British Crystal Skull
Paris Crystal Skull
Perhaps it’s because they are fashioned in the shape of human skulls or maybe it’s due to the hint of some dark and mysterious curse, whatever the reason may be; there are few artifacts that have generated more interest than the crystal skulls.
There have actually been several crystal skulls of quite incredible workmanship found in various places around the world though perhaps the most widely celebrated and also the most mysterious of these is the Mitchell-Hedges Skull which has also been known as ‘the skull of doom’. There are at least three very good reasons for this. Firstly, the skull is very similar in form and size to an actual human skull, even featuring a fitted and removable jawbone while most other known crystal skulls are of a more stylized or avant-garde appearance, quite often with unrealistic features and teeth that are simply etched onto the surface of the crystal. Secondly, it is as yet, unknown how the Mitchell-Hedges skull was constructed. From a scientific and technical perspective, it appears to be an utterly impossible object that has been made to a ridiculous degree of perfection by an unknown technique, which today's most talented sculptors and engineers are still unable to duplicate, even by modern methods and quite simply should not exist. Thirdly: It is a complete mystery as to where the skull actually comes from.
The discovery of the skull is still a controversial matter and one that has been brought into question many times. The story goes like this: A British explorer by the name of F. A. Michael Mitchell-Hedges, embarked on several expeditions with the aim of searching for evidence of the lost civilization of Atlantis. He claims that his step-daughter Anna unearthed the skull in 1927 during such an expedition that he had led into the ancient Mayan ruins of Lubaantun, in Belize (then called British Honduras). According to Mitchell-Hedges, Anna (then 17 years old) was searching inside a structure that was believed to have once been a temple, when she found the cranium of the crystal skull inside. At the time of the discovery, the skull was lacking its jawbone which was itself found three months later, about 25 feet away from where the cranium had been found. Mitchell-Hedges says that he felt the object held some special significance and claims that he didn’t want to take the skull away from the site where it had been found and had offered it to the local priests but that the Mayans had then given the skull back to him as a gift upon his departure - a dubious tale at best.
Michael Mitchell-Hedges was born in 1882 and died in 1959. He was known by his friends as a “charming rogue.” At one stage of his career he was even know as “the British Baron Von Munchausen.” He was an explorer, an author, a gambler and a soldier with Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. He was undoubtedly a very colorful and quite ‘roguish’ character, the rather impressive initials that he had next to his name actually resulted from him having joined the London Zoological Society and enabled him to enter the zoo on Sundays. Although I think that he make have actually founded the society to begin with.
Many people found Mitchell-Hedges story to be ‘questionable’ at the time and evidence now shows that his tale of the skull's discovery was probably entirely fabricated. There are no known photographs of the skull among those that were taken during any of his Lubaatun expeditions, and there is no record of Mitchell-Hedges ever displaying or even acknowledging any existence of the skull any time prior to 1943. It is also interesting that when he took the skull on a trip to South Africa in 1947, Mitchell-Hedges himself made this cryptic remark about the skull: “We took with us the sinister Skull of Doom of which much has been written. How it came into my possession I have reason for not revealing.” Yet the story he had always maintained was that it was found by his step-daughter, so why would he have reason for not revealing how he came by the object?
Many believe that the skull was placed there for the young girl to find but if Mitchell-Hedges did indeed put the skull in the temple for Anna to find in 1927 and just never let on about until 1943, then where did he actually get it from prior to 1927?
There are several other theories on how Mitchell-Hedges came to be in possession of the skull and a number of books have been written on the subject. One theory suggests that the skull is actually a 12,000 year old artifact that has been handed down from an Ancient civilization through the Knights Templar and eventually coming into the custodianship of the Inner Circle of the Masons Lodge. Mitchell-Hedges was, in fact, an Inner Circle Mason and may have “acquired” it through the lodge or possibly from a Lodge gambling debt. Another theory is that it may have been looted from a pyramid on one of his Mexican expeditions, which is why he may not have wanted to reveal how he came by it. Another more fascinating theory holds that the Knights Templar had been in possession of it for centuries but had previously moved the skull to Lubaatun many years before to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Vatican and that Mitchell-Hedges had been purposely sent to the site by the Freemasons to retrieve the artifact.
