The true story of Idiana Jones!

Something has been eating at me since I read the booby-trapped tombs staff report. Like so many sushi worms, it ate at my subconcious until I couldn’t sleep or eat or get laid. (It was the report, really!)

Finally, I collapsed and slept for 12 hours. I dreamt the opening sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It played over and over in my head until suddenly I awoke! It was all clear.

What everyone, including me, seemed to miss was that, while the tomb-- if it was a tomb-- looked primitive, as though it had been built thousands of years ago, the people chasing Indy looked primitive too. But there they were, chasing him through the jungle.

What’s my point? As dropzone points out:

Obviously, the primitive people were responsible for the primitive ‘tomb,’ booby-traps. housework and all. They reset the traps and keep the passages passable. (BTW, the darts are obviously propelled by air power and NOT crossbow!)

Nah, I think the upkeep would’ve been too stressful (“stay out of the light”). At most, they probably swept stuff down into the bottomless pit and hoped some numbskull would get far enough that the boulder would seal that place up forever.

Also, is Idiana what you call him when you have a cold? :wink:

No, I just think it was a Freudian slip. rimshot

As for the OP, is this “Dump on the Newbie” week or does Cecil need to respond to the fevered dreams of his readers, too? Never mind; I know he does.

Yeah, what you suggest could’ve been true (though not The true story of I(n)diana Jones! you crow about) but then Indy would no longer be engaging in archaeology but would have crossed over into out and out art theft. While I don’t think Belloq would be troubled by it, nor do I believe the indigenous people so intent on killing him would understand the subtle difference between archaeology as Indy practiced it and stealing their heritage and potential tourist dollars, but Indy considered himself above that sort of thing. So onto the technology of booby traps!

The light-sensitive trigger was nonsensical. Even assuming the distant muttering came not the movie projector or the grinding teeth of a Carl Barks fan but from a generator powering an electric eye (the Peruvian rural electrification program had only managed to light 4% of the country by 1996 so we can assume that any electricty sixty years before that was locally generated) a photocell “brightly lit by a shaft of sunlight” would trigger the spike machine every day when focus of the beam moved away form the sensor, requiring the spikes to be reset. We know that did not happen because Forrestal’s “half-fleshed, half skeleton” carcass could not take being tossed around twice a day without falling off the spikes or simply falling apart. Science requires us to dismiss such things as too stupid for words.

The crossbow statement referred to the crossbows supposedly protecting Emperor Q’in’s tomb. The power source of the darts in “Raiders” was obviously pneumatic and, assuming there was no compressor attached to the non-existant generator and that the darts sat in their shafts for hundreds of years, we need a mechanism that provides a puff of air but can survive unmaintained for centuries. How about a flat stone fitted in a stone box with one end held up by a stone stick that can be yanked out by a gold wire (wire made of native copper would corrode)? The stone slab would slam down, creating a blast of air and sending the dart on its flight.

Creating ways things could have been done is tons o’ fun but the simple fact is that none of these things were done and I am as disappointed as anybody.


A subtle distinction if ever I heard one! So long as the civilization responsible for a valuble piece of art is in disrepair, acquiring their property is called ‘archeology’?

… or, at least it used to be.

all quotes attributed to dropzone have been edited for content

It used to be. Now indigenous people have lawyers but there are still plenty of people out there whose concept of archaeology is closer to that of Indiana Jones than that of a responsible modern archaeologist. On eBay right now there are 35 ushabtis (Egyptian funerary figures), a couple mummy masks, and quite a number of other objects that they admit were taken from tombs. Assuming at least some of these pieces are genuine, do you for a minute assume these were collected by professional, responsible, modern archaeologists?

Indy’s favorite line is, “That belongs in a museum,” but the only objects he collects are the fancy gold ones and he pushes aside the dust of centuries to get to them. Modern archaeologists consider that dust to be at least as valuable as golden idols, though finding golden idols helps get you funding.

[QUOTE=SiXSwordS… or, at least it used to be.[/QUOTE]
Still is. Figuring out how the Mayans could build, say, an airplane using only the technology and materials they had is an entertaining intellectual activity as long as you don’t start thinking that if you could imagine it they must have done it.

I like the way you think! I had a similar idea using stone dropped-weight pistons. You may need side-vents in the upper part of the “cylinder” to let the falling piston build up a little speed before compressing the air in the bottom. The short delay between the triggering and the firing may explain why Indy was able to sprint through the danger zone without getting hit.

