Foo Fighters

The term Foo Fighter was used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over Europe and the Pacific theater. Contemporary witnesses often assumed that the foo fighters were secret weapons employed by the enemy. Despite these fears, foo fighters were never reported to have harmed or even tried to harm anyone. Usually thought of as blobs of light or fire, several different types of reported phenomena were classed as “foo fighters”.

There were  other terms used to describe these objects, such as “Kraut fireballs”, but “foo fighter” seems to have been the most popular. The term is generally thought to have been borrowed from the often surrealist comic strip Smokey Stover. Smokey, a firefighter, was fond of saying “Where there’s foo there’s fire.” (this “foo” may have come from “feu”, the French word for “fire”, or from Smokey’s pronunciation of the word “fuel”.) A Big Little Book titled Smokey Stover the Foo Fighter was published in 1938.

In the same vein, “Foo” could be derived from the French “Fou,” or “mad.” “Foo fighter” was supposedly used as a semi-derogatory reference to Japanese fighter pilots who were known for their erratic flying and extreme maneuvering, it became a catch-all term for fast moving, erratically flying objects (such as UFOs).

Some thought that the term refers to Kung fighting, because of the reported wild, erratic movements of these aerial objects. The term Kung fu was, however, little known in the English language until the late 1960s when it became popular because of the Hong Kong films and the later television series: before that it was referred to primarily as “Chinese Boxing”.

Foo fighters were reported on many occasions from around the world. A nighttime sighting from September, 1941, in the Indian Ocean was similar to some later Foo Fighter reports. From the deck of the S.S. Pulaski, (a Polish merchant vessel transporting British troops), two sailors reported a “strange globe glowing with greenish light, about half the size of the full moon.” They alerted a British officer, who watched the object’s movements with them for over an hour.

On February 28, 1942, just prior to its participation in the Battle of the Java Sea, the USS Houston reportedly saw a large number of strange, unexplained yellow flares and lights which illuminated the sea for miles around.

A report was made from the Solomon Islands in 1942, by United States Marine Corp Stephen J. Brickner. Following an air raid alarm, Brickner and others witnessed about 150 objects grouped in lines of 10 or 12 objects each. Seeming to “wobble” as they moved, Brickner reported that the objects looked to be polished silver and seemed to move a little faster than common Japanese aircraft.

Foo fighter reports were mentioned in the mass media. A 1945, Time story stated “If it was not a hoax or an optical illusion, it was certainly the most puzzling secret weapon that Allied fighters have yet encountered. Last week U.S. night fighter pilots based in France told a strange story of balls of fire which for more than a month have been following their planes at night over Germany.

No one seemed to know what, if anything, the fireballs were supposed to accomplish. Pilots, guessing it was a new psychological weapon, named it the ‘foo-fighter’ … Their descriptions of the apparition varied, but they agree that the mysterious flares stuck close to their planes and appeared to follow them at high speed for miles. One pilot said that a foo-fighter, appearing as red balls off his wing tips, stuck with him until he dove at 360 miles an hour; then the balls zoomed up into the sky.”

The Robertson Panel cited foo fighter reports, noting that their behavior did not appear to be threatening. Interestingly, the Robertson Panel’s report noted that many Foo Fighters were described as metallic and disc shaped, and suggested that “If the term “flying saucers” had been popular in 1943-1945, these objects would have been so labeled.”

Via CrystalLinks

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Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

While for most people the words “wooden type” might not cause immediate excitement, once you step into the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Two-Rivers Wisconsin, that quickly changes.

The history of wooden type has seen it fall in and out of favor many times over the years. Movable wooden type was first developed in China around 1040 AD, though was rejected in favor of clay type, due to the presence of wood grain in the print, and the warping of the wood blocks due to the ink.

Wooden type returned to in China in the 1200s when a cheaper and more efficient method of producing it (including typesetting with bamboo strips to hold the blocks in place) was developed, making wood type a worthwhile alternative to clay. In 1834, William Leavenworth brought the use of wooden type back to America for much the same reasons, it was cheaper then lead, and now, it could be carved by machine, making it much more uniform.

