The crystal skulls have been the topic of a lot controversy and hypothesis, claimed to be the work of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, such because the Aztec and Maya.
There are a dozen or so crystal skulls in non-public and public museum collections, largely constituted of clear or milky white quartz, a tough, crystalline mineral composed of silica (silicon dioxide).
Pseudo theories concerning the skulls declare that they’ve paranormal powers, enabling the reward of premonitions, remedy ailments, or forestalling a disaster allegedly predicted or implied by the ending of the Maya calendar b’ak’tun-cycle.
In Mesoamerican art work, skulls are featured prominently in quite a lot of settings, comparable to Aztec monoliths constituted of volcanic rock, or the cranium masks of obsidian, cabochon and jade. Each the Aztec and Maya additionally displayed human skulls on a rack often known as a tzompantli, encapsulating the apply into stone at websites comparable to Chichén Itzá, the place a big carved tzompantli shows over 500 bas-relief skulls.
Through the Nineteenth century, public and scholarly curiosity in Mesoamerican websites led to a rise within the commerce of pretend pre-Columbian artefacts. The commerce grew to become so problematic, that Smithsonian archaeologist, William Henry Holmes, wrote an article known as “The Commerce in Spurious Mexican Antiquities” for Science in 1886.
In 1857, Eugène Boban, a French antiquarian, artwork supplier, and “official archaeologist” of the courtroom of Maximilian I of Mexico, headed an expedition commissioned by Napoleon III to gather Mexican artwork and artifacts. He exhibited his finds on the Trocadéro, the place he’s reported to have displayed a group of crystal skulls.
After opening a store in New York, Boban bought a crystal cranium to American entrepreneur, George H. Sisson, then passing to George F. Kunz and displayed on the American Affiliation for the Development of Science.
The cranium was auctioned off by Tiffany and Co to the British Museum in 1898, the place it was positioned on show as an Aztec artefact. Boban bought one other crystal cranium to French ethnologist and collector, Alphonse Pinart, who donated the cranium to the Trocadéro Museum, now displayed on the Musée du Quai Branly.
A scientific examine on the skulls revealed that the indented traces marking the enamel have been carved utilizing comparatively trendy rotary instruments. A more in-depth examination of the composition confirmed that they’ve chlorite inclusions solely present in Madagascar and Brazil, and thus unobtainable or unknown inside pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The examine additionally means that the skulls have been crafted in Germany through the Nineteenth century, probably within the workshops of Idar-Oberstein which was famend for crafting quartz objects.
In 1900, Boban gave a lecture in Paris on the Americanist Convention on Ethnographic Sciences, the place he said: “numbers of so-called rock crystal pre-Columbian skulls have been so adroitly made as virtually to defy detection and have been palmed off as real”.
In 1924, Anna Mitchell-Heges (the adopted daughter of adventurer Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges), claimed to find one other crystal cranium inside a temple in Lubaantun, Belize. It has been decided that Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges bought the cranium at Sotheby’s public sale home in 1943, and a scientific examine in 2007 has proven that the cranium was carved with a rotary software coated with a tough abrasive.
The examine concluded that the cranium was most likely carved within the Thirties, with Smithsonian researchers stating that the cranium was “very almost a reproduction of the British Museum cranium – virtually precisely the identical form, however with extra detailed modelling of the eyes and the enamel.”
Extra just lately, a crystal cranium was mailed to the Smithsonian Establishment anonymously, claiming to be of Aztec origin from the gathering of Porfirio Díaz, a Mexican common and politician who served seven phrases as President of Mexico through the 19th century. It has been decided that the cranium was carved utilizing Silicon carbide (SiC), also called carborundum, an abrasive mass-produced from 1893.
The skulls examined have been manufactured within the mid-Nineteenth century or later, virtually definitely in Europe, throughout a time when curiosity in historic tradition abounded. The skulls don’t have any written accounts within the any historic codex, or mythology and folklore related to Mesoamerican or different Native American tales, concluding that the crystal skulls are nothing greater than a 19th century invention that has morphed right into a faux narrative of the Aztec and Maya civilisations.
Header Picture – British Museum Crystal Cranium – Picture Credit score : Vassil – CC0 1.0