With the 2008 release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the featured artifact attained a far higher level of exposure than ever before. Prior to that, crystal skulls had become somewhat famous only in the 1980s, primarily in New Age circles. Today, there are hundreds of crystal skulls, almost all of them of modern fabrication (most made in China) and used in various New Age-type seminars. Only a handful are suspected of having ancient origins including the most notorious of all, the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull.
The movie makes scant reference to the Mitchell-Hedges skull; yet, that particular skull stands alone as, by far, the most complex and the only one with a detachable jaw, meaning that whoever made it was a master in carving crystal—able to achieve something that modern artisans cannot. Gerald Leandro De Souza, a master skull carver from Brazil with 25 years of experience, notes that “the process of cutting the jaw from a skull causes the jaw to break and is almost impossible for any skull carvers to accomplish.”
Still, skeptics, principally led by Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, attempt to argue that all these skulls are of modern fabrications. So far, none of the claims made by Walsh and company have been substantiated by any actual evidence. Specifically, Walsh tries to point the finger to Germany and the town of Idar-Oberstein, arguing most of these skulls were carved there by the resident artists. However, no records of skull carving have ever been found there; there are no records of any carver of this kind in the middle of the 19th century, when some are said to have been made. In short, Walsh’s theories remain totally unsubstantiated— not very scientific!
(Contributor, David Childress, gave the history of the Mitchell-Hedges skull in “Enigma of the Crystal Skulls” in Atlantis Rising, #83.—Ed.)
The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull has a Central American origin. Mitchell-Hedges’ daughter Anna says it was found in the ruins of Lubaantuun on her 17th birthday in 1924. Until now, the famous skull—by dint of its complexity—has been the most celebrated, the most debated, and most unique crystal skull. Today, however, it no longer remains so unique: on August 6, 2009, former Alaskan fisherman Joe Bennett, purchased from a California import shop, another crystal skull, with a detachable jaw, which he soon named “Compassion,” thus possibly ushering in a new era in crystal skull research.
Adult-human-sized “Compassion” consists of clear quartz, 5.5” tall, 5.5” wide, and 8 inches long, weighing 11 pounds—very similar in dimensions to the Mitchell-Hedges. The mouth has 28 teeth. Little is known of its origins, but it is known to have been stored in the United States for the five years previous to Bennett’s purchase. Before that, it had spent 22 years in a warehouse in Africa. The African owner’s name is not a matter of public record, but initial analysis has shown that the skull does not come from Brazil. Gerald Leandro De Souza argues that, indeed, the “quartz probably is from Africa.” The likeliest origin is Namibia, a well-known quartz crystal source.
Whereas the Mitchell-Hedges is “crystal clear,” “Compassion”—made out of three distinct layers—is more like the skull known as MAX which has five such layers. The largest, frontal part, however, is made of the clearest quartz. Behind the top of the forehead is a softer section of less translucent crystal. Behind that is the third layer, separated from the others by a small fissure of iron oxide, which can be easily seen from the back.
The possibility that the material inside the fissure is iron oxide was first suggested by crystal carver James Ziegler, who added that the material at the bottom of the fissure was feldspar, a conclusion confirmed when the skull was examined by Dr. Ray Corbett, Associate Curator of Archaeology at the Natural History Museum in Santa Barbara and Geologist Dr. John Minch on March 30, 2010. Minch confirmed that the fissure was filled with iron oxide.
These experts, furthermore, accepted that its grinding had been done by hand, and not machine. Discernible pie-shaped areas would be kept by a carver but would be smoothed out by a grinding wheel. Other aspects of the skull, related to a lack of left-right symmetry, show that the work was indeed done by human hands. Corbett and Minch also showed that the natural growth of the crystal aligns with upward pointing teeth. This means that the iron oxide layer was at the bottom of the axis with the face layer on top being the clearest. The carver would have to work against the grain and skip over these fractures, a task which modern crystal carvers say is extremely difficult and well beyond their expertise.
A fingernail run along the top reveals the fractures between the layers—evidence, says Minch, that the maker would have had to work very slowly. If the quartz were to get hot, it would shatter—further indicating that the use of machine tools is unlikely.
During testing, Minch also noted an “air bubble.” When the skull is rocked, the bubble moves over half the thickness (about 1mm) up and down in a solution believed to be water, which, somehow, made its way into the skull trapping the air bubble. Bennett has speculated that this air bubble could be interpreted as representing the pineal gland, a part of the brain often referred to as the “third eye,” and thus heavily imbued with esoteric meaning. René Descartes even labelled it the seat of the soul, echoing a belief going back thousands of years.
Minch also found golden rutile in both skull and jaw. Rutile is a major ore of titanium, and is found as microscopic inclusions in quartz and other precious gemstones. It is responsible for many of the light effects that one sees within these objects.
Scientists have a hard time admitting that the detachable jaw of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull is made from crystal (it is) and is from the same crystal as the rest of the skull (it is). But no such doubt can arise in the case of “Compassion”: its right cheek has a foil in the crystal running from the right cheek into the jaw, hence clearly showing that both the main part of the skull and the jaw are from the same crystal.
