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How 'Indiana Jones' Diary Journeyed Across the Globe

A mysterious package arrived at the University of Chicago, addressed to Indiana Jones. (Image credit: Kayleigh Pryzgoda, UChicago Admissions)

It was a mystery worthy of a Hollywood epic: At the University of Chicago admissions office, a parcel addressed to Henry Walton Jones, Jr., arrived earlier this month.

After some initial head-scratching — there's no one with that name at the university — officials realized the name belonged to the fictional Indiana Jones, whose character in the 1981 film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was a professor at the University of Chicago. "Then we opened it, and it was very bizarre," Grace Chapin, senior admissions counselor at the university, told Redeye.

Inside was a dusty, weathered journal, artfully crafted by hand, filled with old postcards and antique-style calligraphy writing. The book was a clever replica of the diary of Professor Abner Ravenwood, which sends Indiana Jones on his first adventure.

But why had it been sent to the University of Chicago? There was no return address, and the exotic-looking Egyptian stamps on the package yielded no clues. So officials decided to post images of the package on their Tumblr account, leading to wild online speculation about the provenance of the journal.

The mystery has now been solved, though the saga has taken on international dimensions worthy of, well, an Indiana Jones film. The journal was originally offered for sale on eBay by its creator in Guam, according to Wired, and was purchased by a buyer in Italy. En route to Italy, however, the genuine outside wrapping was torn off, exposing the hand-crafted inner wrapping, which was addressed to Prof. Jones and designed to look authentic right down to the postage and mailing label.

And because the postal service in Hawaii, which was processing the package from Guam, didn't realize those exotic Egyptian stamps were actually fakes, it sent the package to the University of Chicago address.

Is this the end of the mystery? Perhaps, but Wired wonders if this story will "start a whole new trend of 'prop-bombing' real places with replica props from movies that are connected to them."

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Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.