Georgia Guidestones: explosion damages ‘America’s Stonehenge’

An explosion has damaged the Georgia Guidestones — a granite monument often referred to as “America’s Stonehenge” — investigators say.

Law enforcement agencies were looking for clues into the blast at the rural site east of the US city of Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

A large part of the structure was destroyed when “unknown individuals detonated an explosive device,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said on its Twitter feed.

What are the Georgia Guidestones?

The grey monoliths were erected in 1980 in the middle of a large field near the town of Elberton, Georgia.

It is listed as a tourist attraction by the state’s travel site and the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce.

The GBI said the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office, which has joined it and other agencies investigating the incident, discovered the damage when its officers responded to the blast.

It was not known if authorities observed the explosion or whether it was reported to police.

Aerial footage posted online by South Carolina’s WHNS-TV show one of the structure’s five monoliths crumbled into jagged pieces strewn about the ground, and a chunk of the monument’s roof broken off at one corner.

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A large number of investigators and their vehicles were visible at the scene, about 160.93km east of Georgia’s capital.

The 5.8-metre monument comprised one upright slab at the centre of four larger tablets arranged around it, with a large rectangular capstone lying on top of the others.

The Guidestones serve as an astronomical calendar, arranged to let sunlight shine through a narrow hole in the structure daily at noon to illuminate the date on an engraving, according to ExploreGeorgia.org.

According to a chamber of commerce translation of the inscription, the message calls, in part, for all humanity to limit its numbers to fewer than half a billion people “in perpetual balance with nature” and for all nations to “avoid petty laws and useless officials”.

Official descriptions say the origins of the monument are shrouded in mystery. But a 2009 Wired magazine article reported the Guidestones were the brainchild of a man who used the pseudonym Robert C Christian to commission a local granite finishing company to produce the monument on behalf of a “small group of loyal Americans”.

The Georgia Guidestones in Elberton, Georgia, in 2017. Reuters
The Georgia Guidestones in Elberton, Georgia, in 2017. Reuters

The Elberton Granite Association, which maintains and preserves the stones, has put the cost of replacing them at hundreds of thousands of dollars, WHNS reported.

Both the chamber and ExploreGeorgia.org refers to the monument as America’s Stonehenge, although the moniker is also used to describe an archeological site of stone structures in Salem, New Hampshire.

Stonehenge, a prehistoric landmark on the Salisbury Plaine in Wiltshire, England, is believed to date back to 3000BC.

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