Allegedly discovered in British Honduras
in 1924 by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges
, the Mitchell-Hedges skull
is a nearly perfect replica of the human skull carved completely out of clear quartz
"Mike" Mitchell-Hedges maintains that his daughter discovered the skull while he led a team to explore ancient Mayan ruins at Lubaantum in search of the mythical land of Atlantis. Anna was supposedly looking around a temple when she saw it under some rocks. The jawbone was discovered several meters away about three months later. Mitchell-Hedges further claimed that he wouldn't take the skull away, but local priests offered it to him as a gift.
Apparently, many people believe his story; however there is documentation verifying the fact that Mitchell-Hedges in fact bought the skull at Sotheby's in London in 1943; documents at the British Museum verify this, because they bid against him:
"Bid at Sotheby's sale, lot 54, 15 x 43 up to 340 [pounds] (Fairfax). Brought in by Burney. Sold subsequently by Mr. Burney to Mr. Mitchell-Hedges for 400 [pounds] ."1
This evidence is consistent with the evidence from his dig. There are no photographs of the quartz piece among those from the expedition at Lubaantum, nor is there any documentation of Mitchell-Hedges' knowledge of it before 1943. Though his story may be true, Mitchell-Hedges was known for his tall tales. He often said he gambled with J.P. Morgan, roomed with Leon Trotsky and fought with Pancho Villa, all of which are likely false.
Quartz is a substance composed of silicon dioxide and is found in nearly any kind of rock. Given ideal environmental conditions, it can form enormous crystals that weigh tons. It can be clear, however when iron, aluminum, manganese and other elements react with the quartz it can form in various colors as well, like amethyst (purple) or bloodstone (green and red).
Due to the inorganic nature of the substances, dating this piece is highly unrealistic; had it been preserved correctly at the archaeological site that it was first found, samples from the surrounding environment could have been used to determine the date of the object. Without that, however, known dating methods are likely to be unreliable. Some scientists have attempted to narrow it down by examining the craftsmanship involved. This has yielded some fascinating information about the skull.
This particular crystal skull is made from the clear variety of quartz, and both the cranium and the jaw appear to come from the same crystal block. It is approximately 5 3/16 inches (12.75 cm) in height, 4 7/8 inches (12.5 cm) in width, 7 7/8 inches (20 cm) in length, and weights 11 lbs, 13 oz (5.4 kg). Aside from a slight roundness in the temples and a hook-like shape to the cheekbones, it is an anatomically perfect replica of a human skull. Various other characterisitcs, including the size specifications, have led scientists to think that it is most likely a representation of a female skull.
Anna Mitchell-Hedges loaned the skull to Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in 1970 for study. Frank Dorland led the research team. They produced some interesting findings. Dorland was so interested in the project that he continued to research it after the study was done; even creating a model of what the face of the skull would look like had it been a real human being. The forensic model they created was almost exactly like a modern human being.
The skull had been carved against the natural axis of the crystal. According to modern crystal sculptors, it is necessary to consider the orientation of the quartz's molecular structure. If it is ignored and carved haphazardously, the piece will shatter, even with the aid of modern laser technology and other methods used today. Also peculiar to the skull is that the research team couldn't detect any microscopic scratches on the surface of the quartz which would help them determine what sort of instruments were used to make it. Dorland's best guess is that it was first roughly cut with diamonds and then the detail work was painstakingly done with a dilute solution of silicon sand and water. According to them, this job would have required man-hours adding up to about 300 years to complete. Considering these findings, carving such an object would be nearly impossible; one scientist at the lab was reported to have said the following well-known comment: "The damned thing simply shouldn't be."
There are further oddities about this piece. There are many crystal skulls in the world, but this one is unique. Most skulls are very stylized, usually with disproportionate features and teeth that are simply carved into the plane surface of the face. The Mitchell-Hedges skull has detail work done on the teeth; the mandible is fully removable and it is also modelled to move realistically within the jaw socket.
There are several examples of quartz skulls that are comparable in quality to the Mitchell-Hedges piece. Most notably is a skull known simply as "E.T." It is a piece carved from smoky quartz and was found in the early 1900s in Central America. It inherited its name because it has an oddly pointed cranium and a very exaggerated overbite which has made some think that it looks like the typical conception of an alien. It is in the private collection of a woman named Joke Van Dietan. This skull, however, shows evidence of the toolwork performed on it, contrary to the Mitchell-Hedges piece. Another skull which is similar is called the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, found near the HondurasGuatemala border. It is somewhat larger than the Mitchell-Hedges, but shares the feature of a removable lower jaw. There are other pieces which are categorized with the Mitchell-Hedges skull, but most of them are either unreastically stylized or show evidence of the process of craftsmanship.
Personally, I don't give much credence to Anna Mitchell-Hedges or her father. It is well documented that they bought it at auction, however they continued to maintain that they discovered it in Mayan ruins. Anna's father also held the rather dubious position that anyone who does not revere the skull somehow will either die or have some harm come to them.
Some people have used psychometry and parapsychology to attempt to divine the nature of such objects. Some of the theories put forth by them are hardly credible, but oddly interesting. It has been said by such individuals that the skulls have been placed on the earth by extra-terrestrial beings who filled the objects with the knowledge of the nature of the universe. They believe that all of the crystal skulls have spiritual power and when brought together, can bring wisdom and advancement to people. There are many lecturers and experts on the subject who tour with their collections of quartz crystals and skulls.
I refuse to speculate on any significance involving this or any other skull. My fascination with the piece are the technical aspects involved. The physical analysis of the skull shows that in all sensibility, it shouldn't exist; yet it does. The Mitchell-Hedges skull remains in the possession of the Mitchell-Hedges family in Canada today.