The real (fake) crystal skulls

Indiana Jones latest adventure involves a (doubtless perilous and booby-traped) search for a meso-American skull carved out of crystal.

For a hundred years, crystal skulls purported to be of Mayan or Aztec origins have popped up in museums and private collections around the world, spurring a wide variety of speculation and mythologies.

Smithsonian anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh examines the myth and reality in Archaeology magazine this month.

These exotic carvings are usually attributed to pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, but not a single crystal skull in a museum collection comes from a documented excavation, and they have little stylistic or technical relationship with any genuine pre-Columbian depictions of skulls, which are an important motif in Mesoamerican iconography. [...]

These small objects represent the “first generation” of crystal skulls, and they are all drilled through from top to bottom. The drill holes may in fact be pre-Columbian in origin, and the skulls may have been simple Mesoamerican quartz crystal beads, later re-carved for the European market as little mementos mori, or objects meant to remind their owners of the eventuality of death.

The best one, though, is a “third generation” (ie, 20th c.) skull belonging to the family of Indy-like adventurer Frederick Arthur Mitchell-Hedges. Over time it has an acquired a spurious Mayan origin and a mystical reputation for shooting blue light out of the eye sockets and crashing computer hard drives.

If only all fakes could be so bad-ass.

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4 Comments »

Comment by Pete
2008-04-24 06:12:17

I think the Indy movie will be cool, but I suppose they could have chosen a better location. :shifty:

Comment by livius drusus
2008-04-24 07:33:37

I’m not actually sure where the new Indy movie is set. From the trailer, it looks like there’s South American jungle/rain forest involved and I think I saw him leaping about in that crazy government storage warehouse where they boxed the Arc at the end of the first movie.

 
 
Comment by arany
2010-02-01 12:56:59

fake !!! value = $ 3.25 (basura para turistas bobos) you have a nice day ..

Comment by livius drusus
2010-02-01 12:59:51

Right back atcha, brother.

 
 
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