Georgia Guidestones monument draws tourists and debate

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What are the Georgia Guidestones? The Georgia Guidestones can be found in a remote field just north of Elberton, about a two-hour drive northeast of Atlanta. The monument consists of four strategically placed rectangular stones standing 19-feet-3-inches tall and a capstone slab atop the installation. More than 4,000 characters in several languages are inscribed throughout the piece, which debuted March 22, 1980. Robert C. Christian is the credited mastermind behind the guidestones, but his true identity

For more than 35 years, an impressive and equally mysterious array of granite blocks has attracted attention to an otherwise sleepy side of the state.

The Georgia Guidestones can be found in a remote field just north of Elberton, about a two-hour drive northeast of Atlanta. The monument consists of four strategically placed rectangular stones standing 19-feet-3-inches tall and a capstone slab atop the installation. More than 4,000 characters in several languages are inscribed throughout the piece, which debuted March 22, 1980, after months of construction.

Robert C. Christian is the credited mastermind behind the guidestones, but his true identity and motives remain unknown to this day. Two townspeople worked directly with Christian and only one knows his actual name. A banker named Wyatt Martin helped Christian transfer money to realize the project, but he was sworn to secrecy and never intends to oust the anonymous man.

"The mystery that surrounds the artist's identity has caused many to fixate upon the authorial intent of the piece exclusively," reads a passage in "The Georgia Guidestones, America's Most Mysterious Monument," a 2012 book co-authored by Raymond Wiley and KT Prime.

The book claims Christian wanted to create a "monument to the conservation of mankind," a sentiment that is reinforced in several inscribed passages:

  • "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000"
  • "Guide reproduction wisely"
  • "Unite humanity with a living new language"
  • "Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court"
  • "Be not a cancer on the Earth — leave room for nature"

Christian cited other methods for reforming society in his 1986 book, "Common Sense Renewed," in which he claims there was "no mysterious purpose or ulterior motives" behind the monument.

Nonetheless, the mystery behind its creation, the foreign languages used, the references to nature and its resemblance to Stonehenge help fuel many controversies about the Georgia Guidestones. Conspiracy theorists and fringe religious groups often suggest it represents more sinister intentions. Many links are also made between long-rumored secret societies that originated centuries ago in Europe.

Wiley and Prime detail these examples thoroughly in their book. In fact, virtually every major news outlet and conspiracy theory blog have written about the monument, including the Los Angeles TimesNew York TimesBBC and WIRED MagazineAJC.com also included the stones in a recent roundup of Georgia's "weird side."

The negative attention garnered by the stones has resulted in multiple instances of vandalism this past decade after remaining relatively untouched until 2008. That year a YouTube video emerged of an unknown individual — later identified as known conspiracy theorist Jim Stachowiak— denouncing the stones amid concerns of a "New World Order" single government.

Alex Jones, another outspoken figure who often offers unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on his InfoWars.com website, called the stones "a cold testament to the Elite's sacred mission" in his 2008 documentary, "Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement."

Others offer simpler explanations behind the monument's controversial passages, suggesting Cold War fears likely prompted the inscriptions as guidelines to follow in case existing society collapses.

For better or worse, the monument attracts a lot of attention. Elberton is called "The Granite Capital of the World," and the Georgia Guidestones help reinforce that reputation. The stones are also the top tourism destination listed on the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce website.

"Its value is in the fact that it is open to personal interpretation and that it engenders discussion about the ways in which those interpretations differ," Wiley and Prime wrote in their "Georgia Guidestones" book.