Crystal Skulls

Beginning in the late 19th century, around a dozen carved skulls made of clear or milky white quartz (also known as rock crystal) made their way into collections around the globe.

The Mitchell-Hedges skull is one of a handful of true crystal skulls in either a private or a public collection, was allegedly discovered in 1924 by Anna Mitchell-Hedges. Mitchell-Hedges claimed that she found the skull buried under a collapsed altar inside a temple in Lubaantun, in British Honduras, now Belize. All are varied in size and carved from either clear, cloudy, or colored quartz. But none of the crystal skulls have captured the popular imagination quite like the Mitchell-Hedges skull.

Since then, the origins of these “crystal skulls” have been the subject of ongoing mystery and controversy. According to the people who claimed to have discovered the skulls, they date back thousands or even tens of thousands of years, to ancient Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Aztec, Toltec, Mixtec or Maya. Many of those who believe in the crystal skulls’ ancient provenance attribute supernatural powers to the objects, including healing properties and the power to expand a person’s psychic abilities in their presence. Some have linked the skulls to the lost city of Atlantis, or claimed them as proof that extraterrestrials visited pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Aztecs.

British Museum Skull

The crystal skull of the British Museum first appeared in 1881, in the shop of the Paris antiquarian, Eugène Boban. Its origin was not stated in his catalog of the time. He is said to have tried to sell it to Mexico’s national museum as an Aztec artifact, but was unsuccessful. Boban later moved his business to New York City, where the skull was sold to George H. Sisson. It was exhibited at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New York City in 1887 by George F. Kunz. It was sold at auction, and bought by Tiffany and Co., who later sold it at cost to the British Museum in 1897. This skull is very similar to the Mitchell-Hedges skull, although it is less detailed and does not have a movable lower jaw.

 

Paris Skull

Crystal skull at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris.The largest of the three skulls sold by Eugène Boban to Alphonse Pinart (sometimes called the Paris Skull), about 10 cm (4 in) high, has a hole drilled vertically through its center. It is part of a collection held at the Musée du Quai Branly, and was subjected to scientific tests carried out in 2007–08 by France’s national Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums in France, or C2RMF). After a series of analyses carried out over three months, C2RMF engineers concluded that it was “certainly not pre-Columbian, it shows traces of polishing and abrasion by modern tools.” Particle accelerator tests also revealed occluded traces of water that were dated to the 19th century, and the Quai Branly released a statement that the tests “seem to indicate that it was made late in the 19th century.”

Smithsonian Skull

The “Smithsonian Skull”, Catalogue No. A562841-0 in the collections of the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, was mailed to the Smithsonian Institution anonymously in 1992, and was claimed to be an Aztec object by its donor and was purportedly from the collection of Porfirio Diaz. It is the largest of the skulls, weighing 31 pounds (14 kg) and is 15 inches (38 cm) high.

Crystal Skull Legend

There are very few legends that cross over cultures and times the way the crystal skull legends do. They are con-temporarily shared by the Mayans, The Aztecs, the Native Americans and other indigenous people around the world (and in philosophical terms, they are recorded in Atlantean and Lemurian Times). These legends have been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, which attests to their enduring power.

These crystal skulls became part of a larger, allegedly Native American, prophecy which claimed that when 13 of them were finally reunited, the skulls would disseminate universal knowledge and secrets critical to humanity’s survival. But only when humanity was ready. Scientists and archaeologists, on the other hand, are skeptical.

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