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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: Tomb of Terror Indiana Jones
Tomb of Terror
Written by Les Martin
Cover art by Romas

Indy meets an Egyptian boy named Sallah and the pair have terrifying encounters with a German archaeologist and a haunted tomb in Luxor.


Read the "July 1913" entry of the It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage Indiana Jones chronology for a summary of this book


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This book takes place in Egypt, Summer 1913. 


Didja Know?


The Young Indiana Jones original novels (not to be confused with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles novelizations) are a series of juvenile novels written from 1990-1995. Though numbered 1-15, they do not take place in chronological order and cover the years 1912-1914. Young Indiana Jones and the Tomb of Terror is book #2 in the series.


Throughout this book, Indy claims he doesn't like ancient relics being taken out of their home countries or being sold for profit. Yet, he does exactly this many a time in his later adventures as an archaeologist! For example, in the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, he grabs up a number of small items from the Chachapoyan temple in Peru and when Marcus examines them after Indy's return to the U.S., he says the museum will "buy them as usual, no questions asked."


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 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. The FSB 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 time in Indy's life. In fact, it goes from August 5, 1912 to March 9, 1916...a period of about 3.5 years! Are we to believe that Indy made no journal entries that entire time? Perhaps the entries were excised by the Russians for some reason when it was in their possession?


Characters appearing or mentioned in this novel


Dr. Marcus Brody

Indiana Jones

Henry Jones, Sr. (mentioned only)

Kaiser Wilhelm II (mentioned only)

cab driver (unnamed)

Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir

Abdul (mentioned only)

Sallah's father (mentioned only, deceased)

Sallah's mother (mentioned only)

Sallah's brothers and sisters (mentioned only)

Sallah's great-uncle (mentioned only)

Doctor Professor Gustav von Trappen (dies in this novel)

ka of Tutankhamum

German digger

Sallah's policeman uncle (mentioned only)

second digger (dies in this novel)




Didja Notice?


The book opens with Indy in the care of Marcus Brody in Cairo, Egypt. It was established at the end of Indy's previous adventure, The Plantation Treasure, that his father was sending him to Egypt with an old friend of his.


Marcus remarks that Indy's father is his closest friend.


    Marcus has just the one day to purchase a number of artifacts in Cairo for his museum before he and Indy head up the Nile to Luxor. Brody is said to have curated for several museums during his life and it's not clear which museum he is working for at this time. Page 9 states he is assistant curator at whichever museum is currently employing him.

    Indy previously visited both Cairo and Luxor when he was 8 years old in 1908 in "My First Adventure", but it is not mentioned in this novel because the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series had not been conceived yet when this book was published in 1990! So, this adventure comes across as if it were Indy's first visit to this part of the world.


Page 9 describes Marcus in a fashion consistent with his portrayal in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, i.e. rather doddering, prone to getting lost, and bemused about how to get by in the non-English speaking world.


On page 11, Marcus reminds Indy that Egypt is a protectorate of England because England is interested in maintaining the movement of its cargo through the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt on the Isthmus of Suez which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.


Also on page 11, Marcus remarks to Indy that the idea of war is "unthinkable" in these modern days and that despite England's worry about the German kaiser, the current kaiser is "quite progressive" and the last thing Germany wants is a war. This, of course, is meant to show Marcus' general cluelessness about the world (other than history and archaeology). World War I will begin in just one year, with Germany heading the Central powers and England the Allied powers. The German kaiser at this time was Wilhelm II.


On page 12, Marcus remarks that archaeologists have been digging in Egypt ever since Napoleon came there over a century before and laments there is nothing left to find in the modern day of 1913. French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798 but (after some initial victories) was forced to withdraw his army that same year after some defeats in-country and at the Battle of the Nile for the French Navy against the British Navy. As for nothing left to find in Egypt, Egyptologist Howard Carter would discover the nearly-intact tomb of King Tutankhamun in Luxor in 1922.


Indy visits the Great Pyramids of Giza (which he had already done in "My First Adventure").


On page 16, one of the objects found in Indy's pockets is an Ute arrowhead. The Ute are a Native American tribe that live in Utah and Colorado. Indy lived in Utah for a time with his father and also had an adventure in Colorado in The Lost Gold of Durango.


Indy meets a young Sallah for the first time in this novel, who will go on to aid Indy in a number of future adventures (Indy even remarks during their first meeting here, "You know, Sallah, I've got a hunch that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."). Sallah's full name is revealed as Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir. Here, he is shown to speak Arabic, English, French, German, and Italian, all without a noticeable accent when he prefers. His American English is so good, Indy jokes that he must be from Cairo, Illinois instead of Cairo, Egypt. Cairo is a small city in the U.S. state of Illinois, in the southern portion of the state; it is also referred to as Little Egypt.


Sallah tells Indy that the pyramids of Giza were once covered by a layer of polished stone that was later stripped over the centuries for the construction of other buildings. This is true.


