A curious case: Rebirth after thousand years
An elderly man from Norfolk in England called Arthur Flowerdew, who from the age of twelve experienced inexplicable but vivid mental pictures of what seemed like some great city surrounded by desert. One of the images that came most frequently to his mind was of a temple apparently carved out of a cliff. These strange images kept coming back to him, especially when he played with the pink and orange pebbles on the seashore near his home. As he grew older, the details of the city in his vision grew clearer, and he saw more buildings, the layout of the streets, soldiers, and the approach to the city itself through a narrow canyon.
Arthur Flowerdew much later in his life, quite by chance, saw a television documentary film on the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. He was astounded to see, for the very first time, the place he had carried around for so many years in those pictures in his mind. He claimed afterward that he had never even seen a book about Petra. However, his visions became well known, and an appearance in a BBC television program brought him to the attention of the Jordanian government, who proposed to fly him to Jordan along with a BBC producer to film his reactions to Petra. His only previous trip abroad had been a brief visit to the French coast.
Before the expedition left, Arthur Flowerdew was introduced to a world authority on Petra and author of a book on the ancient city, who questioned him in detail, but was baffled by the precision of his knowledge, some of which he said could only have been known by an archaeologist specializing in this area. The BBC recorded Arthur Flowerdew's pre-visit description of Petra, so as to compare it with what would be seen in Jordan. Flowerdew singled out three places in his vision of Petra: a curious volcano-shaped rock on the outskirts of the city, a small temple where he believed he had been killed in the first century B.C., and an unusual structure in the city that was well known to archaeologists, but for which they could find no function.
The Petra expert could recall no such rock and doubted that it was there. When he showed Arthur Flowerdew a photograph of the part of the city where the temple had stood, he astounded him by pointing to almost the exact site. Then the elderly man calmly explained the purpose of the structure, one that had not been considered before, as the guard room in which he had served as a soldier two thousand years before. A significant number of his predictions proved accurate. On the expedition's approach to Petra, Arthur Flowerdew pointed out the mysterious rock; and once in the city he went straight to the guard room, without a glance at the map, and demonstrated how its peculiar check-in system for guards was used.
Finally he went to the spot where he said he had been killed by an enemy spear in the first century B.C. He also indicated the location and purpose of other unexcavated structures on the site.The expert and archaeologist of Petra who accompanied Arthur Flowerdew could not explain this very ordinary Englishman's uncanny knowledge of the city. He said:
He's filled in details and a lot of it is very consistent with known
archaeological and historical facts and it would require a mind very
different from his to be able to sustain a fabric of deception on the
scale of his memories—at least those which he's reported to me. I
don't think he's a fraud. I don't think he has the capacity to be a
fraud on this scale.4
What else could explain Arthur Flowerdew's extraordinary knowledge except rebirth? You could say that he might have read books about Petra, or that he might have even received his knowledge by telepathy yet the fact remains that some of the information he was able to give was unknown even to the experts.