It’s Folklore Thursday again and time for another of my favourite mysteries. Last week I posted about The Voynich Manuscript and we decided in the comments that it’s probably a book of Vogon poetry. Don’t ever, ever let a Vogon read you poetry. Folklore Thursday: The Voynich Manuscript
Today’s mystery is sadder and, in many ways, even more compelling.
It started in 1948, when a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. He was unremarkable in appearance and around 45-years-old. He carried no ID and had apparently gone to some lengths to ensure he couldn’t be IDed: all the labels were removed from his clothes and he didn’t have a wallet on him.
What he did have on him was a page torn out of the Rubaiyat – a collection of poetry by the 12th century poet Omar Khayyam. The page contained only two words–the end of the last poem in the book–Tamam Shud, Persian words meaning ‘ended’. [N.B. The misspelling in my title is intentional. While the case was fresh the phrase was reported incorrectly as ‘Taman Shud’ so many times that it’s stuck.]
An autopsy was inconclusive. The Somerton Man’s dental records could not be matched to any known person. The pathologist suggested the cause of death had been poison.
I can hear the collective gasp. Writers reading this are already disagreeing with me. Do I care?
Maybe a bit because I’m just a cucumber with anxiety and I desperately want everyone to like me please like me don’t click off my blog I swear I’m going to make some good points please please please read on.