Indiana Jones: Fact or Fiction

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Are the Indiana Jones films historically accurate?

by Mark Hughes

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In the film Raiders of the Lost Ark Fact
Indiana Jones finds the Golden Idol of Fertility of the Hovitos tribe in an ancient temple deep in the Peruvian jungle. There is no evidence that any people called the Hovitos exist. The Golden Idol of Fertility is based on Omecihuatl, the Aztec Goddess of creation.
The headpiece and staff of Ra are the keys to finding the Ark of the Covenant. There is no headpiece and staff of Ra. Ra is an Egyptian god. The headpiece and staff were devices in the movie to move the plot along.
The Ark of the Covenant is within an ancient chest. No one knows what the Ark would look like, nor what it even does. Legend says that the Ark holds the fragments of the ten commandments that were given to the Jewish patriarch Moses, and that whoever possesses the Ark would be invincible.
The lost city of Tanis was buried in a sandstorm thousands of years ago. Tanis did exist and was the capital of Ancient Egypt from 1075 B.C. to 712 B.C. It was abandoned when the royal capital moved to Memphis.
The Nazis found the lost city of Tanis in the 1930s. Tanis was actually found in 1939 by French Archeologist Pierre Montet.
The Ark of the Covenant was hidden in Tanis. The Ark was never hidden in Tanis. Its location is still unknown. Stories abound about its possible location, including Ethiopian Christians who have claimed for centuries that the Ark is in the small town of Aksum where it rests inside a small chapel.
The Nazis searched for and found the Ark. Nazi archeologists did try to reinterpret history to emphasize Germanic historical connections with ancient religions in order to build a strong national identity. For instance, the establishment of the Olympic Torch race between Athens and Berlin in 1936 was based on the idea of connecting Nazi German with the gods and rituals of Ancient Greece. No evidence has been found that the Nazis ever located any lost artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail.
In the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Fact
The Thuggee cult worshipped Kali-ma and ravaged villagers in India until the 1930s. The Thuggee cult did exist in India until 1890. They worshipped Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. The English word “thug” comes from the Thuggee cult for their violent criminal actions.
The Thuggee cult ripped the beating hearts out of their victims. Members of the Thuggee cult would strangle their victims with a scarf called a roomal. By the 19th century, it is estimated that the Thuggee were killing 40,000 people a year in honor of Kali.
Most of the Thuggee cult was hunted down by the British army in 1854, with a small group of cult members surviving into the 1930s when they faced Indiana Jones. The Thuggee cult was hunted by the British army from the 1830s until they were completely eliminated in 1890.
Uniting the five Sankara stones will give a person the power to rule the world. The Sankara stones do not exist. There was an Indian philosopher named Sankara (Shakara or Sankaracarya) who lived around the year 700 A.D. Legend does say that Sankara climbed Mount Kalisa where he met the Hindu god Siva (Shiva), but history does not record a reference to any stones.
In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Fact
Indiana Jones and treasure hunters were after the Cross of Coronado, an ornament once belonging to Francisco Coronado. The Cross of Coronado does not exist.
The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword is a secret religious cult that protects the Holy Grail. No secret religious cult exists by that name, but if we knew their name they wouldn’t be very secret.
The grail is found in the "Canyon of the Crescent Moon." The "Canyon of the Crescent Moon" is actually the ancient rock city of Petra in Jordan. The building shown in the film is Al Khazneh, literally “The Treasury”; it is the most elaborate building in Petra.
Sir Richard, a Knight Templar of the First Crusade, has the eternal task of protecting the grail. No notable “Sir Richard” was involved with the First Crusade. The Knights Templar was founded after the first crusaders captured Jerusalem; the knights were charged with protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to see holy relics.
The Holy Grail can bestow immortality. The Holy Grail has never been found, so there is no evidence to show it has any powers or gifts to bestow.
In the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Fact
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