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The Crystal Skulls of Central America

The Real Crystal Skulls of Central America's Mayan Empire


The Crystal Skulls of Central America

Crystal Skull Display at Lubaantun, Belize

Kirsten Noelle Hubbard

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a long-awaited addition to the Indiana Jones Trilogy. But did you know Crystal Skulls actually exist – and most of them were discovered in Central America?

Why are Crystal Skulls so special?

The Crystal Skulls of Central America are replicas of human skulls carved from transparent quartz crystal. Some are distorted, but others, like the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull of Lubaantun, Belize, are anatomically correct.

Mayan creations myths allude to thirteen powerful Crystal Skulls dispersed throughout the Central American continent.

Many claim the Central America Crystal Skulls possess supernatural powers, and serve as hubs of energy. Some people believe Crystal Skulls have healing abilities, or may be used in predicting the future (like a crystal ball). Others believe the skulls are bad luck, especially the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull. Some even believe the Crystal Skulls are linked to the lost civilizations of Atlantis or Lemuria, or to alien life forms.

Scientists, however, believe in none of the above.

The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal

There have been several Crystal Skulls found in Central America, but the most famous is the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull.

The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull was allegedly found in 1926 in the Lubaantun Mayan ruins of Southern Belize, then known as British Honduras. The discoverer was Anna Le Guillon Mitchell-Hedges, daughter of archaeologist F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. See photos of Belize's Lubaantun ruins.

Mitchell-Hedges claimed to have discovered the skull in the collapsed altar of an ancient Mayan temple at Lubaantun. See a photo of the site where the Crystal Skull was said to be found. According to Mitchell-Hedges, she was told by the resident Maya the skull was used to "will death". Because of this, it was nicknamed the Skull of Doom.

The authenticity of Mitchell-Hedges’s story is controversial. There is evidence she purchased the skull at an action decades after she claimed to find it, while there is zero evidence of her having possessed it before the mid-1940s. Even if she did, rumors suggest Anna Mitchell-Hedges’s father purchased the skull and planted it in the Lubaantun ruins of Belize for her to find. There are also signs the skull was carved from 19th century metal tools, disproving its pre-Colombian origin.

Yet ancient or not, the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull is extraordinary. The skull is 7 inches long and 5 inches high, and weighs about 11 pounds. Uniquely, the jaw detaches from the rest of the skull, which was carved from a single piece of quartz.

More amazingly, the Mitchell-Hedges skull was carved against the natural axis of the crystal, which should have made it shatter. Because of this, it is impossible to duplicate, and the secret to its construction remains unexplained.

Other Crystal Skulls in Central America

The histories of other Central American Crystal Skulls are even more dubious than that of the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull. Like the latter, most Crystal Skulls bear marks of 19th century jewelers’ tools, especially along the ridges of the teeth. Yet the supposed pre-Colombian origin of Crystal Skulls cannot be verified – because the skulls aren’t organic, carbon dating will not work.

The closest in design to the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull is the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, which also possesses a removable jaw. It was said to be found on the border of Guatemala and Honduras. The Mayan Crystal Skull, allegedly found in Guatemala in the early 20th century, and the Amethyst Skull, said to be discovered in Mexico around the same time, were also carved against the axis of the crystal.

Another Central American Crystal Skull with an enigmatic history is called “ET” because of its overbite and pointed skull. Creepy!

The British Crystal Skull, made of misty quartz and less detailed, on display at Museum of Mankind in London. The Paris Crystal Skull is on display at the Trocadero Museum of Paris. The skulls are nearly identical in size and design, and were said to be purchased in Mexico at the turn of the 19th century.

Crystal Skulls in Popular Culture

Crystal Skulls are so fascinating, their likeness has been references numerous times in popular culture. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for one. In addition, multiple Indiana Jones novels include tales of Crystal Skulls. Television series Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World used an image of a Crystal Skull as its logo. Video games “Nancy Drew and the Legend of the Crystal Skull” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow” utilize Crystal Skulls as plot devices.

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