You might be able to do something with a large lens or parabolic reflector and a small bimetallic strip at its focus. No electricity required. Of course, the rest of your post still stands.

But how would you keep the lens aligned between the sun and the strip? Granted, this is easier in equatorial Peru where the sun follows the same path daily, but you would still get launches every evening and when the sun is obscured by clouds.

Trip wires are SO much better!

Agreed! it would only work for a couple of minutes each day, when the shaft of sunlight across the cave fell onto the lens or mirror. I was merely suggesting a method of making a sun-responsive device with Mayan levels of technology.

Even in equatorial parts, the path of the Sun still varies from day to day. The noontide Sun will be to the north in June, and to the south in December. One might be able, I suppose, to contrive some optical system which would keep a significant amount of sunlight focused on the target from a range of sun angles, but that still wouldn’t solve the night problem. One might address that by giving the thermal system a slow response, such that twelve hours of night would be insufficient to cool the target sufficiently, but then it wouldn’t have the rapid response needed for a trap.

Again, I 'd have to say that there were obviously indigenous people living in the area who almost had to be responsible for the upkeep of the tomb. The technology could be more contemporary with a primitive facade.

[Simpsons][Leonard Nimoy] Actually there were two men opening and closing the doors to the Enterprise bridge… [/Leonard Nimoy][/Simpsons]

I was going to add that there could actually be people behind the walls providing the pnuematic power for the dart guns. They simply wait until their chair is bumped by the mechanism connected to the tiles in the floor.

The actual mechanism behind the darts and the boulder and what-not is secondary to the creepy ambiance. The feeling that there are booby traps in the floors the walls and even in the lighting is more important than the mechanism used to trigger them.

I was going to add that, but I was afraid I might kill the thread.

But what fun would that be? The whole point of booby traps is that they are “set it and forget it.” If you have to maintain a staff you also have to manage them and if you don’t stay on top of the manager his wife will make him hire her layabout brothers and pretty soon you have thirty people hanging around the sacred grounds doing nothing and you get called back from your retreat at Machu Picchu to smooth things over when Pedro and Manuel get drunk and start with the blowgun fights and a neighbor’s pig gets killed. Forget it! (Is it obvious that instead of archaeology I work in estate automation? The more staff we can eliminate the happier our customers are.)

Anyway, if there were people maintaining it the temple would still be in business and I thought we already agreed that Indy was above stealing stuff from living owners.

Now that Teemings is back online, I can link to my old essay Only the Penitent Duch Shall Pass:
In the Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge story “The Prize of Pizarro”, which I maintain is one of the roots of Indiana Jones (At least one booby trap from this story shows u in each of the Indiana Jones films), the traps aren’t long-forgotten relics o a lost civilization, but are maintained (and kept clean of the Incan equivalent of old beer cans and candy wrappers) by the descendants of the original builders, who still till the land and work the mines. So the OP’s suggestion isn’t far off.

So what you are saying is that Indiana Jones is a common burglar? Worse yet, an uncommon burglar who steals from active, living, and vibrant churches? I knew you Barks fans would say anything to support your belief that your silly duck comics are worth reading but this is beyond the pale. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I thought the whole point was to protect the booty. The people make it seem that the tomb is protected with automatic traps thus making potential thieves think twice before breaking and entering.

edited for clarity

I agreed to nothing of the sort. In fact, I all but implied, indirectly, that acquiring valuble artifacts from a civilization in disrepair-- and whose population has really bad haircuts-- is a distinction of such subtlety that equivocation doesn’t cover it! It’s just like stealing from the house of a dead person.

A dead person with blow darts and boulders on trip wires and light sensitive triggers, of cousre

And relatives with bad haircuts trying to protect his stuff. This is the sort of thing that makes for uncomfortable Thanksgivings for decades to come. “You can’t seat me next to Indy after he stole the golden idol Uncle Pedro promised to me! I haven’t spoken to him in thirty years and you should’ve known that. If he could’ve been bothered to go to the funeral instead of rifling through Uncle Pedro’s temple I’d have that idol instead of him.”

And congratulations. You are the first person in years to ADD a comma to something I wrote.

I’m not sure I should admit this, but I actually feel I’ve accomplished something. :cool: