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"Artifacts/relics for your Indiana Joneses to plunder" Topic

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Double W24 Sep 2009 4:46 a.m. PST

Every good tomb robbing adventure needs a magical/holy/mysterious artifact to serve as the MacGuffin. I don't know of any comprehensive database of such relics (there are several books recommending a few, but only a few), so let's see what we can come up with.

To keep this from getting too unwieldy, rule #1: It must be an artifact from real world history or mythology. You can't make up ones on your own, such as the "Amulet of Merlin" if there is no mention of said amulet in Arthurian legend.

Rule #2: It can't be a lost city/lost land/lost temple. It must be an object. (Although if you want to mention where said object could be found, that's fine.)

OK, let's get some obvious ones on the list:

1. The Ark of the Convenient
2. Noah's Ark
3. The Sword in the Stone/Excalibur (yep, I know they're really two different swords)
4. The Holy Grail, whether it be a cup or an ancient bloodline
5. The Treasure of the Templars
6. The Spear of Destiny
7. Crystal Skulls
8. Aliens bodies/spacecraft
9. Egyptian Book of the Dead
10. The Golden Fleece
11. Orichalcum (the mysterious, power-generating metal from Atlantis)
12. Aaron's Rod/Staff of Moses -- The staff (or staffs) that turned into serpents, as mentioned in the Old Testament
13. Thor's Hammer

I'm having a hard time coming up with other, more obscure relics, particularly from Mesoamerican or Asian history/mythology. I'll keep plugging away, but please add any you can think of.

Commodore Wells 124 Sep 2009 5:19 a.m. PST

Pandora's Box

The nails from the crucifixion (and countless other Christian relics)

Canterbury Cathedral used to have the earth from which Adam was made

NoLongerAMember24 Sep 2009 5:26 a.m. PST

Odin's spear Gungnir
St Georges Lance
Body/Tomb of Alexander
Piece of the True Cross

Big Martin24 Sep 2009 5:26 a.m. PST

Presumably the Ark of the Convenient is so called beacause it is easier to find the the Ark of the Covenant.

flicking wargamer24 Sep 2009 5:39 a.m. PST

The secret formula for Coca Cola.
The recipe for "secret sauce" at Burger King.
Clues to the "real" killer. You could get OJ to costar.
The secret magical item that is making people such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Nicolas Cage famous.

Martin Rapier24 Sep 2009 5:45 a.m. PST

The Necronomicon? I don't think everything in HP Lovecrafts world was made up, so I'm sure there are some other obscure magical texts as well.

These are more in the manner of heaps of old bones but…

The Princes in the Tower.
The Missing Link.

The formula for the transmutation of lead into gold.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2009 5:45 a.m. PST

Well, since you asked

1. Mayan books – there are few left since the Spanish burned most of them – but for starters, there could be the story of the marriage of Xbalanque with the Earth God's daughter – or the Popol Vuh, the story of the creation of the worl

2. Aztec artifacts – a shield with the hair of Cihuacoatl, Goddess of Motherhood, woven into it – a necklace of skulls dedicated to Coatlicue, Goddess of Death – a statue of Tiahuizcalpantecuhtli, God of the Dawn and incarnation of Quetzalcoati, the Feathered Serpent

3. Japanese myth – A golden bear statue dedicated to Kintaro, the cloak of the legendar dragon slayer Susanuo, the golden sword that Susanuo gave to his sister Ameraterasu, Goddess of the Sun

4. Chinese myth – Lots here – the Five Flavoured Tean of Forgetfulness from the Goddess Meng Po, that induces amnesia – a statue of Guan Yin with the power to relief pain and suffering – the sacred banner of Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, the original copy of Fengshen Yanyi (the Investiture of the Gods, a major work from the Ming dynasty), the gourd of Iron Crutch Li which held either healing medicine or the ability for spirits to move from one body to another, Ruyi Jingu Bang – the magic staff of Sun Wukong who used it to defeat the Dragon King of the East Sea