Then in 1868, a young man named Edward J. Hamilton was asked by a rushed printer, with no time to order a special type set from Chicago, to carve a set of wooden type. Hamilton did so on a foot-powered scroll saw on his mothers back porch, and the type was a hit. By 1900 Hamilton was the largest wooden type provider in the United States. Many of America’s most famous printed materials were done in Hamiltons’s wooden types including the infamous “Wanted” posters so often seen in westerns.

Over time, wooden type, and then physical type altogether fell out of common usage. Today the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum “dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type.” The museum is run by volunteers from the Two Rivers Historical Society, has over “1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns.”

The museums most impressive display is the 145-foot wall of type, the world’s largest wall of wood type and the 1,000s of different styles of wooden type in drawer after drawer. The museum also has “a fully functional workshop and educational venue” ‘illustrating antique printing technologies including the production of hot metal type, hand operated printing presses, tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogs.”

As letterpress and other, once largely forgotten forms and crafts of typography come back into style, it seems wooden type, and the Hamilton museum which has kept the tradition alive, is once again ready for the spotlight.

Via: AtlasObscura.com

The Hidden Treasure of Robinson Crusoe Island

According to the Santiago Times, American millionaire Bernard Keiser plans to search Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island for the fifth time. Robinson Crusoe Island, or Juan Fernandez Islands, located 2,000 kilometers West of Chile, is the location of the true story of Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk and his man Friday who were marooned on the island in 1704, for four years and four months. Selkirk’s story was immortalized in Daniel Dafoe’s classic ‘Robinson Crusoe’.

According to legend, the treasure originated in the Incan Empire and was stolen during the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries. When the treasure was en route to Spain around 1715, the navigator in charge of the ship landed on Robinson Crusoe Island and buried his cargo. Before he could return to unearth the booty, an English pirate, Cornelius Webb uncovered the Incan treasure and reburied it in another location on the island. The legendary stash is reported to contain 800 barrels of gold, including priceless historical artifacts of gold and jewelry.

Keiser has been on a 12-year quest, for the location of stolen Incan gold and jewels estimated to be worth $10 billion. Keiser is a history and political science graduate from the University of Jacksonville, who made his fortune supplying NASA with material for their space suits. To date his treasure-seeking has cost him an estimated $2 million and he is reportedly in the process of shelling out another $100,000 for yet another crack at finding the legendary treasure, this time with highly sophisticated mining video and other technologies.

But Keiser’s expenses would be well covered should he find the treasure: Chilean law provides for 25% of the recovered materials to go to the discoverer. Keiser estimates the treasure’s value at $10 billion.

In 2005, the U.K.’s Guardian reported that the treasure had been found.

A long quest for booty from the Spanish colonial era appears to be culminating in Chile with the announcement by a group of adventurers that they have found an estimated 600 barrels of gold coins and Incan jewels on the remote Pacific island. “The biggest treasure in history has been located,” said Fernando Uribe-Etxeverria, a lawyer for Wagner, the Chilean company leading the search. Mr Uribe-Etxeverria estimated the value of the buried treasure at $10 billion. The announcement set off ownership claims. The treasure hunters claimed half the loot was theirs and said they would donate it to non-profit organizations. The Chilean government said that they had no share to donate.

Then later that same year, Wagner ‘renounced it’s claim’ to the treasure.

According to Uribe-Etxeverría, the company does not believe they are capable of excavating the treasure. This abrupt turn of events surprised government officials who were prepared to discuss excavation permits and plans to partition the treasure with the company. Wagner instead agreed to turn over the coordinates to the government on the condition that if the treasure is excavated, a portion would be given to a number of Chilean charities, as well as the island’s residents.

Uribe-Etxeverría’s announcement also surprised journalists because of the commotion the company generated with threats to withhold the location of the treasure unless the government agreed to give them a cut of the loot.

Wagner still maintains that “Arturito,” a mobile robot designed by one of their engineers, detected the presence of 800 metric tons of gold and jewels on the west side of the island in southern Chile. Wagner claims that the treasure is located in a very difficult-to-reach spot that would require divers to enter through underwater caves on the island’s coast. Wagner representatives said the company is withdrawing from the controversy that surrounded their claims because of the difficulty involved in recovering the treasure.

