After the Ark of the Covenant was retrieved by the US government following its discovery by Indiana Jones in 1936, the relic was taken to Hangar 51, a government warehouse in Nevada. There, an elderly warehouseman boxed up and carried the Ark under the supervision of an archivist, placing it alongside many similar containers.
The full text stenciled on the crate read:
- TOP SECRET
- ARMY INTEL 9906753
- DO NOT OPEN!
In 1957, while attempting to intercept the Roswell remains being stolen by Irina Spalko from Hangar 51, Jones crashed his truck into crate 9906753. Jones briefly noticed the Ark, but didn't have time to examine it.
He mused in his journal that he may have to return to the warehouse, and sketched a drawing of the Ark's crate (though he got the number wrong), wondering what else was hidden at the site.
Behind the scenes
After the crate's appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark, numerous references to the crate itself or the very concept of a valuable treasure being locked away in an anonymous crate sealed in a giant crate-filled warehouse appeared in popular culture.
When the crate is being prepared, the 'Top Secret' sign is shown to be printed on the crate across vertically laid planks. However, when the warehouseman is transporting it in the next shot, the sign appears slanted across horizontally laid planks.
The number 990 6753 can be found in the queuing area for Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Disneyland.
While in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones isn't shown to have noticed the Ark inside its broken open crate, other sources, including the film's novelization, depict Indy as having seen the artifact during his flight from the warehouse.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (First appearance)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark Storybook
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull novel
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull