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The Dial of Destiny in Indiana Jones 5 explained

Adventure movies always need a good MacGuffin, and Indiana Jones 5 is no different, as everyone is chasing Archimedes' Dial. But what is the Dial of Destiny?

what is the dial of destiny: harrison ford in indiana jones 5

What is the Dial of Destiny? The artifact is at the center of the latest Indiana Jones movie, but like all great discoveries, it doesn’t come without a little bit of mystery.

Crafted by the great Archimedes, the Dial was believed to have been lost forever, with its supposed mystical powers being the subject of legend alone. Yet, half the Dial was uncovered by Indiana Jones amid an on-train battle with Nazis (as you do) and set the scene for this Indiana Jones movie and an unexpected adventure 25 years later.

But what is the Dial of Destiny? Is it based on a real artifact? Why is Doctor Voller so obsessed with it, and what’s all this about it potentially being a time machine? Hold your horses because we’ll be going on an adventure of our own as we answer all of your burning questions about the Dial and its role in the adventure movie.

What is the Dial of Destiny?

The Dial of Destiny is the artifact at the center of Indiana Jones 5. 

It was invented by the Greek mathematician Archimedes, but upon discovering that the item could be used for time travel, he broke the object in half and hid each part in a different place so that it could never be used or abused.

Doctor Voller manages to obtain half the Dial in 1944, right before the end of WWII, but Indy and Basil Shaw end up recovering it. The Dial and its potential power ends up driving Basil insane, so Indy takes it away from him and keeps it hidden until 1969, which is when Basil’s daughter Helena steals the artifact to sell on the black market.

With Doctor Voller still pursuing the Dial years later, Indy and Helena end up tracking down and recovering the other half as they face a race against time (pun intended) to stop Voller from using the Dial for nefarious reasons.

Is the Dial of Destiny real?

The Dial of Destiny is based on a real-life artifact known as the Antikythera mechanism. But it doesn’t hold the secret to time travel.

Instead, it has been described as the world’s earliest example of an analog computer. This is because the item was observed as having various interconnected gears, which, according to research, was used by the Greeks to observe, calculate, and predict the exact location of things like the sun, moon, and other planets in our Solar System.

Although there are rumors that Archimedes invented the item and that its mechanisms hold the secret to time travel, they’re really just that. Rumors. It was discovered in 1901 off the coast of Greek island Antikythera and at present, resides in Athens’ National Archaeological Museum. Just don’t tell Mads Mikkelsen

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Is the Dial of Destiny a time machine?

Kind of — Indy 5 director James Mangold describes the object as a kind of “time compass.” But it’s worth noting that while the Dial helps to enable time travel, it doesn’t necessarily make time travel possible.

According to the new movie‘s lore, the object was said to be used by the Greeks to calculate and pinpoint the location and coordinates of specific fissures (small openings) in time.

The exact time period which exists beyond the fissure varies depending on that fissure’s coordinates — but the Greeks believed that they could use the Dial to calculate specific fissures which opened up to specific time periods.

This is why Doctor Voller saw the Dial as instrumental in his plan — he used it to calculate what he believed to be a fissure that would send him back in time to change the course of WWII so that the Nazis end up winning.

what is the dial of destiny: harrison ford cave shadow

But the Dial has a fatal flaw in its design — the Greeks didn’t know about continental drift, so the Dial’s calculations and coordinates aren’t entirely accurate. So, while Doctor Voller was able to use the Dial to calculate the fissure, his calculations didn’t consider continental drift. This is why he ended up in the Roman era as opposed to the time period he was looking for.

So, what makes time travel possible in Indiana Jones 5 isn’t the Dial itself but the existence of fissures in time. The Dial is just a means of enabling and exploiting those pre-existing fissures in order to time travel.

Makes sense? No? Us neither — check out our Indiana Jones 5 ending explained for a more detailed breakdown, along with our Indiana Jones 5 review and guides to the Indiana Jones cast, everyone who dies in Indiana Jones 5, how to watch Indiana Jones 5, and whether there’s an Indiana Jones 5 post-credit scene.