Sallah's description of the ka and survival after bodily death in Ancient Egyptian religion on pages 22-23 is essentially correct.


On page 24, Sallah remarks that Osiris was the greatest of the gods of Ancient Egypt. Osiris was the god of life, death, afterlife, resurrection, and fertility in Egyptian mythology.


Sallah has a second cousin named Abdul who works at a luxury hotel in Luxor.


Sallah's father died in 1912, making Sallah responsible for supporting his mother and four brothers and six sisters.


Sallah has a great-uncle who works on the railroad and is able to get Sallah on the train to Luxor without a ticket.


Marcus' description of the ancient city of Luxor/Thebes on page 35 is largely accurate (from a Western standpoint).


On pages 36-37, Marcus mentions the tombs near Luxor in valleys for the kings (pharaohs), queens, and nobles. He is referring to the Valley of the Kings (which Indy "previously" visited in "My First Adventure") and the Valley of the Queens. Though the name "Valley of the Nobles" has occasionally been used, the term "Tombs of the Nobles" is more common, as these tombs are more scattered. In addition, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens were not designated exclusively for those royal personages; the tombs in each valley often also held wives, husbands, servants, and nobles as well.


Page 67 states that Indy is not only afraid of snakes, but any and all reptiles! Uh, I don't think that's the case.


    The tomb that von Trappen has uncovered and that Indy and Sallah sneak into turns out to be that of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. When Indy puts the relic gold-and-jade ring on the finger of the pharaoh's statue, the statue lights up and the ka of Tutankhamun speaks to them. The ka also allows Indy to take a ring that possesses the power of Osiris in order to stop the tomb robbers and reseal the tomb; the ring later exhibits the power of some kind of powerful electrical discharge that can cause immense explosions. This is probably the most overt supernatural event to have happened to Indy in his life so far, even accounting for other ghost and spirit events he's crossed paths with in earlier adventures.

    In the real world, many people do believe that Tut's tomb was cursed, due to a handful of reportedly strange occurrences and team member deaths shortly after the opening of the tomb, though skeptics point out that the vast majority of the excavation team suffered no ill effects and lived normal, lengthy lives.


On page 78, Sallah speaks German to von Trappen, saying, "Bitte, mein heri, wir sind nur kinder. Wir sind nicht schulding," and "Jawohl, mein Herr." These translate as "Please, sir, we are only children. We are not to blame," and "Yes, sir."


Von Trappen tells Indy and Sallah he is a secret agent for Germany and even has a secret agent's proverbial trench coat, which he has worn in London several times. London is the captial and largest city of the UK.


Von Trappen remarks that when the German war for control of Europe begins it will be short and sweet. World War I will begin in 1914 and last for over four years.


Von Trappen says that when Germany emerges victorious after the coming war, he will wear the Iron Cross. The Iron Cross is a military medal used by Prussia in the 19th Century and Germany in the first half of the 20th.


On page 93, von Trappen tells Indy and Sallah that he paid the American archaeologist Davis, who had the government concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings, for his own permission to dig there and Davis had warned him that there was nothing left there to find. He is referring to American explorer and businessman Theodore M. Davis (1838-1915) who did have the digging concession at the time and who became convinced in 1913 that there was nothing more of significance to be found in the area.


On page 96, von Trappen threatens Indy and Sallah with a Luger pistol. Luger is a pistol design first patented by Austrian Georg Luger in 1900.


In this novel, young Sallah is able to swim. But in the later novel The Philosopher's Stone, set twenty years later in 1933, Sallah indicates he does not know how to swim, having been surrounded by desert all his life.


Sallah has an uncle who is a policeman.


The description of Tut's burial chamber on page 111 is fairly accurate of the room as found in 1922.


The angry digger who interrupts Indy and Sallah as they leave Tut's tomb the second time is found to be afflicted with Bubonic Plague. As Sallah states, it is a plague spread by fleas and ticks on infected animals. As Indy says, it was responsible for the Black Death, an epidemic that swept Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 14th Century, killing about 50 million people.


At the end of the book, Indy misses the chance to see Karnak when Marcus decides they must get out of the city that night due to the cases of Bubonic Plague the Germans came down with in Luxor. Karnak is a complex of ancient temples just outside Luxor. 


    The tomb of Tutankhamun is exposed and sealed shut again in this novel, as Indy and Sallah obey the commands of the pharaoh's ka. The tomb will not be rediscovered until Howard Carter digs it up in 1922. When he does, he and his team discover it had been previously broken into and resealed at least twice before, but had not been completely ransacked. Archaeologists have surmised that the break-ins occurred not long after Tut's mummy was interred, so it may have been under observation and thieves could not easily ransack the entire tomb. This novel seems to hint that at least one of these break-ins was the forced entry of von Trappen and Indy.


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