Real-life explorers who visited ancient cities and make Indiana Jones look tame

With his trademark hat and whip, he’s the swashbuckling archaeologist who will stop at nothing to get his hands on history’s greatest treasures.

Now Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge is being tipped to step into Harrison Ford’s boots as a female version of Indiana Jones, as we revealed yesterday.

The 36-year-old is already playing the hero’s sidekick in a fifth movie hitting cinemas next summer.

It’s 40 years since the first Indy film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, was released in 1981 and followed by three more.

But now James Moore can reveal some of the real-life adventurers to match the antics of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster character.

Dino Daredevil

Who: Roy Chapman Andrews

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat just like Indiana, the gun-toting American looks the spitting image of the fictional character.

And he also had plenty of brushes with death across the globe in his role as an explorer for the American Museum of Natural History.

These included nearly drowning in a typhoon, being charged in a boat by a wounded whale, almost being eaten by wild dogs, falling over cliffs and fighting off bandits.

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He once recalled: “I have been so thirsty that my tongue swelled out of my mouth.”

Just like Indy he also had a phobia of snakes. In one encounter he had to shoot a menacing 20ft python and on another occasion helped fight off 47 vipers that had invaded his expedition’s campsite.

Best known for searching China and Mongolia for fossils, Andrews discovered the first known dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert in 1923.

He said: “Always there has been an adventure just around the corner – and the world is still full of corners.”

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Hero who disappeared

Who: Percy Fawcett

A former British soldier and spy, Fawcett became a renowned explorer in unexplored regions of South America in the early 20th century.

There he mapped the “green hell” of the Amazon, claiming to have encountered giant spiders and to have even shot a 62ft anaconda.

Author Sir Author Conan Doyle used accounts of Fawcett’s exploits as the basis for his famous novel The Lost World.

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After returning to fight with bravery in the First World War while in his 40s, the adventure-hungry Lt.Colonel wasn’t finished.

He returned to Brazil hoping to find the fabled “Lost City of Z” – the remains of what he believed was a forgotten civilisation.

The 57-year-old’s search, later made into a movie starring Charlie Hunnam, ended mysteriously when he and son Jack, disappeared in the remote Mato Grosso, without trace, in 1925. Theories ranged from his vanishing through a portal into a different dimension, to being killed by a hostile tribe.

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Intrepid Inca Explorer

Who: Hiram Bingham III

Often snapped in the jungle wearing a floppy Fedora hat, Bingham was a US historian who preferred looking for ancient lost cities in Peru to sitting behind a desk.

In 1911, during an expedition sponsored by Yale University, he rediscovered the ruins of the Inca citadel Machu Picchu, bringing them to the attention of the outside world.

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During his adventures, Bingham also collected 40,000 artefacts as he and his team faced brushes with fire and near-fatal falls.

After making his most famous find high up in the Andes he said: “Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.”

Crystal Skull Buccaneer

Who: Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sees the movie hero battle the KGB in search of a telepathic crystal skull.

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But the plot echoes the life of real British adventurer Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges.

Shunning a career in the city he became an explorer in the Americas. He was captured by rebel leader Pancho Villa in Mexico and twice shot in the leg.

Roaming the region’s jungles he later discovered countless artefacts and unknown tribes.

And while looking for the lost city of Atlantis in the 1920s, he and adopted daughter Anna claimed to have discovered a beautiful, ancient skull under the altar of a Mayan temple in Belize.

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Chiselled out of quartz, he branded it the Skull of Doom and the relic has since been credited with deadly mystical powers.

While the skull’s authenticity has been questioned, there’s no doubt that Mitchell-Hedges’ own rollercoaster life lived up to the title of his autobiography – Danger, My Ally.

Lawrence of Arabia

Who: Thomas Edward Lawrence

The brave Brit is best known as “Lawrence of Arabia” – the World War One hero played by Peter O’Toole in the hit 1962 movie, who helped lead a successful Arab revolt against the Ottomans.

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He spoke Arabic, often wore local dress and led attacks against the enemy.

But he was also a trained archaeologist and before the war had worked on excavations with renowned Sir Leonard Woolley, himself famous for discovering lost cities and tombs across the Middle East.

After a life of adventure T.E.Lawrence died aged 46 in a motorcycle accident in 1935, near his home in Dorset.

Queen of the Desert

Who: Gertrude Bell

If the Indiana Jones filmmakers are looking for female inspiration, they wouldn’t have to look much further than Bell.

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After breaking the mould to secure a first-class degree in history from Oxford, Bell became an expert mountaineer, travelled all around the world and worked as an archaeologist in Syria.

Fluent in Arabic, she undertook a perilous, pioneering 1,800-mile journey through the Arabian desert alone and served as Britain’s first woman intelligence officer during World War One.

Recently played by Nicole Kidman on the big screen, Bell also helped set up the nation of Iraq. She once said: “The most degrading of human passions is the fear of death.”

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