Discussed here before, but a superb introduction with good research on the popular evidence and very solid and balanced reporting.
That said, they are frauds.
The hallmarks of the fraud are:
* mysterious artifacts that do not match known cultures
* mysterious artifacts are handed over to someone who does not come from the area and is not an expert/cultural affiliate with anyone in the region
(are you REALLY going to hand over your most valuable US history to someone who just wandered into your area on a tourist visa and doesn't even speak
* a lama/monk/angel/holy man/priest/shaman shows up and translates or helps translate the item for the person reporting this (presumably because the
person is "special" ) and then vanishes.
* the artifacts vanish completely, with no trace left.
* the scientists who pronounced these items to be "the real deal" are nowhere to be found on the face of this earth.
Vanishing scientists and evidence are hallmarks of many other frauds (as is the "I fell into a hole/was walking around/was digging in a mine and
nobody was around but I found this wonderful thing" line.) People do find interesting stuff all the time (we had someone bring rudist fossils to the
museum the other day.) In the case of the Dropa stones, they claim to have mummies and so forth... all of which suddenly vanish without a trace along
with the scientists.
This is extremely unlikely.
The issues of translation point even more strongly to an outright hoax. Translation is the work of years and teams, not the work of a single man and
a short time. Since we both know English, take a moment to ponder how you'd translate this Old English text:
It's pretty rough, isn't it? And this is in a language we know, with word and sentence structure we know.
...and now try translating something written in an alphabet that you aren't familiar with in a language that you don't know (which would be the case
if someone found tiny scratchy hieroglyphics in the grooves of a disk) :
If you saw the letters, would you even recognize them AS letters?
So the story that they're handed over to someone who just translates them in a short time without any clues as to what a letter is, how the language
is spoken, how many sounds there are in that language and so on and so forth is truly bogus. If we had an alphabet for the language and if we
recognized where a word began and ended, then we'd be in the same shape as you are when you look at the original text for "Beowulf" (at least, I'm
assuming you're not a scholar of Old English. You might be... but they're pretty rare.)
We could accept sloppy data acquisition, lost or mislaid items, but each and every point in the story is quickly refuted.
So... it's a hoax.