The Georgia Guidestones is a group of stones forming a granite monument in Elbert County, Georgia, located off of Guidestone Road just east of state Highway 77 about 90 miles east of Atlanta, 45 miles from Athens, and seven miles from the town of Elberton, locally known as “the Granite Capital of the World”.
The locally-mined stones feature one slab in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs, which are each astronomically aligned. The total height is 19 feet and three inches (5.87m).
An additional stone tablet, set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some notes about their history.
Nicknamed “American Stonehenge”, the monument’s purpose is somewhat ambiguous. The project was commissioned in June 1979 by a man using the pseudonym Robert C Christian.
He approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company on behalf of “a small group of loyal Americans”, and explained that the stones would function as a compass, calendar, and clock, and should be capable of “withstanding catastrophic events”.
According to Wired, Joe Fendley of Elberton Granite assumed that Mr Christian was “a nut” and attempted to discourage him by providing a quote for the commission which was several times higher than any project the company had previously taken. He also tried to tell Mr Christian that the Guidestones would require additional tools and consultants.
Much to Mr Fendley’s surprise, Mr Christian accepted the quote.
While arranging payment, Mr Christian said he represented an anonymous group that had been planning the project for 20 years, and provided a scale model with 10 pages of specifications.
A five-acre site was purchased from a local farmer and the completed monument was unveiled before a crowd of a couple hundred people on 22 March 1980. A planned time capsule was never buried beneath the stone tablet, but it does list the sponsors as: “A small group of Americans who seek the Age of Reason.”
The four outer upright stones are placed to mark the limits of the 18.6-year lunar declination cycle, whereas the centre column has a hole drilled at an angle through it that aligns with the North Star.
The central pillar also has a slot carved through it which is aligned with the Sun’s solstices and equinoxes. A small aperture in the capstone allows a ray of sun to pass through at noon each day, shining a beam on the center stone indicating the day of the year.
Each of the outer vertical stone blocks is also inscribed with a 10-part message in eight different languages — English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, and Swahili. The messages are “guidelines” for humanity.
“Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”
“Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.”
“Unite humanity with a living new language.”
“Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.”
“Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.”
“Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.”
“Avoid petty laws and useless officials.”
“Balance personal rights with social duties.”
“Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.”
“Be not a cancer on the Earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.”
Chris Kubas, executive vice president of the Elberton Granite Association, which has a role in maintaining the Guidestones, says the instructions were “meant for a future population after a cataclysmic event”.
The ambiguity of purpose and secrecy surrounding the commissioning of the project has fueled conspiracy theories over the years with allegations that the message on the slabs are instructions for the coming “new world order.”
Far-right conspiracy theorist Kandiss Taylor, who ran in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary against incumbent Brian Kemp, made the destruction of the Guidestones a central pillar of her campaign. Ms Taylor claims the Guidestones are Satanic.
In a segment on Ms Taylor and the stones, HBO’s Last Week Tonight found footage claiming to reveal the true identity of Robert C Christian as an alleged eugenics-supporting fan of white supremacist David Duke.
In November 2008, the stones were attacked by vandals and spray-painted with tags including “Jesus will beat u satanist” and “No one-world government.”
Conspiracy theories aside, locals were disappointed after an explosion in the early hours of 6 July 2022 that partially demolished the monument.
The Elbert County Chamber of Commerce said it was saddened to learn of the apparent intentional destruction of its most frequently visited community attraction.
“Over the years, the Guidestones have created lots of discussion and brought visitors to Elbert County from all over the world. Whatever your personal opinion on the Guidestones is, this attack is bad for our community. We hope that whomever is responsible is apprehended and brought to justice,” a statement read.
Mr Kubas added: “I’m sad not just for Elberton and Elbert County, I’m sad for the United States and the world.”
“These were a tourist attraction, and it was not uncommon for people around the world to be up here at any given time.”
He added: “To quarry something of that size and get those four of them that precise … with the sandblasting it took to letter those languages, that is utter craftsmanship that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.”