At 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948, the body of a well-dressed man was found lying in the sand on Somerton Beach just south of Adelaide, South Australia. Sewn into a hidden pocket of the man’s pants was a scrap of paper, the final page from an edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam on which these words were printed: “taman shud” (Persian for “finished”).
Following an appeal by police, a man in nearby Glenelg turned in the copy of the book from which the page had been torn, which he had discovered lying on the seat of his car. In the back of the book were faint pencil markings of five lines of capital letters, with one line crossed out. The letters were thought to be in code, but if they were, the code was never deciphered:
No cause of death was ever proven, though the coroner suspected the use of some undetectable poison. Nor was the dead man ever identified, despite intensive efforts by police that included worldwide distribution of the decedent’s photograph and other information about the body. The book itself appeared to have been an edition for which there was no record of its printing.
Fascination with “The Taman Shud Case“, also known as “The Mystery of the Somerton Man“, has persisted down to the present — and it has inspired the creation of a new album by a Virginia band named Harmonic Cross, entitled It Is Finished. Continue reading »