Researchers found that the skull had been carved against the natural axis of the crystal. Modern crystal sculptors always take into account the axis, or orientation of the crystal’s molecular symmetry, because if they carve “against the grain,” the piece is bound to shatter — even with the use of lasers and other high-tech cutting methods.
To compound the strangeness, HP could find no microscopic scratches on the crystal which would indicate it had been carved with metal instruments. Dorland’s best hypothesis for the skull’s construction is that it was roughly hewn out with diamonds, and then the detail work was meticulously done with a gentle solution of silicon sand and water. The exhausting job — assuming it could possibly be done in this way — would have required man-hours adding up to 300 years to complete.
Under these circumstances, experts believe that successfully crafting a shape as complex as the Mitchell-Hedges skull is impossible; as one HP researcher is said to have remarked, “The damned thing simply shouldn’t be.”
The British Crystal Skull and the Paris Crystal Skull
There is a pair of similar skulls known as the British Crystal Skull and the Paris Crystal Skull. Both are said to have been bought by mercenaries in Mexico in the 1890s, possibly at the same time.
They are so similar in size and shape that some have guessed that one was copied to produce the other. In comparison to the Mitchell-Hedges skull, they are made of cloudier clear crystal and are not nearly as finely sculpted. The features are superficially etched and appear incomplete, without discretely formed jawbones. The British Crystal Skull is on display at London’s Museum of Mankind, and the Trocadero Museum of Paris houses the Paris Crystal Skull.
Mayan Crystal Skull and the Amethyst Skull
Further examples of primitively sculpted skulls are a couple called the Mayan Crystal Skull and the Amethyst Skull. They were discovered in the early 1900s in Guatemala and Mexico, respectively, and were brought to the U.S. by a Mayan priest. The Amethyst Skull is made of purple quartz and the Mayan skull is clear, but the two are otherwise very alike. Like the Mitchell-Hedges skull, both of them were studied at Hewlett-Packard, and they too were found to be inexplicably cut against the axis of the crystal.
Texas Crystal Skull (Max)
A skull known as “Max,” or the Texas Crystal Skull, is a single-piece, clear skull weighing 18 pounds. It reportedly originated in Guatemala, then passed from a Tibetan spiritualist to JoAnn Parks of Houston, Texas. The Parks family allows visitors to observe Max and they display the skull at various exhibitions across the U.S.
“ET” is a smoky quartz skull found in the early 20th Century in Central America. It was given its nickname because its pointed cranium and exaggerated overbite make it look like the skull of an alien being. ET is part of the private collection of Joke Van Dietan, who tours with her skulls to share the healing powers she believes they possess.
Rose Quartz Crystal Skull
The only known crystal skull that comes close to resembling the Mitchell-Hedges skull is one called the Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, which was reported near the border of Honduras and Guatemala. It is not clear in color and is slightly larger than the Mitchell-Hedges, but boasts a comparable level of craftsmanship, including a removable mandible.
Brazilian Crystal Skull
This 13.8 pound life-size skull was donated to the museum’s Section of Minerals by a Brazilian gem dealer in 2004.
Skulls are humanity’s foremost symbol of death, and a powerful icon in the visual vocabularies of cultures all over the globe. Thirteen crystal skulls of apparently ancient origin have been found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America, comprising one of the most fascinating subjects of 20th Century archaeology.
These skulls, found near the ancient ruins of Mayan and Aztec civilizations (with some evidence linking the skulls with past civilization in Peru) are a mystery as profound as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Nazca Lines of Peru, or Stonehenge. Some of the skulls are believed to be between 5,000 and 36,000 years old.
Many indigenous people speak of their remarkable magical and healing properties, but nobody really knows where they came from or what they were used for.
Were they left behind after the destruction of a previous world, such as Atlantis? Are they simply ingenious modern fakes or can they really enable us to see deeply into the past and predict the future?
Much research is currently being done on the skulls. However, their origin is still a baffling mystery. They seem to defy logic. Everything that is known about lapidary work indicates that the skulls should have been shattered fractured, or fallen apart when carved.
Famous Crystal Skulls
The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull
The most widely celebrated and mysterious crystal skull is the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, for at least two good reasons. First, it is very similar in form to an actual human skull, even featuring a fitted removable jawbone. Most known crystal skulls are of a more stylized structure, often with unrealistic features and teeth that are simply etched onto a single skull piece.
Second, it is impossible to say how the Mitchell-Hedges skull was constructed. From a technical standpoint, it appears to be an impossible object which today’s most talented sculptors and engineers would be unable to duplicate.
The discovery of this baffling artifact is a controversial matter. It was brought into prominence by British explorer F. A. Mitchell-Hedges, who claimed that his daughter unearthed it in 1924. Mitchell-Hedges led an expedition in the ancient Mayan ruins of Lubaantun, in Belize (then British Honduras), searching for evidence of Atlantis.
