Globe-trotting anthropologist who drew comparisons to Indiana Jones dies at age 94

Globe-trotting anthropologist who drew comparisons to Indiana Jones dies at age 94


Schuyler Jones, a globe-trotting American anthropologist and adventurer whose exploits drew comparisons to iconic movie character Indiana Jones, has died. He was 94.

Jones’ stepdaughter, Cassandra Da’Luz Vieira-Manion, posted on her Facebook page that Jones died on May 17. She said she had been taking care of him for the last six years and “truly thought he might live forever.”

“He was a fascinating man who lived a lot of life around the world,” she wrote.

Da’Luz Vieira-Manion didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press on Saturday.

Jones grew up around Wichita, Kansas. His younger sister, Sharon Jones Laverentz, told the Wichita Eagle that her brother had visited every U.S. state before he was in first grade thanks to their father’s job supplying Army bases with boots.

He wrote in an autobiography posted on Edinburgh University’s website that he moved to Paris after World War II, where he worked as a photographer. He also spent four years in Africa as a freelance photographer. In his 1956 book “Under the African Sun,” he tells of surviving a helicopter crash in a marketplace in In Salah, Algeria, the Wichita Eagle reported. After the helicopter crashed he discovered he was on fire; gale-force winds had reignited the ashes in his pipe.

“Camels bawled and ran, scattering loads of firewood in all directions,” Jones wrote. “Children, Arabs and veiled women either fled or fell full length in the dust. Goats and donkeys went wild as the whirling, roaring monster landed in their mist … weak with relief, the pilot and I sat in the wreckage of In Salah’s market place and roared with laughter.”

He later moved to Greece, where he supported himself by translating books from German and French to English. He decided to drive through India and Nepal in 1958. He said he fell in love with Afghanistan during the trip and later enrolled at Edinburgh to study anthropology.

“He was more interested in the people and cultures he was finding than he was in photography and selling those,” his son, archeologist Peter Jones, told the Wichita Eagle.

After graduating he returned to Afghanistan and began to study local communities living in the country’s remote eastern valleys. He parlayed that research into a doctorate at Oxford University and went on to become a curator and later director at Pitt Rivers Museum that houses the university’s archeological and anthropological collection. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire award, one step below knighthood.

Similarities between Jones and George Lucas’ Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. character are striking. Aside from the name and the family business – Indy’s father, Henry Sr., was an archaeologist, just like Schuyler Jones’ son, Peter, are archeologists – they were both adept at foreign languages and wore brown fedoras.

And like Indy, Schuyler Jones believed artifacts belonged in museums, Da’Luz Vieiria-Manion told the Wichita Eagle. Eric Cale, executive director of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, told the newspaper that Jones permanently donated his grandfather’s artifacts to the museum. Jones wrote in his 2007 book “A Stranger Abroad” that he wanted to find the Ark of Covenant and donate it to a museum, which is exactly what Indy accomplished in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – at least until the U.S. government seized the relic and hid it away again at the end of the movie.

Pat O’Connor, a publisher who worked with Jones, told the newspaper that Jones had a “low tolerance” for slow-witted and pretentious people.

“I’ve never met a man so talented and capable and at the same time approachable,” O’Connor said. “But if you transgressed . . . by trying to present yourself as somewhat above your station intellectually, then that is the end.”

Jones wrote in “A Stranger Abroad” that he first heard of Indy in the 1980s when a museum director in Madras asked him if he was the real-life version. He wrote that he had no idea what she was talking about, but later thought the comparison was driving more students to attend his lectures at Oxford.

Jones was married twice, first to Lis Margot Sondergaard Rasmussen, and then to Da’Luz Vieria-Manion’s mother, Lorraine, who died in 2011. He later began a relationship with actress Karla Burns, who died in 2021, the Wichita Eagle reported.

He is survived by his son, three daughters, a sister, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, the newspaper reported.

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