If you asked a room full of actual archaeologists what inspired them to pursue the field, I’d guess a good number would reference George Lucas’ Indiana Jones. The character is undoubtedly an action-adventure classic fronted by Harrison Ford in one of his most memorable roles to date. But, if you ask an actual archaeologist if Indy’s methods for excavation are sound, they’ll disagree.
There’s a real Dr. Jones of archaeology: Dr. Alexandra Jones, Founder and CEO of Archaeology in the Community. She recently sat down with the most famous on-film depictions of her subject of expertise to discuss how accurate they are from her perspective. When she viewed the famous opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which features Indiana Jones swapping a priceless artifact for a bag of similar weight before running from a series of traps, including the iconic boulder drop, here’s how she reacted:
As Alexandra Jones told Vanity Fair, what Indy goes through in the movies is much more extensive than what archaeologists discover at their sites, but there are sometimes designs put in place to protect what belongs there. She went on to say this:
In other words, Indiana Jones gives her line of work a bad name. He is often seen stealing artifacts and messing with the natural states of ancient remains. Fast-forwarding to The Last Crusade, when Harrison Ford’s Indy is teaching his college students, Alexandra Jones does agree with his comments about archaeology being rooted in “fact” rather than truths. But once his friend Marcus comes in with stolen artifacts to show him, we’re back in unethical territory. You can check out the real Dr. Jones discuss archaeology movies below:
Alexandra Jones also analyzed the original Tomb Raider movies with Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig, and The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz… and they get similar scores. She’s especially judgemental about an early interaction between Weisz’s Evie and her brother, played by John Hannah when he scares her while he’s in a coffin and plays with an ancient skeleton... and then gifts her an ancient relic he has also found. Also, fire torches are super impractical!
Personally, I never actually thought the Indiana Jones movies or The Mummy was rooted in fact. But it certainly would have cheered up the child within if she’d come on to say archaeology was just like the movies.
Harrison Ford is returning to his famous role for James Mangold’s Indiana Jones 5, which is expected to hit theaters on July 29, 2022, after Steven Spielberg dropped out as director earlier this year. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates on the return of Indy as they come.
YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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