The slabs have no documentation prior to 1950, when they arrived at the Arizona State Museum (I found a listing for them in their online index, but no information). Edwin Booth Sayles, a self-educated archaeologist then on staff at the Museum, wrote about them in a brief official pamphlet called “Elephant Slabs,” but unfortunately, I don’t have access to this. According to the story told by the depositor, he bought them from a man who said he had dug them up as a boy in 1910. No further evidence was forthcoming, and no similar or related artifacts were ever found at the alleged burial site.
There are no photographs of these slabs that I could find. Apparently one was included in Jim Brandon’s 1978 book Weird America, but it isn’t one in my library. A drawing of the two slabs appears on this website, and it is reproduced at left.
I think that one look at the drawing should strongly imply that the slabs are forgeries made by someone with only a passing knowledge of ancient alphabets. The symbols are nonsense and do not conform to any known written language. That alternative authors could read Phoenician, Malian, and proto-Celtic into them shows the poverty of their claims. If they truly represented a European or African language, surely the same characters should be in use in the Old World. No European tongue freely mixes letter symbols with figurative drawings within the lines of text. If illustrations are used, they are set apart from the text, which is generally clearly separate from the pictures. Even Egyptian hieroglyphics, which can mix picture symbols and sound symbols, don’t do so in such a crude picture-writing way.
It looks for all the world like someone got out a book of rock art symbols and jumbled together as many as he or she could find and then threw in some elephants. I think it is probably relevant that the elephant carvings have been used by Mormons to support the Book of Mormon, which mentions elephants in early America in Ether 9:19: "And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants..." Flora Vista, NM is located in an area close to the so-called Mormon Corridor, where 10% or more of the population is Mormon, and it would hardly be the first instance of fake artifacts being called into being to support the alternative history of America presented in the Book of Mormon. For now, there is no reason to doubt the scientific consensus that these are fake stone tablets created by unknown persons for an unspecified purpose.