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And All Was Right With the World

University of Chicago’s Indiana Jones Diary Mystery Solved In A Completely Satisfying Way


Late last week, we brought you a mystery straight out of Indiana Jones lore. An extremely detailed replica diary from Raiders of the Lost Ark was delivered to the University of Chicago addressed to Henry Walton Jones Jr., aka Indiana Jones. The school, and internet at large, speculated as to its origins but we’ve got the official answer. And it’s much more interesting than we expected.

The University of Chicago tumbled about the mysterious delivery and even went so far as to set up a specific email address where people could send in their clues or suggestions.

The delivery was so strange, not just because it was addressed to Indy, but because it shouldn’t have been mailed. The outside package contained fake, printed stamps. Turns out, the United States Postal Service can’t tell the difference. They corrected the zip code to get the package to the right address.

Red Eye Chicago writes,  ”The journal and packaging originated from Guam, where an Ebay seller who specializes in replica Indiana Jones props sent it off to the highest bidder who lives in Italy. On its way, the smaller package, addressed to Indy at U. of C., fell out of a larger package. Not realizing what had happened, USPS apparently inserted the correct zip code and shipped it to Chicago.”

Senior Admissions Adviser at UChicago, Grace Chapin, told Rey Eye the seller had contacted them and explained the USPS had contacted him about the mishap. The school’s tumblr has since been updated with a post titled “Mischief Managed,” so they’ve sealed a place for themselves in our cool archive.

As some theorized, this did indeed turn out to be the work of “Ravenbar” (real name: Paul, from Guam) on Ebay. After several days we were able to get in touch with Paul, who confirmed with us on Saturday that this was, indeed, his work, but that he did not know how it had gotten to us. Paul contacted us late yesterday to let us know that he had just received a letter (originally we were baffled as to how he got mail on a Sunday, but then we remembered time zones exist) from the USPS sorting service in Honolulu, HI (from a guy who, coincidentally, is also named Paul) stating that the outer package of something he had mailed had been found without its contents at their facility.

After all was said and done, Paul told the school they could keep the diary and that he would make another for the buyer. The school wrote, “It will find its home either in the Oriental Institute at UChicago or the Special Collections at the Regenstein Library because, as many have noted, ‘It belongs in a museum!’”

(via Red Eye Chicago)

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  • Anonymous

    That is a bit hilarious, that it was accidentally mailed there. All I could imagine was some rabid fan wanting to show off his/her work and being “clever”. I actually like that not only is that not true, but the USPS is doing an outstanding job.

  • John Wao

    I just hope that the as the package went from one place to another it was accompanied by John Williams’ score in the background.

  • http://twitter.com/MellyFlickster Melly Flick

    Or a prospective student. The U of C has a capricious admissions office; a kid who did something like that would almost definitely get in. The year I applied, they sent us the essay of a kid who’d gotten in early decision. It was a full-out love letter to the school.

  • http://twitter.com/rockinlibrarian Amy W

    And left a red line trail behind it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1056973688 Alice Gray Marks

    I would assume that the USPS CAN actually tell the difference, but found this object delightful enough to ship on anyway.