Raiders of the Lost Ark

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Are the Indiana Jones films historically accurate?

by Mark Hughes

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In Raiders of the Lost Ark


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.
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