Monthly Archives: February 2017

Atlantis of the Sands: The Legendary Land of Riches

Atlantis of the Sands is the legendary lost city of Southern Arabia. Wikimedia commons. Public domain.

Atlantis of the Sands is the legendary lost city of Southern Arabia. Wikimedia commons. Public domain.

Atlantis of the Sands is a fabled lost city that supposedly existed once long ago along a busy trade route in Arabia. Laden with riches of red silver ore, splendors of large markets, and frankincense as valuable as gold, it may have been a huge emporium and stopping point for merchants. Grand legends told over the years have inspired searches that led to interesting discoveries. It now appears the lost city may have been more than just a legend after all.

Over the last several centuries, this mysterious place has attracted scholars and archaeologists who have attempted to discover its true location. Atlantis of the Sands acquired its nickname because, like its counterpart of the sea, there have been so many grand stories and people who have tried to find it. The original names for the legendary place are Ubar, Wabar or Iram.

Atlantis of the Sands is presumed to have been founded circa 3000 B.C. Located on the banks of a river that no longer exists, the city was a popular destination due to its vast trade markets, availability of resources and abundance of water. Legends describe large walls that boasted towering pillars. This “many towered city,” as described in the Koran, contained palaces and impressive temples. The Koran also attested to the uniqueness of the pillared city: “[Iram]…whose like had not been built in the entire land.”

Ranulph Fiennes wrote and published the book “Atlantis of the Sands: The Search for the Lost City of Ubar” in 1992, which helped to make it quite famous. Bedouin people who live in the deserts say that this city was lost in the Arabian sands when a huge catastrophic disaster occurred.

 

In Search of Atlantis of the Sands

Archaeological site of Ubar. Source: http://zagadki-istorii.ru/artefakt-43.html

Archaeological site of Ubar. Source: http://zagadki-istorii.ru/artefakt-43.html

Archaeologists have attempted to locate the city of Ubar using ancient maps and descriptions from legendary tales. Several inconclusive sightings only served to further the mystery of whether or not the Atlantis of the Sands really existed.

Research into the city of Ubar places the time of its destruction at somewhere around 100 C.E. Many experts think that the people there may have discovered how to farm frankincense, which was highly valuable and produced in the southern Arabian Desert. This theory is supported by the idea that the supposed location for Ubar is along one of the well-known trade routes of the time.

 

Bertram Thomas and T.E. Lawrence

Remains of Ubar. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons

Remains of Ubar. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons

There have been a number of explorers who have attempted to find the city, including Bertram Thomas, an Englishman. He embarked on an expedition in 1930 to locate Ubar, based on previous research by other explorers. It was Thomas’ notes and research in large part that had an influence on the research of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. He was an archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat in the near east region. It may have been Lawrence who first described Ubar as Atlantis of the Sands. He had dreams of finding it, but he died unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident.

As Thomas began his exploration, he was told many stories about the area by Bedouin guides. They emphasized that it was dangerous to venture there. Additionally, they stated that the city had been destroyed because of the immorality of the people who had lived there, and that if they continued on their journey they would bring evil upon themselves. Thomas was not deterred by these stories, but he died before he could find the city of Ubar. He did, however, find old camel tracks.

 

The Nicholas Clapp Team

Depiction of the Atlantis of the Sands. Source: Pixabay, public domain.

Depiction of the Atlantis of the Sands. Source: Pixabay, public domain.

In the late 1980s the film-maker and amateur archaeologist, Nicholas Clapp, led an expedition to find Ubar based on the work of Bertram Thomas. He utilized the latest research, NASA satellite images, and ancient maps created by previous explorers. Among the members of the Clapp expedition was Ranulph Fiennes, who subsequently wrote the Atlantis of the Sands book.

The NASA images of the Rub ‘al Khali desert were able to see below the surface sand to identify well-worn roads that merchants on camelback had used for trade long ago. Interestingly, the tracks led to one place now called Shisr. The Clapp team decided to investigate and they discovered an ancient structure underneath a 300 year old building. They determined that this was some type of fortress that stood at the heart of a settlement. Pottery, coins, and evidence of many ancient fire pits dotted the area. Research indicates the artifacts date back to at least 2800 BC.

The fortress may have served as the king’s palace and a processing facility for frankincense. It may have also provided protection in times of danger. Eight walls circled the central building and a tower about 30 feet high stood at each corner. Clapp determined that this must be the ancient city of Ubar.

