More discoveries made further in the caves all but ruled out the idea that these were apes. On the walls were carved pictograms of the heavens: the sun, the moon, the stars, and the Earth with lines of dots connecting them. Then the team made the most incredible discovery of all. Half-buried in the dirt floor of the cave was an odd stone disk, obviously fashioned by the hand of an intelligent creature. The disk was approximately nine inches in diameter and three-quarters of an inch thick. In the exact center was a perfectly round, 3/4" hole, and etched in its face was a fine groove spiraling out from the center to the rim, making the disk look for all the world like some kind of primitive phonograph record.
This one plate, dated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old - older by far than the great pyramids of Egypt - was fantastic enough, but the wonder was multiplied manyfold. In all, 716 such plates were found. And each held an incredible secret. The groove, upon further inspection, was not a groove at all, but a continuous line of strange carved hieroglyphics - writing!
The tiny, almost microscopic characters were in a language never encountered before. It wasn't until 1962 that another Chinese scientist was able to decode the message of the stone plates - a message so incredible and earth-shattering that the Prehistory Department of the Beijing Academy prohibited its translation to be published. Eventually, the message was published, and what is says will astound you.
Breaking the Code
Dr. Tsum Um Nui felt the smooth face of the disk with the palm of his hand. "What could this disk possibly be?" he wondered. He knew of its recent history; how it was discovered in 1938 by a Chinese archaeologist in a cave high in the Himalayans, along with 715 similar disks; how buried nearby were skeletons of a strange tribe of people averaging only a little over four feet high; how it was found that each disk was inscribed with a tiny groove that spiraled around its face, and that the groove turned out to be an unknown hieroglyphic. He also knew how the disks, as remarkable as they were, had been simply labeled along with other finds of the expedition and stored away at Beijing University for 20 years. During that time, others had attempted to decipher the strange inscriptions, but without success. Perhaps now, in 1962, he could.
The professor painstakingly transcribed the characters from the disk to paper. The writing was so small he had to use a magnifying glass to see it clearly. But the stones were old - perhaps 12,000 years old, it was estimated - and much of the hieroglyphics were difficult to make out or had been worn away by time and the elements.
As he worked, many questions nagged the professor. How did these primitive people fashion these precise stones? How did they manage the almost microscopic writing? Who were they and what was the purpose of these hundreds of stones? Once the characters were transcribed, Dr. Tsum Um Nui began the arduous task of trying to decode its message. Eventually, he began to make progress. A word emerged. Then another. A phrase became understandable, then an entire sentence. He had broken the code. He discerned that the messages on the stones were written by a people who called themselves the Dropa. But what they were saying to him 12,000 years later made no sense. What the Dropa had written must have been one of their cultural myths, or was part of some prehistoric religious ceremony.
Or was it? When he had completed the translation as much as he could, the professor sat back in his chair in disbelief. The story the Dropa related was nothing short of astounding. How would his colleagues react? How might the world react if this story was true? The professor wrote up a paper on his findings and presented it to the university for publication. Their reaction was swift and emphatic: the paper would not be published. The Academy of Prehistory expressly forbade him to publish or even speak of his findings. The world, the academy decided, should not know about the Dropa and their fateful journey to Earth.
Dr. Tsum Um Nui's findings were eventually published, however. Just two years later, he published the paper entitled, "The Grooved Script Concerning Spaceships Which, as Recorded on the Discs, Landed on Earth 12,000 Years Ago." By some accounts, the academy relented and gave permission to the professor to publish the paper, and by other accounts he published it despite the official ban. In either case, his translation and his theory were met with ridicule by the archaeology establishment. The translation was just too shattering to be taken at face value or as an historical account. It just could not be true. It would change everything we know about our history and humankind's place in the universe.
Next page: What the Stones Reveal