Archaeologist Shared More Than a Fedora With Indiana Jones

Multilingual Schuyler Jones worked around the world, laughing at catastrophe
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2024 2:45 PM CDT
Archeologist Shared More Than a Fedora With Indiana Jones
Schuyler Jones talks about the bookcases he built that line his library in Wichita, Kansas, in 2006.   (Dave Williams/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Schuyler Jones, a globe-trotting American adventurer whose exploits drew comparisons to iconic movie character Indiana Jones, has died. He was 94. Jones' stepdaughter, Cassandra Da'Luz Vieira-Manion, posted on Facebook that Jones died on May 17, saying, "He was a fascinating man who lived a lot of life around the world." Jones grew up around Wichita, Kansas, the AP reports. His younger sister, Sharon Jones Laverentz, said her brother had visited every US state before first grade thanks to their father's job supplying boots to Army bases.

He wrote in an autobiography posted on Edinburgh University's website that he moved to Paris after World War II, where he worked as a photographer. He also spent four years in Africa as a freelance photographer. In his 1956 book Under the African Sun, Jones tells of surviving a helicopter crash in a marketplace in In Salah, Algeria. After the crash, he discovered he was on fire; gale-force winds had reignited the ashes in his pipe. "Camels bawled and ran, scattering loads of firewood in all directions," Jones wrote. "Children, Arabs and veiled women either fled or fell full length in the dust. Goats and donkeys went wild as the whirling, roaring monster landed in their mist ... weak with relief, the pilot and I sat in the wreckage of In Salah's market place and roared with laughter."

Jones later moved to Greece, where he supported himself by translating books from German and French to English. He decided to drive through India and Nepal in 1958. He said he fell in love with Afghanistan during the trip and later enrolled at Edinburgh to study anthropology. "He was more interested in the people and cultures he was finding than he was in photography," his son, archaeologist Peter Jones, told the Wichita Eagle. He earned a doctorate at Oxford University and went on to become a curator and later director at that university's Pitt Rivers Museum, per the AP. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire award.

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Similarities between Jones and George Lucas' Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. character are striking. Aside from the name and the family business—Indy's father, Henry Sr., was an archaeologist, as is Schuyler Jones' son—they were both adept at foreign languages and wore brown fedoras. Like Indy, Schuyler Jones believed artifacts belonged in museums, Da'Luz Vieiria-Manion said. Eric Cale of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum said Jones permanently donated his grandfather's artifacts to the museum. Jones wrote in his 2007 book A Stranger Abroad that he wanted to find the Ark of Covenant and donate it to a museum, which is what Indy accomplished in Raiders of the Lost Ark—at least until the US government seized the relic and hid it away again at the end of the movie.

(More obituary stories.)

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