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The Crystal Skulls: Mystery, Misunderstanding or Hoax?

The British Museum Skull by Gryffindor

The crystal skulls are a number of supposed artifacts that are kept by collectors and museums around the world. Claims regarding the crystal skulls range from them being tools of a sacrificial temple to supernatural tools of murder. What they really are may be much simpler.

The typical claims regarding the crystal skulls regard their origins. It is said that they are Mayan or Aztec artifacts. Some even say that they date back even farther. More specifically, proponents of the supernatural claims say that the Mitchell-Hedges Skull was brought here by aliens, held in Atlantis, used by the Knights Templar during the Crusades and somehow wound up in a Pre-Columbian temple in Belize by the early 1900s. Supernatural claims include spontaneous healing, holographic premonitions and the ability to kill the enemies of the owner from a distance.

There are number of small crystal skulls, but those that get the most attention are life-sized or nearly life-sized crystals skulls. Of these, four are the most famous. None of them is actually made of crystal. They are made of quartz, which, when polished and carved correctly, look like crystal.

The Paris Skull

The Paris Skull is a crystal skull that was owned by antiques dealer Eugene Boban. It was eventually sold by Boban and now resides in the Musee de Quai Branly in Paris. It is 4 inches in height. Unlike the other skulls on this list, it has a hole drilled vertically through the center of it. Because of this, it is often assumed that it was once displayed on some sort of staff.

Experts have concluded, based on tool markings on the skull, that it was created in the 1800s with modern tools. The museum asserts that it is not of Pre-Columbian origins. Who made it and why is still a mystery, but once the first few crystal skulls made the rounds, it became obvious they were moneymakers. Selling and displaying them can turn a profit, so it is highly likely that many of the skulls were hoaxes made simply for money. The question is, what about the first ones?

The Smithsonian Skull

The Smithsonian Skull is kept in the National Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian received it from an anonymous benefactor in 1992. It is the largest of the crystal skulls, weighing in at more than 30 pounds. Experts have drawn essentially the same conclusions as with the Paris Skull and for similar reasons. Like the Musee de Quai Branly, the National Museum of Natural History states that the skull is definitely a fake.

The British Museum Skull

The British Museum Skull was owned by Eugene Boban, like the Paris Skull. He sold the skull to George Sisson and it was later purchased by Tiffany & Company, which sold it to the British Museum. It has been in the museum’s possession since 1897. Therefore, there has been ample opportunity to study the skull.

The British Museum Skull has a detached mandible, unlike the above skulls. The museum has concluded that the skull was made in Europe, probably Germany, in the 19th century. It has no discernible supernatural powers. The museum has several skulls. Testing concluded the quartz could only be found in Brazil and Madagascar. Given that Aztecs and Mayans would have had access to neither.

The Mitchell-Hedges Skull

Perhaps the most famous of the crystal skull is the so-called Mitchell-Hedges skull. Its fame likely comes from the claims of its owners. It is the skull said to have been brought to Earth by aliens, kept in Atlantis and carried by the Knights Templar. It is also said to have been used in a Mayan temple and that priests could “will death” with it, hence its nickname “The Skull of Doom.”

Anna Mitchell Hedges, the previous and first well-known owner of the skull reportedly claimed that she had willed a man dead with the skull. She also said that she saw a vision of J.F.K’s assassination, delivered by the skull. She says she found it, along with her stepfather, in a Mayan ruin in Belize. The Mitchell-Hedge’s website also says that the skull has properties only possible with zero gravity During her lifetime, Anna made money off selling tickets to see the skull, giving her a good reason to create and perpetuate myths, but that is not all.

Anna Mitchell-Hedges was notoriously stubborn about letting people study the skull. Very few investigations have been done of the skull. One researcher, an art restorer, said that the skull would have taken 150 to 300 years by chipping away at quartz and then rubbing it with sand to create the details. He said that it is certainly very old, but how he is qualified to come to that conclusion is uncertain. The first researcher never said anything about supernatural properties or an odd temperature, but there are claims that it maintains a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Archaeologist Norman Hammond said that holes drilled, presumably to attach the mandible to the skull, were made with metal tools — an impossible feat for Pre-Columbian tribes. Anna would not allow more testing on the skull, though she continued to assert its properties and charge people to see it.

About Shelly Barclay

Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter. Shelly was a professional cook for 10 years and still has a passion for food. She cooks and writes about cooking nearly every day. She produces a wide variety of content, on top of her niches. Shelly is a stepmother, a former military, current veteran wife, sister of four and aunt of seven (so far).