Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

'Indiana Jones' skull on display

woman viewing skull of doom
Opinions are divided on whether the skull is 3,600-years-old

A crystal skull - said to be the work of an ancient south American civilization - is to go on public display in Edinburgh on Sunday.

It is claimed the skull, which is named after English adventurer and author FA Mitchell-Hedges, inspired the latest Indiana Jones film.

Some people believe it is 3,600-years-old, others claim it is a fake.

The one-day viewing at the Hub on the Royal Mile has been organised by the Histories and Mysteries Conference.

Bill Homann, the current owner of the Mitchell-Hedges skull, was among the speakers at the event.

He cared for the adopted daughter of Mitchell-Hedges for the last eight years of her life.

Anna Mitchell-Hedges claimed to have found the skull in 1924 - when she would have been about 17-years-old - buried under a collapsed altar inside a temple in Lubaantun, in British Honduras, now Belize.

Others believe her father bought the skull from an antiques dealer or at auction in the 1940s.

Scientific research

He mentioned the skull in the first 1954 edition of his autobiography, Danger My Ally, without specifying where or by whom it was found.

He wrote: "It was at least 3,600 years old and according to legend was used by the High Priest of the Maya when performing esoteric rites".

The British Museum in London has a similar skull on display, as does the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Earlier this year, research published in the Journal of Archeaological Science claimed these two skulls were fakes and likely to have been made in the 1950s.

There are about a dozen similar skulls around the world. The Mitchell-Hedges skull, also known as The Skull of Doom, is perhaps the most famous.

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