“There is no company in the country capable of excavating this treasure,” said Uribe-Etxeverría. He also added that for Wagner, the treasure did not represent a business opportunity. Rather, the company’s exploration was meant to publicize the extraordinary capabilities of their robot, Arturito.

Via: DeathByA1,000PaperCuts

Image Dump: 072511



England’s Hill Figures, Part 6: The Kilburn White Horse

The final of our six part posting of England’s Hill Figures the Kilburn White Horse, is formed in the hillside near the village of Kilburn, in North Yorkshire, England. The horse is 318 feet long by 220 ft high and covers about 1.6 acres and is said to be the largest and most northerly of the chalk figures in England.

The Kilburn horse faces south-south-west and is clearly visible from some distance. On a clear day, the horse is visible from north Leeds, 28 miles away on the higher ground to the west of the Vale of York.

Sutton Bank, geologically, is formed of limestone. The horse was created by removing the topsoil and exposing the underlying rock. It was created in November 1857, and some accounts state that it was done by school master John Hodgson and his pupils, together with local volunteers. A tablet erected at the car park below it reads, “The Kilburn ‘White Horse’ — This figure was cut in 1857 on the initiative of Thomas Taylor, a native of Kilburn. In 1925 a restoration fund was created by the readers of the Yorkshire Evening Post to provide for the ongoing grooming of the figure.”

However, Morris Marples in his 1949 book gives Thomas Taylor the credit for being the prime mover: a native of Kilburn, he was a buyer for a London provision merchant, and he seems to have attended celebrations at Uffington White Horse in 1857, at which time he became inspired to give his home village a similar example. Thirty-three men were involved in the cutting of the figure, and 6 tons of lime were used to whiten the exposed rock. The image itself is now formed of off-white limestone chips, but the steep gradient of the hillside, especially at the horse’s breast and forelegs, have led to slumping. Retention boards have been used to fix and halt the degredation.

During World War II the horse was covered over to prevent it from becoming a conspicuous navigation landmark for enemy bombers. This white horse can reputedly be seen from Julian’s Bower, Alkborough in North Lincolnshire, over 45 miles away.

Via: Wikipedia

England’s Hill Figures, Part 5: The Cerne Abbas Giant

The Cerne Abbas Giant or the ‘Rude Man’ is one of the largest hillfigures in Britain, he is one of two representations of the human form, the other being the Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex. The giant, carved in solid lines from the chalk bedrock measures in at 180 feet high, and carries a huge knobby club, which measures 120 feet in length.

The first written record of the giant appears in 1751 in a letter by Dorset historian John Hutchins, he suggested that the figure was cut in the mid 1600’s. Another slightly later reference to the figure can be found in the Gentleman’s magazine of 1764, where the figure is described and depicted with a navel, that has long since disappeared. The lack of earlier references is frustrating but does not mean that the figure dates to the 17th century, and its style and proximity to an Iron Age earthwork suggests a much earlier origin.

There are numerous theories as to when and why the giant was created, one of the more popular is that he is the Greek-Roman god Hercules, who is often represented with a club and an animal fur. It has been suggested that the figure was once depicted carrying and animal fur in his left hand. It is possible that worship of Hercules arrived in the early part of the Roman invasion, which was then became amalgamated with a god of a local Celtic tribe. The theory given the most weight by historians is that it was created during the reign of the Emperor Commodus between 180 – 193 AD, he believed himself to be a reincarnation of Hercules and allowed the cult to revive.

Other stories suggest that the monks at the nearby monastery cut the giant as a joke on an Abbott called Thomas Corton, who was expelled from the area for malpractice. This is unlikely but its close proximity to a ecclesiastical house is strange, how could such an obviously pagan symbol have survived for so long? especially through puritanical times and the reformation. It may be that the religious buildings were built close to the giant as a form of amalgamation of the pagan site. This was common practice, and many churches are built on, or near to, sites that were once Pagan religious centres.

According to one legend, the figure represents a Danish giant who led an invasion of England from the coast. He had fallen asleep on the side of the hill, and the local villagers had taken advantage of his slumber to cut off his head. They then drew around his prone body in the manner of a gigantic police chalk line, to show where he met his doom. However, the chalk figure sometimes rose from the dead on dark nights, to quench his thirst in the local stream, a habit also common to certain standing stones.

