UChicago College Admissions

Interview With Paul Sereno

UChicago’s real-life Indiana Jones.

Mischief Managed

For those of you who have wondered as hard as we have how we came to get this Indiana Jones journal: we have our solution. 

As some theorized, this did turn out to be the work of "Ravenbar" (real name: Paul, from Guam) on Ebay. After several days we were able to get in touch with Paul, who confirmed with us on Saturday that this was, indeed, his work, but that he did not know how it had gotten to us. Paul contacted us late yesterday to let us know that he had just received a letter (originally we were baffled as to how he got mail on a Sunday, but then we remembered time zones exist) from the USPS sorting service in Honolulu, HI (from a guy who, coincidentally, is also named Paul) stating that the outer package of something he had mailed had been found without its contents at their facility. 

According to Paul, this package was en route from him in Guam to his intended recipient IN ITALY (registered mail confirmation attached) when it must have fallen out of the package in Hawaii. Our address had originally been put on the manila wrapping of the journal just for cosmetic effect. We believe that the post office wrote on our Zip code on the outside of the package and, believing the Egyptian postage was real, sent it our way. From Guam to Hawaii en route to Italy with a stopover in Chicago: truly an adventure befitting Indiana Jones.

Paul has graciously let us know that he will make the intended recipient a new journal, and that we are welcome to keep this one— thanks, Paul! It will find its home in the Oriental Institute at UChicago because, as many have noted, “It belongs in a museum!”. We will post a link here when its exhibit is finished— we hear they’re working in some neat history about the men who inspired Indiana’s character, so it should be way cool.

Thank you to all who have emailed tips or ideas about this document— we appreciate your sleuthing on our behalf! We will now return to this Tumblr’s regularly scheduled programming: providing cool UChicago facts to prospective students. We look forward to welcoming our first members of the Class of 2017  when they receive admissions decisions from us on Tuesday afternoon. 

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Journal
"This should be in a museum!" has been the best possible response to our now-internet-famous Indiana Jones Mystery Journal. We’ve received a number of great tips, ideas, thoughts, and questions to our Jones email address at indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu, and mentions on more news sites than we can count at this point. Thanks to everyone who shared the story or sent tips. Here are some of our top submitted ideas:
Most plausible, least exciting: someone purchased one from the replica-maker on Ebay that we linked to yesterday, and on its way to the recipient, it wormed its way out of an outside package. Thinking the Egyptian postage was legit, a wayward mail carrier wrote on our zip code and it hitchhiked its way to our office. Certainly less exciting than our other options, but would still be a hilarious end to our vexing problem. If you are the original Ebay seller of this item and have an angry customer who never got their package, please let us know. 
An oft-suggested idea: this is a part of an Alternate-Reality Game (ARG).  One of our alums has a post up here in an alternate-reality gaming forum to discuss this. And hey, we do offer a class on that… 
It is an act of “Art Abandonment”. 
Harrison Ford REALLY wants to go on a date with someone in our office and this is how he got our attention. 
We have had two sources tell us the text from the page we photographed with our original post is from this website. This doesn’t solve the mystery, but is cool information (and if you like the Ark of the Covenant you can learn more about it there, too). 
Someone got us a cool gift from http://www.mysteriouspackage.com/
It is some type of viral marketing scheme for an upcoming Indiana Jones event. We’ve emailed the only contact we could find at Lucasfilm, but haven’t gotten a response yet. **Update— we just heard back from Lucasfilm, they say: “We were just as surprised to see this package as you were!”
It is something that a student submitted as part of their application. One respondent even bet that we’ll receive a series of these from the applicant (but hopefully not a crystal skull). This is a popular theory, and we do say that this fits the idea of a “create your own essay prompt” being in the spirit of adventurous inquiry… 
Adam Savage from Mythbusters made one similar to this but from The Last Crusade. Adam Savage, can you bust OUR myth?!?
Not really a clue, but we do have a request for a post up at a forum for “replica movie props” (TheRPF.com— thanks to Whet Moser AB’04 at the Chicago Mag for pointing out this site to us) where we’re hoping someone might have an idea who made this and, perhaps, why we have one.
For anyone who wants to see more pictures of the thing, [we used to have a DropBox link here, but DropBox suspended our account because too many people were downloading it. If you are a member of the press and would like to use a photo, please email indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu]
Mystery solved? Not really. But we’re working on it. And really, even if it’s our boring option, it has still made for one crazy day in our office. At the very least, we’re pretty sure the answer isn’t… SNAKES! 

