Lubaantun Archeological Reserve – Dump, Belize - Atlas Obscura

Lubaantun Archeological Reserve

Dump, Belize

A devastated ruin in the south of Belize where British explorers claimed to unearth the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull. 


The Mayan ruin of Lubaantun has had an unfortunate “recent” history.

Discovered and written about in 1903, it was revisited in 1917 by a Thomas Gann who haphazardly used dynamite in his search for treasure. This counter-intuitive method of treasure hunting decimated many of the ruins and hindered possible future research. 

It was visited again by a team of British Archaeologists between 1921 and 1930 but little more was documented and evidence suggests they cared very little for the history of the ruins. Thomas Gann returned to the ruins In 1924, with adventurer F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and others in tow. Anna Mitchell-Hedges, daughter of F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, claimed to have stumbled upon the infamous crystal skull while tagging along with her father. While it made a lovely story, there is absolutely nothing to support the claim, and plenty to debunk it—including the unlikelihood that the younger Mitchell-Hedges ever even set foot in Belize.

As far as the skull goes, many say the technology used to make it is too advanced for the Mayans. Of course, some claim aliens had a hand in it which is the basis for the 2007 Indiana Jones film. Others say the skull is a hoax, made in Germany and purchased in London in 1920 (one year before the expedition). Locals in Belize believe the skull, real or not, should be returned to its rightful place in Lubaantun.

The skull is currently owned and kept by Bill Holmes, a wealthy collector. 

While not as thrilling as the mysterious crystal skull artifact, many pieces of pottery have been preserved by more successful expeditions, and it’s still possible to find pieces of pottery, teeth and tools around the site today.

Know Before You Go

Its possible to get a bus from Punta Gorda (3.2km away)

If you're driving take the southern highway north from Punta gorda

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April 8, 2014

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