The giant’s obvious sexuality and virility was put to use in fertility folk magic. Local women who wanted to conceive would spend a night alone on the hillside – most productively within the confines of his giant phallus, and young couples would make love on the giant to ensure conception.

Sleeping on the giant was also thought to be a good way to ensure a future wedding for unmarried women. Just above the giant’s head is a small Iron Age earthwork which encloses a roughly square piece of land, this is known as the ‘Frying Pan’ or the ‘Trendle’ and it was within this enclosure that the Mayday Maypole was erected during the festival celebrations. Like many traditional village Maypole ceremonies this practice died out in the 19th century.

Via: MysteriousBritain

England’s Hill Figures, Part 4: The Long Man of Wilmington

The Long Man of Wilmington, the mysterious guardian of the South Downs, has baffled archaeologists and historians for hundreds of years.

Until recently the earliest record of Europe’s largest representation of the human form was in a drawing made by William Burrell when he visited Wilmington Priory, nestling under the steep slopes of Windover Hill, home of the 235 feet high Wilmington Giant.  In 1993, however, a new version of the Long Man was discovered by surveyor, John Rowley, in 1710.

The new figure has confirmed some theories and dispelled others. It suggests that the original figure was a shadow or indentation in the grass rather than a solid line; there were facial features that are no longer visible; the staffs being held were not a rake and a scythe as once described and the head was once a distinctive helmet shape, giving credence to the idea of the figure as a helmeted war-god.

Until the 19th century the Long Man was only visible in certain light conditions and after a light fall of snow, but in 1874, it was marked out in yellow bricks. It’s claimed that during this restoration, the feet were incorrectly positioned, but, despite popular local legend, there is no evidence, historical or archaeological, to suggest that prudish Victorians altered the hill figure or robbed the giant of his manhood.

In 1925, the site of the Long Man was given to the Sussex Archaeological Society by the Duke of Devonshire. During World War II, the figure was painted green to prevent enemy aviators from using it as a landmark. In 1969, further restoration took place and the bricks were replaced with pre-cast concrete blocks that are now regularly painted to keep the Long Man visible from many miles away. The terracettes, horizontal ripples in the turf, change constantly as the soil is rolled downhill by weathering, erosion and animal activity.

The lack of firm historical evidence leaves many theories surrounding the Long Man’s history. Many in Sussex are convinced the figure is prehistoric, while other believe that he’s the work of an artistic monk from the local Priory dating back to between the 11th and 15th centuries. Roman coins bearing a similar figure suggest that he belonged to the 4th century AD and there may be plausible parallels with a helmeted figure found on Anglo-Saxon ornaments.

Fertility symbol? Ancient Warrior? Early 18th century folly? We may never know. Until such time as new evidence is unearthed.

Tour the Tenenbaum House

The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was thrilled to see it featured on AV Club’s Pop Pilgrims, which checks out the memorable real-life locations of TV and film shoots. While Wes Anderson and his crew were scouting locations for the unfinished script, Wes spotted this amazing house in Harlem and rented it for six months for both exterior and interior shots.

The Royal Tenenbaums is set in New York, but not really. The city viewers see in the film certainly looks like New York, but the names have been changed and, in at least one case, an iconic landmark covered up. Consequently, the house that Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) bought in the winter of his 35th year is located on Archer Avenue in the film, not in Harlem on Convent Avenue at 144th Street, as it is in real life.

Via: Neatorama, AVClubLink

England’s Hill Figures, Part 3: The Cherhill White Horse

The Cherhill White Horse is a hill figure on Cherhill Down, 3.5 miles east of Calne in the county of Wiltshire, England. Dating from the late 18th century, it is the third oldest of several such white horses to be seen around Great Britain, with only the Uffington White Horse and the Westbury White Horse being older. The figure is also sometimes called the Oldbury White Horse.

Facing towards the north-east, the Cherhill White Horse lies on a steep slope of Cherhill down, a little below the earthwork known as Oldbury Castle.  Near the Horse is an obelisk called the Lansdowne Monument, visible in some photographs of the White Horse.This is a 38-metre stone structure, erected in 1845, by the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne to commemorate his ancestor Sir William Petty.

