There’s more than a mystery in this museum and it’s one of the two best collections in Guatemala. In the University of Francisco Marroquin, located in Zone Ten of Guatemala City, is the Museum Popul Vuh, named after the Maya codex. Once you’ve purchased your ticket downstairs, the collection is located on the second floor and the lady at the desk will be happy to sell you a brochure or two.
Once past the first well carved stone head on the left and into Room 1, the mystery lies before you. Set inside a Lucite box atop a square wooden pillar is something out of the ordinary, something unknown beyond the walls of this museum and not found in the annals of lore that this subject matter has accumulated over the last hundred years. It’s roughly seven inches in length, about 3 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches high.
Behind the clear plastic case is a crystal skull, carved out of a piece of semi-transparent quartz, with traces of red pigment in the teeth and eye sockets and what appears to be a hole drilled through the rear of the jaw.
Supposedly it was included as being part of a large collection of Maya artifacts donated in the 1970’s by a prominent Guatemalan family, who would had no reason for condoning fraud or fakes. The brochures make no mention of it, the lady behind the desk knows nothing and it’s not mentioned in any database. Every other display in the museum has placard describing the object except this one.
Unfortunately for the gullible, the crystal skull ‘business’ has been with us for over a hundred years. The British Museum had one on display but it has been removed from public sight. The Smithsonian likewise had one on display, but that one also has been relegated to a box in a back room.
There are current New Age belief systems that state that there were thirteen such crystal skulls carved by the Mayan shamans or their artisans. And that until these are located and returned or aligned, the expected cataclysm of 2012 will fall upon us with full fury. As we know, many Maya stelae speak of the Mayan Long Count and the end of the cycle, occurring on December 21, 2012.
We know that the Mayans believed that time moved in cycles, with an end and a beginning that roll over for time immemorial. They manipulated mathematics in a way far advanced for their times and they could calculate astronomical events backwards and forwards. This served two major purposes, the planting cycle of their most important staple, corn(maize) and the use of celestial configurations to plan wars and royal events, such as successions and sacrifices. 2012? Simply the turning over of the celestial odometer and all the zeros will line up, once again. Crystal skulls? Only one has authentically been found in situ, under the auspices of a trained archeologist. The rest, such as the Mitchell-Hedges skull, supposedly found under an altar in British Honduras on New Year’s Eve, have been proven to be of recent manufacture.
The Aztecs, Toltecs and Mayans all used skull iconography in their temple images but these were usually carved from basalt or created with stucco. Smaller carvings of skulls, drilled for use as beads or decorations have been noted, principally from Mexico. The mystery will continue to unfold. Christmas in 2012 should be very interesting.