Last year, the admissions department at the University of Chicago received this package, addressed to a Henry Jones Jr. The department was confused – there is no one by that name in their building – and passed the package on to student mail workers to properly sort. Luckily, one of the students realized that this Jones was in fact Indiana Jones, and the department opened the package.
What they found was astonishing.
Inside was Abner Ravenwood’s journal, used in the film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc to track down the location of the Arc of the Covenant. The book itself seemed authentic, with a dusty teal fabric cover and a red velvet spine, weathered inserts and even photographs and postcards from Mrs. Ravenwood. The smart people at UChicago went so far as to check the indentation on the pages that real handwriting would have left. They realized that the admissions department was in the building that geology and geography would have been used for in the 1930s. For several days, the department scoured the internet, calling on social media sites to help them track down the answer to this mystery.
Eventually, the truth found them. The diary was a replica prop, sold on eBay by a man in Guam who manufactures movie paraphernalia for international customers. It had been in transit to a customer in Italy, when the outer package fell off in Hawaii. Since there was an inner wrapping, nobody noticed right away, and the package was sent to the address at the University of Chicago. The seller was notified, and let the school keep the diary. They plan to put it in an exhibit in the Oriental Institute about the men who inspired Indiana Jones’ character. Next time you’re in Chicago, check it out!