The Cherhill horse may have been inspired by the first such Wiltshire horse, at Westbury, which had just been remodelled. The origins of the Westbury horse are more obscure. Unlike the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, which has been shown to date from the Bronze Age, the earliest evidence of the existence of the Westbury horse is in a paper published by the Rev. Francis Wise in 1742. A bold theory for the origin of the first Wiltshire horse is that it commemorates Alfred the Great‘s victory over Guthrum and the Danes at the Battle of Ethandun, in 878.

Another is that it was carved in the early 18th century as a show of loyalty to the new royal house, the House of Hanover, the white horse being an heraldic symbol of the Electorate of Hanover. One writer on the subject has commented “…the hillside white horse can be a slippery creature, and the origins of some are impossible to establish with any certainty.”

The figure at Cherhill was first cut in 1780 by a Dr Christopher Alsop, of Calne, and was created by stripping away the turf to expose the chalk hillside beneath. Its original size was 165 feet (50 m) by 220 feet (67 m).  Dr Alsop, who was Guild Steward of the Borough of Calne, has been called “the mad doctor”, and is reported to have directed the making of the horse from a distance, shouting from below Labour-in-Vain Hill.

Since 1780, the horse has been ‘scoured’ several times. In 1935, it was dressed with a mixture of concrete and chalk, and it was cleaned up again in 1994. A major restoration was carried out in 2002 by the Cherhill White Horse Restoration Group, when the horse was resurfaced with one hundred and sixty tonnes of new chalk, the outline was re-cut, and shuttering was added to hold the chalk in place. This work was supported by a grant of £18,000 from the National Trust. The present surface is thus made of compacted chalk, and the edges of the figure are well defined.

In the 19th century, the horse had a glittering glass eye, formed from bottles pressed neck-first into the ground. The bottles had been added by a Farmer and his wife, but by the late 19th century they were gone, perhaps taken as souvenirs. During the 1970s, a local youth centre project added a new eye made of glass bottles, but these also disappeared. The eye now consists of stone and concrete and stands proud of the chalk surface.

In 1922, Oldfield Howey noted that “At the time of writing this horse is sadly in need of scouring, as due to the Great War all such things have had to be neglected, but we understand that a local lady, formerly the Lord of the Manor has come to its rescue and asked permission to restore it.

In the week of the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the horse was floodlit and the letters GE (for the king and his queen, Elizabeth) were picked out in red lights above it, with the power coming from a generator at the foot of the hill. The red letters were lit up for five seconds, followed by the floodlights for ten seconds, in a repeating pattern.

Thirteen such white horses are known to have existed in Wiltshire. Of these, eight can still be seen, while the others have grown over.The Cherhill White Horse is maintained and saved from this fate by the Cherhill parish council. Perhaps most notable out of the eight, along with the Cherill white horse, is Westbury White Horse.

Via Wikipedia

England’s Hill Figures, Part 2: The Westbury White Horse

The Westbury or Bratton White Horse is a hill figure on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain, approximately 1.6 mi east of Westbury in England. Located on the edge of Bratton Downs and lying just below an Iron Age hill fort, it is the second oldest of several white horses carved in the Wiltshire hillsides. It was restored in 1778, an action which may have obliterated a previous horse which had occupied the same slope. A contemporary engraving of the 1760s appears to show a horse facing in the opposite direction, and also rather smaller than the present figure. However, there is at present no other evidence for the existence of a chalk horse at Westbury before the year 1742.

The origin of the Westbury White Horse is obscure. It is often claimed to commemorate King Alfred‘s victory at the Battle of Eðandun in 878, and while this is not impossible, there is no trace of such a legend before the second half of the eighteenth century. It should also be noted that the battle of Eðandun has only tentatively been identified with Edington in Wiltshire.

Another white horse, that of Uffington, featured in King Alfred’s earlier life. He was born in the Vale of White Horse, not far from Uffington. Unlike Westbury, documents as early as the 11th century refer to the “White Horse Hill” at Uffington (“mons albi equi”), and archaeological evidence has dated the Uffington White Horse to the Bronze Age, although it is not certain that it was originally intended to represent a horse.

