It Could Have Been Me – Indiana Jones & The Real World Riddle

Back in the late 1970’s, I was in college as a cultural Anthropology major in a well known American University and had no idea that my chosen profession was about to become popular and even sexy to some. The year after I graduated I went to the movies and was stunned to have accidentally encountered a role model, the unconventional archaeologist, Indiana Jones, and he was at least superficially just like me, or more appropriately, just like I wanted to be. While I was studying archeology back then, Indie was actually doing the exciting fieldwork and retrieving the relics, idols and artifacts. While I had been attending the lectures about exotic cultures and civilizations, Indiana was feeling the warm desert breeze on the back of his neck and coming face to face with adventure and intrigue. Yes, there was quite a contrast there, and perhaps more than a little imaginative fantasizing about role reversal, so that I could be the one wearing the Fedora and having the adventures.

Actually, I knew several archaeologists and anthropologists. None of them had a Fedora. One did smoke a pipe, though, but that wasn’t anywhere near as dashing. After the first Indiana Jones movies came out, there was actually something of a conflicted backlash by professionals within the industry. You see, the dirty little secret was that Indie was breaking all of the rules during his exploits. While he was being dashing and exciting, he was also frequently ignoring the fragile and precious nature of the objects of his quests, and certainly disregarding the rights of the governments or indigenous people whose artifacts he was plundering, for his University back home. Yes, back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were a few archaeologists who sometimes behaved that way, but by today’s standards, they are hardly looked upon as role models. They were not Indiana Jones. For Indie, the adventure always ended with the retrieval of the fantastic and the revelation of what it meant.

Well, decades have passed and yet another Indiana Jones movie will soon be released in a few days. My own archeology/anthropology career had managed to take a sharp left turn as well, taking me into directions I would never have anticipated. Yet, I still remember Indie fondly and actually owe a lot to him. In a way, he was responsible for me wishing to equal his exploits in archeology. Much to my surprise, I have.

Instead of recovering lost artifacts, I created a hero who would do that for me. Rather than visiting exotic lands on this world, I created a land so exotic that even Indiana Jones would be amazed by it. You see, in my spare time, I became a writer of fiction. My adventures, so firmly rooted in archaeological realities, took flight into amazing fantasy and mystical realms, that would have made Indie’s hair stand on end if he could have seen them.

Where the Indiana Jones movies traditionally end, with the retrieval of the amazing mystical artifact, my novel began. I was much more interested in the mystical after effects of the initial adventure than the retrieval process. Thus, the world of Asharra was born and my longing to trade places with Indiana Jones ended. I had created a world where even Indie would be amazed. It was on Asharra that I could endlessly adventure, even without a Fedora.

When I was pursuing a cultural anthropology degree (dual major with comparative religions) back in the 1970’s, I never imagined that I would be influenced by the Indiana Jones movies. Looking back on it, what geek wouldn’t be? Still, the strange part is that, years later, I was able to channel my professional training and expertise and meld it together with my love for adventure, something I credit to those hours in the theatre, rather than the lecture hall. My adventure is one I can hold in my hands, a copy of the Winds of Asharra. I’m as grateful to Indiana Jones as I am to my degree in his field. Who would have thought that both of them would have lead me to the world of the purple sky, the land of Asharra? The best part is, I can visit and adventure there anytime I want. I don’t even need the Fedora any more.

Thanks Indie!