Perhaps the most famous crystal skull in the world today is the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull, named after a real-life "Indiana Jones" of the 20th Century, British explorer and adventurer F. A. Mitchell-Hedges. The most distinguishable characteristic of this crystal skull is its extraordinary clarity and its detachable jaw, carved from the same piece of quartz as the rest of the skull.
This crystal skull was originally called the "Skull of Dunn" after an associate on one of the expeditions to Lubaantun (Belize). This is where Anna Mitchell-Hedges, at the age of 16*, claims to have found the crystal skull in the ruins of a Mayan pyramid. It was later called the "Skull of Doom" to supposedly ward off possible mal- intentioned encounters. The Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull has recently been renamed by the present caretaker, Bill Homann, as the "Skull of Love".
While its history may be somewhat controversial, the fact remains that the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull is a true so called "out-of-place-artifact" - meaning that despite the most evolved research, including extensive laboratory examination by Silicon Valley's Hewlett-Pakard, no one has been able to prove it is a hoax.
Hewlett-Packard's research concluded that, because the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull was carved in disregard to the natural axis of the quartz itself (a process un-heard of in our modern time because the quartz is likely to shatter while carving), and because there are no marks from having used any metal tools, the Mitchell-Hedges skull technically should not exist.
Size: 11.91 lbs / 5.4 kgs
Stone: Clear Quartz
"Skull of Love"
Discovered in 1923 - Most famous for its detachable jawbone.
*There is sometimes confusion whether the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull was found in 1923 or 1924, and if Anna Mitchell-Hedges was 16 or 17. The story goes that Anna Mitchell-Hedges noticed a glittering, glassy-looking object lying just out of reach under the earthquake tumbled walls of what had once been an ancient Mayan temple in Lubaantun. But it was not until January 1, 1924 (on Anna Mitchell-Hedges 17th birthday) that the archeological team finally managed to recover the artifact and could fully appreciate the magnificence of the crystal skull (minus the lower jawbone portion that was found only a couple months later in a nearby area).
As Published in Hewlett-Packard’s Measure Magazine, February 1971
History or hokum?
Santa Clara’s crystal lab helps tackle the case of the hard-headed Honduran…
Let the doors squeak, the shutters rattle, the curtains shake, the cats run, the dogs whimper, the bats flutter, the mists swirl and the moon blaze. Ignore the heavy footsteps in the hall, the creaking stairs, the labored breathing beyond the door. Listen, instead, to a tale of true mystery involving prehistoric cults, lost civilizations, the “granddaddy of all crystal skulls,” and some scientific sleuthing by members of the HP crystal lab at Santa Clara Division. Centerpiece of this tantalizing tale is a clear quartz crystal sculpture the size and shape of a human skull estimated to be as much as 120 centuries old. Known as the Mitchell-Hedges Skull, after the name of its discoverer, it is an object of fantastic sculptural perfection. No other quartz crystal sculpture approaches its quality; even the British Museum’s crystal skull, discovered in Mexico in 1889, is classed as a “rough cut” in comparison.
The now-elderly owner, Anna Mitchell-Hedges, discovered the mysterious skull in 1927 on an expedition with her explorer father to the ruins of a Mayan Temple in British Honduras. The two-part sculpture – head and detached jaw – lay under a collapsed altar. Since then, it has alternately been under study or in safe keeping, most recently in a house on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais to the north of San Francisco. Here, in the temporary custody of a free-lance art conservator and restorer named Frank Dorland, it came to the attention of Dick Garvin, writer and supervisor of the Hewlett-Packard advertising account at the San Francisco office of Lennen & Newell. In a co-authored new book titled “The world of the twilight believers”, Garvin discussed the other-worldly aspects of the skull in one of the chapters on far-out phenomena. Then he arranged for Dorland to bring the skull to the HP Santa Clara lab in order to test certain theories and speculations about its composition.
The lab, of course, is exactly the right place for testing quartz crystal. That is one of its day-to-day occupations. Its major mission, according to Jim Pruett, components manager for the Frequency Standards team, is the production of precision quartz oscillator crystals used in HP oscillators and quartz crystal thermometers. The lab purchases raw one-pound Brazilian crystals and, with the aid of many skills, converts them into gold-plated wafers that vibrate at a precise frequency.
For the Mitchell-Hedges skull the lab performed two significant tests. Submerging the sculpture in a bath of index-matching fluid, and viewing it under polarized light, the lab people first determined that it was almost certainly a single crystal of quartz, rather than a composite of three crystals as Dorland had suspected. Next, they probed the lower-jaw question. Was it originally an integral part of the crystal? The orientation of its X-Y axis and the “veils” revealed by the polarized light showed that it had indeed come from the same crystal.
These findings raise again many of the same questions that have followed the skull-shaped rock crystal since its discovery – or rediscovery – in the ruins of Lubaantun. Where did it come from? Is it phony or for real? Some experts assign its origin to various Central American civilizations including the Aztecs, Mixtecs or the Olmecs. Dorland suggests it may have come from Egypt, Tibet or China, and may have been roughed out as much as 12,000 years ago. How then did it come to British Honduras?
Dorland believes the skull originally was used in prehistoric religious ceremonies. At that time it resembled the British Museum work, its jaw attached, its workmanship less finished. Later, sea-going Phoenicians brought it to Central America, perhaps even by way of the lost city of Atlantis. Mayan or Aztec craftsmen then detached the jaw so that it could be animated and made to serve as an oracle, dispensing judgments from atop a trick alter. This fateful role was enhanced by the prismatic qualities of the skull; flames or light placed under or behind the skull are projected eerily through the eye sockets.
If it is phony, it’s a very artistic one. Quartz crystal is an extremely hard material – hard in the sense that a diamond is hard, and hard to work with. The size and clarity of the 11-pound, 7-ounce Mitchell-Hedges skull made it a rarity. The workmanship is exquisite, a compound of patient hand crafting (using sand and water to smoothly abrade the rock) and technical precision requiring an estimated 300 man-years of effort.
“One of our guys kidded that he might be able to duplicate it if you gave him a year and $100,000″, said Jim Pruett.
“There’s no way of proving its age. A lot of the occult aura – tales of mystery and evil – that have sprung up around it could easily come from its eyes. By shifting a light source or when an observer moves his view even slightly, an infinite variety of refraction patterns can be seen. They could be quite hypnotic.
“I look on it as a very beautiful work of art irrespective of its age or authenticity. There’s no denying that!’
Anna Mitchell-Hedges (affectionately known as "Sammy" to her friends ) passed away in 2007 at the age of 100. Find out the real story behind the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull from a close friend of
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Secrets of crystal skulls revealed, including ancient crystal skulls, 13 crystal skulls, mayan crystal skull. Featuring Mitchell Hedges Crystal Skull, F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, Anna Mitchell-Hedges and the Crystal Skull of Love.