A museum in Montreal is showcasing the on-screen discoveries of Hollywood's fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of young archaeologists.
"Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibition," marking the 30th anniversary of the famed character's silver screen debut, takes visitors on a virtual tour of sites depicted in the adventure film series.
Presented by the National Geographic Society and Lucasfilm, the exhibit aims to shed light on such historical myths as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, which became the quest of American actor Harrison Ford in the popular films.
Organizer said one goal of the exhibit, is to help perpetuate archaeology by drawing new recruits to the rather esoteric science.
"For us, it was very important that it not be just an exhibit of film memorabilia," said curator Jacques-Andre Dupont of X3 Productions.
"Rather, we wanted to use Indiana Jones, the world's most renown archaeologist and one of greatest film heroes of all time, to promote the science of archaeology, to explain to the public what it is," he added.
Displayed in the exhibit are a collection of props and film footage from Lucasfilm archives alongside ancient artefacts on loan from the National Geographic Society and the Penn Museum, including gold graveyard relics from the Ur dynasty of ancient Mesopotamia, as well as the oldest known map of the world.
Professor Jones first appeared in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's 1981 film "Raiders of the Lost Ark," then again in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" in 1984, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" in 1989, and lastly in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in 2008.
The character, an homage to the action heroes of early American serials, has also been featured in a television series, novels, comic books, video games and as a theme park attraction.
Visitors to the exhibit on Montreal's waterfront are given a portable device with a touch video screen with two hours of interactive content to view as they tour displays of ancient artifacts found in places depicted in the action movies. The experience also includes a treasure hunt.
"We learn a lot about archaeology and at the same time it's romantic, unbridled, which is interesting," said Monique, 61, who attended the exhibit opening on Thursday with her grandson.
"I would have never learned as much about archaeology by just watching the films," said one adolescent. "It's really cool."
The reaction was cheered by National Geographic Society archaeologist Frederik Hiebert while touring the exhibit with John Rhys-Davies, an actor who appeared in one of the Indiana Jones films.
"Right now, we have archaeologists on every continent on Earth. It's a new day for archaeology. But so far, we have just scratched the surface of what we know about our past," he noted.
Rhys-Davies added: "Inside every archaeologist, I suspect there is a little bit of Indiana Jones."
"I can not tell you how many real archaeologists come up to me and say: you know my interest in archaeology was sparked by seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark."
The exhibit is expected to attract thousands over the summer months, before packing up on September 18 and touring Europe and Asia.
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