A white horse war standard was associated with the continental Saxons in the Dark Ages, and the figures of Hengest and Horsa who, according to legend, led the first Anglo-Saxon invaders into England. They are said to have fought under a white horse standard, a claim recalled in the heraldic badge of the county of Kent.

During the 18th century, the white horse was a heraldic symbol associated with the new British Royal Family, the House of Hanover, and it’s argued by some scholars that the Westbury White Horse may have first been carved in the early 18th century as a symbol of loyalty to the new Protestant reigning house.

In the 1950s, the horse was vandalized. It was repaired, but the damage could still be seen. The horse was fully restored in late 2006.

Via: Wikipedia

England’s Hill Figures, Part 1: The Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse is undoubtedly Britain’s oldest and most famous hill figure. For quite some time it was thought to date from the Iron Age. However, in the nineteen-nineties, a new dating technique was developed. Optical stimulated luminescence dating (OSL), can show how long soil has been hidden from sunlight. The lines of the horse consist of trenches dug in the hillside, then filled with chalk. OSL testing of soil from between the lower layers of that chalk shows that it has been buried since between 1400 BC and 600 BC, and probably between 1200 BC and 800 BC, and thus the horse is of Bronze Age origin and has been dated at 3000 years old by the Oxford Archeological Unit. At an age 1000 years older than previously thought the discovery makes this the oldest hill figure and the most likely inspiration for the creation of many of the other local white horses and hill figures.

Although its closeness to Uffington castle may have inspired the creation of the first Westbury horse by Bratton camp, which also faced right. The earliest reference to Uffington’s White Horse was in in the 1070’s when white horse hill was mentioned, the first actual reference to the horse itself was in 1190.

The horse is unique in its features, being a very long sleek disjointed figure. This leads some to believe it represents the mythical dragon that St. George slain on the adjacent Dragon hill or it may represent his horse. However others believe it represents a Celtic horse goddess Epona, known to represent fertility, healing and death. The horse may have been created to be worshipped in religious ceremonies. Similar horses feature in Celtic jewelry and there is also evidence of horse worship in the Iron Age. The scouring or cleaning of the horse is believed to have been a religious festival in later times, giving more creditability to the figure being of religious origin.

Others believe that it commemorates Alfred’s victory over the Danes in 861 AD or that it was created in the seventh century by Hengist in the image of a horse on his standard. However the recent scientific data upon its age seem to discount these more modern theories. Several Iron age coins bearing representations of horses very similar in style and design to the Uffington horse have been found and help support the theory of the horse being from an earlier period than the seventh or eight centuries.

Also unusual is the fact that the horse faces to the right while all other horses and other animal hill figures face left, with three exceptions, the very first Westbury horse, the Osmington horse and the more modern Bulford Kiwi. The earliest record of the white horse is from Abingdon Abbey in the late 12th century, although white horse hill was mentioned a century earlier. There are many records after this period with a very good historical record from the 18th century in which the horse has changed little in appearance from then to present day. There were occasions when the horse became overgrown. In 1880, the geoglyph was in danger of being lost like many of the other hill figures of the past but since that time English Heritage has begun caring for this ancient monument.

The Mystical Qualities of Crystal Skulls

Crystal skulls are fashioned from large pieces of crystal, usually from the mineral quartz. They are often life-sized and bear the same distinguishing characteristics as a human skull with eye sockets, a nasal cavity, and a rounded cranium. The most exquisite crystal skulls have finely crafted jaws with removable mandibles.

In addition to claims of paranormal activity, controversy concerning crystal skulls centers on their origins. More than a dozen of them were claimed to have been discovered in Mexico and Central America and are dated by their founders or those who currently possess them as being hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years old. Common methods for dating artifacts can neither confirm nor refute claims about when these crystal skulls were crafted, but, generally speaking, skulls sculpted with metal tools cannot be more than a few centuries old if they originated in Mexico and Central America.