However impressive, though, “Compassion’s” face is not symmetrical. With its detachable jaw placed underneath the teeth, “Compassion” looks, and is, symmetrical; but with the jaw removed, it becomes clear that the skull is off-center with its teeth skewed to the right. The only polishing marks visible to the human eye are under the maxilla. This area was not finely polished, maybe to illustrate that it was hand carved. The rest of the skull does not show any of these marks. Indeed, “Compassion” leads us to an interesting conclusion: It is clearly made by human hands; but whoever made it had an expertise in working with quartz crystal exceeding that of anyone alive today. In short, an entire lost science of working with quartz crystal is on display.
Finally, when we gaze into its eyes, we see that both are not identical; the left is far clearer. Bennett and his wife said they felt “it” looked sad. His wife thought it “showed compassion” and a name was born. Both also felt it held a feminine energy.
Bennett has photographed the skull extensively. Some close-ups have revealed a number of interesting subliminal images that “Compassion” seems to conjure up. When placed on a light box, the skull provided one image which appeared to be an enigmatic head with the outline of a horse’s head nearby.
The key question is whether “Compassion” can ever be proven to be ancient. As mentioned, the likes of Jane Walsh from the Smithsonian have gone out of their way—abandoning the scientific process altogether—to argue that all skulls are of modern origin. Such bias was apparent during the testing of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull in 2008, when one member of the team straightforwardly proclaimed that the detachable jaw clearly was and could only be glass. When soon after it was found out not to be glass, the “expert” exclaimed “this did not mean it was crystal”— even though previous testing by Hewlett-Packard had clearly shown that the jaw was indeed crystal.
The problem is that crystal is impossible to date by standard methods, so any dating needs to be by other means. Tool marks, especially from the wheel, have been put forward as key indicators that the skull must be modern (after Columbus). This argument, however, cannot apply to a skull coming from Africa—never an isolated continent and believed to have witnessed the origins of Mankind aeons ago. The argument only works if we see crystal skulls as a purely American phenomenon, where the wheel is assumed to have been introduced with the arrival of Western Europeans.
Of course, the skull’s presence in Africa for a number of decades does not mean it was always there. Similarly, the origins of Central American civilization itself remains a mystery. The Olmec dates back to at least 1200 BC, and some have argued for African origin for that civilization.
Still, the quartz of which the skull is made—having Namibia as its likeliest origin—means it must have had an African connection wherever it was carved or used. Whereas there are Mayan legends of how skulls with removable jaws could “sing and talk” during certain religious ceremonies that were performed in the many Mayan sanctuaries, the question is which African cultures also held crystal skulls dear.
Seeing that “Compassion’s” existence has only been known for a year, most discoveries about it are likely still to come. If we were to assume that it is indeed of African origins, then we are confronted with crystal skulls on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, bearing great similarities. Are they evidence of pre-Columbian contact between the two continents, in which case the Olmecs are the likeliest candidate, or should we look at much older origins, including the fabled lost civilization of Atlantis?
Within Mayan creation mythology, there is a special role for skulls. Ancient temple complexes like Chichen Itza are three-dimensional renderings of the Mayan creation myth. Near the famous pyramid and ball court is an unimpressive “Platform of the Skull.” In the creation myth, when playing ball, the Twin Maize Gods disturbed the lords of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. The Xibalbans summoned the Maize Gods to the underworld to answer for their disrespectful behavior. There, they subjected them to a series of trials. When they failed these tests, they were killed and buried in the ball court of Xibalba. The eldest twin was decapitated, his head hung in the tree next to the ball court, as a warning to anyone who might repeat the offense. This was visualized on the “Platform of the Skull.” There is no archaeological evidence for what type of skull hung there; but seeing that it was a divine skull which spoke and spat, a crystal skull with a detachable jaw could certainly have impressed all visitors—in a way that no other type of skull could have accomplished.
Crystal balls are also used for scrying. Is it possible that “Compassion” was used for scrying? The various images that people have seen inside of her would thus be parts of the scrying process. Extended staring into the skull might have placed the person in a trance. Users of “Compassion” are sometimes transported to another reality, for example, by staring into its eyes—especially the left one.
In the 1980s, when the Central American crystal skulls came to prominence, various atrocious crimes were committed against the Mayan population there. In countries like Guatemala, an oppressive regime slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Mayan people. It took years before the news of this “Silent Holocaust” became known; throughout the genocide, Western governments supported the Guatemalan government. Only able to rely on themselves, the Mayan people began to organize—becoming terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on your perspective—and they began to use key dates from the Mayan calendar for their campaigns, hoping to shake the Mayan people awake and get them to embrace their true origins and common heritage—one that transcended modern borders created by world powers. Sociologists have labeled it the “Mayan Renaissance.” Today, three decades later, the world is very much aware of the Mayan calendar—especially its key date, December 21, 2012—and millions visit the various Mayan monuments of Central America.
At this moment in time, “Compassion’s” existence has already changed the entire crystal skull debate, showing that the Mitchell-Hedges skull is not unique in its complexity and that Central America is unlikely to be the only source of crystal skulls. The question as to the origins of the crystal skulls has therefore been redefined: did various ancient cultures have them? Did an African civilization bring them to the American continent? Or do we need to delve further back in time to a lost civilization, like Atlantis, from which these skulls originated? A new dawn in crystal skull research may have just broken…