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Indiana Jones exhibit shows how movies and science influence each other

By Christina Barron May 19 – WASHINGTON POST

MagicalMysteryTourIndiana Jones is possibly the coolest scientist of all time. Dressed in a leather jacket and beaten-up brimmed hat, he travels the world looking for artifacts from long-ago civilizations. And he always outsmarts the bad guys.

Indy is Hollywood’s version of an archaeologist, a scientist who studies human history by looking for bones, tools and other buried treasures. Your parents probably saw him on the big screen in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or its three sequels. You may know him from Lego sets or video games.

But Indiana Jones didn’t just sell movie tickets and games; he also sold a generation of kids on studying archaeology. George Lucas, who dreamed up the movies, continues to expose Indy fans of all ages to that science through the exhibit “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology,” which opened last week at the National Geographic Museum.

Lucas loaned the exhibit several dozen movie props, including Indy’s famous hat, the golden Ark of the Covenant and the skull from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Fred Hiebert, a National Geographic explorer and archaeologist, paired the props with photos and documents from his organization and real artifacts from the collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. . . Armed with a tablet and headset, you can watch a clip of the movie, look at a prop from that scene and then find out what real discovery inspired Lucas to include it.

A nearby section of the exhibit introduces Hiram Bingham, who in 1913 became the first archaeologist to be featured in National Geographic magazine. Bingham discovered many artifacts in Machu Picchu, a long-abandoned 15th-century city in the mountains of Peru. . . . One discovery that’s still up for interpretation are the Nazca Lines, 1,500-year-old drawings in Peru. When seen from high above, they appear to be huge animals and geometric shapes drawn in the sand. The reason they were created is a mystery.

“Some of the reality is stranger than anything fiction,” Hiebert said. . . “The goal is to have the kids exit and say, ‘I want to be an archaeologist.’”

If you go
What: “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology”
Where: National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street NW.
When: Until January 3.
Age: 10 and older.
How much: $15, ages 5 to 12 $10, age 4 and younger free.
For more information: nationalgeographic.com/national-geographic-museum.

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