Rock layer dating
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Twenty miles south of Albuquerque in the Rio Grande Valley lies the town of Los Lunas, home to roughly 14,000 souls who tend to be religious but vote Democratic, and listen to country music but not Rush Limbaugh.
Shetter grew up on a ranch before becoming the “story hour mom” and then the chief librarian, and her cowgirl past is never far from the surface.Who wrote this code in the heart of the Rio Abajo desert, and in what language is it written? Since the stone’s discovery in the 1930s, three different translations appeared.Robert Hoath La Follette, a lawyer and dabbler in archaeology, suggested that the inscription is a combination of Phoenician, Etruscan, and Egyptian letters that tell a halting, indeterminate tale of ambiguous survival and responsive weather: “We retreated while under attack … Perkins, another lay enthusiast, suggested that the inscription is an early version of Greek.Mystery Stone lies at the foot of Hidden Mountain, so named by the Indians, though no one seems to know why.I had procured a permit from the State Land Office, but on the way, Shetter says she has to make another call to Martin Abeita (she pronounces it Mar-), the manager of Comanche Ranch, which now belongs to the Isleta Indians.When I arrived in Los Lunas early one morning in February, I was told that the person to speak to about the Mystery Stone was Cynthia Shetter, the town librarian.
“She knows everything about that stone,” said the receptionist at the Visitor’s Center, which is unusual: Very few people in town seemed to have heard of the stone, and no one I met had ever seen it.
For example, when the Franciscans came in the 16th century to convert the Isleta Indians who now live on the reservation just north of Los Lunas, it turned out that they had already been converted—they are said to have asked the friars for sacraments. Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda, the legend held, a Franciscan nun who lived in Spain and had never traveled but who had appeared to them in a collective vision over 500 times and preached to them in their own language.
There is also the fact, Taylor tells me, that Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband died in a plane crash not far from Los Lunas.
The gate that leads to the Indian Reservation land is located square in the middle of the desert, 16 miles west of Los Lunas. The ground is yellow, covered in a thick brush of thistles and sage bushes. ” Shetter points to another mountain, lower than Hidden Mountain and to the east of where we are standing. He is of the opinion that the inscription was a hoax perpetrated sometime in the 1930s.
To the east and west, red mountains erupt from the landscape in clusters. I ask him if he thinks that Jack Huning was lying or mistaken when he said it had been seen as early as the 1880s. “The groups who advocate for the ancient solution are mostly the ‘Young Earthers,’ ” Taylor says, referring to those who believe they can prove scientifically that the earth is only as old as the Bible claims.
In her fifties, Shetter is still an attractive woman with long blonde hair and a twinkle in her blue eyes.