Life

Solving the Mysteries of Taimon Island: The True Story Behind the 89 Tombs and Deadly “Curse”

   On the southeast side of Pohnpei Island in the Pacific Ocean, there is a small island called Taimon. There are 89 mysterious cemeteries on the island. The cemeteries are built by huge basalt pillars criss-crossing, reaching a height of more than 4 meters. From a distance, the strange rocks look like giant stalagmites protruding from the water, and from a close look, they look like sea temples. It is said that the chiefs of Ponapei Island are buried in these cemeteries, so Taimon Island is also called Tomb Island.
   In 2018, American marine expert Bill Smith accidentally entered Tomb Island due to a shipwreck, and various mysterious events on the island surprised him again and again. In the next few years, he entered the island many times and finally solved many of the island’s mysteries.
  Entering Tomb Island by mistake
   Bill Smith is a staff member of the New York State Marine Surveying Bureau. Every year, he spends half a year with the ship going to the Pacific Ocean to carry out scientific research. On June 1, 2018, Bill finished his three-month offshore operation and prepared to return to New York to share reunion time with his wife.
   At noon that day, the sea was still sunny and sunny, but in the afternoon, it was cloudy and it rained heavily. Bill has experienced this situation too many times, so he is not surprised. But this heavy rain lasted for three full hours, and Bill became irritable.
   At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, what Bill was worried about happened. The strong wind and the stormy sea capsized the scientific research ship. He reminded himself not to panic, otherwise he would have drowned before the rescue ship arrived. In desperation, Bill picked up a piece of wood floating on the sea, then relaxed his body and let the waves throw him up.
   Bill thought of his wife and children far away in the United States, and prayed that God would hear his cry for help. Fortunately, half an hour later, the rain subsided and so did the waves. Bill called his colleagues by name, but got no response except for the sound of the waves. After drifting like this for a long time, Bill vaguely saw the land, and driven by the waves, he was getting closer and closer to the land. At this time, he was in despair, because this land was just an island. In the Pacific Ocean, there are many islands like this, most of which are coral islands. Even if they can go to the islands, there are no living conditions, and rescue ships will not notice them.
   After a lot of effort, Bill landed on the island with his exhausted body. He found that although the stones on the island were everywhere, they were not in disarray. It was like playing a game of sticks. Numerous sticks of different sizes were stacked on top of each other and arranged in layers in an orderly manner. “This is definitely a trace of human activities.” Bill was excited and began to admire the basalt. Basalt is formed by the cooling of lava after a volcanic eruption. In its natural state, it does not appear in the hexagonal and octagonal columnar shapes.
   “Who are you?” Just as Bill was concentrating, a substandard German came from behind him. Bill was taken aback. Although he is an American, he has been working with scientists from various countries all year round and knows a little German. He looked back and saw a man holding a bow and arrow standing on a rock ten meters away. Bill quickly explained that he was washed up on the island in a shipwreck and would not pose a threat to anyone.
   Bill spoke limited German words and made gestures, finally letting the other party understand what he meant. The man introduced himself as Nelson, a native of Ponapei who has lived here for many years.
   Under the leadership of Nelson, Bill came to the gathering place of the locals and met the leader. After the leader learned why Bill went to the island, he didn’t make it difficult for him. Instead, he ordered his tribe to prepare a lot of food for him, and let him live in Nelson’s house temporarily.
   Nelson told Bill that this small island called Temon was within the scope of Pohnpei Island, because Pohnpei Island was once a German colony, so most of their communication with the outside world was in German. Although Taimon Island is small, it has a high status among the countless small islands around it, because it is the burial place of the chiefs of Ponape Island. The huge stone pillars that Bill saw just now are the cemetery, and the locals call it the Nanmatel Ruins. “South Martel” has two meanings on the island: one is “concentrating many homes”, and the other is “the universe surrounding the archipelago”.
   The ruins of Nanmatel are half submerged in seawater, so if you want to see the true face of the ruins, you can only enter by boat when the tide is high. When the tide ebbs, the surroundings of the ruins become muddy swamps, making it impossible for small boats to move. The people on the island believed that this was the will of the deceased, and the ancestors did not want outsiders to disturb their undead at all.
   “You’d better not trespass on the cemetery, or you will be cursed and die a miserable death.” Seeing Nelson’s serious expression, Bill promised that he would never enter without permission.
   Bill, who had been educated in modern civilization, naturally did not believe in the “curse” that Nelson called. A few days later, after Nelson and his family went fishing, he decided to visit the cemetery again.
   When he got near the cemetery, Bill found a small boat parked by the sea. For a moment, he forgot his promise, got into the boat, and rowed towards the stone pillars. After entering the cemetery, Bill found that the buildings built by the basalt columns were like a sea temple, with two layers of stone walls inside and outside.
   Just when Bill was about to enter the inner stone wall from the outer stone wall, suddenly the wind blew up, the temperature dropped sharply, and the clear blue sky was covered by a black cloud. Then, there was lightning and thunder, and heavy rain poured down. Startled by the sudden rain, Bill stayed where he was for a full minute. When he woke up, he quickly called for help, turned the bow of the boat, and sailed out of the cemetery. Strangely, just as Bill was driving away from the cemetery, the wind died down, the clouds cleared, and the sky returned to blue.