Unfortunately, a great deal of the fortress had fallen into a limestone sinkhole, and they were unable to excavate the rest of it. Fiennes surmised in his book that Ubar was really once a place called “Omanum Emporium” shown on ancient maps of Southern Arabia.

Like so many ancient legends, there are still more questions than answers. Has Atlantis of the Sands been found? Rather than having been smitten by God, did it fall into a giant sinkhole? For now, the legend is still alive, and only the sands of time will tell whether the vast desert will be relinquishing its secrets of this magnificent fabled city.

For more strange mysteries from the past, visit Historicmysteries.com.

Sources:

Atlantis of the Sands

http://www.islam101.com/archeology/ubar.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantis_of_the_Sands

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-02-05/news/mn-1192_1_lost-city/2

The Somerton Man: Australia’s Most Baffling Unsolved Case

Police photo of the Somerton Man.

Police photo of the Somerton Man.

The Black Dahlia. Jack the Ripper. The Zodiac Killings. JonBenet Ramsey. The Axeman of New Orleans.

These are some of the most captivating unsolved murder mysteries of all time and they share a common thread: all of the victims are known.

The Tamam Shud, also known as the Somerton Man, case is different. In this instance, the victim is an unknown man with some mysterious items in his possession and no known cause of death.

 

Somerton Beach

 On November 30th, 1948, a couple went for a walk along Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia, around sunset. During their walk, they found a man lying in the sand, smoking a cigarette. His head was propped up against the seawall near a set of stairs leading to the nearby road and homes.

Somerton Beach. The place where the victim's body was found is marked with a black X.

Somerton Beach. The place where the victim’s body was found is marked with a black X.

On a warm summer day like this, the couple, John Lyons and his wife, believed the man to be a drunk who stumbled down the stairs. They thought nothing much about the man being dressed in a suit with highly polished shoes.

The couple continued on their walk. A half-hour later, they returned to the scene to find the man lying motionless in the same position they’d found him earlier. Mosquitoes buzzed around his face. The couple joked that he was “dead to the world” drunk.

The next morning, John Lyons learned the man wasn’t dead drunk the night before. He was dead. Lyons saw a commotion on the beach where the man laid the night before and went to investigate the scene.

He found the man lying in the same position as yesterday. There was a half-smoked cigarette resting on the dead man’s collar.

Authorities took the dead man to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where time of death was put at 2 am on December 1st, seven hours after John Lyons discovered him on the beach.

 

The Somerton Man’s Possessions & Autopsy

The Somerton Man's suitcase and personal effects.

The Somerton Man’s suitcase and personal effects.

A full autopsy was performed on December 2nd, but no cause of death was established. It was determined that his pupils were smaller than normal and his spleen was three times larger than normal. His liver was filled with congested blood. His calves and feet resembled those of a ballet dancer.

The man’s last meal was a pasty. Multiple tests of blood and organ tissue failed to find any source of the poison originally believed to be the cause of death.

The man’s identity could not be determined from the autopsy.

The items in Somerton Man’s possession were equally notable for what was found as for what wasn’t.

Investigators found two combs, some matches, a pack of chewing gum, and a pack of Army Club brand cigarettes. Seven of the cigarettes had been replaced by a pricier brand called Kensitas. He had tickets from Adelaide to the beach, explaining how he arrived.

There was no cash or coin, no wallet, no form of ID.

The pocket had been repaired with orange thread yet all of the brand labels had been removed from his clothing.

Fingerprints of the Somerton Man were taken and circulated around the world, but no one could identify the man definitively.

 

The Suitcase and the Scrap of Paper

 On January 12th, 1949, South Australia police discovered a suitcase that belonged to the Somerton Man at the Adelaide rail station. It had been in the station’s possession since November 30th.

Once again, the Somerton Man’s possessions led to more questions than answers. Police discovered the orange thread used to darn the pocket. They discovered a stencil kit used to stencil cargo before shipment. There was a table knife with the handle altered. There was a feather stitched jacket determined to be American in origin.

The suitcase bore no stickers or tags. The labels had been removed from all but three pieces of clothing. The labels left read “Kean” and “T. Keane”, but these clues led to Somerton Man’s identity.

A second search of Somerton Man’s possessions in April 1949 by John Cleland led to the most famous clue in the case. John Cleland’s investigation found a scrap of tightly rolled paper inside a small watch fob packet in Somerton Man’s pants. The original investigation had overlooked the fob pocket.

