Originally published Dec 15 at 15:14.
Earlier this week the University of Chicago received what might be an elaborate hoax, a miracle, or the best college admissions application of all time: Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The journal came in a package addressed to Henry Walton Jones, Jr. but wasn’t sent through the U.S. mail — its stamps are fake. It’s a near-perfect replica of the journal Indiana Jones uses in Raiders, but it’s not the real deal – Lucasfilm also doesn’t know its origins — and the university has absolutely no idea how it found its way into Rosenwald Hall, which houses the school’s admissions department and where the staff initially thought it was just a piece of mail meant for a professor that got lost on the way.
The university has really jumped on this. See their elaborate tumblr page. They’ve even set up an email account for it. It’s giving UChicago a nice bit of publicity. Was it an imaginative donation or a publicity stunt? The article notes several possibilities including that “Lucasfilm has something up its sleeve and there is a viral campaign going on that they’re not talking about.”
UPDATE (17-Dec-2012): Turns out the diary is a movie prop replica sent to the University by mistake. Mystery of the Indiana Jones Journal Solved: It Came From the Internet. And Guam:
On Monday morning the university told Wired that they received an e-mail from the eBay seller, Paul Charfauros, informing them that he had gotten a letter from the U.S. Postal Service to say that one of his replicas — intended for a buyer in Italy — had been lost in the mail.
“Somewhere between Guam and Italy the replica fell out of its original external package and was lost in Honolulu, Hawaii,” Garrett Brinker, director of undergraduate outreach for the University of Chicago, told Wired. “Then for some reason, with fake postage, no tracking, not even a zip code — it looks like the Postal Service had to manually write in a zip code on the package — somehow without all of that the package landed in our laps in Chicago, Illinois.”
Tip: Jeb Card