If you're looking for a good Central American mystery to wrap your mind around for the season, look no further than the tale of the Mitchell-Hodges crystal skull, a mystifying artifact actually uncovered in Belize. But similar skulls have been discovered at ruin sites across Mexico, though not nearly as artfully crafted or with such perfect precision in craftsmanship. But the lore surrounding the crystal skulls is one worth studying. Especially if you start with the famous Mitchell-Hodges skull. (NOTE: Photo to right is Mayan Crystal Skull. The famed Mitchell-Hodges Skull appears above in the story banner)
According to a widely circulated myth about the skulls, the Mayan end date will arrive and the new age of man will be borne near the winter solstice in the year 2012. But only after 13 mystic crystal skulls are "discovered" and used to help understand the process required for mankind to transcend the current age of man to the new age of man.
Similar end of age legends and stories exist among many of the indigenous people of the Americas, including the Hopi and the Cherokee.
The most widely celebrated and mysterious crystal skull is the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, for at least two reasons. First, it is very similar in form to an actual human skull, even featuring a fitted removable jawbone. Most known crystal skulls are of a more stylized structure, often with unrealistic features and teeth that are simply etched onto a single skull piece. Second, it is impossible to say how the Mitchell-Hedges skull was constructed. From a technical standpoint, it appears to be an impossible object which today's most talented sculptors and engineers would be unable to duplicate. The discovery of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull, sometimes referred to as the "Skull of Doom", is a controversial matter, and reads like a sci-fi action adventure film.
The skull was apparently made from a single, unusually large block of clear quartz crystal, and measured 5 inches high, 7 inches long, and 5 inches wide, weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces. It closely corresponds in size to a small human cranium, with near perfect detail, even to rendering the skull without the globular prominence or superciliary ridges, which are characteristics of a female.
As the story goes ... One day in 1927, English adventurer, traveler, and writer, F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, who had a talent for telling colorful stories, was clearing debris from atop a ruined temple at the ancient Mayan city of Lubaantum, located in British Honduras, now Belize. His seventeen-year old daughter Anna, who had accompanied him, suddenly saw something shimmering in the dust below. Anna found an exquisitely carved and polished skull made of rock crystal, with the jaw piece missing. Three months later, she located the jaw in an excavation about 25 feet from the first site.
In 1970, art conservator and restorer Frank Dorland was given permission by the Mitchell-Hedges estate to submit the quartz skull to tests conducted at the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories at Santa Clara, California.
From these tests, and from careful studies done by Dorland himself, the skull revealed a whole array of anomalies. When submersed in a benzyl alcohol bath, with a beam of light passing through, it was noted that both the skull and jaw piece had come from the same quartz block. What was astounding to the testers, however, is they found that the skull and jaw had been carved with total disregard to the natural crystal axis in the quartz.
In modern crystallography, the first procedure is always to determine the axis, to prevent fracturing and breakage during the subsequent shaping process. Yet, the skull's maker appears to have employed methods by which such concerns were not necessary.
The unknown artist also used no metal tools. Dorland was unable to find signs of any tell-tale scratch marks on the crystal, under high-powered microscopic analysis. Indeed, most metals would have been ineffectual, for the crystal has a specific gravity of 2.65, and a Mohs hardness factor of 7.
From tiny patterns in the quartz near the carved surfaces, Dorland determined the skull was first meticulously chiseled into a rough form, probably using diamonds. The finer shaping, grinding and polishing, Dorland believes, was done by applying innumerable applications of solutions of water and silicon-crystal sand. The big problem is, if these were the processes used, then, as Dorland calculated, it would mean that a total of 300 man-years of continuous labor was spent in making the skull. (photo right: the Amethyst Skull)
The enigma of the skull, however, does not end with just its making. The zygomatic arches (the bone arch extending along the sides and front of the cranium) are accurately separated from the skull piece, and act as light pipes, using principles similar to modern optics, to channel light from the base of the skull to the eye sockets.
The eye sockets in turn are miniature concave lenses that also transfer light from a source below, into the upper cranium. Finally, in the interior of the skull is a ribbon prism and tiny light tunnels, by which objects held beneath the skull are magnified and brightened.
Richard Garvin, who authored a book about the crystal skull, believes the skull was designed to be placed over an upward shining beam. The result, with the various light transfers and prismatic effects, would illuminate the entire skull and cause the sockets to become glowing eyes. Dorland performed experiments using this technique, and reported the skull 'lights up like it was on fire.'
Still another finding about the crystal skull reveals knowledge of weights and fulcrum points. The jaw piece fits precisely onto the skull by two polished sockets, which allow the jaw to move up and down. The skull itself can be balanced exactly where two tiny holes are drilled on each side of its base, which probably once held suspending supports. So perfect is the balance at these points that the slightest breeze causes the skull to nod back and forth, the jaw opening and closing as counter-weight.
The question, of course, is what purpose did this serve? Was the skull only designed by its artist as a clever toy or conversation piece, or, as Dorland believes, was the talking skull meant to be used as an oracular device, through strange phenomena associated with the crystal skull, that defy logical explanation.
Observers have reported that, for unknown reasons, the skull will change color. Sometimes the frontal cranium clouds up, looking like white cotton, while at other times it turns perfectly clear, as if the space within disappears into an empty void. Over a period from 5 to 6 minutes, a dark spot often begins forming on the right side and slowly blackens the entire skull, then recedes and disappears as mysteriously as it came.
