I have always loved riddles. They became something more than a hobby to me. They were a way of living, as if I was born to find their solutions and end their mysteries. In my youth, I would read Agatha Christie’s novels in a special way. I would stop in the middle of the reading, and attempt to find the murderer on my own. A habit which brought immense pleasure when my detective instincts were right, but bitter disappointment if Hercule Poirot brought justice on his own, correcting my mistakes.
As I grew older, I challenged myself with even greater riddles. I attempted to find out how the Egyptians managed to construct the magnificent pyramids with, in today’s view, quite primitive technologies. I also tried to crack the Nazi Enigma code on my own, and find the true reasons for the persecution of the Templar Order. But nothing kept my wits as interested and tense as finding the mythical hidden message of the Baska Tablet.
As in most cases of this sort, I am not alone in my quest. One can even speak of an entire sub-culture of dedicated researchers, some being young enthusiasts, others experienced seniors. Yet, they all share the same idea: that the ancient stone writings of the Baska Tablet hides a secret.
The Tablet was found by accident in the year 1851, inside the Church of St. Lucy (Crkva svete Lucije) on the island of Krk. It is inscribed with Glagolitic text, the oldest known form of the Slavic alphabet, and is dated around the early 12th century. To Croats, it is one of the most important historical documents available, as the inscribed text describes the rule of their king Zvonimir (thus proving the existence of the independent Croatian kingdom in those ancient ages). The text also uses religious rhetoric, cursing those who deny the king’s decisions and naming them enemies of God and saints, proving Christianity’s firm presence in the region.
The Tablet was moved to Zagreb, a the copy was put in the Church of St. Lucy. The communist regime was generally unfavorable towards any document naming God or a king, so many forgot about the Tablet. However, with the arrival of independent Croatia, experts became interested in the matter again. Soon, a theory was proposed, considered by many to be merely a folly — that recording king Zvonimir’s decisions was not the sole purpose of the Tablet.
According to the theory, the glagolitic text has a hidden message. Whether it reveals the location of a hidden treasure, or reveals shocking information that could change our understanding of history, is unknown. But something is there, as even my riddle-solving instincts agree. I learned the glagolitic alphabet and have read several studies on archaic Croatian in order to solve this huge historical mystery, but found no solution on the subject. I bought several copies of the Baska Tablet, one being almost the size of the original, to carefully observe every inscription and sign. But there was not even the hint of an answer.
Then I tried to use the common enigmatic “toys.” I took only the first letters of the text, hoping that the message will be hidden in an acronym. Of course, that was a step in the wrong direction. Then I took all the numbers mentioned in the text, hoping to find some kind of pattern between them. But there was no key for the doors of understanding the Baska Tablet. Its text remained quiet, like a crossword which lacks only few letters to be completed.
Finally, I called the Croatian Academy of Art and Sciences, the institution in which the original Tablet is kept. My idea was that the solution to the secret can be found only on the real thing, so I kindly requested a few minutes with the tablet for research of my own. The clerks denied my request, explaining that they do not give documents of such importance to amateur historians, no matter their enthusiasm. When I told them my research would be of enigmatic nature, and that I wanted to find the legendary secret, they responded by saying I should use my intellect on something more than mere conspiracy theories. I also heard another clerk in the back yelling “tell him to get a girlfriend!”
I did not mind, because that is the life of a serious riddle solver. We only feel embarrassed if our solutions aren’t satisfactory. My next step is to visit Jurandvor, the village in which the Church of St. Lucy was constructed, and maybe find some new clues. And even if that fails, at least I will enjoy the beauty of Krk and a slice of Presnec cake.
So if you happen to see a weird-looking fellow roaming the streets of Jurandvor, have no fear. But leave him alone, for he is a riddle solver at work. Unless, of course, you know something about the Baska Tablet. Or you want to join our noble cause of discovering the truths of ancient history.