French town is offering €2000 to anyone who can decipher ancient stone engraving

French town is offering €2000 to anyone who can decipher ancient stone engraving

BRITTANY, FRANCE — Ever wanted to be Indiana Jones? Here’s your chance to channel your inner Indy and earn some major cash at the same time. All you have to do is crack a long-lost, 18th-century code that’s been etched into a rock in a tiny town in northern France.

The rock, accessible only at low tide via one of 192 small paths that run through the hamlet of Illien ar Gwenn in the coastal town of Plougastel-Daoulas in Brittany, is etched on one side with a series of mysterious letters:


If all that looks like gibberish to you, perhaps several drawings, also etched into the rock, will help. These include a sailing boat with a mast and rudder, a heart on top of a cross, as well as what appear to be two dates: 1786 and 1787.

A running theory is that the inscription refers to nearby naval defences that were erected in the 1780s to protect the Bay of Brest. But there’s no way to know for sure.

The rock has stumped historians and scholars alike, so now the town is turning to the general public for help as part of a campaign called ‘The Champollion Mystery at Plougastel-Daoulas’ (Champollion pays homage to Jean-François Champollion, the linguist who first deciphered the Rosetta Stone’s ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics in the 19th century). A cash reward of €2000 has been offered to anyone who can unlock the rock’s mystery.

“Some people have told us it’s Basque, others that it’s old Breton, but so far we haven’t managed to decrypt the writing,” said local mayor Dominique Cap.

If you think you’ve cracked the secret, you can submit your suggestion before Nov. 30, 2019, after which a panel will select the most plausible interpretation.

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