If you ask an Icelander whether elves exist or not, chances are he or she will say it is quite possible.
Many polls over the years have shown the majority of Icelanders believe in elves to some degree. Late last year, a judge even halted the building of a road in Iceland because it may disturb elves living in the area.
Myth often has fact as its foundation.
In 2004, the fossils of small humanoid beings were found on the remote Indonesian island of Flores. The being, named Homo floresiensis but better known as the “hobbit,” stood about three feet tall. The journal Nature explains that bones from several individuals were uncovered, showing that it was a society of people this size and not an anomaly.
So are elves more like the tall, lithe, and strong Legolas of “Lord of the Rings,” or more like Santa’s helpers who look like small children? Here are some accounts of elf encounters.
1. ‘Little People’ Legends, Mummy Found
The Cherokee native Americans spoke of Yunwi-Tsunsdi, which literally means “little people.” The Yunwi-Tsunsdi were described as kind and helpful, barely reaching the height of a man’s knee. The natives of Hawaii spoke of the Menehune, a plentiful race of little people who built cities, fished, and farmed. The Shoshone natives of Wyoming also spoke of little people, the Nin’ am-bea, whom they feared offending. The Nin’ am-bea were known to shoot people with arrows if offended.
In 1932, a mummy was found in the Pedro Mountains, close to where the Shoshone lived. It was examined by the anthropology department at Harvard University and at the American Museum of Natural History. It was originally identified as belonging to a 65-year-old man, though it is just over a foot tall.
The mummy was lost after one of its owners died. Dr. George Gill of the University of Kansas examined x-ray photographs decades later; he said the mummy was likely an infant with a birth defect that caused it to have an adult-sized skull, but remained open to other explanations.
Other people in the Pedro Mountains region have told stories of finding similar tiny mummies, as documented in books about local folklore.
2. Little People’s Burial Site in Ohio
The American Journal of Science published an account in 1837 of a strange discovery in Coshocton, Ohio: “From some remains of wood still apparent in the earth around the bones, the bodies seem all to have been deposited in coffins; and what is still more curious, is the fact that the bodies buried here were generally not more than from three to four and a half feet in length.
They are very numerous, and must have been tenants of a considerable city or their numbers could not have been so great. A large number of graves have been opened, the inmates of which are all of this pigmy race. … Similar burial grounds have been found in Tennessee, and near St. Louis in Missouri.”
3. Bulldozing Operation Inexplicably Halted in Suspected Elf Habitat
In 1996, an attempt to bulldoze a hill in Kopavogur, Iceland inexplicably failed. The hill, which was to be cleared for a graveyard, was believed to be occupied by elves. During the operation, two bulldozers inexplicably malfunctioned. Television cameras malfunctioned, unable to focus on the hill.
Elf communicators were called in and apparently were able to reach an agreement with the elves. The elves decided to leave, the communicators said, and the machinery began to work again. The event was reported on by the New York Times.
Hildur Hakonardottir told the New York Times in 2005: “My daughter once asked me, ‘How do you know where elves live?’ … I told her you just know. It’s just a feeling.”
Another Icelander, Vigdís Kristín Steinthórsdóttir, expressed a similar idea in 2011 when a mining operation near her home was believed to be sabotaged by elves.
“I had been [in the mountain] before with other people who sensed the natural beings weren’t content with the disturbances to the ground and they hadn’t been asked to move. We sensed they were sad about it. I wanted for us to apologize,” she told IcelandReview.
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