Thirty years after busting onto the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones remains one of the world’s most captivating characters and still the best liaison between the worlds of scholarship and intrigue. He began as a dynamic character causing swoons among his students and evolved into a movement all his own. Video games, comic books, four movies, a tv series, Lego sets. Even his theme song sticks with you long after you hear it. Start humming it and even drinking a cup of coffee seem more fun. (And now it’ll be stuck in your head for the next few hours. Sorry.)
Indiana Jones is a familiar figure – an welcome ambassador to the world of academia and archaeology. When many people think of “archaeology,” their minds typically gravitate toward Harrison Ford and his dirty fedora, but archaeology is much more than fleeing from boulders and evading the Third Reich. It is a realm where science and history intertwine and subtle clues can provide great insights. Indiana Jones is important because he has grabbed the attention of the masses, but that is only half the tale.
It has been the Penn Museum’s long-term mission to educate the public about cultures past and present and the fields of archaeology and anthropology. Now we are fortunate enough to partner with X3 Productions, National Geographic and LucasFilm to present Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, a traveling exhibit that will not only entertain, but also educate the visitors about what real archaeology entails. Visitors will learn that what is found in the field is just as amazing as what is found on film.
I have been lucky enough to head to the Montreal Science Center to help make this exhibit come alive. Over the next two weeks, I will report back about some of the amazing artifacts we have that are featured in this exhibition. But for now, just try to get the theme song out of your head.