Walsh has traced fake crystal skulls at the British Museum and the Quai Branly Museum back to Boban, who sold them to art dealers who then sold them to the museums more than 100 years ago. The Smithsonian skull, however, showed up in the mail in 1992, as an anonymous donation. Its arrival motivated Walsh to contact the British Museum to discuss the skulls. That conversation catalyzed the scientific and historical research that finally proved the objects were phonies.
The British and American team were particularly suspicious of the skulls because they hadn’t come from documented archaeological sites. And something was wrong with the skulls’ teeth. Although skulls do appear as motifs in Aztec art, most representations of teeth in authentic pieces reflect the dentistry—or lack thereof—of the time. The teeth in the suspect skulls seemed too linear, too perfect, Sax explains.
The team also noticed a small deposit of something curious in the Smithsonian’s skull. By using X-ray diffraction they discovered the deposit was silicon carbide, a synthetic abrasive used in stone-carving workshops only starting in the mid-20th century. This damning residue revealed the Smithsonian skull had likely been made mere decades before the anonymous donor sent the skull by mail, Walsh says.
Science. It works to solve mysteries. We already knew they were not relics of ancient wisdom with magical powers. I’d like those who still think these things are genuine something-or-other will stop it. But they won’t.