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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: Secret of the Pyramid Indiana Jones
Secret of the Pyramid
Graphic Novel
Written and drawn by C. Moliterni and G. Alessandrini

The notes of a missing archeologist lead Indy and a journalist friend into the necropolis of Thebes in Egypt where they follow a trail of death and resurrection.


Read a summary of the graphic novel at the Indiana Jones Wiki


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This graphic novel takes place in Cairo, Egypt in 1923.


Didja Know?


Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Pyramid is a French graphic novel first published in France in 1993 and reprinted in Canada for French-speaking Canadians in 1994. This study is derived from the Canadian printing.


The book's authors, credited as C. Moliterni and G. Alessandrini, are Claude Moliterni (1932-2009, a prolific French writer) and Giancarlo Alessandrini (an Italian comic book artist).


Indy should still be a student at the Sorbonne at this time, not graduating with his PhD. in archaeology until 1925, so dialog in this graphic novel referring to him as "Dr. Jones" or "Professor Jones" should instead be read as "Mr. Jones".


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles TV series and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB security agency. The KGB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The journal as published skips over this adventure, going from the events of The Peril at Delphi in 1922 to a letter received from Abner Ravenwood in June 1925. Perhaps the intervening entries were excised by the Russians for some reason when it was in their possession?


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Ibrahim (dies in this story)

Indiana Jones


Professor Mortimer (presumed dead at end of story)

Marya Smirnova

Howard Carter (mentioned only)

Lord Carnarvon (mentioned only)

von Kraft's goons

Dr. Karl Von Kraft (presumed dead at end of story)

Kheops priest


Didja Notice?


The black-and-white sketch of Indy on page 3 is a swipe of a promotional still for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.


The photo above the text piece on page 4 is from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. On the opposing page is another promotional still for Temple of Doom. The text piece itself is merely a brief background on the earlier inspirations for the character of Indiana Jones, such as comic strip character Jungle Jim, pulp characters the Shadow and Nick Carter, etc.


While discussing the possible purchase of a mummy from Ibrahim on page 7, Indy uses the terms colchytes, tarischeutes, paraschistes, and memnonia. These are French words for describing "Ancient Egyptian funeral director", "Ancient Egyptian embalmer", "Ancient Egyptian incision-makers on corpses", and "Ancient Egyptian suburbs where the embalmers and others who worked on the dead resided and stored the bodies as they were prepared," respectively.


On page 7, Ibrahim makes a cryptic remark about possession of Mortimer's notes, "depends on Anubis." It turns out the notes are hidden in a small statue of Anubis in Ibrahim's antiquities shop. Anubis was the jackal-headed god of the afterlife and mummification in ancient Egypt.


Selim sometimes refers to Indy as effendi. This is a title of respect in the Middle East, especially in Turkey.


On page 9, Indy tells Selim he's staying at a hotel called the Mena House. The Mena House is a real world hotel just outside Cairo, founded in the late 19th Century. It is named for Mena or King Menes, the father of the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt.


Indy's friend, Marya Smirnova, is a journalist for the New York Globe newspaper. This was a real world New York City newspaper from 1904 to June 1923.


Indy assumes that Marya is in Cairo to interview Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon about Tutankhamen's burial chamber. Carter (1874-1939) was the discoverer of Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922, while Lord Carnarvon, George Herbert (1866-1923), 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was Carter's primary financier of the dig. Indy met Carter in "My First Adventure" and Treasure of the Peacock's Eye.


Beginning on page 12, Indy and Marya explore the Kheops pyramid. This is the largest of the three Great Pyramids of Giza. Kheops (Cheops/Khufu) was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, in the 26th Century BCE.


On page 14, Indy remarks that Mortimer's notes speculate on why the pyramid's base is aligned with the four cardinal points. This is true, the Great Pyramid's base is aligned to the four geographic cardinal points. Mortimer's notes also indicate that the pyramid may be more of an observatory than a tomb and may have been built even earlier than the 26th Century BCE, at the beginning of the 34th Century BCE. Some modern researchers of the history of Ancient Egypt do believe such, but they are generally dismissed by official Egyptologists.


Indy's description of the voyage of the dead in Egyptian mythology on page 17, panel 1, is roughly accurate.


In panel 2 of page 17, Indy describes a boat called Kheper that takes the dead to the Gallery of the Night, guided by Anubis. This seems to be a mangled version of what the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead says of the journey of the dead. (Part of the mangling may be the translation from French to English here!). Kheper was the god of the rising sun and renewal of life in Egyptian mythology.


In the last panel of page 17, Indy mentions Amenophis III. This was a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He is also known as Amenotep III.


Indy's main nemesis in this story is Dr. Karl von Kraft of the University of Heildelberg. The Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg is a real world German university founded in 1386.


On page 24, Indy tells Marya they must head to the Theban Necropolis for the next part of their investigation into the notes of Professor Mortimer. The Theban Necropolis is a large, ornate cemetery opposite the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (Luxor).


Arriving in Luxor, Indy and Marya check in at the Cataract Hotel. As far as I can tell, there has not been a hotel by that name in Luxor, though there is a famous 5-star hotel called the Cataract in Aswan, over 100 miles away.


In panel 1 of page 25, Indy and Marya ride up to the Colossi of Memnon, the gateway of the Theban Necropolis, a pair of statues of Amenotep III.


On page 25, Indy refers to the Valley of the Kings and burial place of the queens. These two locations (the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens) are part of the larger Theban Necropolis.


The large symbol above the door Indy finds on page 33 is the winged sun disc, often a symbol of protection in Ancient Egypt.


Many depictions of scarabs/beetles are seen in the hieroglyphics of the underground monument Indy and Marya have discovered. Scarabs were a common symbol of death and rebirth in Ancient Egyptian mythology, owing largely to the perception of the dung beetle rolling a dung ball, symbolic of the death and rebirth of the human soul in Egyptian spirituality.


On page 35, panel 2, Indy's otherwise French dialog is actually in English, saying, "Bloody hell!" as he falls through a trap door.


On page 36, Indy finds the sarcophagi of Kheops and Khephren. Khephren was the son of Kheops and became pharaoh after his father's death. The "history" Indy reads off the hieroglyphs of the sarcophagi is essentially that of the Ancient Greek interpretation of the even more ancient Egyptian history, relating the cruel nature of the two pharaohs. Modern Egyptologists are far less certain of this interpretation.


On page 43, the Kheops priest (soon revealed to be Mortimer) intones to the ka (spiritual essence of the soul) of Kheops, "You are Ra and Ra is you..." Ra was the Ancient Egyptian sun god, often considered the most primary of the gods.


The priest goes on to say that he now intends to sacrifice Marya to the god Thoth and invokes Maat, the goddess of truth. Thoth was the god of knowledge, writing, and judgment of the dead in the Egyptian pantheon. Maat was the goddess personification of truth as stated here, as well as justice and order.


At the end of the story, Indy tells Marya that the Pyramid Texts comment on Ra making the sun's rays like a ramp to be walked upon to lead pharaoh to the afterlife. This is roughly accurate of some of the content of the Pyramid Texts, which are ancient Egyptian funerary texts.


Unanswered Questions


Who killed Ibrahim at the beginning of the story? He was stabbed in the back from behind, the killer being unseen. The killer is not revealed in the course of the story, but the most likely suspect seems to be Professor von Kraft.


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