Indy Jones: Archaeology’s Flawed Hero

Research output: Other contribution


Billed as the 'hottest ticket' at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the launch today of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull coincides with National Archaeology Week, which was established to increase public awareness of Australian archaeology and enhance protection of Australia's unique cultural heritage.

This serendipity of timing raises a number of questions: What role do the Indiana Jones films play in public perceptions of archaeology? Do they enhance the discipline, or detract from it? Can archaeology match the excitement of an Indiana Jones film?

A broader question concerns the inter-relationships between film and the discipline areas upon which they are based.

Over the last three decades, Indiana Jones has become the stereotypical image of an archaeologist-rugged, physically active, adventurous. His female counterpart is Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, the archaeologist hero whose femininity is inscribed within an active, assertive discourse of survival. Neither character represents 'real' archaeology, but that is not their purpose-nor their value to archaeology.

Indiana Jones is based on a combination of two early twentieth century adventurers: Hiram Bingham and Roy Chapman Andrews. Bingham was reputed to be the discoverer of Machu Pichu (popularly known as the Lost City of the Incas), in Peru, while the ranger-hatted, revolver-carrying Andrews was a surveyor of Outer Mongolia, and finder of dinosaur eggs. Andrews' career started with scrubbing the floors of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and ended with him as Director.

Indiana Jones excites the archaeological imagination.

While archaeologists may not model their behaviour on Jones (and some would argue this point), neither do they spurn the exotic and adventuresome connotations of the job.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherABC Opinion Online
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Indiana Jones
  • archaeological stereotypes


Dive into the research topics of 'Indy Jones: Archaeology’s Flawed Hero'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this