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Analysis of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull using SEM leaves little doubt that this object was carved and polished using modern, high-speed, diamond-coated, rotary, cutting and polishing tools of minute dimensions. This technology is certainly not pre-Columbian. I believe it is decidedly 20th century.

The similarities between the Mitchell-Hedges skull and the British Museum skull suggest that the former is an improved copy of the latter. The recently published SEM study of the British Museum skull additionally suggests it was probably carved within a decade of the date it was first offered for sale in 1881 (Sax, Walsh, et al. 2008: p. 2759). It is not unreasonable to conclude that the Mitchell-Hedges skull, which first appeared in 1933, was also created within short time of its debut.

Frederick A. Mitchell-Hedges began an association with a California art dealer named Frank Dorland in the 1950s to promote and sell an icon he called the Black Virgin of Kazan, which later turned out to be a copy. Anna Mitchell-Hedges continued this relationship after her father died in 1959, ultimately agreeing to Dorland’s proposal to “launch a program about the [crystal] Skull and get your price” (11/25/1963).

A number of wildly speculative publications resulted from this promotion. One, Phrenology (1970), suggested the skull had belonged to the Knights Templar and was taken to British Honduras by Mitchell-Hedges. Another, Ambrose Bierce, F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and the Crystal Skull (1973), claimed that Bierce, a journalist who disappeared in Mexico in 1913, and Mitchell-Hedges had stolen the skull when they were both fighting alongside Pancho Villa.

Later, Dorland hired the novelist Richard Garvin to write The Crystal Skull that had Anna Mitchell-Hedges herself discovering the skull inside of a Maya pyramid at Lubanntun. Eventually, I believe that Anna attempted to legitimize this object through its exhibition in a respected museum—the Museum of the American Indian.

The correspondence between Frederick Dockstader, director of the Museum of the American Indian, and Anna Mitchell-Hedges clearly demonstrates how the process of legitimizing objects with potential mass appeal but dubious authenticity and provenience works. In their letters, each seemed to flatter the other to achieve their own separate, though similar, ends: to increase visitation to the museum and to enhance the status of the crystal skull.

Read more: archaeology.org

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