7 Archaeological Books Like Indiana Jones

Archaeological Books Review

In 1978, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Larry Kasdan first sat down to brainstorm the idea of Indiana Jones. They drew upon a wide assortment of hazy impressions and ideas culled from the hero comic book presses of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. So, where did that idea of a debonair globe-trotting archaeologist come from? No single figure can represent the breadth and diversity of those who scoured the globe for antiquities. It is possible to sketch a broad outline of their most consistent features and the conditions under which they worked.

The historical Indiana Jones was defined and bound by several distinct criteria. The first three were time, place, and gender. First, Indiana Jones was almost always a man. Second, he, or his ancestors, had lived in Europe at some point between 1750 and 1969. Third, this time frame means that he was a product of empire.

More specifically, he was the product of a mere handful of European empires that, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, managed to control or colonize the peoples of nearly every other country on earth for a period of about one hundred and fifty years.

Archaeologists played an important role in this political drama, unearthing the cultural capital that allowed one empire to claim supremacy over each of its rivals. After the Second World War, when most of these European empires lost their colonies, the historical Indiana Jones disappeared. Why? The answer is simple.

To conjure up the romance, adventure, and controversies of the globetrotting archaeologist, he needs to be able to cross borders with impunity and trust that he can fill his luggage with statues and manuscripts from a distant land without fear of reprisal. If you want to read like Indiana Jones, follow me.

7 Books Like Indiana Jones (Archaeological Books Review)

The real-life Indiana Jones played an integral role in providing those who possessed untold riches and power with justifying and maintaining their privileged positions in life. The real skill of Indiana Jones may not have been his bullwhip, but rather his remarkable ability to turn backstabbing misers into philanthropists and blood-soaked generals into kings.

The broad outlines of the real-life Indiana Jones and what he did are fairly clear and consistent. But no two explorers or archaeologists were entirely alike, nor are any of the themes described thus far sufficient on their own to encapsulate the course of every expedition.

There are many books and movies about Indiana Jones. People who like him also like adventure, treasure hunting, and archaeological books. I will review 7 books similar to Indiana Jones. Let’s go!

1. Amazonia

Amazonia is the most popular science fiction thriller book, and it’s on a bunch of best science fiction standalone lists. The premise of this book is that a research team went into the Amazon rainforest looking for different plants and cures for diseases like cancer and stuff like that. But they went missing.

No one knows where they were. They couldn’t find them because they’ve stopped working, and the last little bit that they got from the team was that they were coming. We can’t hold off for very long, so it’s a mysterious way that all of these people went missing.

At the beginning of the book, one of the group members searching the Amazon rainforest comes out of the rainforest to a random village. He is scarred, and his tongue is missing. So that’s where all the mystery goes, and then the whole story starts from there. The story follows one main character, and his name is Nathan Rand. He lived in the rainforest for quite a while, and his parents were a part of that expedition.

So he’s been in the rainforest searching for his father for years and years and trying to find out what’s happened to him or what went wrong. Obviously, with Agent Clark showing up, many people will want to find out where he came from and how he grew back his arm.

Another team is put together, including Nate. They go back into the Amazon rainforest, searching for clues of where this guy came from. They’re trying to track down what has happened and where these people are. Two of the other main characters are Kelly and Frank. Kelly is a doctor, and Frank is a part of the CIA group.

So he’s in charge of the whole expedition of trying to find what has happened with Agent Clark and where everyone else is. Their mother is a doctor, and she is the one doing the autopsy on Agent Clark and trying to figure out what’s going on from the US.

There is a ton of science in this book. The author researched it, and it’s true, but you don’t need to know anything science to understand what’s happening with those plants and everything like that. It’s a cool aspect of the book that you can learn a lot while reading it while also being super entertained. Some creatures in this book, like Indiana Jones, are not normal creatures that you come across every day. It is cool to read about those, and the book is filled with weird things that are going on.


Author: James Rollins
Average Customer Review: (4.6 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Space Exploration Science Fiction, Adventure
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

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2. Labyrinth (The Languedoc Trilogy)

It is a historical fiction book set in 1209 in Casani, France. Then also, in 2005, the year the book was published in the same location. It follows two different protagonists Alice, who lives in 2005 and is on an archaeological expedition exploring some history around this area.

That alleviates who lives in the beautiful fortress castle at 12:09 pm. These two stories are linked by information that can lead to the mysterious being real. This book is centered around a pretty interesting historical time. It was the first time Christians went on a crusade against a different group of Christians.

