Season: 1-6, Episodes: All, Faction: N/A
The Island is the geographic location of the LOST castaways, covering a period of at least 2000 years. From a literary perspective, the writers of LOST project the Island as both a location and an entity with its own characteristics and influence.
The Island has healing powers and cured John Locke of his paralysis and Rose of her cancer. It also functions as a “cork” that suppresses a dangerous force from escaping. At the heart of the Island is a bright light, the source of “life, death (and) rebirth” that needs to be protected. The current protector is Hugo Reyes. The protector also brings others to the island for various purposes, such as becoming the the new protector of the island.
The Island was inhabited by Egyptians and possibly Sumerians and Southeast Asians in the distant past, and also was home to a village of Latin-speaking people who were shipwrecked there in the early first millennium. The Island periodically moves its physical location. The Island was in the South Pacific Ocean in 2004 and appears to have been in the Mediterranean Sea at some point in its history. Its current location is unknown.
History (Early Inhabitants)
Early civilizations on the Island built a number of structures, including several that remain as ruins. Sometime after Jacob’s mother’s death, people build a cork at the Heart of the Island. (DVD commentary) This cork featured both Egyptian hieroglyphics and older Mesopotamian cuneiform writing, which ancient Iraqi civilizations used thousands of years ago. These island inhabitants evidently corked the source following the Man in Black’s transformation. (DVD commentary)
Evidence suggests an early Egyptian presence on the Island. A Statue of Taweret stood until the mid 19th century. Hieroglyphs remain on many ancient structures, including the cork, the Temple, the Tunnels, the Lighthouse, and Ben’s secret room. The Egyptians encountered the Monster in some incarnation: they engraved a mural depicting it with Anubis. It’s possible that they also discovered and completed the frozen wheel he built. At an unknown time, they seem to have left the Island; Jacob’s tapestry, which features Egyptian iconography, depicts sailboats departing from the Island with the Statue of Taweret visible on the shore. They left a legacy to later groups. Besides Jacob’s tapestry, the DHARMA Initiative used hieroglyphs to indicate a system failure on the Countdown timer in the Swan and taught students about hieroglyphs in the classroom.
Classical Roman Times
The Island’s first known protector lived on the Island for an unknown number of years in a cave.
In classical Roman times, a ship crashed near the Island and its passengers, likely Romans, built a village. One passenger, Claudia, gave birth to two sons and the protector killed Claudia and adopted them. Jacob, one of the two sons, became the next Island protector. The Man in Black transformed into the smoke monster. Both lived on the Island for thousands of years, long after their adoptive mother exterminated Claudia’s people. (“Across the Sea”)
Jacob drew various travellers to the Island in the following years. By 1867, all had died. He then drew the Black Rock, which contained Magnus Hanso, 40 crew-members and a number of slaves, including Richard Alpert. All died but Richard, who joined Jacob. Jacob continued to draw people, and they formed a society later known as the Others.
1950’s Army Presence
The Island was one of several in the South Pacific that the United States Army designated for nuclear tests. Before tests began though, the Hostiles, under Richard Alpert, isolated and killed the army’s initial scouting party of eighteen soldiers. Before this defeat, the scouting party did manage to transport a hydrogen bomb, nicknamed “Jughead”, to the Island. Daniel Faraday suggested the Others encased the bomb in concrete and bury it. They stored it unsealed in a subterranean chamber, connected with a tunnel system. (“Jughead”) (“Follow the Leader”)
1970’s-1990’s: The DHARMA Initiative
A new and large period of human activity began in the early 1970s under the leadership of the DHARMA Initiative, who found the Island via their station in Los Angeles, the Lamp Post. They constructed buildings all over the Island, including a series of isolated science stations and a community-style living facility. They dug tunnels, built roads and created a communications network.
During this time, Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking led the Others. Benjamin Linus, a former DHARMA employee, helped them kill all members of the DHARMA Initiative using their own poison gas. Later, Charles was banished from the Island for poor conduct and Ben became the leader of the Others.
1980’s-2000’s: Island Castaways
Radio signals from the Island attracted a French science team to the Island in 1988. While much of the team survived the shipwreck, the smoke monster killed several of them and Danielle Rousseau killed the rest, believing them infected with a sickness. She lived on the Island till her 2004 death. In 2001, a storm stranded Desmond Hume on the Island. The last DHARMA Initiative member recruited him to work in the Swan. Henry Gale’s balloon crashed on the Island sometime around July 2004 and a drug smugglers’ plane crashed on the Island sometime between the late 1990s and early 2000s.
