Do we live again after death, our life recycling into a new form over and over again? There are some cases that seem to suggest so. The man named James Arthur Flowerdew was born in Norfolk, England in 1906, where he grew up and lived his whole life. When he was about 12, he began to have strange, recurring dreams, vague at first, but over time crystallizing into very clear and vivid scenes. In these dreams he saw a stone city carved into a cliff surrounded by remote desert. In this city there were temples, streets, lanes, and various structures, as well as a volcano shaped rock on the outskirts of the city. These dreams began to come more and more frequently, always the same city and that same desolate desert wasteland surrounding it, but at first he just wrote these off as just what they seemed to be, dreams. However, he would begin to suspect they were something more, and so would launch one of the strangest and compelling cases of reincarnation on record.
One day Arthur was visiting the beach with his family. The day started out normally enough, until he found himself on an expanse of multicolored pebbles, mostly pink and orange, and found himself fascinated by them. He bent down to pick some of the pebbles up to play with them and run them through his fingers, and he was staggered by a powerful, almost overwhelming mental picture thrust into his mind of the city he had been seeing in his dreams. This time the view of this place was much clearer than it had ever been before, a potent vision that gave him the illusion that he was no longer standing on the beach, but within the city’s walls. He could almost smell the desert air, and it was all so intense that he almost fainted. Upon dropping the pebbles, the vision passed. Arthur could not understand what was happening. He had never been outside of Norfolk, nor had he ever had any particular interest in reading books about faraway lands. It was a mystery.
He decided to go back to the beach one day, back to those strange pebbles in order to see what would happen, and once again the vision hit him, a very clear view of the city superimposed over reality. He could see details that he had not noticed before, like the layout of the streets and a narrow stone passage that led into the city. He also noticed that there were military barracks there, which gave him the strange sensation that he was a soldier there and had been killed with a spear. It was so shocking that he stopped his excursions to that beach, but the dreams remained, haunting him throughout his life. He grew up, grew old, only ever leaving Norfolk once to go the French coast, yet those dreams of that mysterious stone city continued to come unbidden, without him ever able to identify this place that was so firmly planted in his mind. It would not be until he was an elderly man, decades after these dreams had started, that he would finally come to some semblance of an understanding of what was going on.
One day Flowerdew was watching a documentary on the BBC, rather absent-mindedly at first, until the show featured a segment on the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan. He was instantly floored, hit all at once with the realization that this was it. This was the place from his dreams, the place conjured up by those colored pebbles at the beach, a place he had never been to before, yet which he knew with a familiarity he could not explain. Flowerdew became convinced that he had once lived there in a past life, excitedly contacting the BBC and telling them of his strange experiences, which rather than being laughed off managed to capture their attention. The BBC then filmed a short segment on Flowerdew, after which he was interviewed by an archeologist and expert on Petra. The archeologist came away from it mystified by how much knowledge Flowerdew had of ancient Petra, even explaining things that the casual tourist or reader would not know from the common image or literature of the site in modern times. It really seemed that either Flowerdew was the real deal, or this unassuming old man had studied deeply into the archeological history and research on Petra, something he denied ever having done.
This all drew the interest of the Jordanian government, who invited him to come out to Jordan to see the city for himself, where he continued to baffle experts. Flowerdew was able to immediately and smoothly find his way around the city without guide or map, along the way giving amazing details on certain landmarks and even pointing out sites that had not even been excavated or discovered yet. When he saw a device that had been dug up and which had puzzled experts, Flowedew was able to explain what it was used for. On another occasion, he calmly explained the use of a structure that up until then had inscrutable purposes. He also went straight into a military barrack and showed them a guardroom, as well as how to operate the primitive check-in system for guards, something the experts did not know. He even showed where he said he had been killed by an enemy spear and explained how it had happened. Through it all, Flowerdew consistently provided facts and details that could only have been known by an archaeologist specializing in this area, even mentioning things that experts didn’t know.
Archeological experts and a world class authority on Petra quizzed him extensively on the city, and he passed every question with ease, even clearly and rationally correcting the experts on some of the things he said they had wrong. One of the archeologists who questioned Flowerdew found him to be very sincere, and considering his simple, uneducated background his archeological knowledge seemed anomalous. The archeologist would say:
He’s filled in details and a lot of it is very consistent with known archeological 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 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.
What are we to make of all of this? How did this man know all of these things, including things that even trained archeologists were not aware of? Was this some sort of trick, and if so, what did he have to gain from it all? Did he somehow get his hands on all of this information simply for a prank? Or is there perhaps something more to this all? Whatever you may think, the case of Arthur Flowerdew has been held up as a very good piece of evidence of reincarnation, and has still not been adequately explained.