- Posted April 6, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
'Raiders' turns 30: Your archaeology adventures
I was really too young to appreciate the original movies when they were in theaters, but I have loved the character of Indiana Jones all of my adult life. I guess you might say he’s my hero., or more correctly, he’s my role model whose daring and undying curiosity I try to call on from time to time. When presented with an historical riddle or treasure hunt, I ask myself, “OK, how would Indy approach this?”
The “my story” I usually tell people is a testament to the fact that Indy's far-flung adventures set me on the course that would become my life's work. I’ve always loved the King Arthur legend, and was a big fan of the Indiana Jones movies. However, it wasn’t until I saw a History Channel special about someone going to look for the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, claiming to have found a chamber where it might have been kept, that it ever occurred to me there might be a real archeological object behind some of these legends. So, it was a natural progression for me to follow my interest in King Arthur and combine it with the Grail legend presented in The Last Crusade. I read everything I could find about King Arthur and the Holy Grail, and the more I learned, the more I found I needed to learn.
Although I’m not an archeologist, I am a historical researcher, and I’ve spent almost 20 years doing it. I’ve published 2 books so far, and am about to publish a third dealing with the Joseph of Arimathea tradition at Glastonbury, based largely on a trip my wife and I made to the UK in 2008. The ruins of Glastonbury Abbey are my own personal “Indiana Jones” spot. I had studied it and read about its history for so many years, it felt surreal to be standing there, looking at the place I had wanted to see for so long. As if this were not amazing enough, I was actually granted permission to spend a couple of hours there completely alone after the grounds had closed. I carried around a big brass “skeleton key” and a little padlock key in my pocket all day until it was time to begin my private investigation. I can remember the sound of the key in the old lock as it turned, and the creak of the imposing cast iron gate as I pushed it open, walking into the abbey grounds just as the sun was going down. The only thing missing was the foreboding John Williams music.
In my few hours there, I was entrusted with a site of incredible historical significance, and I felt genuinely honored. It felt like I scoured every inch of the ruins and its grounds, but now looking back on it, it still find myself wishing I had taken the time to look here, or taken better pictures of there. However brief a time it was, I learned more while I was there than I ever could have just reading about it here. I was able to get some measurements, make some sketches, and take precise pictures, but best of all, I got to just stand down there alone in the darkness of the crypt under the Lady Chapel and experience the place one-on-one, imagining what it was like when it was alive and whole. It really was an opportunity of a lifetime for me.
I may not a professional, but I’ve probably “logged more hours” on this one subject than most Ph.D.’s would ever consider. Whatever becomes of my study, I am the richer for it, and it’s all because of the Man in the Hat! So thanks, Indy. Thanks for taking a contently ignorant kid and putting the hat on my head that I wear today. And to all those who brought my hero to life, and all you who keep him alive in our society's imagination to inspire the youthful adventurers of tomorrow....my thanks.