Crystal skulls in popular culture
The crystal skulls are a number of human skull hardstone carvings made of clear or milky quartz rock, known in art history as "rock crystal". They are often claimed to be pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifacts by their alleged finders, however, none of the specimens made available for scientific study have been authenticated as pre-Columbian in origin. Despite some claims presented in an assortment of popularizing literature, legends of crystal skulls with mystical powers do not figure in genuine Mesoamerican or other Native American mythologies and spiritual accounts.
The skulls are often claimed to exhibit paranormal phenomena by some members of the New Age movement, and have often been portrayed as such in fiction. Crystal skulls have been a popular subject appearing in numerous sci-fi television series, novels, and video games.
List of use in popular culture
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- Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, where a skull is on display.
- For the Love of God, a diamond-encrusted skull made by artist Damien Hirst.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, film that revolves around a fictional back-story to the lore of crystal skulls.
- Legend of the Crystal Skull, A Nancy Drew video game which involves searching for a lost crystal skull.
- Crystal Skulls (band), named after a legend that there are 13 ancient crystal skulls hidden worldwide, which have mystical powers.
- American Dragon: Jake Long, The first half of the second season revolves around finding the 13 Aztec crystal skulls, which hold the power to grant 1 irreversible wish to the person that holds the 13th skull, after the other 12 are placed in the Gargoyles of Pantheon.
- Blood Mountain (album), music album with a storyline revolving around a crystal skull.
- The Crystal Skull, an episode of The A-Team centered on a crystal skull.
- 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a video game in which rapper 50 Cent fights his way through a desert after someone steals his Crystal Skull.
- "Crystal Skull", episode 21 of Season 3 in the TV series Stargate SG-1. The plot involves a crystal skull found on another planet, while the backstory references a crystal skull found that seems to mimic the details of the discovery of the real-life Mitchell-Hedges skull. In the show, the discoverer was Daniel Jackson's grandfather, Nick Ballard, and included a legend that staring into it would allow you to see aliens from another planet.
- House II: The Second Story where a (supposedly pre-Columbian) crystal skull, with mystical powers is integral to the plot of the movie.
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin features a set of crystal skulls.
- In the Peep Show episode 5 of series 5, Jez's manager Cally has a New Age belief in the healing power of crystal skulls, and makes the normally rational Mark agree that "I believe that they were crafted by the ancient inhabitants of Atlantis and that they're powerful centres of healing" in return for keeping peace in the relationship. Mark comically frustratedly smashes the crystal skull later in the episode, stating that if its healing powers is so great it can heal itself.
- Actor Dan Aykroyd co-founded a Vodka called Crystal Head Vodka inspired by the archeological artifacts.
- The Crystal Skull (book), a thriller by Manda Scott
- The Crystal Skulls are mentioned in the Assassin's Creed series as being ancient artifacts (legacy of an ancient, pre-human, mythic society) holding unique powers. In Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy, the Assassin Giovanni Borgia stole one of these skulls from the Aztecs in Mexico and brought it to Bombastus for study, resulting in the discovery of the formula of the Philosopher's stone. In Assassin's Creed, it can be read in one of the emails that the modern-day company Abstergo Industries holds some of these skulls, referring to them as "Mitchell-Hedges Communicators." A crystal skull briefly appears in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag as one of the artifacts which drives the plot, which the Templars plan to use to monitor world leaders for incriminating information and then blackmail them.
- Featured as collectable items in Ninja Gaiden II, The Crystal Skulls unlock bonus items as they are gathered throughout the game. They are found all over the world, including Japan and New York, and no reason is presented as to why they are significant items. (Much like the Golden Scarabs featured in the previous title.).
- Veritas: The Quest's third episode "Skulls" plot centers around the quest for the fourth of four Crystal Skulls. The skulls were said to be built "molecule by molecule" and when combined would form a sort of weapon.
- Poptropica: In the Pathfinder tribe's common room, there is a crystal skull.
- In the Animated Series Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce GO! (SRMTHFG for short) the Antagonist (The Skeleton King)'s Skull was indeed a Crystal Skull,which was used in later-seasons to resurrect him from the dead.
- A psytrance compilation CD named The Mystery Of The Thirteen Crystal Skulls was released in 2001.
- The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines begins with the main character stealing a prophetic crystal skull from some treasure-hunters in the U.S. southwest.
- Zork I features a crystal skull as one of the twenty treasures the player must find in order to win.
- The Crystal Skulls are mentioned in the teen-fantasy, The Secret Circle.
- In the Nintendo 3DS game The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Crystal Skulls appear as a Material item used to create wearable Outfits. It's in-game description humorously reads, "The secrets this thing must hold! Probably diseases too."
- The Crystal Skulls are featured in Raven Software's dark fantasy game Hexen II, where the player character is required to locate a Jade and Crystal skull for a puzzle in the Mesoamerican world of "Mazaera".
- A crystal skull figures prominently at the opening and the ending credits of the three BBC TV paranormal series featuring science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke as host, namely Mysterious World (1980), World of Strange Powers (1984) and Mysterious Universe (1995). An episode of the first series Mysterious World devotes an entire show to crystal skulls.
- A crystal skull appears as a collectible item in the 2008 Wii game Wario Land: Shake It! with the description "From a crystal...man?"
- British Museum (n.d.-b), Jenkins (2004, p.217), Sax et al. (2008), Smith (2005), Walsh (1997; 2008)
- Aldred (2000, passim.); Jenkins (2004, pp.218–219). In this latter work, Philip Jenkins, former Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies and latterly an endowed Professor of Humanities at PSU, writes that crystal skulls are among the more obvious of examples where the association with Native spirituality is a "historically recent" and "artificial" synthesis. These are "products of a generation of creative spiritual entrepreneurs" that do not "[represent] the practice of any historical community".
- For example, in Stargate SG-1 season 3 episode #65, "Crystal Skull".
- See for example the Indiana Jones novels by Max McCoy (1995, 1996, 1997, 1999).
- For example, the video game Legend of the Crystal Skull and Illusion of Gaia.
- More information about the Stargate episode can be found on the MGM website"
- The Veritas: The Quest's episode summary on MSM's website