Explorers, archaeologists, treasure hunters, there were many men who inspired the tales of intrepid adventurers that were eventually summed up in the character Indiana Jones. Let's meet some of them in this article from mental_floss magazine.
1. The Guy Who First Identified Dinosaur Egg Fossils
Some of the narrower brushes of Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960): “Once we were in great clanger from fanatical lama priests, two were close calls when I fell over cliffs, once was nearly caught by a huge python, and twice I might have been killed by bandits,” he wrote. (And like Indy, the American hated snakes.)
2. The Guy Who Discovered Machu Picchu
The tales of trekking Peru told by Yale lecturer Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) inspired Charlton Heston’s Secret of the Incas, in which an American treasure hunter dons a fedora and leather jacket-the same getup used by the Indiana Jones costume team.
3. The Guy Who Got Lost
Searching for a Lost City In 1925, British archaeologist Percy Fawcett (1867-1925) was swallowed by the deepest regions of the Amazon while searching for a legendary city he dubbed “Z.”
4. The Guy Who Was After the Holy Grail
German researcher Otto Rahn (1904-1939) was so assured of the Grail’s existence. Hitler’s SS commissioned him to search for it. “What was I supposed to do? Turn Himmler down?” Rahn told friends. He later rejected helping the Nazis and resigned.
5. The Guy Who Became a Pirate Treasure-Hunting Honorary Mexican Outlaw
His 1954 memoirs are titled Danger, My Ally. He was a spy prisoner of Pancho Villa who eventually joined Villa’s gang of Mexican outlaws. He sought forgotten empires, found a crystal skull, went toe-to-toe with jaguars, uncovered Mayan ruins, documented cannibal rites, and dug up buried treasure. So, yeah: F.A. Mitchell-Hedges (1882-1959) was the real deal.
The article above bappeared in the December 2015 issue of mental_floss magazine as part of the 500 Most Important People in History. It is reprinted here with permission.