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The Kingdom of the Crystal Numbskulls

I grew up on Indiana Jones. I wanted to be an Archaeologist and a Professor, searching through uncharted caves, catacombs and the mountains, searching for lost cities and ancient, powerful artifacts. So, when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finally came to theatres, I was there on the first day, during the first showing. Some 20 years later, I wasn't expecting a miracle, but I was expecting to be transported alongside the infamous Dr. Jones to worlds unknown and adventures unfound. I was not disappointed. I loved it. But still, I have to admit, that once the story of the Crystal Skulls re-emerged, I did get a little annoyed.

Crystal skulls of extraterrestrial origin are fine in the movies. But it's unsettling to see them sitting on a shelf in a museum, taking up space where a genuine artifact ought to be displayed. The origins of the crystal skull are less than 200 years old. They don't span millennia. They don't belong to lost peoples of ancient legacies of worlds lost to time and history. They are forgeries lingering on the subconscious of those who WANT to believe. Believing is one thing...getting conned is just plain sad.

The con may have began with a man named Eugene Boban. He was a travelling seller of relics, back in the 1860's. He made his name at a time when the knowledge of pre-columbian history was limited. At the time Mexico city was rife with 'Relic Shops' carrying artifacts that were not properly excavated nor were they even carefully studied and places of origin were not established. Still, people collected rock crystal skulls, with no concern to their provenance.

The original Crystal Skulls were small and referred to as 'first generation' whereas the 'second generation' skulls were lifesized.

Monsier Boban called himself an 'Archaeologist' and was said to have worked for the mexican court of Emperor Maximilian. Many of the skulls transferring hands at the time exhibited pre-columbian tool work, but that in no way means they carved the skulls, but most probably worked on the rock crystal which was later shaped into the infamous skulls.

One of Boban's skulls sold at Auction at Tiffanys for $950.00 to the British Museum. Prior to that, Tiffany's had acquired the skull for the same amount. The only mystery I do see in all of this is Boban's 1886 catalogue for the Tiffany's auction which listed, not only another crystal skull, but also a crystal hand. Both of which were NEVER accounted for. It's things like that which make a person think just what the story is behind this transfer of faux artifacts from less than academic, to academic hands. Is it possible that some people, at the time, did know the origins of some of these artifacts and if so, then perhaps of all the fakes out there, just maybe there was one that defied explanation. We may never know.

As it stands today, all crystal skulls that have transfered hands so far have been proven fakes.

Just when you think the story ends, it gets a lot more interesting however.

In 1943, Frederick Arthur Mitchell-Hedges bought a crystal skull at auction at Sotheby's of London. It was a third generation skull. It was also a possible copy of the British Museum skull purchased at Tiffany's. Were they both based on the same 'original' skull? Mitchell-Hedges claimed his skull was of Mayan origin. It has been dubbed the "Skull of Doom." It is said to have emitted a blue light at one time.

Through the years the skulls have been mistakenly identified as having belonged to one ancient culture after another, with no scholarly work to back it up. Death heads, although popular with the Aztecs, Mayans and Toltecs, were never carved out of rock crystal. The skull motif was however popular with these ancient cultures and their reliefs give witness to this, making it easy for forgers to assume that skulls carried a powerful message at one time.

They still do.

The skull motif was popular in fashion a few seasons ago: Hats, T-shirts, sneakers and sweaters were covered in skulls of all sizes, designs, colors and kinds. No small thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean, of course.

Crystal Skulls at best are intriguing, and at worst, are no more special than the occasion burial place of Christ, or the funerary boxes of family members of various biblical heroes. They are not science. They are science fiction. There is nothing wrong with that. So long as everyone knows that once the movie ends, so does the lunacy.

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