F. A. Mitchell-Hedges
|Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges|
|Born||22 October 1882|
|Other names||Mike Hedges|
|Spouse(s)||Lillian Agnes Clarke|
|Children||Anne Marie Cuillon|
Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges (22 October 1882 – June 1959) was an English adventurer, traveller, and writer most well-known for his supposed discovery of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull. His name was almost always seen in print as F. A. Mitchell-Hedges; he sometimes went by the name "Mike Hedges". The veracity of much of his autobiographical writings is in question.
Mitchell-Hedges spent some years alternating between Central America, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some sources say he was a mercenary, others thought he was a British government spy, and others that he was independently wealthy and traveling for diversion. Some of his "expeditions" to Central America were financed by well-to-do British socialites. For a time he was sponsored by the Daily Mail. He was also supported by the British Museum to whom he donated numerous artifacts.
Mitchell-Hedges repeatedly made claims of having "discovered" Indian tribes and "lost cities" that had already been documented years, sometimes centuries, before. He claimed he discovered "the cradle of civilization" in the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua, and that the Bay Islands of Honduras were remnants of the lost civilization of Atlantis.
In 1906 he married Lillian Agnes Clarke, known as "Dolly". Most of the time he lived apart from his wife. They had no children on their own but adopted Canadian orphan Anne Marie Le Guillon, today known as Anna Mitchell-Hedges.
For a time in the 1930s he had a weekly radio show out of New York City on Sunday evenings. Talking over a background of "jungle drums", Mitchell-Hedges would tell dramatic tales of his adventures, usually including narrow escapes from death at the hands of "savages" or from jungle animals ranging from a jaguar to a vicious attacking iguana.
Mitchell-Hedges claimed to have discovered a "crystal skull" — he called it "The Skull of Doom" — at the Maya ruin of Lubaantun (which he also claimed to have discovered) on an expedition to British Honduras (present-day Belize) in the 1920s. However he published no mention of the skull until the late 1940s, not long after a crystal skull was auctioned off by Sydney Burney at Sotheby's in 1943. Mitchell-Hedges' crystal skull could have been the one from Sotheby's as a skull with identical measurements was described in 1936, and its owner was Sydney Burney.
A body of popular culture and New Age-mythology grew to surround Mitchell-Hedges' tales of the crystal skull, and it is through his association with this alleged artifact that Mitchell-Hedges is best known today.
Mitchell-Hedges' crystal skull was retained in the possession of his adopted daughter Anna until her death on 11 April 2007 at the age of 100, during which time she periodically exhibited it to the public, continuing to make claims for the skull's mysterious powers and origin. Even after Anna's death, the claimed '17 000' year old crystal skull continues to be publicly exhibited.
The release of the 2008 adventure film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull revived public awareness of the crystal skull mythology, and by extension, F. A. Mitchell-Hedges. His name is one among many to have been speculatively put forward as the "real-life" inspiration for the fictional Indiana Jones character.
Books and other titles written by Mitchell-Hedges include:
- Battles With Giant Fish
- Danger, My Ally
- Land of Wonder and Fear
Concerning Land of Wonder and Fear, prominent Maya archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson commented that "to me the wonder was how he could write such nonsense and the fear how much taller the next yarn would be". (Maya Archaeologist, J. Eric S. Thompson, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1963)
- The UnMuseum – Crystal Skulls
- The Skeptic Dictionary – Crystal Skulls
- Digby, Adrian (July 1936). "Comments on the Morphological Comparison of Two Crystal Skulls". Man (London: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland) 36: 107–109. doi:10.2307/2789342. ISSN 0025-1496. JSTOR 2789342. OCLC 42646610.
- Fraser Coast Chronicle 11 October 2008 Accessed 13 October 2008
- Neither George Lucas nor Steven Spielberg—co-creators of the successful concept and franchise—have indicated that any specific individual inspired their character, other than the generic stock heroes popularised in the matinée serials and pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s they admired and wished to modernise, or later exotic-culture adventure films such as 1954's Secret of the Incas.
- "Making Raiders of the Lost Ark" (archived web page). Raiders News. 23 September 2003. Archived from the original on 7 December 2003. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
- Mitchell-Hedges self-submitted entry in Who's Who, 1928
- Annotated timeline of Mitchell-Hedges's life by Raymond John Howgego
- Mitchell-Hedges Website[dead link]