Dorland is of the opinion that what is happening in all this phenomena is that the 'crystal stimulates an unknown part of the brain, opening a psychic door to the absolute.' He observes, 'crystals continuously put out electric-like radio waves. Since the brain does the same thing, they naturally interact.' He has found, too, that periodic happenings in the crystal skull are due to the positions of the sun, moon and planets in the sky.
Researcher Marianne Zezelic agrees that the skull was primarily used to stimulate and amplify the psychic abilities in its handlers. She observes. "Crystal serves as an accumulator of terrestrial magnetism. By gazing at the crystal, the eyes set up a harmonic relation stimulating the magnetism collected in that portion of the brain known as the cerebellum."
The cerebellum therefore becomes a reservoir of magnetism which influences the quality of the magnetic outflow through the eyes, thus setting up a continuous flow of magnetism between gazer and crystal.
Going a step further, Tom Bearden, an expert in the field of psychotronic studies, believes that, in the hands of a skilled mediator and mental focalize, the crystal skull also served not only as a vehicle to transform life field energy into electromagnetic energy and other physical effects, but also aided in healing, by the altering of its crystalline resonance to match that of a patient's mind and body frequencies, and affecting curing energies on the skull that would manifest in the patient's auric field.
When looking at the sum total of skill and knowledge incorporated in the Mitchell-Hedges skull, modern science is stumped as to how to explain it. Author Garvin summarized the findings in these words: 'It is virtually impossible today -- in the time when men have climbed mountains on the moon -- to duplicate this achievement.
Believers in the power of the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull, beware! Although it is a truly magnificent ancient artifact, whose origin and age are unknown, the purpose of the artifact is still unknown, on many levels, and controversy still envelops the skull and the man who 'discovered' it..
The crystal skull was NOT found in 1924, 1925, 1926, or 1927 by Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the adopted daughter of Mike Mitchell-Hedges. The skull was actually bought by Mitchell-Hedges in 1943 at an auction at Sothebys in London, England, from Sidney Burney. This was confirmed by notes found at the British Museum.
Other evidence further supports the discovery that the skull did not take place during a British Expedition. There are no records or photographs of the crystal skull. Sidney Burney and others who were on the expedition, claimed from day one, that Mitchell-Hedges did not find the skull in Lubaatun.
The many references that Mitchell-Hedges had made about the bad luck or the willing of people to death by the crystal skull have been found to be the figments of his own very colorful and vivid imagination. There is no scientific proof whatsoever that the crystal skull has been responsible for any harm falling on a person or any miraculous healing or other miracle.
The skull is currently residing in the British Museum of Man in London, England, and has been there since 1898. It is a one piece clear quartz full size quartz crystal skull. There is a pair of similar skulls known as the British Crystal Skull and the Paris Crystal Skull. Both are said to have been bought by mercenaries in Mexico in the 1890s, possibly at the same time. They are so similar in size and shape that some have guessed that one was copied to produce the other. In comparison to the Mitchell-Hedges skull, they are made of cloudier clear crystal and are not nearly as finely sculpted. The features are superficially etched and appear incomplete, without discretely formed jawbones. The British Crystal Skull is on display at London's Museum of Mankind, and the Trocadero Museum of Paris houses the Paris Crystal Skull.
The Amethyst Skull
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 said to be 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.
Texas Crystal Skull (Max)
A skull known as "Max," or the Texas Crystal Skull, is a single-piece, clear skull weighing 18 pounds. It reportedly originated in Guatemala, then passed from a Tibetan spiritualist to Joann Parks of Houston, Texas. The Parks family allows visitors to observe Max and they display the skull at various exhibitions across the U.S.
"ET" is a smoky quartz skull found in the early 20th Century in Central America. It was given its nickname because its pointed cranium and exaggerated overbite make it look like the skull of an alien being. ET is part of the private collection of Joke VanDietan, who tours with her skulls to share the healing powers she believes they possess.
The only known crystal skull that comes close to resembling the Mitchell-Hedges skull is one called the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, which was reported 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 mandible.
Regardless of any unearthly properties the crystal skulls may or may not possess, the question remains: where did they come from? There are countless hypotheses that they are the legacy of some higher intelligence. Many believe they were created by extraterrestrials or beings in Atlantis or Lemuria. One elaborate theory maintains that the skulls were left behind by a sophisticated Inner Earth society which lives at the hollow center of our planet, and there are thirteen "master skulls" which contain the history of these people.
The most obvious answer to the mystery is that native artisans in Latin America or elsewhere crafted the skulls themselves. The Mayans are most often associated with them, although some doubt that they could have made the skulls, and not simply because of the technical conundrum the job poses. One theory holds the Aztecs as a more likely candidate to have created them.
Many skeptics feel that the crystal skulls are probably of a much more recent vintage than their accompanying stories suggest. This, they believe, is the best way to explain their existence, since no one could have created them without technologies available only within the past century.
A broadcast of the BBC documentary series "Everyman" reported on studies of a number of crystal skulls and other artifacts of supposedly ancient origin conducted at the British Museum. Using electron microscopes, the researchers found that two of the skulls possessed straight, perfectly-spaced surface markings, indicating the use of a modern polishing wheel. Genuine ancient objects would show haphazard tiny scratches from the hand-polishing process. The report speculated that these skulls were actually made in Germany within the past 150 years.
Even 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 Lubaantum 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. And mystery still surrounds the discovery of similar skulls across Mexico.