March 8, 2013
Legend Of The Aztec Crystal Skulls Debunked By Science
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Once upon a time, there were 13 crystal skulls. Well, no, actually there are dozens of them, in private collections and museums around the world. The largest and most well-known are housed in the British Museum in London, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and the Smithsonian Institution in the US Capital.
The skulls have been the subject of speculation and public interest for over 150 years, spawning legends, myths, movies (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and even alcoholic beverages, namely Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka.
A new article by Sarah Everts in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News details the murky history of the skulls, and debunks the idea that they are of Aztec origin. The skulls began appearing in the 1860s and were supposedly crafted in Mexico before the Spanish conquest of the 1500s.
Experts began to doubt the origin of the skulls in the 1930s. Collaborative efforts between the three major museums have revealed that the skulls are certifiably fake, showing tool marks that could only have been made after the European invasion of the New World.
The skulls in all three museums passed through the hands of a shady French antiquities dealer named Eugene Boban, who played a major role in sparking public fascination with the skulls.
The British Museum's skull is clear crystal quartz, carved out of a single piece of stone, while the 31-pound skull at the Smithsonian is milky white quartz. The smaller clear crystal skull of the Quai Branly museum is approximately 4.4 inches in height, making it the smaller of the three.