If you search Indiana Jones Easter Eggs, Google will throw a few million results at you. Most highlight all the Star Wars references hidden in the films or Indiana Jones references hidden in the Solo movie. For example, as Sallah and Indy remove the Ark of the Covenant from its stone crate, R2-D2 and C-3PO can be spotted hiding in plain sight as hieroglyphics on a pillar.
But if you dig deeper, you will start to find references to an obscure 1954 film, Secret of the Incas. Charlton Heston plays Harry Steele, a proto-Indiana Jones character in the movie. Steele isn’t an archaeologist, though. He’s an American adventurer who earns a living as a seedy tourist guide in Peru.
Steele’s ultimate goal—and the film’s MacGuffin—is to find the Sunburst. The Sunburst is a gold disk encrusted with over 100 diamonds and precious jewels. Legend says this ancient Peruvian treasure has the power to restore the Inca empire to its former glory.
There are several Easter eggs from Secret of the Incas in Raiders of the Lost Ark. First is the location. Both films occur in Peru, but that’s been documented numerous times before. Another is in the final ten minutes of the film when Steele uses a golden mirror to reflect a beam of light to show the secret location of the Sunburst, much like the Map Room scene from Raiders.
There is also an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Easter egg. After escaping Cusco, Peru via a stolen airplane, Steele and love-interest Romanian defector Elena Antonescu travel downriver in a—you guessed it—a big yellow raft.
So what’s this secret, never-before-seen Easter egg, you ask? It’s actually the Secret of the Incas’ MacGuffin. The Sunburst makes a brief cameo in Raiders at about the six-minute mark as Indy and Satipo enter the inner sanctum of the Chachapoyan temple to retrieve the golden idol.
It’s easy to miss. The Sunburst only gets about three-second of screen time in Raiders. I’ve always noticed the golden disk and for years wondered why neither of the men grabbed it.
It wasn’t until recently that I saw the connection when I watched Secret of the Incas for the first time. Hopefully, I don’t have to turn in my Indiana Jones fan card for waiting so long to watch it.
So there you have it. The Indiana Jones Easter egg that’s remained hidden in plain sight since the movie’s 1981 release. You can watch the entire Secret of the Incas movie on YouTube. Raiders of the Lost Ark is available for streaming on Paramount+.
If you know of a web page that documents the Sunburst Easter egg before me, please include a link to it in the comments below. Thanks!