Posts Tagged ‘Maya’

In honor of the new Indiana Jones movie coming out, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, I decided to post about the “actual” crystal skulls, even though their historical authenticity has been all but blasted away.

The legend is that the ancient Mayans or Aztecs crafted 13 crystal skulls made out of solid pieces of quartz crystal.  These were then scattered around the world.  When the world was in grave peril, somebody would find the crystal skulls, bring them back to Central America, and save the world from destruction.

A nice story, but are these skulls actually from the 500-year-old Central American civilization?  Probably not. 

The Famous Hedges Crystal Skull

Perhaps the most famous and enigmatic skull was allegedly discovered in 1924 by Anna de Guillon Hedges.  She claimed to have found it buried in a ruin in Belize.  The skull was made from a block of clear quartz about the size of a small human cranium, measuring some 13 cm high, 18 cm long and 10.5 cm wide. The lower jaw is detached.  Naturally, supernatural claims were made about this and all the skulls.  Some believed them to be bad luck.  Others thought they had healing powers.  They were said to have a constant temperature at 21 degrees Celcius.  Jungle animal calls were thought to be heard eminating from the skulls.  Also, the original inspector of the skull said that there were no scratch marks from tools being used to craft the skull, thus some people thought that the makers had alien help.

Although fake skulls were often used in Mayan and Aztec sacrificial rites, researchers who later tested the skull found it to be a fake.  It was probably made in the 19th to 20th centuries with the help of rotary drills…a luxury ancient Central American societies did not have.  Despite proving these skulls fake, this does not stop the crystal skull mania.  Perhaps it is a desire to connect with those ancient peoples, or perhaps it is simply that people are way too gullible.  Either way, the crystal skulls will remain a huge factor in our modern culture.


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Tikal is the greatest of all Mayan cities.  During the time period when the Maya dominated the Yucatan peninsula, the pyramids of Tikal were the tallest structures in the western hemisphere.  The city was founded around 200 B.C.  It seemed to be abandoned in 900 A.D. for unknown reasons.  The site was discovered again by 1848 and has been going excavations ever since.

Tikal lies outside the city of El Peten, Guatamala.  The towers of the city are well restored and surrounded by the rainforest, as the actual towers, some of which reach 212 feet, are located within the Tikal National Park.  Wildlife is abundant in the park as a result of this. 

The best time to take this trip is from November to April.  The room and board costs around $60 for a doubles room in a hotel very near to the site.  Although Tikal is absolutely magical at any time of the day, special passes are given to visit the Great Plaza after hours on days when the moon is full.

Tikal was built to impress and astound.  And 2200 years later, it still does just that.

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