Did you happen to see the crystal skull from the latest Indiana Jones flick online recently? The image tore across the Internet like wildfire Monday before it was taken down by Paramount lawyers.
Harvard professor of archaeology and crystal-skull expert Marc Zender saw it — and it's like nothing he's ever seen before, he excitedly told MTV News.
"The dentition, vestigial nose orifice, massive eye cavities and dolichocephaly [or 'long-headed-ness,' to a layperson] put this thing into a very different class of entity," Zender said, describing the "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" centerpiece. "It looks foreign — really strange."
The skull might even be strange enough to conclusively prove a key plot point in the film, Zender thinks. When we last spoke with the acclaimed scholar — almost immediately after the title for the fourth film was announced at the VMAs — he offered several divergent theories on the origins of crystal skulls and what their powers could be in the Indy universe.
Now he's almost certain which one it really is. But if his explanation seems a little out of this world, well, don't worry, he laughed, it's supposed to be.
"Definitely not human, no doubt about it," Zender said of the skull's structure, indicating that it obviously comes from an alien culture. "It's got a mixture of the alien's mouth from those movies with Sigourney Weaver [the 'Alien' series] and then really, really big eyes."
An alleged story line for months, the alien subplot has not gone down well with many Internet commentators. But if they're determined to go down that route, and evidence now points to the fact that they likely will, Indy masterminds George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have at least chosen wisely in designing a plausible artifact: a skull that actually looks nothing like the historical ones, Zender said.
"You've got to hand it to Lucas and company for recognizing the inherent problems in New Agers' claims that any of the currently known crystal skulls came from 'beyond.' They're all-too-obviously modeled on human skulls, which evolved here on Earth within a relatively well-known time span," he explained. "To entertain a truly alien civilization, then, you'd need to find an object that looked a lot more like this."
So we may know where the skull is from, but what can it do? The Ark offered Indy nearly ultimate power, the Holy Grail a shot at never-ending life. But the skull may offer him the greatest force of all, Zender argued — knowledge.
"Assuming that the filmmakers took their cue from some prevailing New Age beliefs," Zender said, "these crystal skulls are supposed to be computer-like repositories for the lost knowledge of the ages. The idea that these things have the knowledge of lost civilization or space-faring cultures or anything like that in them, that's pretty prominent."
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens May 22.
Check out everything we've got on "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
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