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The stone itself is about four and a half feet tall, its back end embedded into the mountain in the desert that is near the town.

He concluded that it was written in a mixture of Moabite, Greek, and ancient Phoenician—an orthography that is basically Paleo-Hebrew, the script of the Jews prior to their exile to Babylon.

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.

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.