Think about it. Here’s Indy, in some ancient tropical temple whose booby traps have miraculously not turned to dust with age and humidity. All the ropes, wooden blocks, gears, whatever – they still function. This is a treasure trove of information for an archeologist. How did their technology work? How did they get that giant rock to the top of that ramp? What powered their poison darts?
But no, he goes for the least interesting but most economically valuable thing in the temple – a golden statue. A real archeologist would have taken a photo of it, told the Nazis they could have the stupid thing, and spent the next 10 years studying the temple’s booby traps.
Or what about the part where he slips into a dig site in Egypt and tries to steal the Ark of the Covenant?
Whatever you may think of evil archeologists bent on world domination, they presumably had permits to be there. And while the early days of Egyptian archeology were corrupt and exploitative, it was far better than just allowing foreign looters to run wild. Looters like Indiana Jones.
“That first scene, where he’s in the temple and he’s replacing that statue with a bag of sand – that’s what looters do. [The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue…True, the Nazis were trying to find the Ark of the Covenant so they could destroy the world, but methodologically and legally they were in the right…If someone was to come into my camp and dig up the site with some knowledge I didn’t have, and I was to catch them in the middle of the night, yeah, I might throw him in a snake pit too.”
— Marcello Canuto, Tulane Archaeologist
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