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Was the Somerton Man a Prospector .. ?

Version 2

How is it that in the one particularly clear pic we have so many mystery items placed together on a leather masonic folder?

The white, possibly tan tie .

The homemade metal tools … that look just right for sampling bits off a chunk of uranium ore (pictured).

The brush .. that looks just fine for brushing the bits into a mound.



..  into one of these


The small square of platinum foil used to wrap and protect the tools.

The pencils .. something that would leave a faint impression on the back of a Rubaiyat.

Soft hands and clean fingernails.


Edited comment from Byron Deveson

The piece of “zinc” cannot be zinc (zinc is brittle and would not corrugate like the metal in the photograph) and likewise you can’t corrugate a piece of zinc plated steel.

The only metal in my experience (I was once a trainee secondary metallurgist at AIS at Port Kembla) that looks like the piece in the photo is platinum foil and the only people who would have carried around a piece of platinum foil in 1948 were prospectors.

The clean fingernails and soft skin don’t preclude SM being a prospector. I generally have clean fingernails and I have abnormally soft skin (= Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) even when I am out in the bush prospecting (even 150 Km off the Birdsville track looking for uranium). My better half says my skin “is wasted on a man”.

Byron the Prospector, his mitt.

As I have noted elsewhere, SM could have had EDS and this could help in identifying him. EDS is genetic and is rare.

Paul Lawson noted SM’s smooth hands and Paul, as a wrestler, would have grappled with enough bodies to recognise anomalously smooth skin. Anomalously smooth skin is rare and usually means EDS.

I have previously noted that SM’s hypodontia and possible ectodermal dysplasia could also be symptom of EDS.

The lead, silver etc. in SM’s hair is consistent with SM being involved in prospecting, mining or metallurgy (primary or secondary).

Finally, uranium prospecting in South Australia in 1948 would have been of great interest to both our sort of friends (the USA) and our enemies alike.

The USA did not have access to significant domestic uranium supplies until 1949 (neither did Britain or Russia at the time) and the only significant and readily accessible reserves of uranium in the world were in South Australia.

Uranium prospecting methods were considered to be “secrets” in 1948 and would have been of interest to our friends and enemies alike.


Which makes this what ?


and makes this why?

And seeing we can conceivably fill in that hour and a half of vacant time he was thought to have spent at the train station – assume he flew into Adelaide on Nov 30th.

Heading for Glenelg,

and right into the arms of who, exactly?


Current place names.

The code

There’s no use in finding quality ore if you don’t know how to get back to it … and in 1948, whatever place names were used may have signposted the way.

Mining leases and exploration licences over vast areas of South Australia were eagerly sought. Greedily sought.

Perhaps he was in town to see a man with a rough map and a bag full of rocks.

Field testing ore

Testing ore in the field

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Byron Deveson #

    Dusty, I can’t completely rule out silver foil but the colour of the metal is consistent with it being platinum rather than silver. I have a photo of my piece of platinum foil somewhere – I just checked and if you G**gle “platinum foil” and “tamam shud” up pops a photo of the platinum foil in my prospecting kit. But, it doesn’t matter if it is zinc because a prospector’s kit in 1948 would often contain a zinc sheet for testing cassiterite (tin) ore and who else would carry a piece of zinc, but no socks and other necessities? Only a prospector would do that.

    Platinum foil used for prospecting does become discoloured in the same way as the metal sheet/foil found in SM’s suitcase. Testing samples containing arsenic (a common impurity in many ores) rapidly discolours platinum.

    And I note that a prospecting would have been the perfect cover for someone wanting to gather intelligence about the Woomera rocket range (and the atomic testing sites). It would also be the perfect cover for an agent gathering intel on the uranium resources in South Australia. The USSR certainly would have had a great interest in both skeins. So would the USA, and even the British would have been interested in knowing the details of the uranium orebodies, the prospecting methods etc. because Britain wanted to tie up a secure supply of uranium from South Australia, and soon did so.

    Pete, the soft skin extends to the whole carcass, not limited to just the hands. The whole kit and caboodle.

    The electrician’s screw driver found in SM’s suitcase is unusual but would be essential for someone operating a Geiger counter in 1948, and/or a radio transmitter/receiver.

    January 31, 2020
  2. Clive #

    Apparently, there were a lot of ‘Balts’ working at Woomera erecting buildings, how easy would it have been for a Russian to have been placed there? If a ‘Balt’ disappeared from time to time, would anyone have noticed or even cared?

    January 31, 2020

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