A rock in a small town in Brittany is engraved with mysterious lettering. Thought to date back to the XVIII century, no one knows who wrote it or what it says. The town is offering 2,000 euros to the person who can unlock the enigma . . . or at least offer a plausible explanation.
"The inscription is a mystery and that's why we're launching this appeal," says Véronique Martin who helped launch the "Mystère Champollion" mission in the tiny coastal town of Plougastel-Daoulas in Brittany, northern France. The name Champollion refers to the French Egyptologist who decoded the first Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs.
The stone is etched on one side, mainly with capital letters such as ROC AR B... DRE AR GRIO SE EVELOH AR VIRIONES BAOAVEL... R I and OBBIIE: BRISBVILAR... FROIK...AL
You can also decipher drawings including a sailing boat with its mast and rudder, a heart on top of a cross, along with two dates: 1786 and 1787.
"The dates correspond more-or-less to the time different walls protecting the bay of Brest and notably the nearby Fort du Corbeau were built," says Martin.
Reaching the rock is complicated. It's accessible only at low tide and you have to take one of 192 small paths through the hamlet of Illien ar Gwenn.
"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," says the local mayor Dominique Cap.
Linguists, historians, academics, students, anyone with a passion for etymology and history can submit their suggestions.
Closing date is 30 November 2019.