Raiders of the Lost Journal: The Hunt for the Real Indiana Jones
December 20, 2012–March 31, 2013
On December 12, 2012, the University of Chicago Admissions Office received a mysterious package addressed to "Henry Walton Jones, Jr." They could find no faculty or staff by that name. A student worker then realized that the package was meant for Dr. "Indiana" Jones, the famous archaeologist of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" fame. Inside the package was a journal of Abner Ravenwood, the fictional University of Chicago professor who trained Indiana Jones. But who sent it here, and why? The Chicago Tribune and The New York Times picked up the story.
Six days after its arrival, the mystery was solved. The package, a collection of replica props from the Indiana Jones films, had been purchased online and shipped by its maker from Guam to Italy. The original packaging was lost in transit, leaving only the parcel addressed to Henry Walton Jones Jr. of the University of Chicago where it had been forwarded by the postal service.
The Oriental Institute Museum presents the journal and its contents in a small display in its lobby area. This mini-exhibit also explores the possible connections between the characters of Indiana Jones and Ravenwood and two pioneering scholars of the Oriental Institute: James Henry Breasted and Robert Braidwood. Some have suggested that these two individuals (amongst others) partially inspired the characters of Indiana Jones and Ravenwood. Unlike some Hollywood depictions of archaeologists, Breasted and Braidwood were not treasure hunters. They made significant contributions to the study of ancient civilizations – you can find out more about their contributions to Middle Eastern archaeology in our Mesopotamian gallery, and see many of the objects associated with their expeditions and research in our permanent galleries.