Some background information on the history of the Inscription Rock
People were already aware of the inscription when New Mexico became a territory in 1850, but no one could read it back then, mainly because the old-Hebrew or Phoenician alphabet in which this rock is inscribed was mostly unknown among scholars or archaeologists at that time. (1) The site is located some few miles west of the small New Mexican town of Los Lunas, about an hour's car drive south of Albuquerque. The inscription is carved into the flat face of a large boulder resting on the north-eastern side of the so-called Hidden Mountain. Local Indians told the then landowner Franz Huning in 1871 that the monument predated their tribes coming to the area
About one century later, in 1949, Robert H. Pfeiffer of the Harvard University, made a first known translation of the strange writing. Being an authority on the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible) he concluded that the inscription was a copy of the Ten Commandments. He thought that the inscription was written in the Phoenician, the Moabite, and the Greek languages. Indeed, some local native American Indians, as a result of his work, have been refering to this rock as the Phoenician Inscription Rock. Professor Pfeiffer never stated at that time whom he thought carved the message. Many locals have been calling this site the "Ten Commandments Rock" ever since.
Further speculation involved the authorship of that rock inscription.Some even considered it to be an inscription from a member of one of the lost tribes of Israel. Others have expressed the thought that perhaps some Mormons may have carved this message in an attempt to support their views of an ancient pre-columbian semitic history in North America. However, a simple research on Mormon Web sites reveals absolutely nothing about this rock inscription. It is not used by their church as a proof for the existence of ancient Nephites in America. For a certainty it is not written in so-called "reformed Egyptian" language.
Robert L. Pfeiffers translation has not remained unchallenged. Notably two translators rejected the idea that the rock inscription had something to do with the Ten Commandments. In 1964, Robert L. LaFollete wrote a translation which resulted in a travelers story carved on the rock using Phoenician as well as some Hebrew, Cyrillic and Etruscan letters. LaFollete translated this story in English as well as in the Navajo language. Dixie L. Perkins published another translation in 1979. This time under the assumption that the writer was of Greek origin and that he was using old-Greek and Phoenician letters. Perkins translation, too, challenges the Ten Commandment version, again resulting in another travelers story. (1) However, Mrs Perkins stated in her foreword to her translation that she only studied Latin and Greek, not however Hebrew.
Many modern scholars now seem to agree that the rock inscription is indeed an abridged version of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. Among others, these include: Cline 1982 (2), Deal 1992 (3), Stonebreaker 1982 (4), Underwood 1982 (5), Cyrus Gordon 1995 (6), and Skupin 1989 (7). In 1996, Prof James D. Tabor of the Dept. of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, interviewed Professor Frank Hibben who is a local historian and retired archaeologist from the University of New Mexico. Hibben is convinced that the inscription is ancient and thus authentic. He also stated in the interview that he first saw the text in 1933. Also, that he was taken to the site by a guide who had seen it as a boy back in the 1880s. (see Tabor 1996: An Ancient Hebrew Inscription in New Mexico: Fact or Fraud" (8), see also J.Huston McCulloch 1997: "The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone" (9) ).
Dr. Cyrus Gordon, a historian of ancient Near Eastern civilizations, has promoted the idea that such peoples reached the New World for the past several decades. The historical and archaeological evidence is not unimpressive and has been well documented by Barry Fell in his major study entitled "America B.C." (10)
In 1999 Stan Fox, a linguist and Bible expert from Colchester, England, made a fresh translation of the Los Lunas Inscription, based upon photos and a careful drawing of the text. It is apparently the first translation to be published on the Internet (see translation on this Web site).