They didn’t specify which branches every character in the book practices. But it’s a melting pot of different branches of Christianity and some Judaism and different related religious groups living together and tolerating each other. The Crusaders are coming and want them to practice their version of religion. So it’s trying to ride the wave of historical mysteries that were popular right then. But then it also is quite different because there’s so much historical fiction in it.

The modern part where we follow Alice is the most like the da Vinci Code, though it is not nearly as fast-paced and the setting in the atmosphere is my favorite part of this book. If you are interested in going and watching someone run around a castle and have fun back in medieval France, then I recommend that you read this book.


Author: Kate Mosse
Average Customer Review: (4.2 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Religious Historical Fiction, Adventure
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

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3. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

I hope you are in the mood for some jungle exploration because we are headed to Honduras. There is a legend that the Honduran people are very familiar with called the Legend of Cuidado Blanca or the White City. The legend is an ancient civilization deep in the Honduran jungle in eastern Honduras. If you go there, you will get a terrible disease and die.

Douglas Preston is the author of The Lost City of the Monkey God. It is a non-fiction story about an archaeological site in Honduras, and he’s better known for being a thriller fiction novel writer. In 2013, he was part of an expedition to Honduras. They were in a helicopter, and they were using lidar to scan. When this light hour scan of this area came back that they had taken from a helicopter, they were so shocked. It looks like there have been tons of earthworks, and it looks like there are some stone ruins in this particular area.

So it takes about two years to work with the Honduran government to get permitting to physically go to the site and see what is there to go on the ground. There’s this team assembled, and Preston is part of the team. But he’s there as a reporter, and he’s not an archaeologist. So he’s reporting on what is happening. He did a great job explaining some of the cultural contexts of how archaeological sites in Honduras have struggled historically with looting, with issues with the drug trade.

The Honduran government has historically been pretty unstable. There are many coups, and there are a lot of turnovers. The book makes you feel like you’re in this incredible space that humans haven’t set foot in centuries. So that was interesting and exciting to investigate with all the poisonous snakes. There are even ruins of pyramid burial sites. It looks like there are ball courts similar to what the Mayan empire had.

The last half is about what happens once the team leaves the site and hopes to come back and do an excavation. The Honduran government was pretty supportive of this effort to protect that site from looting. So the book then goes into this, complaining about how the credibility of the archaeological team was attacked.

The team is covered in bug bites, and about a month goes by, and their bug bites are slowly healing. The team starts to notice that this one bug bite is not going away that about half of the team has. It’s getting redder and bigger, and it’s covered in this clear wet film, and it doesn’t hurt.

So they go to different doctors. They’re living in North America and Europe. The doctors don’t know what it is, and they’re treating them with antibiotics. But antibiotics wouldn’t help for it. So they started going to tropical disease specialist doctors within their countries with varied success. But it turns out everyone who had this bug bite had leishmaniasis.

Overall, the author did a great job of narrating his experience. He did a great job of providing cultural and historical context of what this civilization might have been like. There was a historical context section, and you will feel like Indiana Jones.

The Lost City of the Monkey God

Author: Douglas Preston
Average Customer Review: (4.4 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Honduras History, Archaeology, Nicaragua History (Best Seller)
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

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4. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

This is a non-fiction book about the famous explorer’s life named Percy Fawcett. He became completely convinced that there was some ancient city also called El Dorado by many people in the Amazon jungle. That would be filled with riches and have evidence of an ancient civilization. He dedicated his entire life to finding this, and he went on many expeditions into the Amazon. In 1925, he went on his last expedition with his son, and neither of them was ever heard from again. People could never figure out what happened to them or how they died.

David Graham, the American journalist, heard about the story and decided to investigate it for himself. Like Indiana Jones, he went through all documents and records and went to the Amazon himself to see if he could find any clues to show what happened to Percy Fawcett. Or if this lost city that he believed in did exist. So I love reading non-fiction books about these lesser-known topics or mysteries. By reading this and learning about the Amazon, you realized it is one of the most hostile environments on the face of the Earth.

The place of the Amazon is horrible. It’s not the anacondas and the piranhas. It is the flesh-eating bugs who plant their eggs under your skin. Or it’s the mosquitoes who carry every type of disease imaginable. Or it is the native tribes of the Amazon who were extremely hostile towards any explorers coming into their territory. So these adventurers, explorers like Percy Fawcett, were on the frontier and doing extremely dangerous things to map out all of these places and give knowledge to the rest of the world.

Through all of his expeditions, Fawcett also became more of an anthropologist, and he had a lot of contact with these tribes. If he could find the city, it would prove that they did have a vast civilization at one point.