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Journal

"This should be in a museum!" has been the best possible response to our now-internet-famous Indiana Jones Mystery Journal. We’ve received a number of great tips, ideas, thoughts, and questions to our Jones email address at indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu, and mentions on more news sites than we can count at this point. Thanks to everyone who shared the story or sent tips. Here are some of our top submitted ideas:

  • Most plausible, least exciting: someone purchased one from the replica-maker on Ebay that we linked to yesterday, and on its way to the recipient, it wormed its way out of an outside package. Thinking the Egyptian postage was legit, a wayward mail carrier wrote on our zip code and it hitchhiked its way to our office. Certainly less exciting than our other options, but would still be a hilarious end to our vexing problem. If you are the original Ebay seller of this item and have an angry customer who never got their package, please let us know. 
  • An oft-suggested idea: this is a part of an Alternate-Reality Game (ARG).  One of our alums has a post up here in an alternate-reality gaming forum to discuss this. And hey, we do offer a class on that… 
  • It is an act of “Art Abandonment”. 
  • Harrison Ford REALLY wants to go on a date with someone in our office and this is how he got our attention. 
  • We have had two sources tell us the text from the page we photographed with our original post is from this website. This doesn’t solve the mystery, but is cool information (and if you like the Ark of the Covenant you can learn more about it there, too). 
  • Someone got us a cool gift from http://www.mysteriouspackage.com/
  • It is some type of viral marketing scheme for an upcoming Indiana Jones event. We’ve emailed the only contact we could find at Lucasfilm, but haven’t gotten a response yet. **Update— we just heard back from Lucasfilm, they say: “We were just as surprised to see this package as you were!”
  • It is something that a student submitted as part of their application. One respondent even bet that we’ll receive a series of these from the applicant (but hopefully not a crystal skull). This is a popular theory, and we do say that this fits the idea of a “create your own essay prompt” being in the spirit of adventurous inquiry… 
  • Adam Savage from Mythbusters made one similar to this but from The Last Crusade. Adam Savage, can you bust OUR myth?!?
  • Not really a clue, but we do have a request for a post up at a forum for “replica movie props” (TheRPF.com— thanks to Whet Moser AB’04 at the Chicago Mag for pointing out this site to us) where we’re hoping someone might have an idea who made this and, perhaps, why we have one.
  • For anyone who wants to see more pictures of the thing, [we used to have a DropBox link here, but DropBox suspended our account because too many people were downloading it. If you are a member of the press and would like to use a photo, please email indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu]

Mystery solved? Not really. But we’re working on it. And really, even if it’s our boring option, it has still made for one crazy day in our office. At the very least, we’re pretty sure the answer isn’t… SNAKES! 

Indiana Jones Mystery Package

We don’t really even know how to start this post. Yesterday we received a package addressed to “Henry Walton Jones, Jr.”. We sort-of shrugged it off and put it in our bin of mail for student workers to sort and deliver to the right faculty member— we get the wrong mail a lot.

Little did we know what we were looking at. When our student mail worker snapped out of his finals-tired haze and realized who Dr. Jones was, we were sort of in luck: this package wasn’t meant for a random professor in the Stat department. It is addressed to “Indiana” Jones.

What we know: The package contained an incredibly detailed replica of “University of Chicago Professor” Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It looks only sort of like this one, but almost exactly like this one, so much so that we thought it might have been the one that was for sale on Ebay had we not seen some telling inconsistencies in cover color and “Ex Libris” page (and distinct lack of sword). The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included. It’s clear that it is mostly, but not completely handmade, as although the included paper is weathered all of the “handwriting” and calligraphy lacks the telltale pressure marks of actual handwriting. 

What we don’t know: Why this came to us. The package does not actually have real stamps on it— the outside of the package was crinkly and dirty as if it came through the mail, but the stamps themselves are pasted on and look like they have been photocopied. There is no US postage on the package, but we did receive it in a bin of mail, and it is addressed to the physical address of our building, Rosenwald Hall, which has a distinctly different address from any other buildings where it might be appropriate to send it (Haskell Hall or the Oriental Institute Museum). However, although now home to the Econ department and College Admissions, Rosenwald Hall used to be the home to our departments of geology and geography

If you’re an applicant and sent this to us: Why? How? Did you make it? Why so awesome? If you’re a member of the University community and this belongs to you or you’ve gotten one like it before, PLEASE tell us how you acquired it, and whether or not yours came with a description— or if we’re making a big deal out of the fact that you accidentally slipped a gift for a friend in to the inter-university mail system. If you are an Indiana Jones enthusiast and have any idea who may have sent this to us or who made it, let us know that, too. 

We know this sounds like a joke/hoax… it’s not (at least, from our end).  Any hints, ideas, thoughts, or explanations are appreciated. We’ve been completely baffled as to why this was sent to us, in mostly a good way, but it’s clear this is a neat thing that either belongs somewhere else— or belongs in the halls of UChicago admissions history.

Internet: help us out. If you’re on Reddit (we’re not) or any other nerdly social media sites where we might get information about this, feel free to post far and wide and e-mail any answers, clues, ideas, thoughts, or musings to indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu  (yes, we did set up an email account just to deal with this thing). 

**Update: we have solved our mystery! You can learn the solution here: http://tinyurl.com/jonesjournal

Thanks to all who emailed in ideas or suggestions.