2004 to Present
On September 22, 2004, Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the Island. At least 70 passengers survived the crash, and they met the Island’s other inhabitants, including Desmond, Rousseau and the Others. A few months later, the Swan imploded, revealing the Island to the outside world. Widmore then sent armed mercenaries to the Island, and Ben moved the Island through space and time.
Three years later, Ajira Flight 316 landed on Hydra Island. The Man in Black managed to kill Jacob, but the survivors’ leader, Jack, defeated him soon after in the Battle for the Island when the cork on the Island’s source was removed, rendering him mortal. Jack killed the Man in Black by kicking him off the Island’s cliff and sacrificed himself to save the Island. Another survivor, Hurley, became the Island’s new protector with Ben Linus as his new second in command. He changed the rules that governed it, planning to let people leave freely and only come if they chose to.
Nature and Purpose
According to Jacob, the Island acts as a cork, holding back a force that would destroy the world if released. When the Man in Black made contact with the site of this suppression, the Heart of the Island, he transformed into a smoke monster that plagued the Island for thousands of years. A protector guards the Heart of the Island, the source of life, death and rebirth. Despite the Heart, or possibly because of it, not all who die on the Island move on – some remain, whispering. Other apparitions of unknown origin also appear, often confronting people with images from their past.
The Heart of the Island manifests itself as electromagnetism concentrated in specific pockets. The Man in Black’s people dug wells at these sites, and the Dharma Initiative built stations, including the Orchid and the Swan. Since at least 1977, when scientists penetrated a pocket, this energy has healed sickness, including cancer, paralysis, brain damage and male infertility, but it causes pregnant women to reject embryos, killing both mother and fetus. The electromagnetism also affects navigation, hiding the Island from the outside world, drawing back those who leave the Island, moving the Island and even transporting travelers through time.
According to the scale of Danielle Rousseau’s maps, the Island is 60 km (40 mi) north to south, and about 45 km (30 mi) east to west. The diameter of the Island has been shown to be a several-days’ walk, as demonstrated by the Tailies traveling to join the midsection survivors, by Kate and Sawyer’s return from the Hydra Island, and by Kate, Locke, Sayid and Rousseau’s journey to The Flame and then to the Barracks. (“The Other 48 Days”) (“I Do”)
The Island has many different geographical zones. There is a very distinctive coastline comprised mostly of beach sand. Some of the beach is rocky and hard to navigate, such as the cove where Kelvin kept the Elizabeth (“Live Together, Die Alone”), and a rocky peninsula that the Tailies went around rather than over to save time (“Abandoned”). A cape was mentioned by Locke (“The Little Prince”). There also appear to be steep cliff faces that drop off into the sea, such as where Dave is seen jumping away from Hurley. (“Dave”) One such cliff hides the cliffside cave. (“The Substitute”)
Jungle and forest seem to make up most of the interior of the Island. Although they run together, there are distinct differences between them: the forest appears to be more sparse, with smaller trees; while the jungle appears to be more dense, with more hanging vines over-head. Within the jungle area is also the dark territory, a dangerous area where the Monster seems to roam.
In the hills is a plateau called the Mesa where Hurley’s golf course is located. Hurley rode the DHARMA van on the Mesa. (“Enter 77”) The caves are also located near the Mesa. There is also a cliff next to some mountains that can be seen when Sayid, Charlie, and Ana Lucia were searching for Henry Gale’s balloon. (“The Whole Truth”). Also, Jack was rescued by Locke from falling off a cliff. (“White Rabbit”)
There are mountains throughout the Island, including at least one volcano in the South. There are two main ridges, both stretching from North to South. The valley between the mountain ridges contains rivers, streams, and waterfalls. Part of it is known as the North Valley. There is also a lake located next to the sonar fence.
Open fields are common on the Island, such as where Shannon translated the distress signal and where Hurley and Charlie drove the DHARMA van. (“Pilot, Part 2”) (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”) They seem to be mostly on hill-sides and on the Mesa. The Pascal Flats are shown on Ben’s map. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”). Not much is known of this area other than it is south of the Barracks and the Pearl, and southwest of the radio tower.
There is at least one volcano on the Island. Olivia mentions to her class how the Island had volcanic reactions occurring “a long time ago”, suggesting it was dormant or extinct. (“The Man Behind the Curtain”) Furthermore, the word “crater” is seen on Rousseau’s map.
