We first meet Indiana Jones when he is just about to get his hands on a golden idol.
Anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh tells us Indy is going to all that trouble for a fake idol.
"In the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones is hot on the trail of an extremely valuable golden idol created by an unidentified ancient South American culture. The goddess's image, which Jones deftly snatches from an altar (setting off a series of booby traps that culminate with an enormous boulder nearly crushing our hero), is of a woman in the act of giving birth. The golden figure was modeled on a purportedly Aztec greenstone carving called Tlazolteotl, considered to be a masterpiece by the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, D.C.
In my research into the object's acquisition history, I discovered that a Chinese dealer in Paris sold the figure in 1883 to a famous French mineralogist, Augustin Damour. His friend, Eugene Boban, advised Damour on the purchase. In examining the artifact's iconography, I found that the birthing position is unknown in documented pre-Columbian artifacts or depictions in codices. I have also used scanning electron microscopy to analyze the manufacture of the idol and have found there is ample evidence of the use of modern rotary cutting tools on the object's surface. In my opinion, the Tlazolteotl idol,skulls is a nineteenth-century fake. "
Okay maybe that golden idol isn't real but what about the Lost Ark of the Covenant, does it exist?
According to the Bible the Ark was built as instructed by God to house the Ten Commandments. While there seems to be some consensus that if the Ark exists the likely place for it is beneath The Temple Mount of Jerusalem, there are plenty of other places you future Indys might want to check out. Wikipedia gives us this list of possibilities:
Even Steven Spielberg has said that this is his least favorite of the Indiana Jones movies. He's happy he made it because it was how he meet his wife but in retrospect the filmmaker is not happy about how India and Hinduism were portrayed. So yes there was an Indian philosopher named Adi Shankara. But Shankara stones with magical powers. That would be a no, not true.
What the stones most resemble are Shiva lingas which are symbols of the Hindu god Shiva.
The Holy Grail that's what Indiana Jones and his father Professor Jones were looking for in The Last Crusade. Of course since then Dan Brown wrote the book The Da Vinci Code. Indy finds the Grail and it is a chalice but Robert Langdon finds that the Grail is actually a woman, Mary Magdalene. So we will turn to the encyclopedia to tell us their version of the story of The Holy Grail.
Or you can listen to Leonard Nimoy explain it to you.
And there are theories and legends about where they came from. Some believe the skulls come from the ancient Maya or Aztec civilizations and believers in the occult will tell you they originated from a sunken continent or another galaxy.
We turn to an an anthropologist at the Smithsonian who has investigated the skulls to discover the truth.