B. M

(With special thanks to Ron Evans for use
of his collection of newspaper reports)

(Investigator 7, 1989 July)

Dutch born psychic Anne Dankbaar, 58, of Adelaide claims to have pinpointed the location of the Colossus of Rhodes by means of her psychic powers.

The Colossus, a 32 metre high man-shaped monument to Helios the Sun God, was built 192 – 180 BC and is classed among the seven wonders of the ancient world. It stood on a square base itself 20 metres high. An earthquake toppled the Colossus in 224 BC. Around 120 BC Philon of Byzantine described the Colossus as made of stones, overlaid with bronze and held together with iron bolts. It was lying on land! The bronze was salvaged in 652 AD, taken by Saracens to Tyre and sold.

In May 1988 Mrs Dankbaar announced she was about to fly to Greece to see the Colossus uncovered. New Idea (1988, May 21) quoted Dankbaar: "The Colossus is where I said it is. I expect to hear something in few weeks and I will be there when they confirm they have found the statue."

The confirmation did not take place. Nor was this the psychic's first error:

The Advertiser (1987, January 2) of South Australia reported Mrs Dankbaar as claiming:

a.    The broken-up Colossus lay in 41 metres of water 750 metres off shore from Rhodes;
b.    A piece of the Colossus would be found in May 1987;
c.    The Colossus would be largely reconstructed by the end of 1987;
d.    Mrs Dankbaar would become "very wealthy";
e.    The legs of the Colossus were originally built astride the harbour entrance.
f.    The University of Adelaide acknowledged her as having "very significant paranormal powers."

The three predictions b, c and d all failed. As regards the legs of the Colossus an engraving by Maarten van Heemskerk (1498-1574) does have the legs astride the Harbour. But van Heemskerk had no independent information and relied on imagination. Greek technology was probably unable to build a statue of that size like that. Therefore the entire Colossus would have stood on one side of the harbour entrance.

The Advertiser (1987, January 3) reported: "I'll sell my Rhodes vision; says psychic". As yet, 2½ years later, she hasn't. Also the Psychology Department of Adelaide University denied issuing a certificate of psychic performance to Mrs Dankbaar. But tests were done in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The Advertiser (1987, January 5) reported that The Society of South Australian Skeptics offered Mrs Dankbaar $20,000 to prove her paranormal abilities. Then, quoting one of the skeptics: "Mr Evans said the society had tested water diviners and clairvoyants and 'not one had ever come up trumps'."

The Advertiser (1987, January 6) reported a statement by Mr George Karolyi, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, that the certificate to Mrs Dankbaar was a "personal reference" and not a confirmation of her powers.

In three tests done by Mr Karolyi, Mrs Dankbaar had scored 1/100, 1/100 and 1/10000 against chance. Peter Delin of the Psychology Department, however, said, "There is no compelling evidence of psychic ability."

The Advertiser (1987, June 29) reported the finding of "fragments" by divers of the Greek Merchant Marine searching for drugs, at about the position Mrs Dankbaar had in January specified.

The News (1987, July 6) of Adelaide reported that the object was "fist" shaped, about 1.8 metres wide and 0.9 metres thick. Also: "heavily armed navy boats patrol Rhodes harbour to prevent removal of recovered antiquities."

The Advertiser (1987, July 7) reported, "Mr Stathis Alexandris, the only government official prepared to gamble on the vision of the psychic, is flying to Rhodes tonight to supervise the search."

Other Greek officials, however, were not prepared to "gamble". George Papathanasopoulos, head of the Department of Underwater Archaeology, stated: "the stone object is nothing but natural rock formation." (The Australian, July 8)

Melina Mercouri, a former filmstar who became Minister for Culture said, "There is no indication that a large piece of stone in the sea off the Greek island of Rhodes is part of the ancient Colossus." (The News, July 7; The Australian, July 8)

Dimitri Kazianis of the Department of Underwater Antiquities agreed: "It's a stone just a stone." (The Weekend Australian, July 11-12)

The Advertiser 1987 July 8 reported that the grooves and scratch marks that caused the limestone rock to resemble a fist had been made by a mechanical digger three years earlier.

Bowing to the weight of evidence Mr Alexandris then changed his mind and agreed that the "fist" was not part of the Colossus. This left Mrs Dankbaar alone in claiming it was! She was conveniently in Europe again at the time and close to the action. By about July 13, however, she too changed her psychic mind.

On July 14 The Australian reported: "What started out as one of the world's most exciting scientific discoveries … has degenerated into a farce."

The controversy then faded from the world's press. The Greek tourist industry did splendidly but Mrs Dankbaar didn't make the fortune she had predicted. Fate, in effect, remained "tight fisted".

But things weren't finished yet.

A year later New Idea magazine quoted Mrs Dankbaar as saying: "I knew the fist they brought up was not from the Colossus. It was from the wrong place and it was not of the right material… The real statue is bronze." (1988 May 21, p. 17)

In December 1988 Mrs Dankbaar said on Adelaide television that the Colossus would be found in 1989. By mid June [when this article was written] there were still no results.

In New Idea Mrs Dankbaar stated: "It will give me a lot of pleasure to see the sceptics' faces when we find the statue."

The skeptics' faces, however, are still full of smiles.