The Truth About: Crystal Skulls

Linked to End-Time Prophecies and Mystic Powers, What Truth Lays Behind the Famed Mesoamerican Crystal Skulls?

Michael East
The Mystery Box
Published in
11 min readOct 28, 2020

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To some, they are the antithesis of history, a pseudohistorical fraud perpetrated on a gullible public. To others, they are evidence of a more spiritual and mystic time, one where the great civilisations wielded powers beyond Euro-American imagining. To many others, they have been a cash-cow, linked to wealthy speaking tours, books, movies and video-games. No matter the beliefs held, all can agree that the “pre-Colombian” crystal skulls are an impressive sight to behold, awakening primal fears of the unknown. But are these fears justified?

Crystal skull at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris. Eugène Boban, a controversal antique dealer, sold this piece to Alphonse Pinart, a young explorer. Pinart donated it to the Museum of Ethnography at Trocadéro, Paris. | Klaus-Dieter Keller, Wikimedia Commons, (CC0 1.0)
Public Domain Dedication

While many crystal skulls claim to be able to trace their origins back to the pre-Colombian Americas, the truth is that almost all are born out of Victorian-era fascination with spiritualism, exploration and archaeology. It was during this time that many amateurs collected specimens from around the globe, claims of experience in the sciences and humanities giving an air of deeper learning amongst some sections of the establishment. These collectors were easy prey for forgers both at home and abroad. Eugène Boban of Paris, France, was one such individual.

Boban was the official archaeologist to the court of Maximillian I of Mexico, having first travelled to the country in 1857. His credentials were high, having exhibited at the then Trocadéro Museum (now the Musée de l’Homme) in Paris as part of the International Exposition of 1867. He worked in Mexico for 20 years between 1860 and 1880 and his reputation was seemingly infallible. Boban operated an antiquities shop in Paris from 1870 and New York from 1887, amongst his collection, were the famed crystal skulls.

One of these skulls appeared in 1881 and was never listed in his catalogue, being rejected by Mexico’s national museum when he tried to present it as a genuine Aztec artefact. After moving to New York, the skull was sold in George H. Sisson and then won at auction by Tiffany & Co, later sold to the British Museum in 1897.

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Michael East
The Mystery Box

Freelance writer. Writing on true crime, mysteries, politics, history, popular culture, and more. | https://linktr.ee/MichaelEast