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Intriguing, mysterious and eerie, they are real works of art. The crystal skulls have been of great interest to archaeologists and anthropologists who are curious about their existence and purpose. Why would so much work and time be spent on perfecting a human skull made out of one of the hardest substances known to man after diamonds, rock crystal? The cutting of which requires great expertise and precision and the carving and polishing of which is equally time-consuming? In other words, why a skull?

It is not something that one finds in ancient paintings or carvings, which have all sorts of deities and exotic creatures of fantasy and folklore. Why would anyone want to carve a skull out of clear or milky quartz?

Anyhow, humans are a strange and complex species to say the least and have been around for thousands of centuries so one never knows what they might have been up to in the past. But what some scientists and sceptics say about these skulls is that they were probably made in the 1800s, as the tools used or required to do such work were not available to the civilisations of the past.

But then there are many that still claim these specimens to be the channels of ancient knowledge and were made for a very special reason. To delve a little into the mystery of the crystal skulls, let’s see how they were discovered and the legends attached to them.

Many perfect skulls were found in parts of central and South America and Mexico. Mainly believed to be of Mayan or Aztec origin, there are believed to be 13 of these skulls made and then later scattered all over the globe. They were part of rituals and ceremonies and are supposed to hold knowledge regarding the history of the human race and civilisation. The first and the most famous is the Mitchell Hedges skull discovered by the archaeologist in 1927 during an archaeological dig at an ancient Mayan site in the tropical jungle of Yucatan also known as Belize.

After burning 33 hectares of thick forestation, the area revealed a huge stone pyramid, walls of a city and an amphitheatre, which could seat thousands of spectators. The site was called ‘Lubaantun’ or ‘The Place of the Fallen Stones’. The story goes that when Mitchell Hedges returned to the site after three years, his daughter Anna Mitchell was with him and she discovered the skull under the ruins of an alter.

The story was later refuted as it came to light that Anna had not accompanied her father on that expedition but that Mitchell Hedges had bought the skull at an auction held by Sotheby’s in London. However, Anna stuck to her story till she died at the age of 100 in 2007. Anna claimed that she had several dreams regarding ceremonies and rituals performed by the ancient Mayans whenever the skull was in her bedroom at night.

She also gave the skull for scientific examination to Hewlett Packard. The findings were quite puzzling. The skull had been carved with diamonds and then smoothened with a solution made out of silicon sand and water. But the strangest part was that the entire workings were done against the “axis” of the crystal. This means that whenever a piece of crystal or quartz is cut, it has to be done according to the axis formed by the molecular structure of the rock. Going against it would shatter the entire piece. So how was this done in the first place?

Then we have the other skulls found in other sources. There is the British skull and the Paris crystal skull. They are said to have been bought in the 1890s by mercenaries in Mexico. One is at the London’s

Museum of Mankind and the other is at the Trocadero Museum of Paris.

The Mayan and the Amethyst skull were bought to the United States by a Mayan priest. They were found in Guatemala and Mexico. They were both tested and were found to have also been cut against the axis of the rocks. Then we have MAX, the Texas skull, which was in the possession of a Tibetan healer, Norbu Chen, who gave it to Carl and Jo Parks against a debt.

It was only after Jo found out that the skull was of archaeological interest worldwide that she took it out of her closet and had it examined by an expert. It was indeed found to be ancient. Another crystal skull enthusiast Joke Van Dieten Maasland has a smoky quartz crystal skull, which was discovered in 1906 during the excavation of a Mayan temple in Guatemala. Joke states that the skull has healing powers and helped heal a brain tumour in a book she has written titled, Messengers of Ancient Wisdom.

The skull is named E.T. because it has a pointed head and an exaggerated jaw with an overbite, which makes it look like it an alien-shaped head.

The rose quartz crystal skull is very much like the Mitchell Hedges skull and was found near the border of Honduras and Guatemala. Its lower jaw is movable just like the above mentioned one.

The Aztec skull that is at the Museum of Man in London has been said to move on its own inside its glass case and museum staff seem uncomfortable around it. The Sha-Na-Ra, Jaguar Man and Rainbow skulls have all been unearthed at ancient sites according to researchers.

Are these skulls really the ancient showcases of human wisdom and hold powerful knowledge or as scientists say, just clever fakes? But the only thing is that a “fake” is a replica of the original. And whoever made these bafflingly mysterious crystal skulls and for whatever purpose, has left a big question, the answer to which is really not ‘crystal’ clear.