Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city?

The mysterious disappearance of Alfred Isaac Middleton. Where’re the missing city of Dawleetoo and the casket of gold?
Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 1

In the Victorian era, explorers and adventurers left their mark on history. Uncovering lost cultures, hidden temples, and hidden cities was commonplace. From Indiana Jones to Allan Quatermain; they all existed in their own time.

Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 2
A tropical jungle from a mythical story. © Shutterstock

If you love reading about great explorations and discoveries, you probably know that many of them were made by British explorers. But did you know that a little known British explorer was credited with discovering a legendary lost city in the Sumatran jungles? Keep reading to learn more!

In the late 1800s, an extraordinary British explorer vanished in the jungles of Sumatra. We are talking about Alfred Isaac Middleton — the mysterious name that has been floating around in various online communities including on reddit for a while. Middleton was said to have vanished while searching for the ruins of an ancient lost city known as Dawleetoo.

British explorer Alfred Isaac Midleton scoured the farthest corners of the world in search of zoological, botanical and archaeological wonders at the end of the 19th century. A few newly discovered photos help shed light on some incredible discoveries during a series of then-unknown missions, in the regions of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Amazon rainforest.
British explorer Alfred Isaac Midleton scoured the farthest corners of the world in search of zoological, botanical and archaeological wonders at the end of the 19th century. A few newly discovered photos help shed light on some incredible discoveries during a series of then-unknown missions, in the regions of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Amazon rainforest. © Daily Mysteries

It was a completely different time, Western explorers roamed the world in search of new places and artifacts, and the jungles of Sumatra were a tempting destination at the time. Even today, many parts of these gracious jungles have not been fully explored.

Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 3
Historical view of Mount Talang (2,597 m) – active stratovolcano in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Wood engraving, published in 1893. © iStock

This is ancient, this is vintage and this is strange, so Smithsonian must be involved, history says. According to a vintage Smithsonian Magazine report, a former assistant of Arthur Conan Doyle, a friend of the explorer Sir John Morris, had a collection of documents about Alfred Isaac Middleton, and one of them revealed the explorer’s incredible story.

A copy of an email from a British consulate was sent to Doyle’s assistant, mentioning a lost cache of documents and a possible expedition by a British explorer named Mr. Alfred Isaac Middleton. Uncannily, this man is a contemporary of another strange figure named Edward Allen Oxford. Read Oxford’s fascinating story here.

Middleton was an explorer who was hunting for a forgotten city called Dawleetoo, which was rumoured to be on the route to a lake called Lop Nur, according to Doyle’s former assistant. Lop Nur is a former salt lake, now largely dried up, located in the eastern fringe of the Tarim Basin, between the Taklamakan and Kumtag deserts in the southeastern portion of the Xinjiang.

It has been hypothesised that Middleton became disoriented and lost in thick wooded area on the route to the lake Lop Nur. The email also mentioned a treasure that Middleton was said to have gathered and buried in a casket.

Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 4
© Dailymysteries.com
Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 5
© Dailymysteries.com
Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 6
© Dailymysteries.com
Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 7
© Dailymysteries.com
Did British explorer Alfred Isaac Middleton discover a mysterious lost city? 8
© Dailymysteries.com

Evidentially, we don’t know much about Middleton’s account other than these photos above that have been circulating on the internet for a while.

Yes, some of these fascinating images might not be related to the actual event but the story of Alfred Isaac Middleton and the lost city of Dawleetoo could be of true origins.

According to the book, The Lost Casket of Dawleetoo (1881):

“The mission supposedly found a city in the jungle, named Dawleetoo. According to Middleton, there was a map that had a golden city that went all the way down to a lake, as well as a gold statue of a woman that came from a lost continent called Atlantis.

A group of people were sent by Middleton to find the city, and one of the men supposedly found a buried casket filled with gold. The report claims that according to a letter found in the church archives, Middleton was lost in the jungle and taken prisoner by a group of men that wanted the gold and the statue. Middleton apparently died in captivity.”

Although, no one knew exactly where Middleton had buried all his treasure, a man by the name of John Hargreaves was said to be the second in command on the mission, and he led another team of people into the jungle to recover the treasure. In the end, what became of Middleton’s expedition is unknown.

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The image is an 18th century artistic depiction of the lost city of Dawleetoo, based on local Sumatran folklore. © Public Domain

Many mainstream historians have suggested the stories of Alfred Isaac Middleton to be a mere hoax and that Middleton’s mission to find Dawleetoo never took place; but many theorists are so convinced that the expedition was real, but that Middleton went missing and never returned.

Did Alfred Middleton really discover a mythical city lost in time? If so, to what mysterious civilization this city belonged? And what actually happened to Middleton, did he really get lost in the jungles of Sumatra, or did he never come back on purpose?

To know more about the story, read the book: The Lost Casket of Dawleetoo (1881)


*Note: Information of this news article have been taken from Medium.com, Wikipedia.org & DailyMysteries.com. It will be used in a way that qualifies as fair use under US copyright law.

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