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Oddly, there was a half-smoked cigarette in his mouth on the beach, which (when taken together with the lividity) would strongly suggest that the corpse had been actively posed by person or persons unknown.
Finally: the best book on the whole Tamam Shud mystery is without much doubt Gerry Feltus’ detailed (2010) The Unknown Man.
On the morning of 1st December 1948, an unidentified man was found dead on Somerton Beach just south of Adelaide: he is usually referred to as “The Somerton Man” or sometimes “The Unknown Man”.
Six weeks later, a suitcase apparently containing the same man’s property was retrieved from Adelaide Railway Station’s cloakroom, where it had been deposited at around 11am the day before his death.
All the same, when she was later shown the plaster cast bust of the dead man, she was “” (Feltus, p.178), giving rise to a strong suspicion that she knew more than she was letting on.
She did tell police that she had independently given a copy of the Rubaiyat to a man called Alfred Boxall, who she had met at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney in 1944 while she was training to be a nurse at the nearby Royal North Shore Hospital.
This has, of course, unleashed a torrent of speculation, though with not a shred of external evidence to back any of it up.
Also: one unusual feature of Boxall’s copy of the Rubaiyat is that the nurse had apparently signed it “Jestyn”, though her name at the time was actually Jessica Ellen Harkness.Even so, useful and actionable facts about the case remain painfully few, very far between, and continue to be difficult to connect with each other.It’s true that if we could identify the man himself, we might gain enough context to understand his cipher: but based on the evidence we currently have, I think the odds would seem to be strongly against either mystery being resolved any time soon. * ABC Inside Story documentary, episode “The Somerton Beach Mystery”, first screened Thursday, August 24th, 1978: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, all on You Tube. * Professor Derek Abbott’s primary evidence page (includes scans of the inquest reports, etc).Yet a curious feature is that despite having been found with his head propped up against the sea wall, the dead man’s body had extensive lividity (blood pooling) at the back of the head, suggesting that his body had spent some considerable time after dying with the head in a quite different position (i.e.lying on its back face up, yet with the head slightly below the rest of the body).Careful analysis of this suggests that it is more likely to be an ‘acrostic’ (i.e.