The magnificently sculpted skull of pure quartz crystal was discovered in 1927 in Lubaantun, an ancient Mayan city deep in the jungles of British Honduras by the stepdaughter of a wild and woolly explorer named Mitchell-Hedges. Archaeologists still don't agree on its origins. Was it a Mayan death totem? A relic from the lost Atlantis? Or a hoax perpetrated by Mitchell-Hedges himself? Though Garvin ultimately maintains an agnostic attitude toward this potential ""time bomb in the history of science"" he makes it the focus of many fantastic speculations on ancient civilizations from Egypt to Mexico. But since, in the words of one crystallographer ""the damn thing simply shouldn't even be"" (and since Carbon 14 can't be used to date it), one speculation is as good as another. The lenses, light pipes and prisms display a technical virtuosity presumably beyond the Mayans' range of scientific skills so why not assume that it was transported from the Old World to the New and used as a ""sort of memory bank"" somewhat on the order of ""our most sophisticated computers?"" Even today those who have had custody of the strange object will testify to its magical properties -- it has been known to induce ""rhythmic tinkling of high-pitched chimes"" and a ""polyphonia-like chorus of what sounds to be many soft human voices,"" to say nothing of emitting rainbow-like halos and giving off ""its own unmistakable odor."" The odor we detect is somewhat fishy, despite Garvin's all-out efforts to multiply the skull's many mysteries.