The Eerie Crystal Skulls

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There have been many replicas of human skulls that have been polished out of a single crystal of quartz rock. Some are ancient, some contemporary. A few have been made from pure quartz and are absolutely clear. A rare few are also life-sized. Quartz, composed almost entirely of silicon dioxide, is found in almost every type of rock and can form huge crystals that weigh tons. While it is colorless and transparent when pure, when a tiny portion of the silicon atoms are replaced with iron, aluminum, manganese or titanium, the crystal can take on beautiful colors. Amethyst is violet quartz. Jasper is quartz with red, yellow, brown, gray or black coloring. Onyx and Agate are quartz with bans of color. Bloodstone is green with red spots. If a single streak runs through the quartz it might be called Cats Eye, Tigers Eye or Rutile. Probably the two most famous clear crystal skulls are the Mitchell-Hedges skull and the skull at the Museum of Mankind. The skull is so strangely hypnotic that there is a story that the cleaning staff at one time insisted that the object be covered with a black cloth before they would work around it at night. The Mitchell-Hedges skull (right) has an even more checkered past than the Museum of Mankind Skull. F. A. Mitchell-Hedges was a self-proclaimed British adventurer during the early twentieth century. He told stories about how he gambled with the rich J. P. Morgan, roomed with Leon Trotsky and fought with Pancho Villa. All of these appear to be tall tales. The skull itself is, of course, very real, but how it came into Mitchell-Hedges possession is an open question. We know for sure that he was in possession of it by 1944. That year a member of the staff of the British Museum had bid on the skull at an auction and made this note: Bid at Sothebys 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]. Mr. Mitchell-Hedges had always indicated that he had found the skull in an ancient temple in British Honduras, though he seemed very reluctant to reveal the details, writing: How it came into my possession I have reason for not revealing. Some researchers believe the story about finding the skull in Honduras was just another tall tale and Mitchell-Hedges obtained it through Burney, an art dealer. Mitchell-Hedges adopted daughter, Anna Mitchell-Hedges, who inherited the skull when he died, supported her fathers story. She explained her father placed the skull with Burney as collateral for a loan. When he realized Burney was trying to sell the stone, he bought it back. Anna Mitchell-Hedges also claimed that it was she who discovered the skull on her 17th birthday while with her father in British Honduras. She found the skull, missing the jaw, under an ancient alter. Three months later she found the jaw in the same room. The rock, probably the strangest gemstone in the world, weighs some 11 lb, 7 oz ...

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