Archival data storage is predominantly based on magnetic tape technology. An alternative probe based multi-level recording scheme is proposed which specifically addresses the issue of long term data preservation. In a first step, the data are written as topographic relief in an organic resist. To achieve long term preservation, the relief structure is transferred in a Si based inorganic carrier by means of reactive ion etching. Thereby, the data are preserved as written in stone. Using 3-level logic, a storage density of 99 Gb/in2 is demonstrated and read-back of the data is accomplished with an error rate of 10-3 based on threshold detection. Exploiting etch anisotropy in layered substrates, logic levels can be physically separated from one another in different layers which enhances tamper resistance and also provides a means for heterogeneous storage concepts. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.