In a somewhat less romantic series of events however, it is believed that in reality Mitchell- Hedges purchased the skull in 1943 at an auction at Sotheby’s Auction House in London. This has now been reasonably verified by documents found at the British Museum which had in fact bid against Mitchell-Hedges for the crystal artifact at the same sale. The Sotheby’s records show that the artifact was actually purchased by Mitchell-Hedges from one Sidney Burney but the Museum could only go as high as 340 pounds. Burney then sold the skull to Mitchell-Hedges for 400 British pounds. So now the question now becomes: Who was Sidney Burney and how on earth did the skull come to be in his possession?
Unfortunately no other records remain of anyone called Sidney Burney. The enigmatic skull remains in the possession of Anna Mitchell-Hedges who, even after all these years, continues to maintain that she discovered the skull, even though the Sotheby’s auction has been verified and there is considerable reason to question that she was ever present at the Lubaatun expedition at all. If there is any truth in the tale at all and she was present on the expedition, then there is little doubt that Mitchell –Hedges actually placed the skull in the temple for her to find. Anna still often displays the skull on frequent ‘final’ tours and she now lives in Canada.
The Mitchell-Hedges skull is made of clear quartz crystal. Both cranium and mandible are perfectly proportioned and are believed to have been fashioned from the same solid piece of crystal. It weighs 11.7 pounds and is about five inches high, five inches wide, and seven inches long. Except for some very slight anomalies in the temples and cheekbones, it is an anatomically perfect replica of a human skull. Because of its small size and other characteristics, it is thought to bear a closer resemblance to a female skull than a males’, which has led many to refer to the Mitchell-Hedges skull as a "she."
In 1970, the Mitchell-Hedges family loaned the skull to the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Santa Clara, California for extensive study. HP is a computer equipment manufacturer and a leading facility for crystal research. The studies were conducted by an Art restorer named Frank Dorland who oversaw the testing procedures and the HP examinations yielded some quite remarkable results. Researchers discovered that the skull had actually been cleverly carved against the natural axis of the crystal. To explain: The axis or orientation of a crystal's molecular symmetry is an important aspect of crystal cutting and is something that is always taken into account by modern crystal sculptors, because if they carve against the natural axis the piece will usually shatter. This is true even when using lasers and other high-tech cutting methods and yet this skull is cut against the natural axis. Then, to exacerbate the issue of the object even further, the HP tests could find no trace of microscopic scratches on the surface of the crystal either. Such microscopic signs would be a welcome indication that it had been carved with metal instruments or other tools.
Finally, after a series of exhaustive tests and microscopic examinations, Dorland's best possible hypothesis for the skull's construction was that it had been roughly hewn out using something like diamonds and then the detail and clean up work would have been very meticulously done using a gentle solution of silicon sand and water. But assuming that it could really have been done that way at all, which is the only possible way that anyone can think of, the entire somewhat exhausting job would have then required the combined and devoted services of an extremely gifted group of sculptures, working in shifts and required a labor of continuous man-hours totaling about 300 years to complete. Under these circumstances, experts believe that successfully crafting a shape as complex as the Mitchell-Hedges skull by hand is quite frankly, impossible; as one HP researcher is said to have remarked, "The damned thing just simply shouldn't exist!"
The mysteries of the skull, however, do not end there. The skull has been fashioned in such a way that the zeugmatic arches (the bone arches that extend along the sides and front of the cranium) are accurately separated from the skull piece, and act as light pipes, using the principles of optics, to channel light from the base of the skull to the eye sockets, the eye sockets are miniature concave lenses that transfer light either from the ‘bone arches’ or from a source below into the upper cranium. While in the interior of the skull is a ribbon prism and small light tunnels which greatly magnifies and brightens objects that are held beneath the skull.
Strange powers and manifestations have also been attributed to the Mitchell-Hedges skull. During his years of testing the skull at Hewlett-Packard, Frank Dorland says it sometimes displayed strange characteristics. Dorland says that often the eyes would flicker as though alive and still other observers have reported strange odors and sounds emanating from the object. It has been known to give off sensations of heat and cold to those who touch it, even though the actual crystal has always remained at a constant physical temperature of 70 degrees F under all conditions, and has also produced sensations of thirst and sometimes of taste in some instances. Dorland and other also took strange photographs of the skull in which object could be seen within it such as strange flying discs and mountain temples. The skull has also many times been reported to emanate a glowing aura. Other observers have reported that occasionally the skull will change color. Sometimes the frontal cranium may become cloudy up while at other times it remains perfectly clear, sometimes it will start off cloudy and then clear right up as if the space within the skull had ‘disappeared into an empty void.’ Over a period of 5 to 6 minutes, a dark spot often begins forming on the right side and slowly spreads until it has blackened the entire skull, then recedes and disappears as mysteriously as it came.
