What is physically killing the Nazis that look into the Ark? It makes no sense, aside from the writers adoring gratuitous violence and gore. Are the writers bascially saying eyelids trump supernatural powers in any case? Seems a bit... silly.
Why can't they just... you know... stop looking.
"What is physically killing the Nazis that look into the Ark?" The power of God, wreaking bloody vengeance on those who would defile the Ark. Indy and Marion are spared because they're the only ones paying the proper respect.
Indy decides to follow a submarine. Does he swim after it? Grab on to it as it sails above the water and somehow is never seen by the lookouts that would be there? Grab on as it goes underwater and he holds his breath for hours?
Not only that, but without his favorite hat, which he would sacrifice an arm to keep with him, and he gets it back by the end of the movie.
It's a different hat. The fedora at the end is dark gray. Maybe the same one he wears on the Pan Am Clipper.
This is an early German U-boat, so it cannot run submerged except on batteries. Its normal mode is surface cruising. And it's before the war actually started, so the deck guns wouldn't be manned while cruising on the surface (even though they were manned to threaten the freighter), only the conning tower. Thus, