On Raiders of the Lost Ark's 40th anniversary, archaeologists dispel the movie's myths about their field

Originally published at: On Raiders of the Lost Ark's 40th anniversary, archaeologists dispel the movie's myths about their field | Boing Boing


Dr. Jones definitely holds the world record for “largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites destroyed by a single archaeologist.”

It’s not for nothing that the movie wasn’t called Conservators of the Lost Ark.


But they do use bullwhips, right?


In earlier versions of the Raiders script it was made much more explicit that Dr Jones was corrupt, selling stolen archaeological artifacts to wealthy collectors in order finance a lavish lifestyle for himself that would be well beyond the means of an honest college professor. They toned it down quite a bit in the final version but did hint at that in the opening scene of Temple of Doom where he was attempting to trade an artifact for a diamond. As a kid watching those movies I never caught on as to how crooked he was, and the whole statutory rape of Marian Ravenwood thing went right over my head. (She was just 15 when they first hooked up!)

This exchange really makes him sound totally unrepentant about it too:


my dear brother, an archeologist, director at some important sites and current permit holder for excavation at Ur, does not use a bullwhip in any fashion, but he does wear that godawful hat in the field. tsk.


Yeah that’s pretty effed-up even by 1930s standards.


X does sometimes mark the spot.

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Surely I’m not the only one bother by the lack of closing parenthetical! :slight_smile:

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That became the sickest laugh in the Adaptation version of Raiders…Marian literally WAS a child!

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The transcript of the early story conference between Lucas, Spielberg, and Kasdan can be found online, and iirc Lucas was the one who suggested fifteen, so you can blame him for that bit of squickiness.


obviously Indy wasn’t real, cause he wasn’t such a killjoy.

I think the weird dichotomy of Indy (dashing hero, scoundrel) may have been intended so kids could enjoy it without being exposed to anything too explicit, while giving parents a flawed hero – especially apt for Ford, who played the “Lovable Scoundrel” archtype just a few years back in Star Wars.

A lot of the films/shows which inspired Indy featured such flawed heroes. Hard drinking, womanizing detectives from Film Noir, James Bond, etc.

I’ve heard Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, author of The First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power before the Classic Period described as a “real life Indiana Jones”. It may be a bit of an exaggeration–among other things he doesn’t carry a bullwhip, but he did have a tricked-out Toyota Tacoma.


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There goes my belief in 10-foot tall rolling stone sphere boobytraps.


Only in the bedroom…

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We are in the midst of the tenth anniversary of the publication of one of my favorite McSweeney’s columns.


Am I the only one who finds that a bit embarrassing?

This is what working archaeologists who aren’t on TV drive


Some very important points about diversity in the workforce and in research interests in there but it’s such an American perspective. I always find it weird when articles like that tell their readers what “archaeology” as an abstract is like, because it is practised completely differently in different parts of the world. Pretty much nothing in that article reflects my experiences.

Anyway, I don’t care, I still love the movie.


Even the differences between Time Team America and the UK Time Team stand out. And that’s a TV franchise.