Still others, including Mitchell-Hedges himself have said the skull holds a curse and for this reason it is also sometimes known as the “Skull of Doom.” Mitchell-Hedges is known to have referred to the skull as “the embodiment of evil” and said that “some people who have laughed cynically at the skull have died while others have become stricken and seriously ill.” It is doubtful any such curse actually exists, at least not one that will kill as is believed to be the case with the infamous “Hope Diamond”, in fact, it maybe quite the opposite. Mitchell-Hedges was in possession of the skull for over 30 years with no harmful effects and during that time he actually survived eight bullet wounds and three knife attacks before dying at the age of 77 in June 1959. One other interesting theory about the skull was put forth by Nick Nocerino in the book ‘Mystery of the Crystal Skulls Revealed’ holds that the crystal skulls “record vibrations in the form of images of events that have occurred around them. In this way they seem to work as video cameras of sorts, recording holographic scenes.” The authors believe the Mitchell-Hedges skull is part of a set and that there are actually 13 such skulls that exist and the rest are still kept in a chamber beneath Potala Palace in Tibet. The general opinion of the book is that the skulls are actually of extra terrestrial origin.
Unfortunately, none of this brings us any closer to solving the mystery of the mysterious object for the questions still remain: Where did it originally come from? And, Who made it? The Mitchell-Hedges skull is not the only crystal skull to have been found. There two other skulls quite similar to it though not nearly as remarkable. These are known as the British Crystal Skull and the Paris Crystal Skull. Both artifacts are said to have been bought by mercenaries in Mexico in the 1890s, possibly even as part of the same purchase. The British and Paris skulls are extremely similar in size and shape, in fact so much so, that some have speculated that one skull was used as a model to produce the other. Both skulls are made of clear but cloudy crystal and are not nearly as finely sculpted as the Mitchell-Hedges skull; The features are only superficially etched into the surface and appear somewhat incomplete. The British Crystal Skull is on display at London's Museum of Mankind while the Paris Crystal Skull is kept at the Trocadero Museum in Paris.
Further examples of primitively sculpted skulls are a couple called the Mayan Crystal Skull and the Amethyst Skull. They were discovered in the early 1900s in Guatemala and Mexico, respectively, and were brought to the U.S. by a Mayan priest. The Amethyst Skull is made of purple quartz and the Mayan skull is clear, but the two are otherwise very alike. Like the Mitchell-Hedges skull, both of them were studied at Hewlett-Packard, and they too were found to be inexplicably cut against the axis of the crystal.
However, the only other known crystal skull that comes close to resembling the Mitchell- Hedges skull is one called the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, which was reported as being found near the border of Honduras and Guatemala. It is not clear in color and is slightly larger than the Mitchell-Hedges, but boasts a comparable level of craftsmanship, including a removable lower jaw. And as is also the case with the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, many have attributed strange and psychic properties to the Rose Quartz Skull.
The history of the Amethyst skull is unclear; it was reportedly part of a collection of crystal skulls that were in the possession of the Mexican President Diaz from 1876-1910, but there are also reports that the skull was discovered in the Oaxaca area (Mexico) and was handed down from generation to generation through an order of Mayan Priests. It now believed to reside in San Jose, California with a group of businessmen who have apparently offered it for sale.
Regardless of any earthly or unearthly properties the crystal skulls may or may not possess, the question still remains: where did they come from? There are countless theories on the subject some suggest that they are the creation of some higher intelligence. Others believe they were created by extraterrestrials or a legacy left behind from beings that lived in Atlantis or Lemuria. Where ever they come from and whatever their purpose, there can be no doubt that in the intriguing realm of ancient artifacts, there are few antiquities that are as thought provoking or have brought more controversy and debate as these carved crystal skulls.
The Museum of Man, in London also contains a crystal skull of indeterminate origin that was purchased by them at the turn of the last century from an antiquity dealer in New York. The Man Museum skull is called the Aztec Skull. It is interesting to note that the museum no longer keeps it on display, though it can be viewed by request. This is because several museum personnel as well as many visitors have claimed that the skull moves on its own within the glass case in which it is enclosed.