Mosaic-tiled Mexican skull at Leiden museum a fake: report

Fake Mixtec skull in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden
Fake Mixtec skull in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. (Museum Volkenkunde)

A Mosaic tiled Mexican skull in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden - one of the museum's star pieces - is a fake, NOS reports. The skull is supposed to be hundreds of years old, but research revealed that glue was used on it that wasn't available until last century.

The museum bought the skull from Mexico in 1963 for 20 thousand dollars. The museum believed the skull came from the heyday of the Mixtec - an ancient Mexican people that decorated skulls with precious stones and put them in crypts. This was in the centuries before the arrival of Columbus.

"He's maybe not as real as we thought", curator Martin Berger said to the broadcaster. The skull and mosaic did come from Mexico, but the glue is to new and there is evidence to suggest that the teeth were tampered with. He suspects that the skull came from a Mexican dentist, who dug up skulls and decorated them with his wife. That would explain the tampered with teeth. 

Berger decided to have a closer look at the skull when questions arose about the authenticity of a similar skull in a French museum. 

The skull has been on disply in the museum in Leiden since it was bought in the 60's, and that won't change. "We're lettiing the skull be,, and tell its story with it."