The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull: Fact, fiction, and the creation of myth
Crystal skulls have long had a fringe following, and the most famous of them is one named for the explorer-author Frederick A. Mitchell-Hedges (see “Legend of the Crystal Skulls”
). Mitchell-Hedges claimed to have found the skull somewhere in Central America in the 1930s, but his adopted daughter Anna later said she found it under a fallen altar or inside a pyramid at the Maya site of Lubaantún in British Honduras (now Belize) some time in the 1920s. Neither of their contradictory accounts is true. In fact, like all the other crystal skulls thus far examined, it is a modern creation, despite its nearly mythical place in the minds of devotees.
Front view of skull (James Di Loreto/Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
I have had two opportunities to examine the Mitchell-Hedges skull closely and to take silicone molds of carved and polished elements of it, which I have analyzed under high-power light and scanning-electron microscopes. I have also evaluated the documentary evidence, newspaper stories about Mitchell-Hedges, his memoirs Land of Wonder and Fear
(1931) and Danger My Ally
(1954), and a file of letters and documents that Anna Mitchell-Hedges sent to Frederick Dockstader, the director of the Museum of the American Indian in New York City, which I