Smithsonian Channel to Debut Crystal Skull

Documentary The Legend of the Crystal Skull to premiere July 10.

Smithsonian Channel scheduled the debut of documentary The Legend of the Crystal Skull July 10 at 8 p.m.

The channel, a co-venture of Showtime and the Smithsonian Institution, is looking to get double promotional punch: It will try to catch some of the crystal-skull wave generated by the new movie Indiana Jones and the Kindgom of the Crystal Skull. In addition, the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History will begin displaying the skull from the documentary that same day (continuing through Sept. 1).

The documentary follows the story of a museum curator who spent 16 years trying to trace the origins of the skulls, mailed anonymously to the Smithsonian in 1992. One problem with trying to establish the origins of the skulls, the Smithsonian said, is that they are made of quartz and can’t be carbon-dated because they contain no carbon. The Mayan legend goes that there were 13 skulls scattered over the earth that carried secret knowledge that could prevent a cataclysm -- a theme exploited in the most recent installment of the Indiana Jones saga.

Discovery Channel aired its own documentary, The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls, June 1, also hoping to get some promotional mileage out of the movie.