Indiana Jones is a Looter!

When we first started the class, I was intrigued with how little I knew about actual archaeology. I was quickly corrected that it was neither dinosaurs nor what Indiana jones was doing. So, I decided to look into just exactly why every archaeologist hates Indiana Jones, and what I found did not disappoint. I read an article, Why Archaeologists Hate Indiana Jones by Erik Vance, a journalist, about his encounters with real like archaeologists and their reasoning behind the hatred they have for Americas beloved action hero. Many of the archaeologists say that their main problem with Indiana Jones was that he was nothing near a real archaeologist, he was just a smooth talking looter.

There were a few key things that they pointed out about Indiana Jones’s actions that distinguished him as a looter and not an archaeologist. First off, he only went for artifacts that had substantial financial backing, such as the golden statue. Secondly, If he were going through the temple to retrieve the golden statue and all the booby traps are still working, why would he not want to stop and study them! A real archaeologist would want to study all the mechanics and materials that are used in the booby trap. There is so much more cultural evidence to learn compared to the one golden statue. Another thing to point out is that he never documents or publishes his findings, even though he always says his goal is to showcase them in museums. And even when he says that his intentions are to secure these artifacts in a museum, they never end up in any.

This article really brought to light to me the fact that looting is still a very real and large problem for archaeologists. When I thought of looting, I would think of pirates and people back in history. I would have never guessed that looting was still a thing in the world we now live in. We learned about how the pyramids were looted so much that the only thing that remained were things that could not be removed, such as the large stone casket in the Khufu pyramid, and markings from people who have visited and signed the walls inside. Aside from the lack of artifacts, there are other signs of looting, such as the entrances that were created by the looters trying to get to the treasures inside.

I think that because I now know that modern looting is a thing, and a problem, I will continue to research it and figure out what I can do in order to help it stop globally!

2 thoughts on “Indiana Jones is a Looter!

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog on this topic. As a kid the Indiana Jones movies were some of my favorite movies. I got such a false idea of how archaeology worked as well. He always found the artifacts with such ease compared to how artifacts are actually found. He also somehow ended up with these maps and clues that nobody else had ever looked at or found. I did not even realize how far-fetched the idea really was.
    It did not really occur to me that Indiana Jones was a looter either! I think that the public should be more aware of modern day looters. Most people, like you said, think of looters as people in the past. Before taking this class I thought archaeology was all about the artifacts so Indiana Jones not studying the history of the site or his surrounding did not really seem odd to me. I also believed that ancient cultures did set up booby traps so that was not seen as a misconception to me while watching the movies either.
    The fact that he is a professor in the movie as well you would think he would return to the sites and try to learn about the culture’s that lived there. Maybe he would even teach about his findings to his students but he just disappears for half of a school year to go on an adventure and then returns like nothing happened. The fact that he’s just in it for the artifacts also really does add to many misconceptions about archaeology.

  2. You’re blog totally ruined my childhood. I grew up watching/worshiping Indi! Not only was he cool and attractive and he saved artifacts from the bad guys – so in my little kid mind, he was preserving history! I remember Ethan saying that Indian Jones was not the way that they do real archeology, but it exactly register with me. Not until reading your blog did I realize that, yes… My childhood legend is a looter. You will no longer see me sitting in class with “I love you” painted on my eyelids wishing to get Indi’s autograph after class! In Indi’s world, he saved artifacts from the bad guys, but he pretty much destroyed the archeologist sites. All the traps being set off! Things collapsing, dust explosions! All that history being destroyed instead of being preserved. This makes me think that one of my favorite book series does the same thing. I love Clive Clussler’s Remi and Sam Fargo Adventures! In his stories, the adventure couple ends up having the same scenario of “save the artifacts from the bad guys.” They always end up donating the findings back to the country/culture they belong too – and they do quite a bit of research, but I don’t remember how much they record of the actual sites. This blog entry has really made me wonder if there is even a slightly accurate archeology adventure novel? Maybe I should pick up Napoleon’s riveting book on the description of Egypt – at least I know it’s factual and in the best attempt at properly saving and documenting the past and present history.

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