AFP story on real-life crystal skulls

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by Princess_Tina, Jul 9, 2008.

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  1. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    Agence France Presse has a new story on real-life crystal skulls....

    Art of deception: Crystal skulls in British, US museums were fakes

    by Richard Ingham
    Tue Jul 8, 8:20 PM ET

    PARIS (AFP) - How about this for the next instalment of the Indy franchise: "Indiana Jones and the Dodgy Antiques Dealer"?

    Less than three months after the Quai Branly Museum in Paris discovered that a crystal skull once proclaimed as a mystical Aztec masterpiece was a fake, it is now the turn of the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution to find they were victims of skull-duggery.

    Scientists from those two prestigious institutions on Wednesday said their crystal skulls were cut, honed and polished by tools of the industrial age, not by Mesoamerican craftsmen of yore.

    "The skulls under consideration are not pre-Columbian. They must surely be regarded as of relatively modern manufacture," they say.

    "Each skull was probably worked not more than a decade before it was first offered for sale."

    The skulls became star exhibits in all three museums long before the Indiana Jones movie, "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," hit the movie screens this year.

    The superstitious deemed them part of a collection of 12 skulls, endowed with healing or mystical powers, that dated back to the ancient culture of Central America.

    Reuniting all 12 skulls, together with a putative 13th, would conjure up a massive power that would prevent the Earth from tipping over on December 21 2012, the "doomsday" in the Mayan calendar, according to one fable.

    Legend-lovers had a bad day on April 18 when the Quai Branly said it had found grooves and perforations in its 11-centimetre (4.4-inch) -high quartz skull revealing the use of "jewellery burrs and other modern tools."

    Doubts had also surfaced about the skulls in London and Washington, with art experts noting they were unusually large and with teeth markings that were exceptionally linear.

    Seeking the verdict of science, researchers from those two museums examined the skulls with electron microscopes, looking at tiny scratches and marks left by the carving implements.

    These were then compared with the surfaces of a crystal goblet, rock crystal beads and dozens of greenstone jewels known to be of genuine Aztec or Mixtec origin.

    The study appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science, published by the Elsevier group.

    The skull in the British Museum, purchased in 1897, is made of transparent rock crystal and is 15 centimetres (six inches) high. The Smithsonian skull, acquired by the museum in 1992, is of white quartz and measures 25.5 cms (10 inches) in height.

    The investigators found that rotary wheels gave the British skull its sharp definition, a drill had dug out the nostrils and eyes, and diamond or corondum had been applied with iron or steel tools to smooth its upper surfaces.

    As for the US skull, "faint traces" of tool marks remain, but these too are consistent with rotary wheels or grinding pads, the authors say.

    No evidence has ever been found that rotary wheels were used to cut stones in Central America before the arrival of Europeans.

    The investigators also found a black-and-red deposit in a tiny cavity of the Smithsonian skull. X-ray diffraction showed it to be silicon carbide -- a tough compound that only exists naturally in meteorites but is widespread in modern industrial abrasives.

    Tiny irregularities in the quartz suggest the mineral for the London skull came from the European Alps, Brazil or Madagascar, while the quartz for the Washington skull had "many potential sources," including Mexico and the United States.

    The sleuths pored over the archives of both museums, the Museum of Mankind in Paris, the French National Library, the Hispanic Society of America and newspaper records in a bid to find where the skulls came from.

    The only documentation existing for the Smithsonian skull indicates it had been purchased in Mexico City in 1960. The scientists believe the skull was "probably manufactured shortly before it was purchased" th
  2. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Well we all knew that when the dude that owned them refused to have them analysed. Like any crackpot mystic with some magical item--"it works! But no you can't study it, just go on faith!" Whenever an artifact is refused study you can pretty much guarantee its a forgery, like the Shroud of Turin.
  3. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Hey! The Shroud has been analyzed several times, and a recent study found blood in the mixture that makes up the spots indicating Christ's wounds. I'm not saying it's definitively been proven that Jesus was wrapped in that cloth, BUT it has been offered up for analysis.

    As to the skulls, others in this series, including the Mitchell-Hedges, were examined years ago and proven to be of recent (19th-20th century) provenance. There was never any real doubt in my mind that the museum pieces were similarly modern. Now we have scientific corroboration.
  4. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    The shroud is a forgery. Maybe there's blood in it, but its definitely not from 33 AD and definitely not the burial cloth of Jesus, provided Jesus actually existed in the first place.
  5. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yay! Off-topic in !3! posts.

    Well, really, who cares? The movie never claimed those were real. Just that Indy's is.

    And based on the scientific evidence of Ox's mental state and the creepy theme music for the skull itself, I think we can decide that the aliens were NOT of the friendly sort. Sure, they taught us irrigation and agriculture, but they failed to mention the bimonthly human sacrifices.

    http://www.cnn.com
  6. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5

    I never claimed it was Jesus' burial cloth. I only pointed out it's been offered up for analysis, contrary to your assertion in your first quote, above.
  7. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    My bad, I should have been more clear in that initially it was refused study, it was a pretty big controversy for a long time, and then finally they studied it and discovered it was a forgery. Just like the crystal skulls.
  8. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Right on. In your favor, for awhile now the Vatican has refused further study of the Shroud, after radiocarbon dating twice proved it to be of 13th century provenance. Also, a noted scientist was ousted from the STURB team that was assigned to study it, after his tests showed that red ochre and vermillion paint pigment had been applied to the cloth. However, it's alot more complex than that, since as the counter-arguments go there could be a layer of bacterial build-up that is throwing off the radiocarbon readings, and the paint might simply have been applied to enhance a fading relic. Evidently, however, there has been something of a compromise reached between the Vatican and "science": A new battery of tests is scheduled to be performed in the near future.
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