There are several clues to the Island being volcanic. The general topography of the Island is typical of a volcanic island, such as the apparent lava-formed coastlines. The powdery substance surrounding Jacob’s cabin also looked similar to volcanic ash. The sign Bernard was making in “S.O.S.” consisted of volcanic rocks. Moreover, The Barracks appear to sit in a crater-like formation, possibly a caldera or volcanic crater. (“A Tale of Two Cities”) Locke and Charlie also discovered a lava tube being used as a den by one or more polar bears. Finally, Jack and Sayid surmised that the Swan’s power source was geothermal. While volcanic activity is not required for geothermal power, it makes the process much easier. Overall, the Island’s presumed location in the South Pacific seems to correspond with the notion of it being volcanic, as it is an area falling along the “Ring of Fire”, so named because of a high frequency of seismic and volcanic occurrences.
When Desmond removes the cork stone within the Source in “The End”, temporarily extinguishing the light, the hole where the cork resided fills with an orange glow, as of magma, and the entire Island (including Hydra Island) begins to shake and disintegrate. It thus appears that the Source is at least partly responsible for holding volcanic and seismic activity on the Island at bay, and that it is volcanic activity that threatens to destroy the Island in the series finale.
The Island appears to have no fixed location, as it is always moving. The present location of the Island is unknown.
The DHARMA Initiative found the Island via the Lamp Post, a station they occupied beneath a church in Los Angeles. The Lamp Post was constructed over a “unique pocket of electromagnetic energy” that connects to similar pockets all over the world, one of which is associated with the Island. Figuring that the Island was always moving, the DHARMA Initiative built a pendulum and created a series of equations to accurately predict where the Island would be, in time. Eloise Hawking explained that the Island is accessible through “windows” that open at different locations for limited periods of time. She found a particular “window” for the Oceanic Six to get back to the Island, and had them take Ajira Flight 316 to access it. (“316”)
The pilot of Oceanic Flight 815, Seth Norris said the plane had lost radio contact before the crash and had changed course towards Fiji. He estimated they were 1000 miles off course by the time they crashed. (“Pilot, Part 1”) Desmond believed the Island was one week east of Fiji, traveling at nine knots. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”) This fits with Rousseau’s statement that she was three days out of Tahiti when she wrecked on the Island. (“Solitary”)
The Oceanic Six were rescued by Penelope’s boat Searcher, from which they sailed to the Island of Sumba to stage their reappearance to the world. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”) This places the Island’s original location, at least within the established timeline of the show, within the South Pacific.
Individuals trying to find the Island, such as the team aboard Charles Widmore’s boat, the Kahana, found it difficult to find the Island, even with a set of coordinates. While Naomi Dorrit did manage to find the Island in her helicopter, it took a satellite phone’s GPS system for the freighter team to lock on to the Island’s position. Moreover, it is known that the DHARMA Initiative had to use a sonar beacon in a station they called the Looking Glass to guide submarines to the Island. Other issues surrounding the Island’s location include how a small plane which launched from Nigeria could have traveled all the way to the Pacific Ocean before it crashed (assuming that is indeed where the Island is).
The U.S. Army purportedly discovered and infiltrated the Island on September 23, 1954 as is evidenced by a photograph pinned on a wall in the Lamp Post station.
Moving the Island
Ben turned the frozen wheel located in a secret chamber underneath the Orchid station, which caused the Island to move. Soon after the wheel was turned, a loud noise and bright light (similar to the “discharge”) were experienced throughout the local area, both on and off the Island. This disturbance happened immediately before the Island disappeared from the ocean. The Island, along with its smaller, companion island, known as Hydra Island, vanished from the space they occupied, leaving a vacuum in the ocean that was quickly filled in by seawater. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”)
After moving the Island, during a surprise visit to Charles Widmore’s penthouse suite Ben promised him that he would never find the Island. Widmore replies with “that island is mine and it will be again”. (“The Shape of Things to Come”)
Skipping through Time
After the Island was moved by Ben, the remaining survivors from
Flight 815, Juliet, and the new arrivals from the freighter began moving erratically through time. The effect would begin with a ringing or buzzing noise that would build in intensity until the entire Island would be engulfed in white light during which the time flash would take place, moving them into the past or future. (“Because You Left”) At the direction of The Man in Black in the form of Christian Shephard, the time flashes ended after John Locke realigned the frozen wheel. The time-shifting survivors were deposited in 1974. (“This Place Is Death”) (“LaFleur”)
In the survivors’ afterlife, they imagined life without the Island, with the Island as but a memory, just below the surface of their collective consciousness. The Island therefore appeared underwater on the ocean floor. Several locations on the Island such as the Barracks, the sonar fence and the remnants of the Statue of Taweret are seen, all covered in ocean plant life and coral. (“LA X, Part 1”)
Decoded Family Members & Associated Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
In Egyptian mythology, Duat (or Tuat) (also called Akert, Amenthes, or Neter-khertet) is the underworld. This was the region through which the sun god Ra traveled from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep. It also was the place where people’s souls went after death—for judgment. The structure of Duat, and the dangers faced there by the souls of the dead, are detailed in texts such as the Book of Gates and the Book of the Dead. The Duat was located beneath the earth where Osiris presided over the dead. It was believed that the sun on its journey through the Duat, brought light and revitalization to the deceased, including Osiris, and with whom they were to arise in the morning.
