On March 22, 1980, next to a cow pasture north of Elberton, Ga., a mysterious white-haired gentlemen, who pseudonymically dubbed himself Robert C. Christian, unveiled perhaps the most enigmatic monuments ever erected in America.
The granite multi-stone monolith’s origin is shrouded in mystery, all documentation of its design having been destroyed immediately upon its completion.
But its location befits Elberton’s self-acclaimed title as “Granite Capital of the World.”
The 19-foot-tall Georgia Guidestones, alternately known as “American Stonehenge,” was commissioned in June 1979 by Christian, presenting himself as an emissary of a “small group of loyal Americans” who chose to remain anonymous.
Christian asked Elberton Granite Finishing Company to construct a stone sculpture that would serve as a compass, calendar and clock and would display in multiple languages 10 precepts for global sustainability.
Joe Fendley, the company representative to whom Christian presented the project, considered Christian a “nut.” To discourage any contractual transaction, Fendley quoted a price several times higher than customary, rationalizing construction of the Guidestones would require additional equipment and personnel.
Christian accepted the quote, arranged payment and directed the monument be erected on a 5-acre parcel purchased by the anonymous group, who Christian claimed had been planning the Guidestones for 20 years.
The design and placement of the monument are delicately precise.
The six granite slabs comprising the Guidestones are arranged to accommodate several astronomical phenomena:
• The four outer stones mark the 18.6-year lunar declination cycle, the outer ranges of the monthly rising and setting of the moon.
• The center pillar features a hole through which the North Star can be seen every night.
• A 7/8-inch slot drilled through the horizontal capstone allows the sun to pass through every day at noon and shine a beam onto the day of the year etched into one of the columns.
The messages inscribed in eight languages on the Guidestones — one language on each face of the four outer stones — are introduced by the injunction, “Let these be guidestones to an age of reason.”
The languages, moving clockwise around the structure from due north, are English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, the combination of which was designed to reach the most people worldwide.
The capstone contains a truncated version of the precepts in four ancient language scripts: Babylonian, classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The wisdom dispensed by the etchings is embraced in 10 principles:
• Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
• Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
• Unite humanity with a living new language.
• Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
• Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
• Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
• Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
• Balance personal rights with social duties.
• Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
• Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
A ground-level granite ledger several feet west of the Guidestones lists facts about the size, weight and astronomical features of the stones; the monument’s installation date; project sponsors; and an announcement of a time capsule buried beneath the tablet. The prescribed date for the unearthing of the time capsule was not engraved in the ledger and it is uncertain whether the capsule was ever put in place.
Needless to say, the Georgia Guidestones have never been without controversy.
One local pastor who attended the unveiling assailed the monument as one “for sun worshipers, for cult worship and for devil worship.”
Others have vilified the Guidestones as satanic, Luciferian and New World Order.
Many have questioned the gruesome implications of implementing the first precept, which would require killing off 93 percent of the world’s population. The practical utility of several other Guidestone instructions has been brushed aside as too vague.
The monument has been defaced several times throughout its 37-year history. Opponents have made their feelings known with spray-painted messages such as “Death to the New World Order,” “you will not succeed,” “Jesus will beat u satanist,” “Council on Foreign Relations is ran by the Devil” and a slap at the NWO employing a rather unsavory verb.
Nevertheless, the monument has generated some benefit to nearby Elberton, a town of 4,653 residents with its own preponderance of granite signs, statues and structures.
More than 4,400 tourists a year visit the Elberton Granite Museum and Exhibit, which prominently features the history and engineering particulars of the Georgia Guidestones.
The museum, located at 1 Granite Plaza on the near northwest side of downtown, contains historical exhibits, artifacts and educational displays.
According to www.exploregeorgia.org, “Three tiers of self-guided exhibits allow visitors to see unique granite products as well as antique granite working tools used in the quarrying, sawing, polishing, cutting and sandblasting of granite cemetery memorials.”
The family-friendly museum is open 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call (706) 283-2551.