Timeline Of Mysterious Metal Monoliths Appearing Around The World
These obelisks provided a welcome distraction as we questioned who, or what could have built them, and why.
In the arid desert, sometime in late 2016, a mysterious structure was erected. A stainless-steel prism rising 10 to 12 feet above the red dirt of the canyon floor appeared without ceremony. In fact, few people took notice of the enigmatic monolith until late 2020. Once discovered, more and more of the metallic structures began to appear. Amid a global pandemic, rising political tensions, and skies blighted by wildfire smoke, the obelisks provided a welcome distraction as we questioned who, or what could have built them, and why.
November 18, Scientists Spot the First Monolith
Spotted by state biologists conducting a survey of bighorn sheep near Moab, Utah, the first monolith stood over 9 feet tall with brushed metallic panes. The monumental installation baffled state officials, who pointed out in an official statement the difficulty someone would have reached the isolated site is to by vehicle or foot.
Reminiscent of the monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, no one was quite sure what to make of the structure. During an interview with KSL TV, Bret Hutchins, the helicopter pilot, remarked, “We were, like, thinking is this something NASA stuck up there or something. Are they bouncing satellites off it or something?” Ultimately the crew decided the structure was some type of art installation. They shared photos and videos to their Facebook account with playful alien emojis, but kept the location private, not wanting to tempt curious investigators who could easily get lost trying to find the remote location.
Reddit user Tim Slane quickly determined that the monolith had been in place since mid-2016, revealing to The Verge via Reddit chat that he used the helicopter’s flight path to pinpoint the location, and google photos to estimate when it appeared.
Not long after its discovery, on November 27, the monolith disappeared. While theories about extraterrestrial involvement raced across the internet, a group of environmental activists took responsibility, posting a video that showed them dismantling the piece in an effort to preserve the canyon’s delicate environment.
November 27, Piatra Neamt, Romania
On the same day that the first monolith vanished, a second was reported near an ancient Dacian fortress by local news outlet Ziar Piatra Neamt. People immediately began to draw connections between the new structure’s appearance and the now-famous Utah monolith. Both were apparently hollow metallic prisms standing close to 10 feet tall. However, unlike the sleek design of the first, the structure in Romania featured clumsily welded joints, and was covered in circular markings that looked like they’d been made with a power tool.
The city mayor took the odd appearance in stride, posting on Facebook, “Beyond the conspiracy theories that can be tempting, I'd like to see this randomness as further proof that our city is special. For the earthlings and (maybe) not only.” (The English translation is courtesy of The Independent)
Just like the Utah structure, the Romanian Monolith disappeared, this time without explanation, a few days after its discovery, on December 1.
December 2, Atascadero, California
One day after the Romanian monolith vanished, a third appeared at the top of a trailhead on Pine Mountain. The Atascadero News reported that it was reminiscent of the original Utah monolith’s construction: a hollow, brushed metal prism. However, this structure did not appear to be secured in the ground. Despite the tipping hazard, hikers immediately flocked to the newest obelisk for a chance to snap a quick pic.
While the third monolith was destroyed a day later. A group of men drove five hours from Orange County to tear it down, live-streaming a video of themselves toppling the prism while shouting xenophobic rhetoric, leaving a plywood cross in their wake.
December 6, Isle of Wight, D.C., and The Netherlands
Just a few days later, three more monoliths appeared on a world away from each other.
Isle of Wight, U.K.
Tom Dunford stumbled upon the glistening metallic structure on Compton beach, around 7:30 in the morning while walking his dog. He told Sky News, "I knew about all the monolith stories recently, so I recognised it straight away." This monolith stood 10 to 12 feet tall and featured a highly reflective surface. As with the others, the mysterious, unclaimed object immediately drew crowds to the site.
That same morning in the Kiekenberg nature reserve another mirrored pillar appeared, covered in ice, in a pool of water. Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported that the baffling structure had no footprints surrounding it, almost like it had fallen into place from above, although witnesses suspected it could be a New Year's prank.
In an interesting departure from the remote locations of its fellows, the third monolith of December 3 appeared on a DC man’s front lawn. Bil Anderson told Fox 5 DC that everything had been normal when he and his family departed for their morning walk. However, upon their return, they found the towering prism embedded in the landscaping. Anderson’s neighbors hadn’t seen or heard anything out of the ordinary.
In the wake of these initial discoveries, countless monoliths have appeared with little to no explanation in countries around the world. As recently as February 7, 2021 a towering obelisk had appeared in the snow of an Austrian Churchyard, with no footprints or indications of how it got there. While some have been proven as marketing stunts or artist installations, many more remain an unsolved mystery that has our eyes turned toward the stars.