The Time Travel Paradox in 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'

20 May 2023
In the film "Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny," the use of the MacGuffin time travel device, Antikythera Mechanism -, leads to a time travel paradox

The paradox arises from Archimedes' involvement in completing the dial he had begun building but not yet finished. He acquired knowledge to finish the Dial by means of a watch that he took from Voller's body. ..

Near the end of the film,  Jürgen Voller and the others had unwittingly traveled through a time fissure to the Battle of Syracuse...

Initially, Voller, a Nazi, intended to use the dial to go back to 1939 and alter the outcome of Hitler's regime by assassinating Hitler himself. However, Archimdes had always intended the user of the Antikythera would come to him, to assist in the battle - and thus the intended time travel location goes awry, and Voller and the protagonists find themselves in the "Roman siege of Syracuse," which occurred around 2000 years before Voller's intended time destination.

During this time, Archimedes, the renowned ancient Greek mathematician, and inventor (!), is in Syracuse and actively working on completing the original dial. It is revealed that Archimedes rigged the dial to ensure it would only send someone back to Syracuse on the day of the siege, allowing him to be saved...

indiana jones dial destiny time travel paradox
De-aged Harrison Ford in Dial of Destiny

Prior to arriving in the past, Indy and Helena find Archimedes' tomb and are taken aback by the fact that one of the mural drawings shows a raven with metal claws and propellers, and a watch on Archimedes arm which wouldn't be invented for 1000 years after Archimedes's death.

This creates a paradox because Archimedes' knowledge about watches is a result of events that have not yet occurred in his own timeline. It becomes a loop where the cause and effect are dependent on each other, creating a paradoxical situation. It begins when he takes Voller's watch from his badly burned body following the crash of his plane.

dian of destiny time travel paradox

The observed paradox in the scenario described above can be categorized as a "Bootstrap Paradox" or a "Causal Loop" Paradox.

This time travel paradox challenges the concept of causality and raises questions about the nature of time and its interconnectedness. It highlights the potential consequences and complexities of altering the past or introducing future knowledge into a different time period.

It has quite an effect on the film's plot!

In reality, the Dial of Destiny is based on the Antikythera Mechanism which was a complicated mechanical device used as a calendar that tracked the moon's movement.


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My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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