Friday, November 15, 2013

The Mystery of the Somerton Man--Taman Shud and the Zodiac Killer

Like all mystery readers and authors I love a good mystery.  I ran across this case while researching for a new book.  It fascinated me at first.  As those who have read my books know, Rosetta Tosalina is my symbol expert and decipher.  I couldn't pass this up.  A body with no identity, a torn scrap of paper hidden in his trousers, torn from a copy of The Rubaiyat.  This case had it all--a secret code, an undetectable poison, lack of identification and perhaps unrequited love.  For the full story check: Wikipedia

The body, discovered on December 1, 1948 had no visible injuries.  Although many people came forward to identify the body, he was never properly identified.

I'm sure in real life this happens more often than we're aware of, so what kept the mystery alive?  A small piece of printed paper found deep inside a pocket sewn within his trouser pockets.  A phrase "Taman Shud" which was translated meaning "ended" or "finished" and was the last page of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  Ah, but the mystery grew.

A man, unidentified, came to the police station saying he had found a copy of this very rare book in the backseat of his car a week or two before the body was found.  This book was missing the words "Taman Shud" on the last page and had a blank reverse.  Microscopic tests concluded the missing piece came from this book.  In the back of the book were faint pencil markings and thus the undecipherable Code that has kept this mystery alive for many, many years.

At first glance, I felt that perhaps this was a two person note due to the changes in writing patterns within the note.  But after carefully studying it, I have come to the conclusion that if it has any meaning at all, it is not in the letters, but is instead in the individual strokes of each letter.  Someone took a great deal of time to put this together and I would suggest using different pens or pencils.  One with a thick point and one with a thin point.  The note has been very, very carefully drafted.  I feel it has any meaning at all, it is a system of numbers, names, places and perhaps times and distances carefully constructed into the stroke of each letter.

This brings back images of the Zodiac killer from the 1960's and 1970's who left cryptic messages.  Much of his code was broken, but no has been able to break the entire code and the killer was never found.  There's even a comparison below to the M's written by the Zodiac killer and this note.  Did the Zodiac killer see this somewhere and copy it?  Or was it just coincidence?  Another mystery for another day.

Let’s take a look at the letters:
Line 1

A careful examination shows a line first, and then a W with another line.  If you take the original photo and look closely you’ll see the W appears to be made after the first line was drawn and down on top of it.  Suggesting to me that this is two letters or symbols.  Or if this gentleman was actually British it could be a badly drawn crown without the bottom line.
A close examination of the W without the first line shows it’s similar to the Phoenician M.

There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly outstanding or different about the R G which are letters 2 and 3. Except their proximity, which leads me to believe these two letters go together and possibly represent the initials of an individual.

The fourth letter could be either an O or 0 and the oddity is that there are three of these in the note and all three are somewhat different in shape and slant.  The first O is slanted slightly to the right, the second straight up and the third long and oval.

The next letters appear to go together due to the proximity of the letters. AB
One of the most fascinating things about the entire message to me was the A’s.  There are 9 A’s in the message—but each A is distinctly different.

1 and 6 are similar, as each has a slightly curved middle and are drawn about the same size.  No. 2 is slightly similar to No. 7, however the size is different and the middle slash on 2 is pointed down whereas on No. 7 it’s pointed up.  Also noteworthy that No. 7 is connected to the next letter in the note which is Q.  No. 3 bears a slight resemblance to No. 8; however there are still some vague differences in size and length of lines.  No. 4 is a backwards rendition of No. 7 and also identical except for its reversal.  No. 5 is totally different.  No. 9 is totally different than all the rest and connects to the letter before and after it—G or CAB, which I believe to the writer’s initials.

The B’s are also very interesting.  There are 5 b’s which share some characteristics, but are still very different.

B 1 appears to have been drawn in 3 parts – D with a somewhat bad oval at top and then a curly line to the left.  B 2 appears to have been drawn very similar to 1.  B 2 appears to be a 3 with a line.  B4 also appears to be 3 or similar to several Alchemy symbols.  B 5 appears to be written as two separate D’s, with the bottom D open and the line extending and curved.