One of archaeology’s most compelling mysteries is that of the 13 Crystal Skulls. Skulls have been one of the most powerful objects of symbolism in human history, all over the world. Several “perfect” crystal Skulls have been found in parts of Mexico, Central and South America. During early expeditions, archaeologists were told by locals that the skulls possessed magical powers and healing properties. However, people were unsure as to where they came from, or even why they existed. Some like to believe that these were remains from the lost civilization of Atlantis. Others like to believe these are fakes. And yet another group of psychics believe that these skulls have the capability to enable us to look into the past, present and future.

Historians and social anthropologists decided to find out more about the strange skulls. Very soon, they came across an ancient Indian legend saying that there had been thirteen crystal skulls of the Goddess of Death; they had been kept separately from each other under the strict control of pagan priests and special warriors.

Searches for more skulls started; some of them were found in museums and some in private collections not only in the USA, but in Mexico, Brazil, France, Mongolia, and in Tibet. There were more than 13 skulls found. However, not all of them were as perfect as Mitchell-Hedges- was. Very likely, those were just later attempts to create something similar to the original skulls that were believed to have been gifts by God to the people.

Some crystal skulls are attributed to the Mayan culture that thrived in southern Mexico and Central America during the first millennium C.E. However, as established through studies of recurring symbols, artifacts, or references in hieroglyphics, there is no known cultural tradition among the Mayans that relate to crystal skulls or any kind of skull worship or fascination. There is some evidence of skulls being symbolically important in Aztec culture, which flourished earlier and further north than Mayan civilization, yet there are far fewer claims among crystal skull enthusiasts that connect the objects to Aztec culture. Radio-carbon testing is not applicable to crystal, because the method works only on previously animate objects.

Crystal skulls are credited by believers for having the ability to awaken or raise human consciousness to a higher level. Some people assert that they experience a psychic connection when viewing a crystal skull, and commonly declare that they were infused with positive energy. Skulls of quartz crystal, like other quartz objects, are believed by mystic crystal enthusiasts to have the ability to record events, thoughts, and emotions that occur in their presence.

Some of the believers of the mystical qualities of the crystals credit ancient peoples with having crafted crystal skulls. According to them, ancients used the skulls to predict the future, to control the weather, as healing devices, as oracles to receive cosmic wisdom, as receivers of universal knowledge, and as a tool meant for future use to gain divine knowledge.

There is a crystal skull on display at the London Museum of Mankind, and the Paris Crystal Skull is on display at the Trocadero Museum. Both skulls can be traced back to Mexico, where records show they were purchased in the 1890s. The London Museum acquired its skull through Tiffanys of New York in 1898. Tests conducted in 1995, revealed scratches from steel tools, perhaps a jeweler’s wheel, confirming the skull must be of modern origin. The origin date of the skull was moved from the ancient Aztec times to the more recent period after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1520. Night workers at the museum reportedly refuse to work near the skull unless it’s covered, citing vibrations, colors shifts appearing in the skull, or a simple association of skulls and death.

The Amethyst Crystal Skull and the Mayan Crystal Skull were found in Guatemala in the early 1900s. The latter skull received its name because it was found at the site of Mayan ruins. “Maya” is kept by a psychic who uses the skull to assist her in readings.

Two skulls exhibit particularly exquisite craftsmanship. The Rose Quartz Crystal Skull, found along the Guatemala-Honduras border, includes removable mandibles, as does the Mitchell-Hedges skull, the most famous and notorious of crystal skulls. Named after its founders and keepers, F. A. Mitchell-Hedges (1882–1959) and his daughter Anna (1910–2007 ), it is considered the finest example of a crystal skull. Fashioned from clear quartz, the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull is realistic in size (the cranium approximates that of an average female adult), and its jaws were formed from the same piece of crystal as the skull. The jaws fit neatly into sockets and maintain a perfect balance with the skull.

The two biggest mysteries of the Mitchell-Hedges skull concern the craftsmanship used to make it and the story surrounding its discovery. The skull is believed to have been formed from a large block of crystal that was carved into a rough shape of a skull and then smoothed into its final shape with water and a solution of silicon-crystal sand or, perhaps, through some unknown technology. There are no scratches on the Mitchell-Hedges skull that would indicate the work of metal tools. Shafts within the skull are said to channel light from the base of the skull to the eye sockets in a manner similar to modern optic technology, and the sockets have concave forms that reflect light to the upper cranium. Internal prisms and light tunnels are believed to be the reason why objects are magnified and brightened when held beneath the skull.