The most famous scene from the discussions of Duat is the Weighing of the Heart, in which the heart was weighed by Anubis, using a feather, representing Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice. She was responsible for maintaining order in the universe after having eliminated the emptiness of chaos at the beginning of creation.
The heart was thought to be the location of the mind, will and character by the ancient Egyptians. The heart would become out of balance because of failure to follow Ma’at and any hearts heavier or lighter than her feather were rejected and eaten by the goddess Ammit (also known as the Devourer of Souls). Those souls that would be allowed to travel toward the paradise of Aaru had to have hearts that weighed exactly the same as Ma’at’s feather.
“How the upper side of this sky exists is in uniform darkness, the southern, northern, western and eastern limits of which are unknown, these having been fixed in the Waters, in inertness. There is no light of the Ram there: he does not appear there – (a place) whose south, north, west and east is unknown by the gods or akhs There is no brightness there.”
And as for every place void of sky and void of land, that is the entire Duat.
The Amduat (“That which is in the underworld”) lists the inhabitants of the underworld.
Widmore’s ‘Namaste’ Painting
(Symbolizing the Underworld)
Aaru (Egyptian Reed Fields)
In ancient Egyptian mythology, the fields of Aaru (alternatives: Yaaru, Iaru, Aalu) or the Egyptian reed fields, are the heavenly paradise, where Osiris ruled after he became part of the Egyptian pantheon and displaced Anubis in the Ogdoad tradition. It has been described as the ka (a part of the soul) of the Nile Delta.
Only souls who weighed exactly the same as the feather of the goddess Ma’at were allowed to start a long and perilous journey to Aaru, where they would exist in pleasure for all eternity. The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul resided in the heart. Those whose heart did not match the weight of the feather of Ma’at due to their sins were excluded. They were said to suffer a second death when devoured by another being, Ammit, while still in Duat for judgment.
The souls who did qualify had to undergo a long journey and face many perils before reaching Aaru. Once they arrived, they had to enter through a series of gates. The exact number of gates varies according to sources; some say 15, some 21. They are however uniformly described as being guarded by evil demons armed with knives.
Aaru usually was placed in the east, where the sun rises, and is described as eternal reed fields, very much like those of the earthly Nile delta: an ideal hunting and fishing ground, and hence, those deceased who, after judgment, were allowed to reside there, were often called the eternally living.
More precisely, Aaru was envisaged as a series of islands, covered in “fields of rushes” (Sekhet Aaru), Aaru being the Egyptian word for rushes. The part where Osiris later dwelt was sometimes known as the “field of offerings”, Sekhet Hetepet in Egyptian.
Ancient Egyptian Hell
With the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom the “democratization of religion” offered to even his humblest followers the prospect of eternal life, with moral fitness becoming the dominant factor in determining a persons suitability. At death a person faced judgment by a tribunal of forty-two divine judges. If they led a life in conformance with the precepts of the Goddess Maat, who represented truth and right living, the person was welcomed into the Two Fields.
If found guilty the person was thrown to a “devourer” and didn’t share in eternal life. The person who is taken by the devourer is subject first to terrifying punishment and then annihilated. These depictions of punishment may have influenced medieval perceptions of the inferno in hell via early Christian and Coptic texts. Purification for those who are considered justified may be found in the descriptions of “Flame Island”, where they experience the triumph over evil and rebirth. For the dammed complete destruction into a state of non being awaits but there is no suggestion of eternal torture; the weighing of the heart in Egyptian Mythology can lead to annihilation. Divine pardon at judgement was always a central concern for the Ancient Egyptians.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
The Greek Underworld
(DHARMA Initiative occupation of the Island)
Greek Underworld (often shortened as Underworld, depending on the context, or referred to as hell) is a general term used to describe the various realms of Greek mythology which were believed to lie beneath the earth or beyond the horizon.
The Great Pit of Tartarus, which was originally the exclusive prison of the old Titan gods but later came to mean the dungeon home of the damned souls.
The Land of the Dead ruled by the god Hades, which is variously called the house or domain of Hades (domos Aidaou), Hades, Erebus, the Asphodel Fields, Stygia and Acheron.
