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"I have had some unusual experiences, in which miracles seemed possible. Time travel, even."
Indiana Jones[src]
Fissure in time

Two planes fly through a fissure in time.

Time travel is the concept of being able to move back into the past or forward into the future.

History[]

In an account attributed to Merlin, the wizard was able to travel through time with the powers of the Omphalos and Stonehenge.[1]

In 214 BC, during the Siege of Syracuse, the Greek mathematician Archimedes was working on a dial that would allow him to locate fissures in time and possibly travel into the past or the future. One half of the device was finished when his assistant informed him about a dragon flying in the sky. Confused, Archimedes headed outside and saw a giant flying machine burning and crashing on the beach. Archimedes went closer to investigate and took a small mechanical device from the corpse of one of the people who had died in the crash. A man and woman then appeared in front of him, holding a device identical to the one he was working on. Archimedes asked the strangers how far they traveled, and the man replied "Two thousand years". The strangers then had a brief argument, for the man was injured and the woman wanted him to return to their time so he could be healed, but the man was reluctant. The woman punched the man, knocking him unconscious, and the strangers departed in another, smaller mechanical dragon. Realizing that time travel was real, Archimedes split his device into two pieces. One was captured by the Romans and ended up at the bottom of the sea when the ship that was carrying it sunk in a storm. The other was buried with Archimedes in his tomb.[2]

Around October 1913, while staying in England with his father, Indiana Jones was briefly displaced from his present and experienced the aftermath of the fall of Camelot to the invading Anglo-Saxons.[3]

While Jones was on a London bus in 1916, his journey was interrupted by a German air raid. When Jones asked aloud if the craft he spotted was a zeppelin, Vicky Prentiss, the bus conductor, sarcastically claimed it was a 21st century time traveler newly arrived to check on their welfare then urged Jones to get moving as the bombs started to drop.[4]

Two decades later, in 1934, after he had returned the Crystal Skull of Cozan to its temple in British Honduras, Jones struck his head while fleeing a giant anaconda then found himself perceiving the city back when it was inhabited. There, he witnessed the sacrifice of a slave girl by the native Cozanians in the Skull's presence. Jones found that he had little interaction with his surroundings so could not prevent the slave being stoned to death. Back in the ruins of the city, Jones noticed a rock at his feet which was covered in hair and fresh blood. He later sought out a fellow Princeton University professor for advice.[5]

By 1944 the Nazi scientist Jürgen Voller was searching for Archimedes' dial. During an evacuation of a castle in France, a group of soldiers led by Voller and Colonel Weber discovered a hoard of precious antiquities, including the dial and the fabled Spear of Destiny. After loading the loot on a train the Nazis departed, hoping to bring their prize to Adolf Hitler. However, Voller discovered the Spear was fake, and tried to convince Weber about the dial's power, but the Nazi officer dismissed his theories as rubbish. The dial was eventually stolen by the American archaeologist Indiana Jones and his colleague Basil Shaw.[2]

Jones kept possession of the dial until 1969, when neo-Nazis led by Voller set out to reunite the two halves in order to assassinate Adolf Hitler so that a more competent Führer could win World War II for Nazi Germany. Voller and his men battled Jones and Shaw's daughter Helena for possession of the dial, ultimately resulting in Voller reassembling the dial and attempting to travel in an airplane through a time fissure to 1939 with the captive Jones and the stowaway Helena. However, what nobody realized was that the dial was only ever meant to allow travel to 214 BC. The group arrived at the Siege of Syracuse, closing the causal loop and resulting in Voller's death. Helena forced Jones to return to 1969 with her, ensuring that history would not be further altered by their presence.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

"The thing is, if you believe in the Ark of the Covenant, if you believe it has some relationship to God, if you believe it strikes people down -- which is all true in a certain code of reality -- then it all makes sense. But you can't just make something up, like a time machine. That's not what it's about. These are supernatural mysteries, not action-adventures where you have no historical or archaeological context."
George Lucas on time travel mixing with Indiana Jones.[src]

In the Readers of the Lost Ark letters section of issue 28 of The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones comic book series, when asked by a fan on why they didn't make a time-traveling gem to allow Indiana Jones to travel from the 1930s to 1985 and team up with the Avengers only to then return to his own time and discover that he was gone merely for five minutes, the Marvel Comics writers in charge of the series opined that Indy already had enough headaches to add time travel and a meeting with the Avengers to his list.[6]

In an interview with The Indy Experience in 2004, Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx author Max McCoy revealed that he had intended to include time travel in a larger sequence for his novel but creatives at Lucasfilm Ltd. pushed against the story mixing genres with science-fiction.[7] The sequence involved Indiana Jones returning the Crystal Skull of Cozan to the Temple of the Serpent only for the temple's exit to take him out to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the then-contemporary 1990s. The removal caused the book to lose some chapters in the finished version of the story, but McCoy still added a few references to the phenomenon by having Jones talk about space and time with Albert Einstein.[8]

In 2008, Indiana Jones creator George Lucas was quoted by Total Film as saying that simply inventing an object like a time machine wouldn't work for the MacGuffin of an Indy adventure as any supernatural artifact could only work with an historical or archaeological context.[9] However, in 2023, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny—on which Lucas served as an executive producer—found a way to use the historical Antikythera mechanism as the basis for a MacGuffin said to be capable of locating fissures in time.[10]

When brought into the development of the film, writer/director James Mangold felt that the existing screenplays for the fifth film were too derivative of previous entries, seeing that as a problem which had affected the Star Wars series: "Is it a Death Star again?" He instead opted to start a new script which explored the themes of time, past and present, which resulted in the time travel plot of the final feature. An idea that was considered was ending the film with a climax set in 1938's Nazi Germany but Mangold decided that it would be both too predictable for the audience and a repetition of the earlier 1944 prologue sequence so developed the 214 BC Siege of Syracuse finale instead.[11]

Appearances[]

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