   In the evening, when Bill returned to Nelson’s house, he voluntarily admitted his mistake and narrated the bizarre encounter in the cemetery. Nelson laughed out loud after hearing this, and said: “There is no drop of rain on the island, and there is no lightning or thunder. This is a warning from the dead not to let you enter the cemetery.” He also warned Bill that if he wanted to leave here alive, You are not allowed to go to the cemetery without authorization, let alone inquire about the tomb.
   After staying on the island for a month, fearing that Bill would be bored, Nelson took him out to sea to fish. Once, passing the north shore of Pohnpei, Bill saw columnar basalt rocks piled up here and there. Nelson told him that the stones in the cemetery were collected and processed from here, and then transported to Taimen Island. Over the years, the current scale has been formed.
   The straight-line distance from the north shore of Pohnpei Island to Timon Island is more than ten kilometers. How did they transport such heavy stones there? Facing Bill’s question, Nelson also looked confused. He said that only the chief knew the inside story of the cemetery.
  Deadly Curse
   Seeing that Bill still had a strong interest in the ruins of Nanmatel, Nelson took the initiative to tell him about the “Curse of Tomb Island” circulating on the island.
   He said that the first person to die because of the “Curse of Tomb Island” was a German archaeologist named Cody. After he came to Temon Island, he immediately showed an unusual interest in the remains of Nanmatel, despite the The leader expressly prohibited him from entering, but he still couldn’t help but sneaked in. Just when he started to excavate cultural relics with the tomb-robbing tool in his hand, he suddenly bled from his orifices and died suddenly.
   The second and third are also German. In 1907, the German army occupied Ponapei Island. An officer named Borg became the governor of Ponapei Island. He used violence to force out the secrets of the tomb of the late Chief Aesop Klekel from the mouth of the chief, trying to dig the tomb the next day. Unexpectedly, Borg died suddenly and mysteriously the night he arrived at the cemetery. After German archaeologist Berner heard the news, he personally brought an expert team to the island to fulfill Borg’s order, but before he could do it, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and the excavation had to be abandoned.

   The fourth person who died of the curse was a Japanese scholar named Sugiura Kenichi. During World War II, Japan occupied Pohnpei Island. The arrogant Sugiura Kenichi wanted to make achievements in the archaeological field of the Inca civilization, so he abused the power of the occupier and threatened the chief at that time to reveal the secret of the ancient tomb. As a result, the leaking chief was struck by lightning and killed.
   Sugiura Kenichi returned to Japan immediately after stealing the secret, thanked the guests behind closed doors, hid in the study alone to sort out his notes, and prepared to publish a book called “Secrets of Tomb Island”. Just when he was complacent, the god of death came suddenly, and he died beside the desk. Afterwards, the family burned the secrets recorded by Sugiura Kenichi and dared not mention them again.
   After hearing Nelson’s story, Bill felt a little more fear, but he never believed in the so-called curse. The place is far away from modern civilization, and some unexplained natural phenomena are easily misunderstood. In order to investigate the truth of the “curse of Tomb Island”, Bill wanted to go to the cemetery again without telling Nelson. But to his disappointment, no one was willing to provide him with a boat. When the locals heard that he wanted to go to the cemetery, they turned their heads and left.
   Three months later, Bill finally got a small raft.
   Counting the ebb tide time of Timon Island, under the hazy moonlight, Bill set off quietly by himself. As soon as he arrived at the cemetery, there were lightning and thunder, and it rained heavily in an instant. Bill was considering whether to move on when Nelson’s voice suddenly came. It turned out that he found that Bill was not on the bed, and guessed that he might have come to the cemetery, so he hurried after him.
   Seeing Nelson, Bill grasped at straws and asked him to help him into the cemetery. In fact, like Bill, Nelson also wanted to know the secrets of the cemetery very much, so after struggling for a while, he agreed to his request. The two continued to row, but unexpectedly, after entering the cemetery, the heavy rain gradually stopped.
   As the tide ebbed, the original appearance of the cemetery appeared in front of them. Looking at the neatly stacked basalt, Bill took out his professional survey watch and measured it. The watch showed that the geomagnetic field here is normal and there is no radiation. Bill wanted more measurements when he suddenly felt chest pains and shortness of breath.
   “Let’s go, the ‘curse of Tomb Island’ must have come true.” Under Nelson’s urging, Bill had no choice but to take some videos and photos, and he even took some soil samples before leaving. Back at the Nelsons’ house, Bill developed a fever and leg ulcers and abscesses. Nelson gave him some local herbs, which also had no effect. The next day, Bill began to experience confusion.
   Bill’s situation made Nelson very worried. Fortunately, three days later, the supply ship of the Exploration Bureau finally found Temon Island to pick up Bill. Thanks to the basic medical facilities on board, Bill finally returned safely to the United States for treatment.