The Islands of the Blessed or Elysian Islands ruled by Cronus (According to Pindar – other accounts differ), where the great heroes of myth resided after death.
The Elysian Fields ruled by Rhadamanthys, where the virtuous dead and initiates in the ancient Mysteries were sent to dwell.
The five rivers of Hades are Acheron (the river of sorrow), Cocytus (the river of lamentation), Phlegethon (the river of fire), Lethe (the river of forgetfulness) and Styx (the river of hate), which forms the boundary between upper and lower worlds.
The ancient Greek concept of the underworld evolved considerably over time.
The Homeric Underworld
The underworld is ruled by Hades. The oldest descriptions of the underworld can be found in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. The other poets of old epic such as Hesiod describe it similarly. In the Odyssey the Underworld is located beyond the Western horizon. Odysseus reaches the underworld by ship from Circe’s island, and later on, the ghosts of the suitors who have died are herded there by Hermes Psychopompus (the guide of the dead). He herds them through the hollows of the earth, beyond the earth-encircling river Oceanus and the gates of the (setting) Sun to their final resting place in Hades.
The Classical Underworld
The Homeric Hymns and lyric poet Pindar introduce the paradisaical realm of Elysium where the virtuous dead were sent after death. This blessed afterlife was also promised in cult to the initiates of the ancient Mysteries.
The deceased entered the underworld by crossing the River Akheron or Styx ferried across by Charon (kair’-on), who charged an obolus, a small coin, as a fee. The coin or coins were either placed in the eyes, or in the mouth of the deceased by relatives. Paupers and the friendless gathered forever on the near shore. The far side of the river was guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of Hades.
Hades (The Abode of the Dead)
Hades (meaning “the unseen”) refers both to the ancient Greek underworld, the abode of Hades, and to the god of the underworld.
The term hades in Christian theology (and in New Testament Greek) is parallel to Hebrew sheol (שאול, grave or dirt-pit), and refers to the abode of the dead. The Christian concept of hell is more akin to (and communicated by) the Greek concept of Tartarus, a deep, gloomy part of hades used as a dungeon of torment and suffering.
Realm of Hades
In older Greek myths, the realm of Hades is the misty and gloomy abode of the dead (also called Erebus), where all mortals go. Later Greek philosophy introduced the idea that all mortals are judged after death and are either rewarded or cursed. Very few mortals could leave his realm once they entered: the exceptions, Heracles, Theseus, are heroic. Even Odysseus in his Nekyia (Odyssey, xi) calls up the spirits of the departed, rather than descend to them.
There were several sections of the realm of Hades, including Elysium, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartarus. Greek mythographers were not perfectly consistent about the geography of the afterlife. A contrasting myth of the afterlife concerns the Garden of the Hesperides, often identified with the Isles of the Blessed, where the blessed heroes may dwell.
For Hellenes, the deceased entered the underworld by crossing the Acheron, ferried across by Charon, who charged an obolus, a small coin for passage placed in the mouth of the deceased by pious relatives. Paupers and the friendless gathered for a hundred years on the near shore according to Book VI of Vergil’s Aeneid. Greeks offered propitiatory libations to prevent the deceased from returning to the upper world to “haunt” those who had not given them a proper burial.
The far side of the river was guarded by Cerberus, the three-headed dog defeated by Heracles (Roman Hercules). Passing beyond Cerberus, the shades of the departed entered the land of the dead to be judged.
The five rivers of the realm of Hades, and their symbolic meanings, are Acheron (the river of sorrow, or woe), Cocytus (lamentation), Phlegethon (fire), Lethe (oblivion), and Styx (hate), the river upon which even the gods swore and in which Achilles was dipped to render him invincible. The Styx forms the boundary between the upper and lower worlds.
The first region of Hades comprises the Fields of Asphodel, described in Odyssey xi, where the shades of heroes wander despondently among lesser spirits, who twitter around them like bats. Only libations of blood offered to them in the world of the living can reawaken in them for a time the sensations of humanity.
Beyond lay an area, Hades, which could be taken for a euphonym of Pluto, whose own name was dread. There were two pools, that of Lethe, where the common souls flocked to erase all memory, and the pool of Mnemosyne (“memory”), where the initiates of the Mysteries drank instead.
In the forecourt of the palace of Hades and Persephone sit the three judges of the Underworld: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. There at the trivium sacred to Hecate, where three roads meets, souls are judged, returned to the Fields of Asphodel if they are neither virtuous nor evil, sent by the road to Tartarus if they are impious or evil, or sent to Elysium (Islands of the Blessed) with the “blameless” heroes.