Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man Mystery (Part 1)

Mar 17, 2016, 10:54 PM

Of the six questions — who, what, when, where, how and why — we only know three when it comes to the mystery of "The Somerton Man." What and where: a middle-aged man found dead on Somerton Beach, which borders the Adelaide, Australia, suburb of Glenelg. When: he was found by passersby at 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948. As for the remaining questions, authorities, academics, authors, Australians and curious citizens the world over have been seeking answers ever since. The mundane yet mysterious items found on his person and in an unclaimed suitcase (thought to be his) at the Adelaide railway station would yield few clues and many more questions. He had no wallet or identification, and all the tags on his clothing were meticulously removed. Investigators had virtually nothing to go on, except for one intriguing thing: a scrap of paper torn from the last page of a first edition translation of eleventh-century poetry, the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam, which was found rolled up in the man's watch pocket. On it were the words, "Tamám Shud," meaning "ended" or "finished" in Persian, and giving this mystery its other renowned moniker: "The Tamám Shud Case." When the book from which the page was torn surfaced some time later, there appeared to be an unbreakable coded message written on one of the last pages. Further adding to the mystery, there was the assessment by a senior pathologist that the victim most likely died from an untraceable poison. Whether "The Somerton Man" was just a napping tourist with a degenerative disease, a jilted lover out to end it all, or a Cold War spy whose mission had been terminated, we may never know.

This is Part 1 of our our 3 Part in-depth series on The Somerton Man

Tonight's Quote: 'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays: Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays.

  • A selected quatrain from Edward Fitzgerald’s 1st edition translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Show Links:

We've found that some sites are not showing these links as clickable unless they are URLs, so until those outlets improve their show notes section, we are providing actual URLs next to the clickable description of each link to make things easier for our listeners!

The Dark Myths Collective! http://darkmyths.org


One of the better of MANY websites devoted to the case http://bit.ly/1UEn83I A HuffPo Article on the case by Professor Abbott who's interview will be heard in Part 2! http://huff.to/1ID8nqM Another solid article at Phys.org about the case that discusses DNA findings http://bit.ly/1KDq8qj Much of Professor Abbott's collected knowledge on the Case http://bit.ly/1pOYPVf Audio Book versions of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam http://bit.ly/1pOZ42P There are many more links to come, but we are saving some for the other parts of the series http://bit.ly/1R2hTZi

Credits: Episode 033 - "The Somerton Man" Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers. Copyright Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess 2016. All Rights Reserved.