Arthur Flowerdew

James Arthur Flowerdew (1 December 1906 October 2002) was an English Captain from Norfolk, England[1] whose unique recollections of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan strongly suggest to some the existence of reincarnation.

James Arthur Flowerdew
Born(1906-12-01)1 December 1906
Died(2002-10-00)October 2002


From his adolescence, Flowerdew experienced strange visions of a stone city carved into a cliff, which were particularly strong when he played in the multicolored pebbles on a beach near his home. The clarity of his visions grew as he did.

One day, as an adult, he watched a BBC documentary on the ancient city of Petra in Jordan and immediately recognized it as the city of his visions. He became convinced that he had lived a previous life in Petra and contacted the BBC. They filmed and broadcast a documentary on Flowerdew, which the Jordanian government saw and was intrigued by. They offered to fly Flowerdew out to Petra to examine its remains and perhaps offer insights on analyzing the city.[2]

Before he left for Jordan, Flowerdew was interviewed by an archaeological expert excavating Petra to test his knowledge of the ancient city. Flowerdew described the city with astounding accuracy and pointed out three landmarks prominent in his memory. He went directly to these landmarks upon his arrival at Petra (including his purported place of murder), explained a very plausible use for a device whose explanation had baffled archaeologists, and even correctly identified the locations of many landmarks that had yet to be excavated. Many experts said that Flowerdew had more knowledge of the city than many professionals studying it, and they did not believe him to be an incredible con man (a feat which, in this case, they felt would have taken extraordinary skill). The archeological expert on Petra who accompanied Flowerdew to Jordan said,

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.[3]

Flowerdew himself maintained that he had never seen or heard of Petra before the BBC documentary and had never read any literature on the city.[3]

Many spiritual leaders, such as Tibetan Buddhist lama Sogyal Rinpoche, believe that Flowerdew's experience offers highly suggestive evidence for the existence of rebirth or reincarnation.

Mircea Eliade may have used Flowerdew's experience as the basis of his 1976 novel "Youth without Youth", which was adapted into a film in 2007 by Francis Ford Coppola.


  1. Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain), New Civil Engineer, July-September 1978, p. 20.
  2. Forman, Joan. The Golden Shore (1990 ed.). London: Futura. pp. 160–162.
  3. Rinpoche, Sogyal. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. San Francisco: Harper, 1993. pp. 88-90. ISBN 0-06-073495-7.
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