The Crystal Skulls of Belize

First, what are crystal skulls? Everyone will agree that they are large carvings of skulls that are made from a clear (or slightly milky) quartz. Any definitions beyond that is up for debate. So let’s stick with that definition for this post.

The first crystal skulls appeared in public in the late 1800s. It supposedly came from an ancient civilization in mesoamerica. The public interest was very intrigued, and more crystal skulls started appearing. They were treated with a degree of credibility and museums around Europe, including the British Museum in London, bought them for their collections. Although their origin could not be proved, they were interesting enough items to be displayed.

Modern scientists began investigating them in the late 1900s. And the results were disappointing. The first thing the research found was that jeweller’s equipment (that wasn’t invented until the 1800s) was used to make parts of the skulls. Second, the quartz was found only in Madagascar and Brazil. Not a material the ancient Mayans or Aztec would have had access to. Finally -- and the nail in the coffin -- is that no crystal skulls have ever been found at a reputable archaeological dig. They just seemed to appear from thin air. So it appears that the famous crystal skulls were just fancy hoaxes.


"Carter’s decision to run for president occurred during his gubernatorial term. One clear September morning in 1973 Governor Carter stopped by to visit his mother, who was resting in her bedroom. Carter pulled up a chair and propped up his feet on the foot of her bed. When his mother inquired as to his plans after leaving the governor’s office, he replied: ‘I’m going to run for president.’ ‘President of what?’ his mother asked, and Carter replied: ‘Mama, I’m going to run for president of the United States, and I’m going to win.’ Mrs. Carter then told him to get his feet off the bed."

from Larry F. Vrzalik and Michael Minor, "From the President’s Pen", 1991.

Movie-Style Caper Saves Simon Bolivar's Life

Simon Bolivar survived an attempt on his life because he decided to sleep in a different room at the last minute. Specifically, in his mistress's room. So the would-be assassin entered where Bolivar was supposed to be sleeping, and stabbed the hammock where Bolivar was supposed to be lying. And he successfully assassinated one of Bolivar's captains! But he missed the big man.

The Mystery of the Toxic Woman

Gloria Ramirez smelled. TheCalifornian woman was was dying from cervical cancer, and to make matters worse she had bad body odor -- so bad that twenty-three hospital workers reported fainting, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms after exposure. Five workers required hospitalization, and one had to stay in an intensive care unit for two weeks to recover. Ramirez died less than an hour after entering the hospital. And with her death, hospital workers stopped getting sick.

This incident happened in 1994. It has been the inspiration for multiple TV episodes, including X-Files and NCIS. But to this day it is unknown exactly how Ramirez was harming the people around her. One theory is that she was self-medicating with dimethyl sulfoxide for her pain, which can convert into the toxic gas dimethyl sulfate. Another, less-interesting theory, is that it was mass hysteria.

In 1960, Frances Kelsey was one of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest recruits. Before the year was out, she would begin a fight that would save thousands of lives — though no one knew it at the time.

In 1960, American scientist Frances Kelsey was one of the Food and Drug Administration’s newest recruits. Before the year was out, she would begin a fight that would save thousands of lives — though no one knew it at the time.

Have Humans Bred Themselves To Be Travelers?

The desire to travel may be genetic, and it can possibly be traced to what has been dubbed "the wanderlust gene." Associated with increased levels of curiosity and restlessness, the gene is associated with dopamine levels in the brain

Ancient Circular Burial Raises More Questions Than It Answers

A rare circular burial found at the Tlalpan site, in southern Mexico City, has 10 males and females, ranging in age from a one-month-old infant to an older, or even elderly, adult. The burial is approximately 2,400 years old. By that time, state-level societies were emerging in the Valley of Mexico. Perhaps these ten belonged to one such state?   Some of the remains show evidence of intentional skull deformation and tooth filing. Both became common in later Mesoamerican civilizations. Perhaps the Valley of Mexico was a trend setter?   Weirdly (to modern viewers) the skeletons have been carefully arranged. They face different directions, and are deliberately intertwined: one head is on another's chest, one pair of hands lays on another's back. Why this particular arrangement? We are still trying to figure that out. So far, it is still unknown how they all died, or whether they even died at the same time.

Where Is It Illegal To Die?

In the 400s BCE, Athens forbade anyone to die or to give birth on the island of Delos, to render it fit for the proper worship of the gods. Since 1878, no births or deaths have been permitted near Japan’s Itsukushima Shrine, a sacred site in Shinto belief.     Death is still outlawed in some places today, but for more prosaic reasons. In 1999 the mayor of the Spanish town of Lanjarón outlawed death, again because of an overcrowded cemetery. His edict ordered residents “to take utmost care of their health so they do not die until town hall takes the necessary steps to acquire land suitable for our deceased to rest in glory.” The French settlements of Le Lavandou (in 2000), Cugnaux (in 2007), and Sarpourenx (in 2008) have all outlawed death because of limited capacity in local cemeteries. The Sarpourenx ordinance added: “Offenders will be severely punished.” In 2005 Roberto Pereira, mayor of the Brazilian town of Biritiba Mirim, proposed a ban on death because the local cemetery had reached its capacity -- although he was unsuccessful.    

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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