The Somerton Man: A Spy, a Lover, a Victim? The Secrets Behind Australia's Most Enigmatic Corpse

The Somerton Man: A Spy, a Lover, a Victim? The Secrets Behind Australia's Most Enigmatic Corpse

The Somerton Man: The Unsolved Mystery of Australia’s Most Enigmatic Corpse


Introduction


Who was the Somerton Man? This question has puzzled investigators, historians, and the public for more than 70 years. The Somerton Man was an unidentified man whose body was found on a beach near Adelaide, South Australia, in 1948. He had no wallet, no ID, and no clues to his identity or cause of death. He also had a mysterious scrap of paper with the words “Tamam Shud” - meaning “it’s finished” - in his pocket, which was later traced to a rare book of Persian poetry.


The Somerton Man case has been called one of Australia’s most profound mysteries, and has inspired countless theories, speculations, and even works of fiction. Some have suggested that he was a spy, a lover, a victim of poisoning, or a secret agent. Others have tried to decipher the code that was found in his book, or to trace his DNA to his relatives. But despite all the efforts, the Somerton Man’s identity and story remain unknown.


In this blog post, we will explore the facts, the clues, and the mysteries of the Somerton Man case. We will also look at some of the recent developments and discoveries that have shed new light on this enigmatic corpse.


The Discovery of the Body

The Somerton Man’s body was discovered on 1 December 1948, at 6:30 am, by some beachgoers on Somerton Park beach near Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide. The man was lying on his back against a seawall, with his legs extended and his feet crossed. He was dressed in a suit and tie, and looked to be in his 40s or 50s. He had an unlit cigarette on his right collar, and some items in his pockets: bus and train tickets, chewing gum, matches, two combs, and a pack of cigarettes.


The police were called to the scene, but they could not find any signs of violence or injury on the body. They also could not find any labels or tags on his clothes that could indicate his identity or origin. The man had no wallet or cash on him either. The only unusual thing they noticed was that his shoes were very clean and polished, as if he had not walked on them.


The police took the body to the morgue for an autopsy. The coroner found that the man had died of heart failure, possibly caused by poisoning. However, he could not identify any specific poison or drug in his system. He also noted that the man had some unusual features: he had very strong calf muscles, like a dancer or runner; he had unusually small ears; he had hypodontia (a condition where some teeth are missing); and he had a rare genetic trait where both upper lateral incisors are missing.


The police tried to identify the man by taking his fingerprints and sending them around the world. They also checked local hotels, hospitals, missing persons reports, dental records, and immigration records. But they could not find any match for the Somerton Man.


The Tamam Shud Mystery

The case took a strange turn when a new clue emerged six months later. On 14 June 1949, a man came forward to the police with a brown suitcase that he had found in a locker at Adelaide railway station on 30 November 1948 - the day before the Somerton Man’s body was found. He said he had kept the suitcase because he thought it might belong to someone he knew who had gone missing.


The police examined the suitcase and found that it contained some clothes (some with their labels removed), toiletries, tools (including a stenciling brush), scissors (with sharpened points), thread (of an unusual type), and a knife (with its handle cut off). They also found some orange waxed thread that matched the thread used to repair one of the Somerton Man’s trousers.


The police concluded that the suitcase belonged to the Somerton Man. They also noticed that there was no name tag or identification on the suitcase or its contents. They wondered why someone would travel with such a nondescript luggage and remove all traces of their identity.


But the most intriguing item in the suitcase was a small piece of paper with two words printed on it: Tamam Shud. The paper had been torn from the last page of a book called Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam , a collection of poems by a 12th-century Persian poet.


The police launched a public appeal to find the book from which the paper had been torn. They received hundreds of responses from people who owned copies of the Rubaiyat , but none matched the torn piece of paper.


Finally, on 22 July 1949, a man came forward with a copy of the book that matched perfectly with the paper. He said he had found the book in his car on 30 November 1948 - again, the day before

To Top