Indiana Jones: Mysterious mail arrives at University of Chicago

Dec. 14, 2012 | 4:36 p.m.
The mysterious package and handmade journal "belonging" to Abner Ravenwood. (Kayleigh Pryzgoda / University of Chicago)

The mysterious package and handmade journal “belonging” to Abner Ravenwood. (Kayleigh Pryzgoda / University of Chicago)

The University of Chicago is grappling with a mystery today involving Indiana Jones, of all people.

According to the university’s admissions department Tumblr page, a package arrived at the university on Wednesday addressed to Henry Walton Jones Jr. Unsure where to put the package, the student office worker set it aside until someone realized it wasn’t intended for any actual student or faculty member, but a fictional character who in his story was once enrolled at the University of Chicago: Indiana Jones.

The character’s Wikia profile, compiled from information released about the character through the films, TV series, video games and supplemental novels, says he was a student there sometime in the early 1920s.

When the package was finally opened, the mystery grew. Inside was an apparently handmade re-creation of Abner Ravenwood’s diary. Ravenwood, for those not familiar with the Indiana Jones films, was Jones’ professor at the University of Chicago whose knowledge of the Ark of the Covenant set in motion the story of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Steven Spielberg’s landmark 1981 film starring Harrison Ford as the adventuresome archaeologist.

Interior pages from the journal. (Kayleigh Pryzgoda / University of Chicago)

Interior pages from the journal. (Kayleigh Pryzgoda / University of Chicago)

“The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included,” the admissions department wrote on its Tumblr page.

Some sleuthing on the part of the university discovered that the package had never actually been sent through the mail — the postage on the outside of the package was not real, even though it was dirty and scuffed as though it had been in transit.

So why did someone send this package here? Is it promotional? Is it an attempt to gain admission to the university? Is it some kind of art project?

The university is baffled and is soliciting help and advice, establishing an email address — — in order to get tips and insight.

A representative from Lucasfilm expressed bewilderment about news of the package. So it was not a misdirected bit of film promotion.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) faces his worst fear in the Well of Souls in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Lucasfilm)

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (Lucasfilm)

Have theories of your own? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

— Patrick Kevin Day

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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92 Responses to Indiana Jones: Mysterious mail arrives at University of Chicago

  1. Mike D. says:

    You didn't bring the diary son, did you? Then, where did you put the diary?!

  2. fsb says:

    Art much like Christo's fence but at a micro level. Lets see how many waves it makes and what it says about us.

  3. rockstarfan says:

    I think that is cool. Someone did that project and sent it there. That is rare and interesting.

    • BigDaddyD says:

      Hey Rockstarfan…please re-read the article. This time try to comprehend and retain some of the contents.
      You said: "Someone did that project and sent it there".
      First…was it really a project or just someone passing their time with something that interests them. Look up the meaning of "project".
      Secondly… if you had some comprehension and retention abilities, you would note that the envelope containing the book was not "sent" to the college, rather it was delivered by unknown sources.

  4. Huzaifa says:

    May be it is a prank by some one trying to revive an interest in the old adventurous archeologist.

  5. Something says:

    HMMMM, promotion of school lol

  6. Gary says:

    wow this is something,someone took a lot time making this up.i have all the Indiana Jones movies.

  7. jason says:

    I think its clear that someone has waaaaayyyy too much time on their hands. This is what happens ladies when you leave guys in the friend zone, they end up putting all kinds of energy into these sort of weird projects.

  8. therealmcteag says:

    damn my college just had food from the temple of doom.

  9. Rich says:

    Staring??! Watch your spelling! What a maroon!

  10. Bear says:

    Its from the real indiana jones!, and he has proof that someone stole the information from his expedition journal, and had him detained he has smuggled this information out…..proving he does in fact exsist and wants credits & cash for the film.

  11. Allison H. says:

    It belongs in a museum!

  12. john hough says:

    submit it to the Hollywood Movie meuseum as a movie prop artifact!!!

  13. John says:

    Honestly, it sounds like an awesome prank that some college kids thought up at a party. I can see them saying "Everyone will be so confused, it'll be hysterical!" The fact that the investigation went as far as contacting Lucasfilm makes the prank even more epic!

  14. deezenutz says:

    Nobody commented on this until now? Amazing.

    Fortune & Glory!

  15. coroner says:

    If you ask Spielberg…. im sure Aliens put it there during the last film.

  16. Cornholio says:

    Why did it have to be snakes?

  17. Tom says:

    Glad to see e have top men working on it now. Who? Top… men.

  18. Merryetta says:

    Perhaps there is a person who is a modern day Indiana Jones and the end times scenario about a secret find that could save the world, hmmm.

  19. Tony says:

    no comment.

  20. Rob says:

    I wish I had thought of doing that.

