Crystal Skulls – Magical and Mystical Source of Intrigue

by Ginger Marin

With the 2008 release of the new Indian Jones movie hitting the screens, there has been renewed interest in the subject of crystal skulls. Skulls represent humanity’s foremost symbol of death and they are powerful icons to cultures all over the globe. There have been many replicas of human skulls that have been polished out of a single crystal of quartz rock.

Some are ancient, some classified as “old” and others are more contemporary. A few have been made from pure quartz and are absolutely clear while a rare few are also life-sized. Some are milky in color, at least one is of rose quartz and still another is amethyst. Thirteen crystal skulls of apparently ancient origin have been found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America, comprising one of the most fascinating subjects of 20th Century archeology.

The most widely celebrated and mysterious of these crystal skulls is the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, the manufacture of which is quite remarkable.

The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull

It is very similar in form to an actual human skull, even featuring a fitted removable jawbone. Most other known crystal skulls are of a more stylized structure, often with unrealistic features and teeth that are simply etched onto a single skull piece. Interestingly, it is impossible to say how the Mitchell-Hedges skull was constructed. From a technical standpoint, it appears to be an impossible object by which today’s most talented sculptors and engineers would be unable to duplicate.

The Mitchell-Hedges skull is made of clear quartz crystal, and both cranium and mandible are believed to have come from the same solid block. It weighs 11.7 pounds and is about five inches high, five inches wide, and seven inches long. Except for slight anomalies in the temples and cheekbones, it is a virtually anatomically correct replica of a human skull. Because of its small size and other characteristics, it is thought more closely to resemble a female skull — and this has led some to refer to the Mitchell-Hedges skull as a “she.”

In 1970, the Mitchell-Hedges family lent the skull to Hewlett-Packard Laboratories for extensive study. Art restorer Frank Dorland oversaw the testing at the company’s California computer equipment plant, a leading facility for crystal research. The HP examinations yielded some startling results. Researchers found that the skull had been carved against the natural axis of the crystal. Modern crystal sculptors always take into account the axis, or orientation of the crystal’s molecular symmetry, because if they carve “against the grain,” the piece is bound to shatter — even with the use of lasers and other high-tech cutting methods.

To compound the strangeness, HP could find no microscopic scratches on the crystal that would indicate it had been carved with metal instruments. Dorland’s best hypothesis for the skull’s construction is that it was roughly hewn out with diamonds, and then the detail work was meticulously done with a gentle solution of silicon sand and water. The exhausting job — assuming it could have been done this way — would have required man-hours adding up to 300 years to complete.

Under these circumstances, experts believe that successfully crafting a shape as complex as the Mitchell-Hedges skull is impossible; as one HP researcher is said to have remarked, “The damned thing simply shouldn’t be.”

Mr. Mitchell-Hedges had always indicated that he had found the skull in an ancient temple in British Honduras, though he seemed very reluctant to reveal the details, writing: “How it came into my possession I have reason for not revealing.”

Anna Mitchell-Hedges, his adopted daughter, claimed that it was she who discovered the skull on her 17th birthday in 1924 while with her father in British Honduras. She found the skull; missing the jaw, under an ancient alter. Three months later she found the jaw in the same room.

The regal Mitchell-Hedges skull is not without scandalous accusations of fraud. Some believe that F.A. Mitchell-Hedges had the piece commissioned by a sculptor, and planted it in the Lubaantun ruins for his daughter to find as a spectacular birthday present.

The validity of this charge is uncertain, but even if the Mitchell-Hedges skull is of modern origin, its structure is no less extraordinary. In all likelihood, every crystal skull in the world was fashioned by plain old human beings of some sort, and regardless of whether the work was carried out five years ago or five hundred years ago, we still don’t have any idea how they did it. (for

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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