Some seriously freaky shit is going on. Last week, state officials in Utah stumbled upon a mysterious shiny monolith in the middle of the desert. Five days later, it suddenly disappeared. Now, a nearly identical structure has been spotted roughly 6,000 miles across the ocean in Romania.

When the first monolith was initially found, there were a couple running theories for who could be behind it. The first was that an ambitious 2001: A Space Odyssey fan had planted a structure in the desert as an ode to the monolith that appears in Stanley Kubrick’s beloved sci-fi film. The second and more likely theory, which was detailed in The New York Times, is that it was planted there years ago by someone associated with the late sculptor John McCracken, who was known for making shiny monoliths and was himself a sci-fi fanatic.

No one from McCracken’s orbit has provided any confirmation that it was indeed him, but some people in McCracken’s art circle thought it was very plausible that he was behind it, and his son even remembers his father telling him that he’d one day like to leave his artwork in remote locations to be discovered later on. However, McCracken died of a brain tumor in 2011, and according to a prodigious Google Earth sleuth who spoke to Vice, the Utah monument was only installed about five years ago—years after the artist’s death.


But even if McCracken did enlist someone to install the first monolith, why is it suddenly gone? And who installed this new one in Romania just a couple days later? Nobody has any idea. According to The Daily Mail, the new structure is planted just a few feet from where an ancient Dacian fortress once stood, and it faces toward one side of Mount Ceahlau, a popular hiking destination in Romania. At 13 feet tall, it’s almost the exact height of the now-missing Utah variant (which stood at 12 feet), but this one has all sorts of scribbles drawn or etched into its reflective surface.

Speaking with the Daily Mail, Neamt Culture and Heritage official Rocsana Josanu said, “We have started looking into the strange appearance of the monolith. It is on private property, but we still don’t know who the monolith’s owner is yet. It is in a protected area on an archaeological site. Before installing something there, they needed permission from our institution, one that must then be approved by the Ministry of Culture.”

Aliens? Avant-garde artists? Pranksters? Maybe, but one Twitter user has a much more banal explanation.