  21. joseph says:

    you are making someone famous today

  22. ilawrain Ingleton says:

    Put it in a secure glass display case for posterity and see if its worth grows; the journal has a lot of Jones history, and some neat drawings it seems. I would place it in a secure place in the library perhaps and charge admissions to view it….no touching.

  23. Laura says:

    He wasn't a student there, he was a Professor.

    • David Davenport says:

      Sorry, Laura, you've got this wrong. Indy studied under Dr. Ravenswood at Chicago. Later, he was a professor at an unnamed University the exterior of which — as depicted in "Crystal Skulls" — looks remarkably like Marshall University in West Virginia.

    • Lauraiswrong says:

      No, he was a student. "Early 1920's." He was a young teenager in 1912 and taught at Marshall College throughout the 30's. This puts his undergraduate college years in the early 20's.

    • D Boy says:

      no… he WAS a student. Refer to "Mystery of the Blues" from the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

    • Stephen says:

      He ws a student at U of Chicago. A professor at Princeton.

  24. Lee says:

    It’s definitely promotional. Lucas and Speilberg are just trying to feel out the public interest for Indy 5. Of course they’re not going to admit it. That would defeat the purpose.

  25. Marilyn Shie says:

    Is someone planning a new Indiana Jones movie? Maybe a fan is hoping to promote one. It doesn't take much imagination to build another movie around this possible publicity stunt. Maybe they're going to make it into a 3D movie. Put it out on IMAX. Whatever the intentions of the perpetrator, it is bound to build interest in the Jones' movies.

    • Phil says:

      Yes there is another movie in the planning stages. They were contracted for an additional movie, but the problem is coming with with the proper idea for the last Indiana Jones Movie. It has to be Epic!

  26. Jen says:

    WOW & Very Cool…Hope you Sovle it before Next Friday,,,12/21/2012 LOL
    I Hope! Hey Lucasfilm, need AWESOME Movie Ideas? Let me know, All I want is to NOT be one of the Horrid 47%, but win your Sick your Sick, Find me in Tulsa, OK
    Merry Blessings & As Always…Leave them thurston4more!

  27. Gary Thompson says:

    All the searching of the Ark has been by people not reading all the facts of where it is, they are useing too much speculation, if they would read the facts for what they say, and forget their imagination, I feel they would find this. We now have the intelligance and the technology to find it if we could get someone to read just exactly what we know of it's past whereabouts, it has been overlooked a number of times. just hope I am alive when some one finds it, and will only find it if they read the facts, and leave out human error.

    • David Davenport says:

      The Ark is located at Axum, Ethiopia. It was taken to Egypt during the time of the prophet Jeremiah and placed at a Temple built in Upper Egypt at Elephantine. When Egypt was attacked from the south by Nubians it was taken by them and placed a Axum where the descendents of Prince Menelik had established a branch of Judaism. Once a year a replica of the Ark is carried in Axum at a festival marking its arrival at Axum.

      • Terry Myers says:

        Oh, David, I love an educated man! I'm also glad that I didn't have to write all that, 'cause the way my day is going, I would have left something out. I myself really believe it is at Axum, and between belief in that and the fact that I wanted to be an archaeologist/Egyptologist, I always thought and hoped that I would be able to go to Egypt to study. If I were that lucky, I would definitely make a pilgramage to Axum, among other places. But, alas, it was not to be….

    • Nikkou says:

      there is no possible way to leave out human error and still be human! it will never be found with that attitude.

  28. randy bauer says:

    Just some superfan hoping for "fortune and glory".

  29. qatzmom says:

    i suspect an extremely intelligent, uniquely talented university student.

  30. Trevor says:

    The book seems to be available here:

    • Beth says:

      I think you have solved the mystery. I went to the link you provided and there it was. Also note the shipping label – identical to the one found on that site. Now, the reason someone sent it?????

    • jerry says:

      Good find Trevor. Perhaps the University of Chicago doesn't know how to look up stuff on google.

  31. David says:

    First of all, isn't it illegal to open someone's mail?

    • Trevor says:

      David, read the article carefully.

      "Some sleuthing on the part of the university discovered that the package had never actually been sent through the mail — the postage on the outside of the package was not real, even though it was dirty and scuffed as though it had been in transit."

      Since the package hadn't been mailed, and considering it was addressed to a fictional character, I fail to see how opening it could be construed as illegal.

  32. Johnny B says:

    Methinks it was Sallah who left the diary.

  33. don says:

    just fricken awesome good job dude

  34. Henry Jones, SR. says:

    I should have mailed it to the Marx brothers.

  35. Big P says:

    Blame it on George Bush..

  36. guest says:

    they opened the book and a whole lot of fire ants came running out, now nobody wants to go near it

  37. Tom says:

    They opened the book and a whole lot of fire ants came running out, now nobody wants to touch it

  38. Matfish says:

    So once again, Jones, what was briefly yours is now mine.

