Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish Conquistador.
In the 16th century, Orellana organized an expedition to the lost city of Akator, where he extracted a crystal skull from one of the thirteen interdimensional beings venerated by the Ugha. Though the skull urged Orellana to return it, he was killed by the Nazca tribe before he could do so, leaving the skull in Orellana's grave until it was delivered back to Akator centuries later.
Obsessed with finding gold to the point that he was known as the "Gilded Man", Francisco de Orellana led an expedition in 1546 to find Akator, which they knew as El Dorado. He succeeded in the discovery, finding a Crystal Skull along with other treasures, including chests of gold, silver rubies and emeralds. During the trip back, however, Orellana started to hear a voice inside his head compelling him to return the Crystal Skull to the city which only got stronger the greater the distance he put between himself and Akator.
Nevertheless, his six companions refused to go as they were adamant that they sail home with their share of the loot, as a boat waited only a few days away, ported in a deepwater cove. Although Francisco was prepared to let them leave without him, his companions greedily tried to take the crystal skull, which led Orellana to kill them all. He was deeply remorseful of the murders and asked his god for forgiveness as he attempted to take the skull back to Akator.
However, Orellana was attacked by the guardians of a clifftop cemetery overlooking the Nazca Lines before he could begin his journey back. Taking his assailants to be demons who had come for him, a paled Orellana backed away and let out an scream of anguish to the night sky for both his actions and his failure to obey the skull's command. The very last thing Francisco de Orellana ever heard was one word, which came from the Crystal Skull: "Return".
Following Orellana's death, the cemetery guardians carefully mummified the bodies of the conquistadors in their armor, burying Orellana with a gold mask and the Crystal Skull itself, in a grave near Nazca, Peru.
Due to his failure to return, history recorded Orellana as having vanished while looking for the city while legends blurred the timing that the crystal skull was taken to around the 15th or 16th century.
Orellana's grave was eventually found around 1957 by the English professor Harold Oxley, who removed the Crystal Skull from the conquistador's mummy but placed it back when he couldn't gain access to the Temple of Akator. As a result, however, Oxley was temporarily rendered insensible due to staring too long into the skull's sockets.
Later that year, American archaeologist Indiana Jones and Mutt Williams handled Orellana's corpse while searching for Oxley's treasure and the pair recovered the skull. Jones was unsettled by the presence of the golden death mask, aware that Spaniards didn't wear them. He considered that the piece was among those that Orellana and his men had stolen from Akator.
Behind the scenes
While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn't elaborate, James Rollins' novelization of the film includes a prologue chapter with Francisco de Orellana as the protagonist, explaining how the explorer and the Crystal Skull of Akator ended up in the Chauchilla Cemetery.
An idea considered for the film that ultimately went unused involved the ground in Orellana's grave coming apart, leaving Mutt Williams dangling over the cliffside with nothing but the explorer's centuries-old skeleton to cling on to. Concept art of the scene was included in The Complete Making of Indiana Jones.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Remains)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull novel (Flashback)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comic (Remains)