The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may not be known as a bunch of pranksters, but it conceded Tuesday that a monolith that mysteriously appeared in a field was an official publicity stunt. The 10-foot-tall monolith was discovered Friday in a field of wheat and olive trees, the New York Times reports. Although armed guards were sent to keep an eye on it, the metal monolith was nowhere to be found Tuesday morning. The mystery ended when Erdogan made a televised announcement of the nation's goals for its space program. "I now present to you Turkey's 10-year vision, strategy, and aims, and I say: 'Look at the sky, you will see the moon,'" Erdogan said, per the AP. The last part is the inscription on the monolith. Adding to the mystery, it's written in the Gokturk alphabet, an ancient Turkic language.
Monoliths had come and gone without explanation before, but there was foreshadowing this time from the landowner, who had said, "We don't know if it was placed on my field for marketing purposes or as an advertisement." The monolith had drawn visitors. There was a logic to the site chosen: It's close to Gobekli Tepe, a UNESCO World Heritage site with megalithic structures dating to the 10th millennium BC. There's criticism of spending money on a space program when Turkey's economy is suffering, but there's also support for creating jobs for researchers and keeping scientists from leaving the country. "Our primary and most important goal for our national space program is the contact of the Republic, in its 100th year, with the moon," Erdogan said in his announcement, which included special effects. "I hope that this road map, which will carry Turkey to the top league in the global space race, will come to life successfully," he said. (Read more monolith stories.)