  39. David says:

    interesting, a new movie in the works? good promo, its raining here, now i think i will spend the evening watching my Indiana Jones collection with the kids

  40. Gerald K Burgin Sr. says:

    This is great and if it does start anew follow up of Indy I hope they put his son in the movie he was great in the crystal skull.

  41. SHAN says:


  42. lou says:

    that picture was not in a diary, it was in a large book with locke indiana showed to the agents in the lecture hall. The only diary in the movie franchise was his fathers in the last crusade. get your facts right.

  43. James Dewey Muth Sr says:

    Only Spielberg etc, would know thefull name of Indiana Jones.. In Last Crusade, the dad only made mention of Henry Jones Jr. No mentione of Walden in any movie.. Obviously a promo stunt….and rather lame at that.

  44. Mike England says:

    It really is Abner's journal. The whole idea for Indiana Jones was stolen from real life events and now the real Abner's Diary has been found. It will lead us to the real resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. It will save us all from the coming Apocalypse on the 21st. We have to hurry though because it will take us 7 days to get to it and uncover………S***!!!!! We're all doomed.

  45. Jon says:

    I think it's cool someone did this
    but what's next, an amber sample mailed to Timothy or Alexis Murphy ?

  46. tom666 says:

    Top Men

  47. Skitz795 says:

    it was sent by the Lindbergh baby!

  48. Indy fan says:

    Maybe they oughta give a copy to Steven and see if he can come up with a finale for Indy 5? :D

  49. Ron Carlson says:

    Put it in a 1950s refrigerator that will not let you lock yourself in, and see how it is after a nuke goes off not too far away

  50. Joseph says:

    Can't wait for the next Indiana J. movie…something about ' darkness '?

  51. Nobody says:

    it was left by a real Indiana Jones from an alternate universe

  52. D Boy says:

    I'd say it's a fanboy prank. However, I don't think I'd go through the trouble to make a realistic prop replica only to leave it sitting around for someone to find. Actually surprised it didn't have traces of anthrax in it.

  53. Nick says:

    I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence.

  54. noah says:

    Maybe they were trying to get them to make a new Indiana Jones movie!


    Check out

  55. scott s says:

    Very cool, creative. It's weird because I saw Indiana Jones in Union Square today amidst all the Santas as part of SantaCon SF, also very out of place.

  56. Howard Carter says:

    What are they saying here? That Indiana Jones is not real?? This can't be!!! Is it ALL an illusion??!!

  57. Kenneth says:

    "I should have given it to the Marx Brothers."

  58. deanna lawrence says:

    Is there a job opening in marketing the college? Either this is the most creative college application ever or someone has brilliantly marketed themselves!

  59. Peter J Nebergall says:

    I thought Indiana U at Bloomington was the home of "Indiana Jones." As a professional archaeologist who got a degree there, WE sure claimed him!
    The "diary" seems like a lot of work for someone — is Lucasfilm being honest? Was it stolen from a "prop room?" Why not ask Mr Ford?

    • Terry Myers says:

      Indiana took the name for himself, but as his father noted in the 'Crusade' film, he was named after their dog…… not the state or the university.

  60. Rayjer41 says:

    Am I the only one who realizes this is connected with the Mayan doomsday next week? Who better to save us than The Indiana Jones??

  61. Mike says:

    It's to heighten interest in Indy's new adventure "Indiana Jones The Treasure Of The Copper Scroll".

  62. Charis says:

    Wayyyy cool.

  63. Sergio says:

    They should of sent it to the Marx Brothers!

  64. Terry Myers says:

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that the author of this piece said the journal belonged to Ravenwood, when it actually was Indie's father who put it together. It was a journal book full of information he had put together about the possible whereabouts of the Holy Grail, not the Ark of the Covenant. I really wish these article writers would at least do the minimum of research required to write a very short spiel!

    That said, I think it is really "neato"! Someone must have had a lot of fun researching it and putting it together. Not to mention watching the movies……. All Hail Mr.'s Harrison and Lucas!

  65. bob says:

    Whoever sent it obviously has a wonderful imagination and did a great deal of research in both preparing the diary and the envelope in which it was contained. from what i can tell it looks very authentic and at very least should be put on display in the trophy cabinet or library. if you can find it s creator he should be commended. and perhaps steven spielberg could autograph it and take a photo with it s creator. at very least a wonderful mystery and a wonderful momento. it isint often you see creativity in this world anymore.

  66. Derek says:

    I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers..

  67. tucker says:

    Disney made it and dropped it hoping to promote it’s new franchise.

  68. Anon says:

    And now, I'm famous.

  69. butterfly says:

    Indy forever!!!

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