There appears to be only one read D or at least it could be a D.

Looking closely it appears the curved portion was drawn before the line.

Now we come to the second line which is believed to have been crossed out and rewritten as the third line.  I don’t really think that was the intention of the author.  Perhaps to underline, but not cross out.

There are 5 M’s in the note, some very similar, some distinctly different in size and slant.  M 1 and 3 and 5 appear to have been drawn in two motions.  1 and 3 the second part of the M appears to have been drawn first and is similar to the Phoenician N

5 appears the same, however instead of a straight line we have a curved line coming up and across somewhat like an r.

M’s 2 and 4 are very similar except for size, and if you look close at 5 the bottoms of the lines are slanted outward.  The only M that has this slant.  One thing I did find rather interesting is the 2 and 4 M’s are similar to the M’s used by the Zodiac Killer.  

The next letters are presumed to be L’s.  One in line 2 and one in line 4.

Both appear similar, except in size and bear a resemblance to the Phoenician L and possibly many other symbols I haven’t discovered it.

Next in line we have what are presumed to be I’s, but could also be 1’s.

These are mostly similar except for size.  The slants are close to the same for each. The fourth one could actually be more of a / between what could be two sets of initials.  I say this only because of placement.

This brings us to line 3 and the first letter which once again has been believed to be an M.

I don’t really think this is an M.  It has similarities to the first that is similar to the Phoenician M, but has been drawn with different strokes.

There are 6 T’s similar in slant, but different in size with other small notable differences.  T number 6 is the smallest of the group and has less of a slant to the top line.

We have what appear to be two P’s.  Humm…. Not so sure about that.

Both are different and both appear to have been drawn similar to the D.  The first P has a curve at the bottom of the half circle making it look like C backwards, where the second P has a slight down curve on the same stroke, similar to the stroke on the D.  And there's just a little space between the top of the P and the downward stroke.

There’s one N in the note.

Again it appears these were drawn in 2 different strokes.  The first a slanted line for the left, and then a Y type stroke to complete the N.

There appears to be only one E letter.

A close examination it appears he drew the 3 lines first and the long connecting line.  And odd way to draw and E, but that’s just me.  Maybe other people draw their E’s like that.

This brings us to the middle of the note which appears to have something similar to < drown out long with an X on it.  Of course in America this is a directional sign or less than sign and X has always marked the spot.

It could very well be a directional sign, but I don’t really see that as an X.  It appears to be more to me like a fallen T.  I thought a saw a symbol similar to this, but if so I haven’t found it again.

The new letters in line 5 are Q and C.

Nothing really spectacular about either, except the C appears to have been written almost as an afterthought.  Higher and set apart from the Q.

The first letter in line 6 could be a V, or once again a directional sign.

It appears to be set apart from the other letters slightly and may have been added once again as an afterthought. 

Which brings us to what appear or have been thought to be S.

Both are drawn slightly different, and the 2nd S resembles several different symbols.  I’ve looked at Hebrew, Phoenician, Greek, alchemy and engineering symbols as well as a host of other alphabets and symbols.  Resemblance is remarkable to some only slightly altered.

So having broken this down, letter by letter my conclusions are that if I had years of time to perhaps break it down stroke by stroke I might possibly come up with a plausible answer.  Would it be the correct answer?  I’ll never know because the majority of players in this mystery are now dead, or their names were withheld from the public for reasons unknown.

Was this his plan all along?  If the condition of his internal organs is correct, that would lead me to believe he had been poisoned over a a long period of time--not just one dose.  Did he write the note?  Was that his intention to leave behind a mystery that could never be solved?  Or did his killer write this cryptic message, stuff the "Taman Shud" note into his trousers to throw everyone off and lead them down a trail that would take them away from who this man really was, and who killed him.  In today's world of conspiracy and cover up--well, it seems to scream cover up to me.  But it could simply have been a joke as it reminds me of the college students who took three goats and labeled them 1, 2 and 4.  Days, hours and weeks were spent trying to find the 3rd goat, when no third goat ever existed.

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