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Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny’s Real History & Mythology Explained

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has many historical elements – we break down the real mythologies and the tweaks the movie makes to them.

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Warning: MAJOR spoilers for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny below!

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny immerses us in an epic adventure, woven with historical elements. Set against the backdrop of the iconic moon landing in 1969, this thrilling tale follows the renowned archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his spirited goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Together, they embark on a perilous quest to uncover the long-lost artifact, Archimedes’ Dial. However, a race against time ensues as they confront their arch-nemesis, Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi determined to unleash the dial’s cataclysmic powers. Prepare for a gripping saga that melds history and adventure like never before.

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Dial of Destiny represents Harrison Ford’s ultimate portrayal of Indiana Jones. Like the rest of the franchise, this installment immerses itself in captivating ancient history and mythology. However, it also ingeniously melds these historical elements into the framework of another thrilling Indiana Jones adventure. From intriguing artifacts and awe-inspiring locations to profound mythological legends, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny artfully employs historical elements to heighten the stakes of our beloved adventurer’s final quest.

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Archimedes

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Dial of Destiny makes Archimedes a pivotal figure in its story, and he indeed has a major place in real history as both a philosopher and scientist. Archimedes originated in the ancient Sicilian city of Syracuse, and made many major contributions to what would eventually become modern mathematics. Archimedes was also an inventor and engineer, and developed numerous devices to defend Syracuse from attack.

Dial of Destiny incorporates elements of the historical Archimedes while adding its own spin, making him the creator of the Antikythera mechanism, referred to in the movie as Archimedes’ Dial. Dial of Destiny also re-imagines Archimedes as the creator of time travel, having designed Archimedes’ Dial so that it could be discovered in the future by the elderly Indiana Jones and his allies, allowing them to travel back in time and stop the historical Siege of Syracuse. Obviously, that is a highly fictionalized element of Archimedes, but one that shows Dial of Destiny paying great tribute to his genius beyond his time.

Antikythera

The reputed Antikythera mechanism, featured in Dial of Destiny, derives its name from the Greek city of Antikythera – a charming island located between the Greek peninsula and Crete. Discovered amidst the ancient Antikythera wreck, a Roman warship sunken off the island’s coast, this awe-inspiring relic bears witness to the ingenuity of the past. In the year 1900, sponge divers embarked on a quest, skillfully navigating the depths to unveil the ancient mysteries, finally unearthing the magnificent Antikythera mechanism from the depths of the sea.

In “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” the historical aspects of the Antikythera wreck and mechanism take center stage, interwoven with fresh elements. A buried tablet within the wreck holds a map to the whereabouts of Archimedes’ Dial’s second half. Indy, accompanied by Helena and his deep-sea diver friend Renaldo (played by Antonio Banderas), embarks on a thrilling expedition to recover the tablet. While the time-travel elements in “Dial of Destiny” may be exaggerated, the movie faithfully portrays the location and the wreck, capturing the essence of real history within the captivating realm of the Indiana Jones adventure franchise.

Siege of Syracuse

The Siege of Syracuse recounts the momentous Roman invasion of the Sicilian city in 213 to 212 BC. Amidst the full force of the Roman military bearing down on Syracuse, its valiant citizens valiantly withstood the assault for months, defying the mighty Roman Empire. Integral to the city’s defense, the brilliant inventor Archimedes devised an array of weapons and battle strategies to repel the Roman onslaught.

In the epic tale of “Dial of Destiny,” Archimedes’ incredible invention, known as the Dial, ushers in a formidable cavalry to the Siege of Syracuse. As these extraordinary aircraft traverse the time portal, the ancient Romans mistake them for majestic dragons. This unforeseen turn of events initially appears to grant Syracuse a swift victory. However, the true course of history reveals a less favorable outcome for the city’s inhabitants. With the tragic demise of Archimedes, the Romans eventually claim Syracuse as part of their empire.

Archimedes’ Tomb

The Tomb of Archimedes holds a significant place in the thrilling narrative of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. In this enthralling adventure, Indy and Helena embark on a quest to uncover the ancient remains of Archimedes. The storyline takes a captivating turn when Indy stumbles upon a wax-covered tablet retrieved from the Antikythera wreck. With meticulous care, he melts away the wax, revealing a hidden map that leads them to the sacred location of Archimedes’ Tomb and the legendary Archimedes’ Dial. While the Dial of Destiny adds the expected Indiana Jones-style excitement to this ancient burial ground, the reality of Archimedes’ Tomb is a testament to its subtle grandeur.

The physical location believed to be the Tomb of Archimedes is located in Syracuse, Sicily – a place shrouded in historical uncertainty, as is often the case with ancient Roman Empire sites and figures. However, with the vast historical canvas it provides, Dial of Destiny has the liberty to weave the Tomb of Archimedes into a vital and specific setting for an adventurous Indiana Jones treasure hunt. However, unlike The Last Crusade, there won’t be an ‘X’ marking the spot.

The Holy Lance

The Holy Lance, a significant Judeo-Christian artifact, has played a prominent role in the renowned Indiana Jones franchise. It is believed to be the very lance used to pierce Jesus’ side during the crucifixion. Also known as the Lance of Longinus, this sacred relic features prominently in the thrilling opening action sequence of Dial of Destiny set in 1944. A de-aged Indy, portrayed by Harrison Ford, embarks on a perilous mission alongside Helena’s father, Basil (Toby Jones), to recover the Holy Lance from a Nazi train, only to be confronted with the startling revelation that it is merely a clever forgery.

Tracking down the Holy Lance that pierced Jesus would prove to be an even more daunting endeavor than the quest for the Holy Grail itself. However, this is not the first occasion where Indiana Jones embarks on such a mission, or rather, not the final one. In the comic book tale, “Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny,” Indy and his father, Henry Jones, diligently pursue the Holy Lance and successfully unearth it in 1945. Through the intriguing opening prologue of “Dial of Destiny,” which gracefully intertwines with the Holy Grail-focused “The Last Crusade,” the Holy Lance serves as a captivating connection to another extraordinary Indiana Jones adventure beyond the realm of cinema.

Wernher von Braun

German astrophysicist Wernher von Braun holds a pivotal role in mankind’s historic journey to the moon in 1969. Formerly a rocket scientist for the Third Reich, von Braun was among the many German scientists selectively recruited by the U.S. government at the close of World War II through Operation Paperclip. Von Braun would subsequently play a vital role in driving NASA’s technological advancements, ultimately contributing to the success of the moon landing. While not directly featured in Dial of Destiny, his influence resonates through the character of the villainous Jürgen Voller.

Similar to the real Wernher von Braun, Voller is a former Nazi scientist employed by NASA during the space race. Mads Mikkelsen, drawing from von Braun’s influence, effectively portrays Voller (according to Empire). However, Voller’s time-travel plot deviates significantly, raising debates about von Braun’s contributions to space travel and his association with the Nazi party. Nonetheless, the Indiana Jones franchise cleverly intertwines history, incorporating actual figures in some stories and introducing counterparts like Voller in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.