it appeared it has now disappeared. I can only speculate that aliens took it back." The content of the post was reported by the New York Times on Saturday (the post has since been removed).
Considering the monolith was actually embedded in the rock, it's both impressive and a little baffling that someone would have the time and resources to get out to the structure and dig it out so quickly before being noticed. The structure was fairly large, standing between 10-12 feet tall and couldn't have been easy to place or relocate without certain equipment.
Authorities declined to share the exact location of the monolith out of concern that civilians might go looking for it, become stranded, and require rescue. That didn't stop Internet sleuths, though - a man named David Surber seemed to be the first to track it down. A 33-year old former US Infantry officer, Surber drove six hours through the night after finding a Reddit post that seemed to have pinpointed the exact location (thanks, Google Earth!).
Photo provided to the Associated Press by Kelsea Dockham.
Rocks mark the location where the metal monolith once stood.
Reddit user Tim Slane said that he tracked the flight path of the helicopter that initially found the monolith until it went off-radar, which he took as a sign that it may have landed. He then scanned the map for the exact terrain features seen in official photos and video before finding a canyon that he thought fit the bill.
Surber wasn't alone for long - others joined him at the monolith not long after he'd arrived himself. He has some images up on his Instagram (because in this day and age, if it's not in Instagram, it didn't happen!). The monolith may be gone now, but one big mystery still remains: who put the structure there, and why?
Believe it or not, there are a few theories about this floating around (aside from the tried and true "aliens" theory, that is). Some have suggested that the monolith could be an unknown work by the late artist John McCracken, who is known for his "plank" sculptures. McCracken's son, Patrick, said that he is puzzled by the monolith but that it could possibly be his father's work. He cited a conversation where he claimed his father said that he wanted to leave his artwork in remote places to be discovered later.
"He was inspired by the idea of alien visitors leaving objects that resembled his work, or that his work resembled," Patrick McCracken said. "This discovery of a monolith piece - that's very much in line with his artistic vision." There's no consensus, however - McCracken died in 2011 and his art friends and many gallerists in charge of his gallery feel very confident that the monolith isn't his work.
Another artist known for installing totemic sculptures in secret desert locations, Petecia Le Fawnhawk, was singled out by Internet theorists, but she said to online art magazine Artnet that she couldn't claim this one.
Basically, we're back to square one on solving the mystery. The monolith is missing, no one has any idea who put it there or took it away (or if it's even the same person/people/aliens!), and we're all left scratching our head and trading theories.
What do YOU think happened to it?
EDIT: I literally had just finished writing this when a friend sent me a new article saying that another monolith has been discovered in northern Romania on Batca Doamnei Hill in the city of Piatra Neamt. It was apparently spotted near the Petrodava Dacian Fortress, a well-known archaeological landmark. It was built by the ancient Dacian people between 82 BC and AD 106.
Image copyright Stiri Piatra
This report popped up just this afternoon but since it's the Daily Mail - which I think is considered a tabloid, please correct me if my research is wrong! - maybe we shouldn't lean too heavily into our theories just yet.
Oh, who am I kidding? I give up trying to make sense of 2020! If our alien overlords are really out there waiting to make in appearance, all I really hope for is that they aren't the Drengin.