5. Other Asian artifacts – the Samguk Yusa, the founding legends of Korea, Tuuan Thien – the Will of Heaven, the mythical sword of Vietnamese King Le Loi who liberated Vietnam from the Chinese, the Iron House o K'daai Maqsin, the Yakut fire demon who has curative powers

6. Last but not least – the Mongolian Death Worm – reputed to be a bright red worm, 1 meter long, that lives in the Gobi Desert – said to belch out sulfuric acid and/or electrical charges that kill anything in contact with the Death Worm

Hope this helps!

GrantS24 Sep 2009 5:56 a.m. PST

Although extremely obscure/etc. Maybe Runestones from a North American Viking expedition?

More modern history, and not a whole lot of emhpasis (The Russians wouldn't care!) but a not-often-mentioned thing that has some possibilities.

Commodore Wells 124 Sep 2009 6:12 a.m. PST

The Caudron of the Dagda (Celtic mythology: it produced limitless food and dead warriors thrown into it were brought back to life. Some believe it's the origin of the Grail myth)

The Scone Stone (which screams when true king of Ireland stands on it).

Norrins24 Sep 2009 6:40 a.m. PST

Have you looked at wikipedia?


Dragon Gunner24 Sep 2009 6:53 a.m. PST

Power crystals of Atlantis.

Chamber of Secrets beneath the paws of the Sphinx.

Commodore Wells 124 Sep 2009 6:57 a.m. PST

Joanna Southcott's Box! (google it; a truely bizarre artifact of eccentric, English, occult wierdness)

richarDISNEY24 Sep 2009 7:31 a.m. PST

Col. Sander's Recipe for his 11 herbs and spices? wink

The Lament Configuration (Hellraiser puzzle box)?

The temple of the Forbidden Eye and the Jewel of Power? (based on the Indiana Jones rides from Disneyland – Anaheim and Disney SEA – Japan)


thosmoss24 Sep 2009 7:31 a.m. PST

A couple favorite lost ones:

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Lighthouse of Pharos
The Library of Alexandria
First edition of Magic: the Gathering cards

Jana Wang24 Sep 2009 8:42 a.m. PST

Amelia Earhart
Map to: entrance to the underworld/ center of the earth
lost city of gold

Personal logo Aurochs Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2009 10:04 a.m. PST

the sword of Atila the hun
the sword of Julius Caesar
the lion skin of Hercules
the golden fleece
the treasure of Delphi which was looted by Brennus

Norrins24 Sep 2009 10:04 a.m. PST

1st edition Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone???

Double W24 Sep 2009 10:34 a.m. PST

>Presumably the Ark of the Convenient is so called because it is easier to find the the Ark of the Covenant.<

Why yes, it is. I happen to have one I use as a coffee table. You have to be careful not to bump into it though -- at that point faces get all melty.

Good job everyone. To repeat the rules: 1) No artifacts you made up. 2) No places. And I will add a third one: No mythological/cryptozoological animals, since there are already big lists of them. However, a part of a legendary animal is acceptable if it had some mythological precedent. For example, an alicorn, which was the horn of a unicorn. It was supposed to neutralize all poisons and purify water. Many fake ones were sold in the middle ages, but the one in your gaming world could be real.

BTW, thanks for the wikipedia link. I mean, jeez, do the people who contribute to that thing have nothing better to do? (Then again, look who's talking.)

Dances With Words Fezian24 Sep 2009 11:01 a.m. PST

check out some of the 'artifacts' from the WAREHOUSE 13 website!!!!


momoiro kakaricho24 Sep 2009 11:53 a.m. PST

The Nine Cauldrons of Yu, which were symbols of imperial legitimacy up until the Qin unification of China. The myth holds that one of the cauldrons was lost in a river when the cauldrons were being taken by the first Qin emperor back to his capital. Nothing is recorded regarding the other eight.

