Much like the coronavirus, monoliths refuse to be left behind in 2020.
The discovery of a new mysterious metal slab in Turkey on Friday was a throwback to a momentary craze from the olden days of November and December. Back then, a shiny, metal monolith appeared in the Utah desert without explanation, followed by copycats from California to Romania.
Perhaps art projects or perhaps the manifestation of pandemic-induced boredom, the monoliths captured the world’s attention for a fleeting moment. It remains unknown who created many of them, or why they were created, but they largely faded from cultural relevance as the world focused on other things, like the presidential transition, a coup in Myanmar or the Netflix show “Bridgerton.”
But the latest monolith has something its predecessors didn’t have: armed guards.
The military police started an investigation to identify the people who planted the monolith in a rural area of Sanliurfa, a province in southeastern Turkey, according to DHA, a local news agency. The military police and village guards — government-paid civilians who work with the military police — stood watch as the investigation unfolded, protecting the monolith from any threats, DHA reported.
Also unlike previous monoliths, this one has an inscription. In the Gokturk alphabet, an ancient Turkic language, it reads: “Look at the sky, see the moon.”
The monolith, which measures about 10 feet tall and overlooks a wheat field and olive trees, was discovered on Friday by the owner of the field, DHA reported. The field is not far from Gobekli Tepe, an archaeological excavation site under UNESCO protection. Gobekli Tepe is the setting for “The Gift,” a Turkish television series whose second season began streaming on Netflix last year.
Curious citizens flocked to the area to see the monolith; one couple came from Edirne, more than 900 miles away.
To speculate on the motives of its creators would be a folly. In the cases of at least two earlier monoliths, groups have come forward to claim responsibility, including a group of four artist-fabricators who said they created one in California as “a piece of guerrilla art.” Theories abound about the roots of other monoliths, from art to the supernatural.
And they are easy enough to create that those with the will and a bit of specialized craftiness could make one of their own.