The Death of the Somerton Man

Perhaps one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the past 100 years is the Somerton man, discovered leaning against a sea wall in the middle of Somerton Beach.  The case has everything needed for a classic enigma, and quite a few more elements that are maddeningly perplexing, such as the curious code discovered linked to the case, and the fact that the man’s death seems to have been from a poison that is undetectable by science.

The details of the case are so enigmatic, they could easily span an entire book, and each one is more perplexing than the last.  The man was of somewhere around 40 years of age, and in top physical condition.  His head wore no hat, but he did wear a dapper two breasted grey coat.  Police who found the dead man with no identification discovered that he held in his inventory a bus ticket to St. Leonards in Glenelg from the city he was discovered in a mere block from the bus station, an aluminum comb, half a packet of chewing gum, a pack of cigarettes with the Army Club logo on it, but containing a different brand of cigarettes, sixpence, and a  box of matches, partially used.

A subsequent search of his pockets by doctors revealed a note that said “Tamam Shud,” which means “The End” is known to be the last line on a page of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  The words were discovered to have been torn from a page of a very rare copy with no text on the reverse side.  The matching book to it was found when a man whose name and profession were suppressed by the courts came forward and revealed that the incredibly rare book had been found in the back seat of his car on the 30th of November in 1948.  What they found in the book was possibly the most incredible aspect of the case.  On one page of The Rubaiyat, was a code.  Many interpretations of this code exclude the full text, but when examining a photograph scanned from the original document it’s clear the second line “MLIAOI” is possibly crossed out and possibly underlined.


Cryptographers, and members of several agencies from many different branches of the government in Australia, Great Britain, and The United States attempted to decode the message, and no one has been able to fully decode the message.  It seems the code could have been indicated by the first letter of each word, but this would make it equally difficult for the intended recipient to decode as well as anyone else who intercepted it.  What is the real meaning behind this mysterious code?  And who was the man who left it behind?

Even today the code remains as much of a mystery as the man who was found dead and connected to it.  One thing I noticed in the code is that the first letter of the first four lines was an M.  Also, the word MLIAOI may not actually be a code, but rather a word itself.  Mliaoi could be the key, or it could be a word or name in itself.  If this is merely a code, then it’s solid enough to remain unsolvable for quite some time, but was clearly meant to be found.