When Wilfried Rosendahl, an archeologist from Mannheim, embarked on a secret mission to the somewhat isolated town of Idar-Oberstein, he felt uncomfortable.
"Apparently some people vacation there voluntarily," he says with a noticeable shudder.
He advertised his alleged find as the "Skull of Damnation." Crystal from Brazil and Madagascar The fictional film character Indiana Jones would later memorialize Mitchell-Hedges on the silver screen.Sinister characters like Boban profited handsomely from the story -- at a time when Western museums were furiously buying up treasures and artwork from the advanced civilization of the Mayans, which had recently become the focus of attention."But they had very little knowledge about real artifacts," says Rosendahl. The British writer Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges claimed he had personally excavated a skull in the Mayan city of Lubantuun in Belize in the 1920s."The people here have always been a secretive bunch," says Wild."When someone showed up and ordered a crystal skull, our ancestors made it -- and it was good." Even today the success of the local lapidaries stems from this tradition of secrecy.