Maybe it was because of all the European explorers who came through and spread disease and wiped them out. That is why it no longer exists, not because they weren’t intelligent enough. How tragic it was that these group of people had lost their lives and that their families never found out what happened to them? How incredibly sad that was by reading the Lost City of Z?

The book didn’t get interesting until the team was in the heart of the Amazon. They’re going down the rivers and falling apart and getting attacked by the tribal people. I never felt the same emotional depth for Percy Fawcett himself. He was such a larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind Indiana Jones type person.

So it’s hard to relate to him reading the story and imagine him as a real person instead of a character. David Graham was trying to give a much more broad view of the history of exploration into the Amazon. At times, I got disinterested and wished he would stick to Percy Fosse’s story. So overall, I did very much enjoy the lost city of Z.

The Lost City of Z

Author: David Grann
Average Customer Review: (4.4 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Archaeology, Bolivian History, Expeditions & Discoveries World History
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

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5. The Lost World

No one believes Doyle’s tales of adventures in the hidden world deep in the rainforest. His photos are considered fakes, and his stories are made of fabrications. Then reporter Edward Malone sent interviewed the professor, and Edward Malone is seeking a dangerous adventure of his own to win the heart of the woman he loves.

Professor Challenger then invites Edward Malone and Lord Ruxton to prove his story. Save the Lost World was an interesting one. It is the root of so much modern pop culture. So many films and books start with this single concept of the hidden dinosaurs deep in the jungle.

One thing I do have to point out was that this is from 1912 as 104 years ago. Professor Challenger is fundamentally unpredictable, and you will find similarities with Indiana Jones. Many of the other dislikable characters have some redeeming qualities, but I didn’t come across any with Professor Challenger.

Going back to the 1912 publication is interesting to see other societal standards that are so different. They all have cracked hearts and attire; at one point, they lose their hats in the adventure, and it is like civilization is falling. This cost is an interesting way to see how much things have changed in the last hundred years.

The writing style of the book is quite interesting. Even though this is a fairly short book is an astonishing amount of detail written into this. Every scene is written down in absolute minute details to picture what the writer wanted them to see. There is no assumption that the reader has any imagination, and not much dry detail can be hard to wade through. On the other hand, the excitement over the dinosaurs was quite fun to read, so that was the lost world by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Lost World

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Classic Science Fiction, Archaeology
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

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6. The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel

The Devil Colony has explosions in the Rocky Mountains, nanotechnology that terrorists will go after the Sigma Force to stop and get its power. But it can’t be possibly wielded by anybody because it’s that much of a powerful force. Many times in this book, you’re wondering why they will make it? One little spark could set the world on fire. Once again, it delves into the science and nature of mixing with the governments and secrets and protection devil’s colony.

The book opens in the past with discovering the gold-lined skull taken to Thomas Jefferson. Then it skips to the present as two young men trespass into this holy Native American site, where they find all these mummified bodies sitting there having committed suicide to protect the secret of this gold skull.

James Rollins has many books where the titles all melt together because they have the same undertones. They all have this theme of death, destruction, devil, and evil. It’s not Dan Brown, which is angels and demons and the whole religious science thing. This one has more science than religion, and the devil doesn’t even play a role in this book. It doesn’t even follow a theological theme, but many of his titles sound the same, sometimes confusing.

The Devil Colony

Author: James Rollins
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Native American Literature, Action
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

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7. King Solomon’s Mines

King Solomon’s mines are the stepping stone for adventure novels. There would not be Indiana Jones if there weren’t King Solomon’s mines. There is always something that triggers a group of heroes to go and find them. King Solomon’s mines are mythical and presumably belonged to the biblical King Solomon, but all things in due course. It is the arch typical adventure novel, so there is this treasure highlands.

There’s a treasure map and all the adventures. In 1885, the book came out with two major successes immediate bestselling statutes catapulting Rider Haggard to one of the best writers of his generation. As far as this book, these fantasy books were concerned.

The story starts with a group that is composed of three British adventurers. One of them is more adventurous than the other. So there is Sir Henry Curtis, Captain, and Alan Quartermain. They are the three main characters. Alan Quartermain was a hunter who lived in South Africa. Captain Good, his friend, joins him, and they seek the help of all Alan to search for Andries. It is the typical map of adventure novels.

So there are all the trappings of reality and geographic features. If you want very good reading and go back to how this genre started, this is a good place to start King Solomon’s mines.

King Solomon's Mines

Author: H. Rider Haggard
Average Customer Review: (4.4 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Victorian Literary Criticism, Adventure
Available: MP3 CD | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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