The story goes that his daughter, Anna, was rummaging inside a structure believed to have once been a temple, when she found the beautifully carved cranium of the crystal skull. It was lacking its jawbone, but the matching mandible was found three months later, some 25 feet away from the first discovery. Mitchell-Hedges claimed that he refused to take the skull away, and offered it to the local priests, but the Mayans gave the skull back to him as a gift upon his departure.
It now appears that this tale of the skull’s discovery was entirely fabricated. Mitchell-Hedges apparently purchased the skull at an auction at Sothebys in London, in 1943. This has been verified by documents at the British Museum, which had bid against Mitchell-Hedges for the crystal artifact.
This revelation is consistent with the known history of Mitchell-Hedges’s involvement with the skull. There are no photographs of the skull among those that were taken during his Lubaatun expedition, and there is no documentation of Mitchell-Hedges displaying or even acknowledging the skull prior to 1943.
The skull remains in the possession of the octogenarian Anna Mitchell-Hedges. She resides in Canada and displays the skull on frequent tours. Anna has maintained for all these years that she discovered the skull, even though there is reason to doubt that she was present at the Lubaatun expedition at all.
The Mitchell-Hedges skull is made of clear quartz crystal, and both cranium and mandible are believed to have come from the same solid block. It weighs 11.7 pounds and is about five inches high, five inches wide, and seven inches long. Except for slight anomalies in the temples and cheekbones, it is a virtually anatomically correct replica of a human skull. Because of its small size and other characteristics, it is thought more closely to resemble a female skull — and this has led some to refer to the Mitchell-Hedges skull as a “she.”
The Mitchell-Hedges family loaned the skull to Hewlett-Packard Laboratories for extensive study in 1970. Art restorer Frank Dorland oversaw the testing at the Santa Clara, California, computer equipment manufacturer, a leading facility for crystal research. The HP examinations yielded some startling results.
As the saying goes, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, and gold and silver are the most sought after precious metals in the world.
Everyone loves beautiful jewellery. It does not matter how expensive it is, or whether it holds diamonds rubies, or if it is a necklace or pair of earrings. However, more and more people who love jewellery have now become concerned that the pieces they are wearing have contributed towards damaging the environment and the exploitation of workers and craftsmen in other countries.
We believe these are issues that everyone should be aware of and if this is something that is important to you, then you may want to know more about ethical jewellery and fair trade jewellery. View our gorgeous ethical & fairtrade jewellery collections HERE.
The jewellery industry is a dirty business
A lot of jewellery that is produced can involve the exploitation of human and natural resources. For example, when gold is mined in Peru, cyanide is used in the process which can cause a number of health problems for the miners working with it and to the natural environment. Similarly, some open pit gold mines have caused so much destruction to the land; they can be seen from space.
Sweatshops as centres of jewellery production
Many sweatshops all over the world are used for manufacturing jewellery, and the wage and conditions of their workers experience needs to be taken into consideration, afterall it is a fundamental human right.
Nowadays, lots of people are becoming more concerned about such issues and wish to buy ethical jewellery which are certainly worthy of their support. Ethical jewellery is made from co-operatively run gold mines. This minimises the damage caused to environment. Other sustainable materials are also being used, for example, recycled glass and off cuts of wood. The producers of ethical jewellery are paid fair wages, which are in line with the cost of living in the countries the jewellery is being produced in.
Celebrating the fair trade gold mark in 2010
Earlier in March 2010 the fair trade jewellery industry had something quite extraordinary to celebrate, with the launch of the fair mined and fair trade gold mark. View our earlier feature, Gold goes green as fair trade goes mining HERE.
Investment such as training and improving workplaces is made within the communities where fairtrade jewellery is made and the social premium goes along way to supporting the needs of local people.
We’d love you to join us in our celebration of ethical and fairtrade jewellery. To view our gorgeous range of fair trade and ethical jewellery click HERE.
Celebrate ethical jewellery and fair trade jewellery prduction, it is an exceptional story.
Image courtesy of CRED Jewellery, purveyors of exquisite fair trade jewellery.
Been working hard on a new collection of precious jewellery, necklaces made from garnets, sapphires, Lemon Quartz, Peridot, Tourmaline to name but a few. These pieces will be dainty rows of necklaces made using the above faceted stones, in graduation of colours from Darker to lighter. Each row of stones will have a small simple gold pendant with various different symbols, such as Buddha, Elephant, Dragonfly, Angel wing, Butterfly, Affirmations, etc…
There will also be bracelets the same, from Carnelian, Opals, Aquamarine and many others. Simple pieces yet meaningful and beautiful also suitable for men and children.
Keep your eyes peeled for these gorgeous pieces coming soon….
In the mean time have a look at our gorgeous bracelets!