With the 2008 release of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, crystal skulls attained a far higher level of exposure than ever before. Before, crystal skulls had only become somewhat famous in the 1980s, particularly in New Age circles. Today, there are hundreds of crystal skulls, almost all of them of modern fabrication (most made in China) and used in various New Age-type seminars. Only a handful of skulls are suspected of having ancient origins, including the most famous of all crystal skulls: the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” makes scant references to the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull. It stands out for it is by far the most complex, and the only skull with a detachable jaw, meaning that whomever made this, was a master artist in carving crystal – able to create a feat that modern carvers have been unable to accomplish. Gerald Leandro De Souza, a master skull carver from Brazil with 25 years of experience behind him, notes that “the process of cutting the jaw from a skull causes the jaw to break and is almost impossible for skull carvers to accomplish.”
Still, sceptics, principally led by Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, try to argue that all these skulls are of modern fabrications. So far, none of the claims made by Walsh and co. have been substantiated, let alone supported by factual evidence. Specifically, Walsh tries to point the finger to Germany and the town of Idar-Oberstein, arguing most of these skulls were carved there by the resident artists. However, no records of skull carving have ever been found there; there are no records of any carver doing carving in the middle of the 19th century, when some of these skulls are said to have been made. In short, Walsh’s theories remain totally unsubstantiated – not very scientific!
On the other side of the debate are the likes of Nick Nocerino, one of the first crystal skull researchers, who travelled extensively throughout Central America, in search of them. He noted how on several occasions, Indian tribes offered skulls on sale to him, as with the money, the local shamans could buy precious Western medicine and like, to help their tribe at a time when the Mayan people were subjected to genocide. Nocerino always refused such offers, as he strongly believed the skulls were such an integral part of Mayan society, that these tribes needed their precious talisman. (Though he did everything to help the tribes in other ways.)
The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull too comes with a Central American origin. The family itself stated that Anna Mitchell-Hedges found the skull in the ruins of Lubaantuun on her 17th birthday in 1924. It is a story Anna adhered to until her death, though it was subjected to intense criticism from the sceptics. Indeed, a more likely story about how her father found the skull is told in his novel, “The White Tiger”, published in 1931.
In it, he relates a largely autobiographical account of an Englishman who is initiated by a Mayan tribe, to become the principal caretaker of a most important treasure. When the Mayan priest shows him the treasure, the Englishman is led down into a series of tunnels, before the treasure is unveiled to him: “Before him, piled in endless confusion, lay the treasure of the Aztecs. Gold chalices, bowls, jars and other vessels of every size and shape; immense plaques and strange ornaments all glittered dully. Of precious stones there were none, but many rare chalchihuitl (jadeite pendants) [sic]. Masks of obsidian and shells beautifully inlaid were all heaped together with heads carved from solid blocks of crystal. Legend had not exaggerated the treasure of the Aztecs. Almost boundless wealth lay at the disposal of the White Tiger.”
“Heads carved from solid blocks of crystals”: a reference to crystal skulls made by Frederick “Mike” Mitchell-Hedges in 1931, more than a decade before he – according to the likes of Walsh – acquired a skull at auction at Sotheby’s in London in 1943.
Because it is the most complex, the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull is both the most famous and the most debated. It is unique. But today, the Mitchell-Hedges skull is no longer unique: on August 6, 2009, former Alaskan fisherman Joe Bennett was able to finally buy, from a Californian import shop, a crystal skull… with a detachable jaw, which he soon named “Compassion”. A new era in crystal skull research had therefore dawned, for a number of reasons.
Bennett is a retired fisherman from Alaska. He had earned the nickname “the crystal sailor”, as for years, he had been collecting an impressive array of crystals. In his hunt for crystals, in 2006, he stumbled upon a crystal skull, in an import store in Carmel, California. The skull had belonged to a close friend of the owners, who had brought it over from Africa. Upon his death his family liquidated the estate and asked the import store to sell the crystal skull for them.
Bennett relates how he “noticed a crystal skull in the back of this shop on a high shelf. I admired the extreme craftsmanship, saw the price and forgot about it. Like most people I didn’t have any reference for crystal skulls other than Halloween witches or Black Magic.” However, the skull did not let go of Joe, who had a series of vivid dreams about the skull, so much so that he dispatched his sister – who lived nearby – to make a series of photographs, which she sent to Joe. It was now only a matter of time before the skull would end up in Bennett’s care.
Continue reading this remarkable story, more photo´s and source, philipcoppens.com
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