Police photo of the scrap of paper found among the Somerton Man's belongings.

Police photo of the scrap of paper found among the Somerton Man’s belongings.

Cleland opened up the piece of paper and discovered two words: Tamam Shad.  In English, “It is ended.” These are the last words of the English version of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Khayyam’s rubiayat’s had become popular in Australia during World War II with copies being produced throughout the country.

The police took this clue to mean this was a suicide, rather than a murder. An official murder investigation was never opened. Instead, this was treated as a missing person’s investigation.

 

The Rubaiyat

 The case took a new turn when a copy of the Rubaiyat was brought to the Adelaide police on July 23rd, 1949. A man brought the book into the station, claiming that it had been in his car. The book had been found in the backseat by the man’s brother-in-law during a drive in December and was placed in the car’s glove compartment.

When the man opened the book, he found the last page missing. Prompted by a newspaper article, he brought the book to the police where Detective Sergeant (D.S.) Lionel Leane took possession of it.

In the back of the book, D.S. Leane found a phone number penciled into the cover. There were some capital letters pressed into the cover as well, but the police had a new lead in the case.

The phone number was unlisted but belonged to a nurse nicknamed Jestyn. Her name was never publicly released by the police. She lived a block away from where Somerton Man’s body was found on the beach.

Jestyn was an unwed mother of a 2-year-old named Robin in 1949, though she was living with her future husband at the time. She admitted to giving a copy of the Rubaiyat to a man named Alfred Boxall during World War II as a gift.

Police initially believed that Boxall would turn out to be the Somerton Man, but he was quite alive when they arrived to speak with him. He presented the police with his copy of the Rubaiyat, completely intact with Jestyn’s inscription to him.

Police brought Jestyn in a year later, in 1950, to question her again. She had no recollection of any phone call with Somerton Man. She was shown photos of the Somerton Man. D.S. Leade’s notes state that she was “completely taken back, to the point of giving the appearance that she was about to faint.”

Despite her reaction to the photos, Jestyn denied that she knew the man.

The exact copy of the Somerton Man’s Rubiayat has never been located.

 

SomertonManCodeThe Code

The most tantalizing clue in this case is the code D.S. Leane discovered in the back of the book in capital letters. The code was released to the public, sparking a flurry of amateur codebreakers. Naval Intelligence in Australia attempted to break the code as well, but without success.

The code was determined to read:

WRGOABABD

MLIAOI

WTBIMPANETP

MLIABOAIAQC

ITTMTSAMSTGAB

However, the Australian Navy determined in the 1950s that the code is unbreakable due to the limited sample size. They believed the code to be in English and the letters to represent the first letter of a word.

Attempts in the last few years by Derek Abbott, a professor of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at the University of Adelaide, using computers to decipher the code have been limited by the processing power of a single computer. A single attempt to search for phrases using 5 letters, MLIAB, took over 18 hours to generate a single result.

Professor Abbot has reached out to Google for permission to access their information directly, but Google has refused as of publication.

 

The Prevailing Theories

 There are two prevailing theories regarding the fate of the Somerton Man.

Theory 1: The Somerton Man was the father of Jestyn’s son, Robin. This theory is based on rare genetic similarities between the Somerton Man and Robin, such as the shape of the teeth and the ears. DNA testing has shown that Robin has American relatives.

The theory suggests that Jestyn, unwed at the time, had a child with the Somerton Man. She kept the father a secret when she met her future husband. She then told the Somerton Man that she could no longer allow him to see his child. Devastated, the Somerton Man took his own life using an exotic poison that was undiscovered in the original testing.

Theory 2: The Somerton Man was a spy working for another nation. The code in the book is believed to be a secret message for his spymaster. However, Somerton Man was caught and poisoned by the cigarettes he was smoking.

Since the man was a spy, no nation has come forward to claim him as their agent, even after all this time.

Both theories have their merits, but without more evidence, the identity of the Somerton Man will remain unknown.

 

Skye Vitiritti is a writer of historical fiction and horror novels. Her latest work, My Eternal Crusade: Jerusalem 1183, comes out on March 1, 2017. You can follow her on Twitter @TheWriterSkye or on her website, www.skyevitiritti.com

 

Sources:

Balint, R. (2010) The Somerton Man: An Unsolved History. Retrieved from http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/csrj/article/view/1520

 

Dash, M. (2011, August 12) The Body on Somerton Beach. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-body-on-somerton-beach-50795611/

 

Zyga, L. (2015, June 2) After years of forencis investigation, Somerton Man’s identity remains a mystery (Part 1: History and Code). Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2015-06-years-forensic-somerton-identity-mystery.html

 

Zyga, L. (2015, June 3) After years of forencis investigation, Somerton Man’s identity remains a mystery (Part 2: DNA, isotopes, and autopsy). Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2015-06-years-forensic-somerton-identity-mystery_1.html

When the Dead Walked in Haiti: The Strange Story of Clairvius Narcisse

Zombies from the George Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.

