Friday, September 20, 2019

The Strange Case of the Crystal Skull

The Crystal Skull in the British Museum

The Crystal Skull is a 19th century con man’s scam.  In the late 19th century, when European interest in ancient culture was at its peak, clever con men went to work.  Crystal Skulls, supposedly of pre-Columbian Aztec or Mayan origin, soon appeared in major museums in England and France.  It was one, Eugène Boban, an antiquities dealer who opened his shop in Paris in 1870, who is most associated with 19th-century museum collections of Crystal Skulls. Boban is said to have tried to sell a Crystal Skull to Mexico's national museum as an Aztec artifact, but was unsuccessful. Boban later moved his business to New York City. The skull was exhibited at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in New York. It was sold at auction, and bought by Tiffany andCo., who later sold it at cost to the British Museum in 1897.

The French were no cleverer than the British when it came to skulls.  The Crystal Skull in the Musée de l'Homme's in Paris was donated by Alphonse Pinart, an ethnographer who had bought it from the con man Eugene Boban.

It was not until the 20th century that the truth came out.  Studies demonstrated that the skulls were manufactured in the mid-19th century. The skulls were crafted in the 19th century in Germany, quite likely at workshops in the town of Idar-Oberstein, which was renowned for crafting objects made from imported Brazilian quartz. This type of crystal was determined to be only found in Madagascar and Brazil, and thus unknown to the Aztecs or Maya.

In 1992, the Smithsonian investigated a Crystal Skull provided by an anonymous donor.  Supposedly the artifact was of Aztec origin. The investigation concluded that this skull was made in the 1950s or later.

Philip Wade and Ellen Ellsworth search for Paititi, the lost city of the Incas and final resting place for hidden treasure that eluded the conquering Spaniards hundreds of years ago. They will find more than they ever imagined possible in the high mountains and dark jungles of South America.  A paranormal romance.

1 comment:

Walt said...

I don't know about this, but I've heard tell of a crystal skull that was placed in the Superstition Mountains by the Sky People ages ago. Whoever finds it supposedly can unlock portals to other dimensions.