One of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the scientific world was the finding of the Crystal Skull of Doom. That skull became an inspiration for dozens of new age websites, books, magazine articles and even an Indiana Jones movie. The swindle was perpetrated by the Canadian born Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the adopted daughter of British big game fisherman, explorer, charlatan and tomb robber, Frederick Mitchell-Hedges. FM-H visited, and lived on his yacht, the “Amigo,” moored off the eastern end of Roatan on and off in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. That is where he and his wealthy mistress and sugar mama Lady Lilian Richmond Brown, looted hundreds of Paya Indian artifacts which they had found on Barbareta and Saint Helene, and later sold to the Museum of the Indiesand the British Museum.
Mike Hedges theorized that Roatan, along with the other Bay Islands, and the islands off Belize, formed the remnants of the lost continent of Atlantis. He fantasized that the island’s inhabitants had imparted their secret knowledge to the Paya and Maya Indians on the mainland of Central America.
Three years prior to visiting Roatan, Mitchell – Hedges and Richmond Brown, had shipped the “Amigo” from Liverpool to New York and voyaged down to British Honduras on a fishing trip. They arrived in Belize City on February 17, 1924, an important date to remember in our story. There they met the former Chief British Medical Officer of the colony, Dr. Thomas Gann, who was an enthusiastic amateur archaeologist. Dr. Gann offered to show them the site of the long-abandoned Mayan city of Lubaantun, located 55 miles northwest of Punta Gorda, Belize.
The site had previously been visited by Europeans in 1903 (an expedition led by Dr. Gann), and later, in 1915 by a group from the Peabody Museum, sponsored by Yale University, In spite of this, Mitchell – Hedges sent a report, along with photographs, to the Illustrated London News, claiming to have single-handedly discovered “the most important, and largest of all the Mayan lost cities.”
This didn’t discourage Mitchell who sponsored his own extensive studies of the site in 1926 and 1927.On returning to Roatan, Mitchell – Hedges would later claim on his syndicated radio show to have found a lost treasure, belonging to the notorious pirate, Ned Lowe. The supposed treasure was to be found on Cow and Calf Caye in Port Royal and was estimated to be worth six million dollars. This detail itself is hard to believe, as Lowe was a lower ranking pirate, who made a living attacking fishing boats and merchant’s vessels. Lowe was ill-equipped to attack larger, well defended Spanish treasure convoys. Furthermore, no mention of this “amazing find” was made in any of the adventure books later written by Mitchell – Hedges, leading me to believe that his claim was another outlandish lie.
No mention of the found treasure was made in any of his books, newspaper columns or radio shows of The Skull of Doom. That magnificent crystal skull weighing over 11 pounds, which his adopted daughter Anna claimed to have discovered in the rubble of an old tomb at Lubaantun on her 17th birthday, on January 1, 1924, over six weeks BEFORE her father arrived in Belize.
Supposed treasure was to be found on Cow and Calf Caye.
No mention of Anna even being present in Belize exists, and she is not mentioned in any of the writings about the expedition. Furthermore, she only revealed the existence of the skull in 1950’s, thirty years after allegedly finding it. It is also a well-documented fact that Mitchell – Hedges purchased the skull for 400 pounds, at Sotheby’s London office in 1943.
Despite his daughter’s claims that the skull was over 3,600 years old, electron microscope work by Margaret Sax in 2008, of the Department of Scientific Research at the British Museum, detected scratches on the skull made by modern, mechanical carving tools. Obviously, Mayans had no access to such tools.
The skull most certainly came from the collection of Eugene Boban, a French dealer who dealt in both real and fake Aztec and Mayan artifact. Boban lived in Mexico City between 1860 and 1880, and most likely crafted the skull, along with several others in the 1870s , in the German town of Idar-Oberstein, renown for its crystal carving German town of Idar- Oberstein. Despite its undenied beauty and unparalleled craftsmanship, the Skull of Doom, is just a very skillful fake.