Toynbee Tiles Mystery: Resurrect The Dead

Posted by Xavier Ortega | November 15, 2011 20

The Toynbee tiles (also called Toynbee plaques) are messages of mysterious origin found embedded in asphalt of streets in about two dozen major cities in the United States and four South American capitals. Since the 1980s, several hundred tiles have been discovered. – Wikipedia

Toynbee tiles

An American mystery that has remained unsolved for the last few decades. The Toynbee tiles first appeared in the early 1980s on busy streets across the United States. These signs, or placards, mysteriously appeared caked onto the asphalt in certain cities. More mysterious than their sudden apparition, was the cryptic message that these tiles carried:

IN Kubrick’s 2001

Not all of the tiles carried the same message. Most of them had a variation of the above message. Most talked about “resurrecting the dead on planet Jupiter” while others had a more ominous message:


The sometimes colorful tiles are said to be composed of layered linoleum and some asphalt crack-filling compound. The messages that these tiles contain are what makes this a great mystery. It’s obvious that the tiles make reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, but what did the tile-maker have in mind with his message to resurrect the dead on Jupiter?

These titles also reference people and things. One of the Toynbee tiles was found far south of the United States. A tile in Santiago, Chile had inscribed a address in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The address was 2624 S. 7th Philadelphia, PA. Residents of the house in Philadelphia knew nothing of the tiles or why their address was included in them. Strange.

Could the creator of the Toynbee tiles reside in Philadelphia? that would certainly explain why a lot of those tiles have been spotted in Philly. The real question that is on everyone’s mind is: Who is Toynbee?

Possible identities of Toynbee

Many people believe that the tiles are the work of a carpenter named James Morasco. According to reports, someone by the name of James Morasco tried to promote the idea by local newspapers of resurrecting dead people on the planet Jupiter in the early 1980s. Morasco failed at starting the campaign and most area newspapers ignored his inquiries. James Morasco died in 2003 and the tiles kept surfacing after his death.

More recently, a documentary film titled “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles” present new evidence about the origins of these strange tiles. Directed by Jon Foy, the film presents evidence that the mystery tiler was a Philadelphia resident named Severino Verna. Severino, or “Sevy”, used the pseudonym “James Morasco” in the early 80s as he installed the tiles throughout the city. Sevy is said to have driven around town in a car that had a hole on its floor. This would allow Sevy to inconspicuously infuse the tiles with the asphalt from the safety of his car. All the while broadcasting his plans to resurrect the dead via shortwave radio.

The film was selected for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. James Foy won the category’s Directing Award. “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles” is available via download in iTunes.

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Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released fall of 2016. Got a question? Drop me a line.

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20 Responses

  • Brain Cell

    “..someone by the name of James Morasco tried to promote the idea by local newspapers of resurrecting dead people on the planet Jupiter “.

    Well there’s your problem: there ARE no dead people on the planet Jupiter!
    Never have been, never will be.

  • Brain Cell,

    Are you sure that there are no dead people in Jupiter?

    just kidding.

    It’s strange. I’m sure this was some art project that got a little out of hand. Regardless, the documentary looks interesting.


  • thatguyfromsyracuse

    This is something I’ve always been intrigued by! Sure, it’s probably just the work of a crazy guy, but it grabs my attention anyways. I would love to make some tiles with crazy ramblings on there and leave them in the area.

  • Blandine

    The film is still playing in theaters! Check for theater listings.

  • Henry

    Of course there are no dead people on Jupiter, we would have to take them there for resurrection. You have to tell some people everything.

  • Are you sure Henry? I think John Lear would argue with you on that, LOL!

  • Fun mysteries are the funnest! This is the kind of stuff that I love. I tried something similar you could say in high school but got in big trouble. Sigh… some people just don’t get brilliant graffiti. I mean art.

  • Henry

    I am willing to go look

  • Jon

    yeah i tried to resurrect the dead on planet jupiter in high school as well… oh wait thats not what you meant. :)

  • Ramon

    He/they were for sure very good in using a Stanley cutting knife. :-)

  • Glamgirl

    Wow this may be a long shot but does this have to do with the mormon faith? They belive when people die they are being called home to the other planet where they will live life for all eternity with there sealed family. Although the planet is not called Jupiter in there bom.

  • hall442

    Interesting. He also seems to be referencing the Philip Hosea Farmer “Riverworld” series of novels, where all the dead of history are resurrected along the banks of an endless river on an alien world.


  • Severino Verna

    THis movie gave me a chubs.  Tiles are hot.

  • ghosttheory

    Resurrect the dead, Severino.

  • foofoo

    A guy named Joe Parisi in St. Louis, MO is responsible for a great deal of these tiles. He has some connection to a man named Sevy in Philly that was apparently the original creator.

  • vince

    How do you know this?

  • dale

    Joe Parisi is not connected with the originals. House of Hades tiles possibly. I’ve seen some of his work online after seeing his name mentioned on a lot of the Toynbee tile discussion boards. He does all different kinds of mixed media and street art stuff, but Sevy (the original tile guy) is most likely a lone wolf.

  • dale

    Joe “made and glued tiles”…like Sevy asked people to do via the side text on many of his tiles. They just aren’t the original Toynbee Tiles theoretically.

  • danny tanner

    Severino verna for president!

  • danny tanner


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