Like other crystal skulls, the Mitchell-Hedges skull reportedly changes color, sometimes clouding up white, and other times growing from a small patch of black to intensely black. Many of those who have viewed it report strange visions when looking in, and some have detected a faint hum or a scent. Like other mystical crystal objects, the Mitchell-Hedges version has been reputed to have oracular and healing powers, to be able to accumulate natural magnetism, and to amplify and transmit energy. Its keeper and early publicist, F. A. Mitchell-Hedges, also claimed it had the power to kill, citing several of his enemies who died before he did.

Mitchell-Hedges was an explorer and gambler who wrote books about his searches for remnants of lost tribes and the lost continent of Atlantis (Lands of Wonder and Fear, 1931) as well as his encounters with sea monsters (Battles with Giant Fish, 1923, and Battles with Monsters of the Sea, 1937). In 1927, Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter Anna were clearing debris atop a temple in the ancient Mayan city of Lubaantum (modern-day Belize) when Anna discovered what became known as the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull on her seventeenth birthday. Weeks later, near the same site, she found the jaw of the skull.

Mitchell-Hedges did not publicize the skull until 1943, when he began referring to it as the Skull of Doom and claimed it was 3,600 years old. Curiously, he barely mentioned the skull in his autobiography, Danger, My Ally (1954). After he died in 1959, daughter Anna became the keeper of the skull.

It is now generally accepted that Anna Mitchell-Hedges did not discover the fabled crystal skull in the ruins of a Mayan city in 1927, but Mitchell-Hedges bought the artifact at an auction at Sothebys in London in 1943. Such claims have been verified by records at the British Museum, which had bid against Mitchell-Hedges for ownership of the object.

In 1970, the Mitchell-Hedges skull was examined by art conservator and restorer Frank Dorland. He claimed to have seen a spirit after studying the skull late at night in his home. According to Dorland, tests conducted at Hewlitt-Packard laboratories in Santa Clara, California, vouched for its craftsmanship including an absence of scars that would indicate metal tool work, and evidence that it was cut against the crystal axis. The validity of the tests has been questioned, as has the whole story of how the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull was found and how far back it dates.

Jo Ann and Carl Parks became owners of the famous Texas Crystal Skull, whom they affectionately call Max, in 1980 when a Tibetan healer bestowed the artifact on them in payment of a debt. Admittedly unaware at first of the significance of this object, Carl and Jo Ann, residents of Houston, placed the skull in a closet for the next seven years. Not until they came into contact with F. R. “Nick” Nocerino of Pinole, California, one of the world’s foremost authorities of crystal skulls and director of the Society of Crystal Skulls, did they learn what an important artifact it was. Nocerino had been searching for that skull since the 1940s. He knew of its existence, but its actual location had sent him on a quest that had led him around the world.

Of the 13 crystal skulls known to researchers that are the actual true size, Max is the largest, weighing 18 pounds compared to the others, which weigh nine to 11 pounds. Max was found in a Mayan tomb at a site in Guatemala, and it has been estimated that Max came from a 50-to-60-pound piece of crystal that was more than a half a million years old. Other than Max and the crystal skull owned by Anna Mitchell-Hedges of Canada, all the others, each differing somewhat in size and detail, are held in museums or private collections.

People claim that being in Max’s proximity provokes images and visions within them. They believe to see scenes from the past history of Earth, and frequently they perceive UFO-related scenes and messages. “Whether you believe any of that or not, if you simply look at the artifact on a scientific and archaeological level, you cannot help being over-whelmed and awed at the skilled worksmanship that was involved in creating him,” Jo Ann Parks has commented.

The British Crystal Skull on display at the London Museum of Mankind is considered to be a nineteenth-century artifact. Scientists, at least, are convinced that all evidence weighs toward recent origins of all crystal skulls. Until convincing evidence that a known civilization venerated such an object, or that crystal skulls are remnants of a vanished civilization, belief in special qualities of the skulls are in the minds of beholders of mysticism.

Via in Part: EncyclopediaOThefUnusualAndUnexplained