Indiana Jones has travelled to some dazzling locations and rumors are buzzing on where director James Mangold will send him next. Indiana Jones’s adventures span the globe, everywhere from Peru, Nepal, Egypt, USA, China, India, Italy, Austria, Germany, Turkey, and Brazil. Although there is ample speculation on the McGuffin Indy will be chasing (fountain of youth?), recent tweets by Mangold hint the fifth film will take place in the 1960’s. The world was making a lot of changes that decade, and it will be interesting to see how Indy handles them.
Indiana Jones has a penchant for gorgeous temples, so here are five countries with rich histories and exquisite ancient architecture.
Home to the legendary Angkor Wat temple complex, this southeast Asian country has an abundance of sweeping stone ruins. While Angkor Wat was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, but since its early 12th century construction it has changed purposes multiple times. Shifts in religion and ownership leave room for mysteries to stay hidden, but only for so long.
To put it lightly, 1960’s Cambodia was a busy spot. In 1953, separation from French colonialist rule led to political turmoil as both capitalist and communist world powers vied for influence. Later, Cambodia allied with neighbor Vietnam during the Vietnamese-American War from 1965 to 1975. This war was hugely destructive and still a controversial topic in America today, but Indiana Jones has never shied away from international politics. Who could forget Dr. Jones meeting Hitler at a Nazi rally? Or his discussion over British imperialism at Pankot Palace? We’ll see if Mangold wants to tackle the subject, but it will be difficult to avoid such an influential event.
This east African country has a reputation of pirates, terrorists, and violence. However, their history is lush and varied; gorgeous ruins from the Aksumite, Roman, and Byzantine Empires are scattered across the country. Perhaps the most dazzling are the Christian churches and Islamic Mosques constructed all over the region. The most famous being the series of 11 monolithic cave churches carved from solid rock during the 12th century. These Christian churches are located in Lalibela, and represent an ancient mastery of stonemasonry modern visitors are fortunate to witness.
Haile Selassie I ruled as emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He prioritized a strong centralized Ethiopia and was later dethroned by a communist leaning coup. Although he was a key architect of the 1963 Organization of African Unity, he is more widely known as the unwilling figurehead of the Rastafari religion. This Jamaican-born ideology declared Selassie as the Second Coming of Christ in the pan-African Christian movement. You can still hear his name referenced in modern reggae.
Indiana Jones has an affinity for underground mysteries: exploring Indian mines, Venetian catacombs, and the temple of the holy grail. So, Ethiopia’s stunning monolithic cave churches would be a fantastic addition to his repertoire.
Federated States of Micronesia
Located on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, Nan Madol was the center of the Saudeleur dynasty’s 25,000 citizens. Expansive temples, homes, military structures, and palaces were constructed in the 13th century then abandoned in the 18th century. It is the only surviving ancient city built on a coral reef, which may remind some of the mythical city of Atlantis. Despite tropical erosion, this one-of-a-kind site may be the Pacific’s most gorgeous ancient city.
Micronesian islands suffered considerable damage from WWII, and placed under US administration after the war. The US used the region as an unwilling nuclear test site, detonating douzens of hydrogen and atomic bombs in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Vaporizing islands and unleashing radiation on the people living there. The US and Micronesian islands began discussions of independence in the late 1960’s— after leaving tons of radioactive material scattered in the ocean.
Indiana Jones is no stranger to escaping nuclear sights, and combining it with tropical archaeology sounds like the perfect fit.
Zimbabwe (Formerly Rhodesia)
The ancient city of Great Zimbabwe is not only famous for its looming fortress walls, but also infamous as one of archaeology’s biggest failures. Built from AD1100-1500, the sprawling city scape features huge stone walls to secure city centers. The Munhumutapa Empire had long abandoned their home when European colonizers first arrived. European academics refused to believe Africans built the site, clinging to white supremicist ideologies throughout the 19th century. These beliefs caused countless expeditions of ‘hobby archaeologists’ destroying and looting the structures in so-called ‘scientific excavations’. They sought to prove outlandish theories of Phoenician, Roman, or Arab architects. Unfortunately, the site suffered permanent damage and stands in warning to archaeologists who let conclusions preface evidence.
In the 1960’s, the country of Rhodesia (later named Zimbabwe after gaining independence in 1980) was in the throes of early separations from Britain. The white colonizer minority had maintained control of the black majority through militant force and economic oppression. The 60’s were marred with violence until peace negotiations in the late 70’s.
Indiana Jones, for better or for worse, is the pop culture icon for archaeology. For him to condemn pseudo-archaeologist’s racist ideologies would be a nice touch to the franchise’s rebirth.
Indiana Jones loves a good jungle. He explored Chachapoyan (later Inca) temples, Indian villages, Peruvian tombs of Spanish conquistadors, and that ‘wanna-be-Maya’ secret city stuff at the end of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But the central American jungle deserves some love too, and I think Indy should visit Olmec ruins, I want an iconic Indiana Jones chase scene around those incredibly large stone heads. San Lorenzo, Mexico is home to one of the most beautiful Olmec sites. A city shrouded in wilderness with large boulders (very on-brand for Indy) shaped as human heads (also on-brand). The Olmecs thrived from roughly 1200 B.C. to 400 B.C, and the city of San Lorenzo was a center of art, trade, and politics. Although the great carved heads and other stone masonry survived, the humid climate has eroded most delicate artifacts. This often leaves archaeologists mystified.
Mexico in the 1960’s was another site of Cold War conflict between the American-backed government and socialist/communist civilian groups. Called the Mexican Dirty War, tensions and violence lasted most of the decade. But Indiana Jones has never let international conflict stop his search for justice.
All said and done, it would be difficult to make a globe-trotting Indiana Jones film based in the 1960’s without acknowledging America’s foriegn affairs. I don’t expect a political film— I want explosions and fight scenes just like everyone else— but ignoring America’s post-WWII decisions would infantilize the audience.
Where do you want Indiana Jones to go? Continue the conversation down below!