Stalking Indiana Jones

I don’t know if watching the Indiana Jones films influence me in choosing to study archaeology at university but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to more than a passing admiration for the maverick academic.

The first holiday I took after graduating was a tour of Jordan and Egypt – “Petra and the Pyramids” it was advertised – with the company Explore. Both countries and ancient sites were at the very top of places to see before I die list, and as I missed out on taking a gap year I wanted to make up for it.

The Treasury at Petra is familiar to many through its appearance as the hiding place of the Holy Grail in “Indiana Jones and Last Crusade”. It is truly an amazing place and aching beautiful. The Treasury itself is just a small part of the Nabetaean complex and the area is truly a filmmaker’s dream – I’ve seen it used in other films such as “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” and most recently “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”.


The second Indy location I came across was a complete accident! I had been on holiday near the Dolomite mountains in Italy and had a few days to explore Venice as I had been able to get rather cheap flights to Venice airport (the fact that Venice has an airport still impresses me). Everyone gets lost in Venice – it’s part of its many charms. But I’d wandered past a bright white church with an open square in front of it a few times and each time I approached it I thought it looked oddly familiar. As this was in the dark ages before smart phones and abundant wi-fi I had to wait until I returned home before I could compare my photos to the film.

My location spotting radar was right on target – it was indeed used in a film I knew well – “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. It was the library that Dr Jones Senior goes missing from and Dr Jones Junior and company go to take up the quest – in real life it’s the Chiesa di San Barnaba.


The third Indy location was again not purposely looked for but as I was in the part of Tunisia used a lot for Indy and also Star Wars it was inevitable I’d stumble across something. The town of Kairouan in particular was used a lot for ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I’d seem a picture on someone’s website of the café where Indiana mourns the apparent death of Marion which had since become a carpet shop and thought I’d keep my eye open, not really expecting to find it – but I did!


There are some great YouTube videos of locations used in Kairouan, and I’d love to go back again having done some more research. I also now fancy trying to deliberately hunting down some locations, there are a few I didn’t realise were here in the UK. This website is great for Indy location research;