Monday, October 18, 2004

The Archaeology of Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Screenshot - Indiana Jones silhouetted against the sun at the Well of Souls
If you have a passion for movies, ancient cultures, and 'rare antiquities', then like myself, there's a good chance you're a fan of Indiana Jones.

As was the case with Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, Indy was a hero I would pretend to be as a young boy - grabbing a pocket-filled jacket, my mom's old handbag, some adventurous-looking boots, and an old rope for a whip - and set off on quests to lost jungle temples and Egyptian tombs, hoping to find the next big archaeological wonder. In reality, the 'temples' and 'tombs' were only my basement, or the local forest, but my imagination knew no boundaries. Only when supper time came, would I have to relinquish my imaginary adventures to the reality of nourishment provided by mom and dad.

What some of you daring readers may not know, is that much of the Indiana Jones lore is rooted in reality. Creator George Lucas, Director Steven Spielberg, and writer Lawrence Kasdan, would combine stories of ancient civilizations, mythology, and their own adventures and nightmares, and bring Dr. Henry 'Indiana' Jones, Jr. to the silver screen.

Through my continuing career as a creative specialist, I have had the good fortune to meet real-life adventurers. From palaeontologists like Dr. Philip Currie and Dr. Michael J. Ryan - who have discovered new Dinosaur species in the infinite southern Badlands of Alberta and remoteness of Argentina, to Dr. David West Reynolds, an archaeologist who turned his love of science and movies into a career as a scientific consultant for Lucasfilm and recently as Director of The Phaeton Group, a multi-disciplinary team of individuals dedicated to bringing field science, history, and exploration to a wider audience.

With their careers, both Dr. Ryan and Dr. Reynolds have had opportunities to travel to foreign countries, unearthing new dinosaurs or excavating lost cities. They've also helped discover lost filming locations of both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film sagas, long before the many tours that exist now. Had it not been for the dedication to their work and love of the films, it would probably have been a while, before these locations were rediscovered.

What makes all this relevant, is that with their scientific backgrounds and international travel, they are able to compare reality to fiction and make that knowledge available to us, the fans of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Many of us will never have the chance to see a real dinosaur dig, or the interior of an Egyptian tomb, so we can only rely on the information in books and the Internet, and the images in movies and television.

In Dr. Reynolds' latest series of writings for, we get to discover a little more of what grounds the Indiana Jones stories in reality and where some of the locations in the films - or inspirations for them - can be seen. In 2000, I was able to visit the island of Kauai, Hawaii with my wife, and armed with local maps and The Kaua'i Movie Book, we were able to track down locations of some of our favorite films including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. It was like being that young boy again, venturing through the 'jungles' looking for the Golden Fertility Idol seen at the beginning of Raiders. I can only imagine how much more fun we would have had in Kaua'i with somebody like David West Reynolds, helping us discover the filming locations and painting a more detailed picture about the reality behind the mythology of Indiana Jones.

Head on over to IndyGear with the link below! Presents David West Reynolds' The Archaeology of Indiana Jones

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