I think that Sun Wukong's staff is a reference to the Staff of Yu. This staff is supposed to have been used by Yu to measure the depths of rivers in his flood control works, thus it's ability to change length and "anchor the oceans".

- Eric

terrain sherlock24 Sep 2009 12:02 p.m. PST

the Maltese Falcon..

I dunno if it's real.. but it *could* be..:-)

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2009 3:27 p.m. PST

Momoiro – right you are! You know your arcane Chinese history

Timbo W24 Sep 2009 4:36 p.m. PST


The English Crown Jewels (which bad King John carelessly lost in the Wash).

Jesus' fingers £500.00 GBP each or £5,000.00 GBP for the dozen ;-)

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

Redroom24 Sep 2009 4:52 p.m. PST

Noah's Umbrella…

Double W24 Sep 2009 5:41 p.m. PST

Here's a couple more modern "relics":

1. The Cardiff Giant -- A hoax, but it could be the real thing in a pulp game.

2. The Fiji Mermaid -- Again, a hoax, blah blah blah. Maybe it whispers to its possessor the hidden location of Atlantis?

Then there are:

3. The Antikythera mechanism -- the famous Ancient Greek "computer." A working model might decode a famous ancient text, which then leads to an even greater treasure. Or it could predict an upcoming planetary catastrophe, given it was used for astronomy.

4. The Baghdad battery -- The name given to a number of desert jars that may have been used to produce electrical currents. The question is: why? Of course the answer is to power an ancient superweapon.

Here's an wikipedia entry about "out-of-place artifacts" from pop archeology: link

Also, we're missing artifacts from Africa. Here's one:

5. Nu-mendo, the iron hammer used by the hero Makoma to defeat several giants in battle. (Thanks to Hellboy for pointing out that one.) Link to original myth: link

Henry V24 Sep 2009 5:45 p.m. PST

Waldo. . .

Russian Bear24 Sep 2009 6:27 p.m. PST

Osama Bin Laden

capncarp24 Sep 2009 6:32 p.m. PST

--A large wooden box with the remains of Peking Man.
--Cans of developed home movies labeled "Dallas, November, 1963"
--A climate-controlled sealed vault with complete copies of all commercial films made between the 1890's and 1939, all in pristine condition.
--A secluded reserve with dodos and other creatures thought to be extinct in it.
--A filing cabinet full of secret files on notable personages compiled by J. Edgar Hoover.
--A branch of the Great Library at Alexandria, specializing in "rare books" of that time.

Shriver24 Sep 2009 6:59 p.m. PST


Double W24 Sep 2009 9:00 p.m. PST


>Osama Bin Laden<


"You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little f----d up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to f----n' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"

I guess Joe Pesci's career could qualify.

PapaSync26 Sep 2009 3:52 p.m. PST

Check out Warehouse13 they have lots of stuff to pick from.

abdul666lw27 Sep 2009 6:10 a.m. PST

A good and enjoyable -for various reasons- list.
Of course, most items are actually part of the heritage of those Extra-terrestrial / Elohim who gave Humamnkind its first taste of civilization: thus, the *original* technical manuals would be even more enlightening.

I feel a fondness for the Necronomicon -and other books appear in Lovecraft (d'Erlette's Cultes des Goules, Prinn's De Vermis Mysteriis, von Junz's Unaussprechlichen Kulten…).

Now, the Secret Archives of the Fortean Society and the original, uncensored and abundantly illustrated edition of the Kamasutra can be extremely informative, if in different ways.

They maybe copyrighted, but the 'wooden box' of Hellraiser movies and the Witchblade link have potential.

The Ring of Three Witches (3 witches appear and put each a separate curse on you when you do it) and the Helmet Allowing To Sleep At The Table While Pretending To Enjoy The Conversation (the very one used by Sickfried to seduce Borehilde) are more Fantasy than Pulp, I'm afraid

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