At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark it is shown that the Ark is in a big army warehouse among thousands of similar looking crates, and it is hinted that this means it will never be opened ever again

What is the movie explanation for doing this? The US government send Indy to retrieve it, so clearly they valued it. They knew the Germans were looking for it, and so knew it was valuable for Hitler as well, either as a weapon or a propaganda machine. I can understand the army confiscating it, and not making it public in a museum, as Indy would probably want, but why would they just seal it away without studying it further?

The dialogue with the US government official hints that the US doesn't really intend to study or even open the Ark again any time soon, and would rather let it remain lost among thousands of similar looking boxes. Why did they want to do that?

  • 3
    "Why did the Americans just lock away the Ark and never study it?" Maybe they heard what happened to the Germans who tried to 'study it' .. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 12:48
  • 5
    "..but why would they just seal it away .. ?" Keeping a dangerous artifact that could be used as a weapon out of the hands of the enemy can have positive effects in itself. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 12:50
  • The German's were the first one's to 'study' it and had no idea of the precautions to take, so ultimately paid the price. The American's now know what not to do, doesn't mean they should give up on studying it
    – user13267
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 12:56
  • "..had no idea of the precautions to take.." You mean like 'don't open it or look at it when open, or touch it directly'? If I were the general in charge, I'd be quite happy to see it out of enemy hands and out of circulation or view with huge warning stickers slapped on the crate to the effect "Don't open before the apocalypse". Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 13:01
  • 6
    Secure, Contain, Protect. :)
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


Primarily, they wanted the Ark because they didn't want the enemy to have it and what they did with it is because it becomes lost in the bureaucracy of the American government.

The following is taken from:

"RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK" Story Conference Transcript January 23, 1978 thru January 27, 1978 George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Larry Kasdan

Cut to Washington. Our guy is getting congratulated. The end, sort of, is that he takes the Ark... It's crated up, no one even looks at it. They crate it up put it in an Army warehouse somewhere. That's how it ends, very bureaucratic.

It's sitting down in the government warehouse. The bureaucracy is the big winner in the film.

When people leave the movie they should think that the Army has this thing in one of their thousand giant warehouses, and that's where the lost Ark is.

Wherever the Army keeps that top secret stuff. It could probably stay there for eternity, because it's lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

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