Zombies from the George Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.

Zombies have taken over the cultural zeitgeist in recent years. They are the go to horror movie monster, dominating media from video games to commercials to TV shows.  Even the government has jumped on the bandwagon, using the phenomena as a way to promote disaster preparedness.  It has gotten to the point that there are some who seriously believe that an outbreak of zombies like the ones seen in movies could happen in reality.

However, this is not to say that zombies are not real, in a sense. The modern zombie cultural phenomenon can trace its origins back to George Romero’s classic 1968 B-movie, Night of the Living Dead.  The low-budget flick depicted a horde of “ghouls,” they were never once called zombies in the movie, attacking hapless victims trapped in a rural farm house.  While Night of the Living Dead was the first modern zombie movie, it was not the first zombie movie.  That honor goes to the 1932 Universal pictures film, White Zombie, starring Bela Lugosi as a sorcerer with a stable full of voodoo zombies to do his bidding.  This movie was the Hollywood interpretation of a longstanding Haitian folk tradition, where bokors or witch doctors use foul magic to enslave the souls of victims.  Far from mere superstition, the voodoo zombie phenomenon was and may still be a very real reality in Haiti, where the dead are said to walk among the living.

 

Clairvius_Narcisse_

Clairvius Narcisse

Clairvius Narcisse, a Modern Zombie?

On April 30th, 1962, a man by the name of Clairvius Narcisse checked himself into the Albert Scheitzer Hospital in Deschapelle, Haiti.  Narcisse had been suffering fevers and body aches leading up to his visit to the hospital, but the tipping point was when he began to cough up blood.  Upon being admitted to the hospital, Narcisse’s condition went downhill rapidly.  He began to suffer from a variety of symptoms: pulmonary edema, hypothermia, trouble breathing, hypotension, and digestive problems.  At one point, his lips turned blue, and he reported that his entire body was tingling.  By May 2nd, Narcisse was pronounced dead by an American doctor and an American-trained doctor, both who were baffled by the man’s sudden rapid deterioration.  His oldest sister identified his body, and Clairvius Narcisse was laid to rest the next day, or so the Narcisse family thought.

Eighteen years later, Narcisse was discovered by his sister Angelina in a village market place, when he approached her claiming to be her long dead brother.  He identified himself with a childhood nickname unknown outside of close family circles, and a subsequent investigation with help from the Narcisse family proved that the man claiming to be Clairvius Narcisse knew other things about the family not known by outsiders.  For all intents and purposes, the man claiming to be Claivius Narcisse was indeed who he said he was.  His story was a strange and shocking one: he claimed to have been turned into a zombie.

 

A Wild Story

According to Narcisse, he was conscious but unable to move through the whole ordeal of being declared dead, being zipped into a body bag, and even during his burial.  Sometime later, Narcisse claimed he was dug out of his grave by a bokor and his helpers, who beat him senseless and transported him to a sugar plantation.  Once on the plantation, the hapless Narcisse and other zombies would labor from sunup to sundown, only stopping for one small meal a day.  This time was passed in a dream-like state, and his memories of the two years he spent on the plantation were fuzzy.  His imprisonment came to an end one day when a fellow zombie rebelled and killed the bokor with a hoe.  Free from the thrall of the witchdoctor, the zombies then escaped.  Narcisse wandered the Haitian countryside for the next 16 years, attempting unsuccessfully to contact his family.  He only returned home after his brother’s death, believing his brother was responsible for the ordeal.

 

The Magic of the Bokors

It is easy to dismiss Clairvius Narcisse’s wild story as a fraud, but to do so would be to show a grave misunderstanding of both human psychology in general and the Haitian culture in particular.  The belief in zombies dates back something like five hundred years in Haiti, and stems from much older African spiritual beliefs .

