The Indiana Jones movies show the adventuresome archaeologist risking life and limb to find and save religious artifacts. His adventures capture the imagination and point to our deep longing to touch and hold the sacred.
RNS talks about an exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington called “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology,” that runs through until January 3, that features 100 carefully crafted film props set alongside real archaeological finds.
So what does the movie version of the Ark of the Covenant from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the cup representing the Holy Grail from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and the oblong, translucent Sankara stones from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” have to tell us about our spiritual longings?
“It’s not simply archaeology but the archaeology of the sacred, the idea that once upon a time humans had this immediate capacity to connect with something sacred,” said Manseau, who writes about Jones’ connection to sacred objects in an upcoming issue of the magazine CrossCurrents.
Sacred artifacts also excite people because they lend legitimacy to religious stories, Manseau noted. As much as religion is a matter of faith, he said, these archaeological adventures are at some level quests for proof because sacred artifacts make religion “physical in a way that’s hard to ignore.”