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The Tabernacle was where René Emile Belloq opened the Ark of the Covenant in 1936. It was a narrow, shallow canyon located on the Nazis' secret island base north of Crete.


The Tabernacle was an ancient Phoenician shrine[1] consisting of a natural altar with stone steps leading up to it[2] and was established[3] at the top of a mountain[4] on the island of Geheimhaven, north of Crete in the Aegean Sea.[3] It was there that French archaeologist René Emile Belloq decided to open the Ark of the Covenant. Nazi Colonel Herman Dietrich was uncomfortable with allowing a Jewish ritual to open the Ark, but Belloq convinced him by asking if he would prefer opening it in Berlin without knowing if the Ark was genuine.[2]


After the Ark closed itself.

Archaeologist Indiana Jones, Belloq's rival, arrived at Geheimhaven in disguise among Belloq and the Nazis as they captured his lover Marion Ravenwood. On the approach to the Tabernacle, Indy threatened to blow up the Ark with a bazooka in order to make the Germans set Ravenwood free, but Belloq distracted him enough time to allow the Nazis to subdue Jones.[2]

That night, with Jones and Ravenwood tied to a great stake, Belloq performed the ritual along Dietrich, Arnold Ernst Toht and the other Nazis. However, instead of communicating with God, Belloq and the Nazis met their demise there, disintegrated by the power of the Ark. Only Jones and Ravenwood survived the supernatural encounter and made their way out of the Tabernacle and Geheimhaven before returning to the United States of America with the Ark.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Mohler in the tabernacle

The Tabernacle's entrance with Belloq and Mohler in a deleted scene.

The Tabernacle is known in Hebrew as the Mishkan and is a real part of Jewish religious tradition. It was a portable dwelling place for the divine presence, from the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt to Canaan. It was later built into the Temple in Jerusalem.

During the early development of Raiders of the Lost Ark, several designs were considered for the Tabernacle. Before deciding the one featured in the finished version of the film, one design had the Tabernacle located on a high mountain, while another proposed that the Tabernacle would be located on a cliff where the Ark of the Covenant would be opened. In this version, Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood were tied on separate stakes.[5]



Notes and references[]

  1. Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. 3.0 3.1 Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook
  4. Topps-Logo Indiana Jones Heritage trading cards (Card: Belloq's Challenge to Indy)
  5. The Complete Making of Indiana Jones, Chapter 2: "The Film with a Thousand Parts: February to May 1980", p. 51–53