The word zombie comes from the word Nzambi, meaning “spirit of a dead person.”  This complex folkloric tradition was transported to Haiti with slaves, mixing with Catholic beliefs and other fragments of spiritual traditions to become voodoo.  Haitian slaves brought up in this milieu in the 1600’s believed that upon death their spirits would return to an idealized Africa, but those who committed suicide to escape the horrors of slavery would become zombies, trapped in undeath and bound to an even more horrific form of slavery than that they endured in life.

The Slave Revolt of 1791, the beginning of the Haitian Revolution.

The Slave Revolt of 1791, the beginning of the Haitian Revolution.

After the Haitian Revolution of 1804, the French were driven from the country, and slavery as it had been practiced for over 200 years came to an end.  The practice cast a long shadow though, manifesting in the renewed zombie folklore, where the voodoo bokor took a prominent role, becoming the ones who reanimated corpses with their magic and used them as slave labor.  In a sense, slavery under the French left an indelible imprint on the soul of Haiti, a lingering fear that found its expression in the pervasive belief in zombies.

This is the cultural environment that Clairvius Narcisse grew up in.  He would have known what zombies were, and what it meant to be branded as a zombie; namely, to be labeled a social pariah and outcast. He would have had no reason to lie about his experiences.  With the possibility of fraud discounted, the unsettling explanation for the strange story is that there might well be something to the stories of zombies.  When Dr. Nathan Kline, a psychopharmacologist heard of the case, he sought to verify that Narcisse was who he claimed, and proving that, went on to attempt to figure out what happened.  He dispatched Harvard graduate student Wade Davis to Haiti to find what substance the bokors used to create their undead servants.

 

Zombie Powder and Datura: Ingredients for Zombification

A stuffed specimen of a pufferfish from circa 1710.

A stuffed specimen of a pufferfish from circa 1710.

Davis was able to secure samples of zombie powder from several bokors.  Their recipes for the concoction varied, but three ingredients were constants: ground human bones, plants with irritating hairs, and dried pufferfish.  The bones and plant hairs were meant to irritate the skin of victims, causing them to scratch and open up small wounds that would force the active ingredient of the powder into their blood streams.  The active ingredient is believed to be tetrodotoxin, a deadly poison found in the skin and organs of the pufferfish.  Five hundred times more powerful than cyanide, the poison blocks nerve transmissions, resulting in the same symptoms Clairvius Narcisse suffered in the hospital on the day he was declared dead.  Depending on the dosage, it also causes a state of paralysis that is difficult to distinguish from actual death. However, the victim is fully lucid during the ordeal.

The zombie powder would be blown into the victims face, or applied to the skin on open wounds.  Sometimes, due to the variance of the amount of tetrodotoxin between individual pufferfish, several applications were needed to generate the desired effects. In these cases, the powder could be surreptitiously put into the victim’s clothing.

Once the victim enters into the paralyzed state and is buried alive, the bokor then goes to the grave site and digs up the “corpse,” who has perhaps suffered some brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and most certainly has suffered psychological trauma during the entire ordeal.  These factors can make the newly unearthed zombie more pliable, but the sure-fire next step for a bokor is to feed his new undead servant a paste of sweet potatoes, cane syrup, and Datura, the zombie cucumber.  Datura contains atropine and scopolamine, hallucinogens that induce a variety of psychological effects such as confusion, psychosis, and amnesia.  The hallucinogenic brew keeps the victim pliant to the will of the bokor.  To further sap the strength and will of the zombie, they are fed a salt-free diet.

 

Zombification: the Ultimate Punishment?

Haiti is a tiny country situated at the end of an island. Land is at a premium, and land rights are taken very seriously. By Rémi Kaupp - Own work. Sources of data:NASA SRTM3 for terrain (public domain);NASA SWBDfor coastlines and lakesNGDC ETOPO1 for bathymetry (public domain);NGDC World Data Bank IIfor borders and rivers (public domain);VMap-0for miscellaneous data (public domain);UN map of Haiti for checking, 2008Locator map: File:Karibik Haiti Position.png.Created using this tutorial by User:Sting., GFDL,

Haiti is a tiny country situated at the end of an island. Land is at a premium, and land rights are taken very seriously.
By Rémi Kaupp – Own work. Sources of data:NASA SRTM3 for terrain (public domain);NASA SWBDfor coastlines and lakesNGDC ETOPO1 for bathymetry (public domain);NGDC World Data Bank IIfor borders and rivers (public domain);VMap-0for miscellaneous data (public domain);UN map of Haiti for checking, 2008Locator map: File:Karibik Haiti Position.png.Created using this tutorial by User:Sting., GFDL,

Haitian folklore claims that the bokors used their zombies as slaves to perform free labor on their plantations.  However, people who go through the ordeal of zombification are not likely to make the best manual laborers.  Many would be more or less vegetables, depending how long they were underground, and those who weren’t would be suffering the effects of Datura and might well be out of their minds.  It is clear from Narcisse’s account that bokors would extract physical labor from their slaves, but given the high unemployment rate in Haiti both then (and now,) cheap labor not suffering under the effects of zombification was not in short supply.  If this was the case, there was little economic incentive to turn someone into a zombie. If that were the case, zombies would be mass produced.

The motivation to create zombies, far from being for economic reasons, stems from the social norms of Haitian culture.  Rooted in ancient memories of the horrors of slavery, to become a zombie is to become the ultimate slave.  It is to literally lose one’s self, and to become an automaton of flesh at the beck and call of another.  Zombies are not made to create a labor force, but rather to punish those who break the social norms.  It is the ultimate punishment for those who refuse to play by society’s rules.

A good example of this is Clairvius Narcisse himself.  Due to his extraordinary story, it is natural to see him in a sympathetic light, but those who knew Narcisse before his untimely death likely would not have shared the sentiment.  Narcisse was a difficult man to deal with, to say the least.  He regularly fought with family members.  He fathered children out of wedlock and refused to be responsible for them.  He became wealthy at the expense of others, and drew much jealousy in his village for being among the first to upgrade his house from a thatch roof to a tin roof.

None of this in itself warranted the punishment of zombification, but his most serious infraction came when he refused to give up his share of the family land to his brother, who was trying to support a family.  Haitians, living on an island nation that has historically relied primarily on agriculture to support itself, take matters involving land rights very seriously.  They could quite literally be life or death for a family who cannot access land needed to support itself.  So, when Narcisse refused to give his land to his brother who was in need, he crossed a line and his punishment was to be turned into a zombie.

 

Zombies:  A Haitian Phenomenon

It is clear from the story of Clairvius Narcisse and others that the zombie phenomenon is very real in Haiti.  However, this does not mean that zombie-phobes out there need to hole up in their zombie apocalypse bunker just yet.  Zombies in Haiti stem from a deeply rooted cultural system that grew out of the horrors of slavery and colonialism.  It is an outgrowth of the Haitian psyche and the mish-mash of cultural, spiritual, and religious influences that came together in the tiny island nation.

Put short, zombies can only happen in Haiti.  Certainly, dosing an American with tetrodotoxin and then dosing them with Datura would induce the medical effects noted earlier in the article, but without growing up in the cultural context of Haiti, the effects would be limited to their physical and psychological components.  They would lack the spiritual and social connotations they have for someone brought up in a culture who believes deeply and wholeheartedly in zombies.  To Clairvius, and other poor souls who have fallen victim to zombification, the process is the culmination of their deepest cultural anxieties.  The horror they must have felt would have been increased to the nth degree compared to that of an outsider, because in their minds they would suffering the worst fate a person could suffer: losing their soul and becoming a mindless slave.

In the end, zombies can be seen as a product of a culture deeply influenced by slavery, rather than the product of magic or sorcery.  While the pharmacological factors at work in the process cannot be ignored, in the end a person becomes a zombie in their own mind.  The rituals and medications given simply act as vehicles who bring the cultural belief embedded into the person’s mind into their reality.  It is not clear whether the practice continues in modern Haiti.  As secret and taboo as the ritual was, it is very possible that zombies are still being created in remote parts of Haiti even today, unbeknownst to the outside world.

 

Sources:

Atwill, Mark.  Haitian Zombies.  Isciencemag.co.uk. January 30, 2014. I, Science. February 5, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.isciencemag.co.uk/features/haitian-zombies/

Ginalis, Elizabeth. Zombification Process. Sites.duke.edu. 2014. Nathan S. Kline’s Zombi in Haiti. February 5. 2017. Retrieved from: https://sites.duke.edu/ginalisgh323/zombification-process/

Hahn, Patrick D. Dead Man Walking: Wade Davis and the Secret of the Zombie Poison. Biology-online.org.  September 4, 2007. Biology-Online. February 5, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.biology-online.org/articles/dead_man_walking.html?mobile=on

Mariani, Mike. The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies. TheAtlantic.com. October 28, 2015. The Atlantic. February 5, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/10/how-america-erased-the-tragic-history-of-the-zombie/412264/