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The Maya ‘Crystal Skull’: Polished with Sand?


For several years the general public has had an uncanny fascination with the Maya Crystal Skulls. They are at one and the same time cold, smooth and frightening, and became a source of myths and ghost stories; in particular since the last adventure of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yet how could the Maya civilisation possibly have achieved such a finely polished surface finish?

The general conclusion now is that they probably did not. According to the most recent geographic and timescale information the crystal skulls were not a product of the Maya civilisation. Surface examination found traces of polishing agents that were first used in the 19th Century. Microscopic surface examination by scientists in 2008 revealed a matrix of polishing traces so regular, that they could not have been hand-generated. Rather, the microscopic traces were left by rotating metal tools.

Now let’s fast forward from the past to the present: present-day suppliers of grinding and polishing agents focus on materials combining speed with precision. This year’s International Hardware Fair Cologne will be the launch platform for a new generation of polishing discs. The substrate is Jute – a natural material; the discs combine aggressive action with good abrasive characteristics and long service life. This year, specialist surface treatment exhibitors at Cologne include Pferd-Rüggeberg, Tyrolit, Ucer, Rhodius-Schleifwerkzeuge, Rottluff and Klingspor.


Exhibition “Legend of Crystall Skull” in the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museum, Mannheim

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