   After testing, doctors found Burkholderia malei in Bill’s blood. This is a rare bacterium that causes melioidosis, which can infect any organ, including the brain. Symptoms vary depending on which part of the body is affected and include: fever, localized pain or swelling, abscesses, confusion, and seizures, among others. Those with conditions that weaken the immune system, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and chronic lung disease, were the most likely to die from melioidosis.
   The doctor’s words reminded Bill that immediately after he was discharged from the hospital, he tested the soil samples from the cemetery, and sure enough, Burkholderia malei was found. Moreover, after checking the information of the German military officer Borg, Bill discovered that he was suffering from diabetes during his lifetime. At this point, Bill had a bold guess in his mind. Berger, Sugiura Kenichi and others died one after another, and the culprit was Burkholderia malei. The reason why the locals had no accidents was because they had been in and out of the cemetery for a long time and developed antibodies to Burkholderia malei.
  Tomb-building secrets
   In order to confirm their conjecture, in 2020, Bill and his colleagues took a helicopter back to Taimon Island.
   Seeing Bill coming again, Nelson was very nervous. After learning that he was here to investigate Burkholderia maleisis, Nelson and his clan were relieved.
   As soon as we arrived at the cemetery, it began to rain cats and dogs. But after a while, the rain stopped, and a rainbow hung in the sky. Bill tested the soil and stones in the cemetery, and sure enough, Burkholderia malei was found. Then Bill tested the blood of the local people and found Burkholderia malei.
   Bill proposed to take a look inside the Nanmatel ruins, and Nelson tried his best to persuade him to give up this unrealistic idea. If the chief knew about it, something might happen to him. Bill didn’t want to lose the opportunity to investigate the truth. He came to Ponapei Island to see the chief, hoping to get permission to enter the cemetery. The chief flatly refused the request without seeing him, and warned Bill that if he insisted on going, he would never return.
   Since he couldn’t enter the cemetery, Bill had no choice but to take a look at the basalt collection base on the north coast of Pohnpei Island. This time the chief did not refuse, but asked Nelson to accompany him throughout.
   After arriving at the north shore of Ponapei Island, Bill stared at the basalt columns in a daze: the building materials for the cemetery were processed here, and the distance between Ponapei Island and Temon Island was not close, so it was extremely difficult to transport these basalt rocks. On average, each basalt column is 3 to 9 meters long and weighs more than 10 tons. Water transportation was probably carried out by rafts, and the natives hung these basalt columns under canoes and transported them piece by piece to Temun Island.
   Bill also calculated the materials used for the cemetery on Taimon Island. A tomb with a circumference of about 60 meters needs at least 32,000 basalt columns, and there are 89 tombs in the cemetery, which requires about 3 million basalt columns. Looking at the data in front of him, Bill was puzzled: these basalt columns were excavated from the quarry on the north coast of Ponape Island, processed and then transported to Temon Island by raft. If 1,000 strong laborers are engaged in this work every day , It takes at least 200 to 300 years to process these stone pillars into pentagonal or hexagonal pillars. But the problem is that the total number of residents on the two islands is less than 2,000, and 1,000 strong laborers are already all the labor force. In order to survive, some people have to be engaged in agriculture and fishing.
   Bill dated the basalt columns of the cemetery with carbon-14 and found that construction of the cemetery began 800 years ago. 800 years ago, Pohnpei Island was still the Sauluru Dynasty. This dynasty only existed for more than 200 years before it perished. Such a short time was only enough to deal with the basalt columns, and there was no time for the construction of tombs.
   Huge doubts made Bill return to Timon Island again. With the help of professional equipment, he found that the terrain of the island is high in the south and low in the north, with a large vertical drop. This can explain the strange weather changes in the cemetery: because Taimon Island is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the moisture of the ocean hits the local terrain, and it is easy to form orographic rain. Coupled with the convective rain formed by the high temperature on the ocean, the frequency and intensity of rainfall on the side of the cemetery has been intensified. Because these two types of rain have the characteristics of short time and narrow range, the situation of “sunrise in the east and rain in the west” often occurs on Taimen Island.
   After finally figuring out the reason why it rains as soon as he arrives at the cemetery, Bill still couldn’t get enough of it. In June 2022, he came to Taimen Island again with a batch of professional measuring equipment, trying to figure out the secret of building the tomb.
   After Bill landed on the island, Nelson took him to Ponapei Island to meet the chief. In the evening, the two rowed a small raft to the north shore of Pohnpei Island.
   Looking at the huge basalt in the moonlight, Bill thought deeply: How did the local aboriginals complete such a masterpiece in less than two hundred years? Just when Bill was puzzled, Nelson’s scream brought him back to reality. Following Nelson’s gesture, Bill saw a prismatic basalt.
   “It turns out that there must have been many such prismatic basalts here many years ago. Residents only need to process the stone pillars into pentagonal or hexagonal shapes, and such simple processing does not take 200 years at all.” Bill contacted his university professor Sanchez , Sanchez told Bill that basalt is formed after the cooling of volcanic magma, and in the natural state, it is indeed easier to become a prismatic shape.
  All the troubles finally had answers, and Bill couldn’t help but marvel at the wisdom of the local aborigines. He hoped that the next time he went to the island, he would take the medicine for melioidosis with him, and listen to the chief’s horrific curse legends.

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