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'In Character' On the Air

On Air: Indiana Jones

"That Belongs in a Museum!" Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones Lucasfilm Ltd. hide caption

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Lucasfilm Ltd.

Who says archaeology is boring? What with the whips, the guns, the evil Nazis and the booby-trapped temples hiding precious — frequently magical — artifacts, what's not to like?

OK, so that's archaeology Indiana Jones-style. NPR's Christopher Joyce takes In Character into the field to talk with the real Indys — who see the whip-wielding adventure-seeker in a different light.

"Indiana Jones walks a fine line between what's an archaeologist and what's a professional looter," says archaeologist Winifred Creamer.

And Christopher Joyce finds that in the movies, even Indy isn't sure what he is — treasure hunter or historian.

And what of the crystal skulls that a (much) older Indy is apparently chasing in the upcoming film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Smithsonian archaeologist Jane Walsh has the story behind the real-life crystal skulls in museum collections around the world. Some say they're ancient Aztec artifacts; some say they're powerful mystical objects.

Says Walsh: Not so fast.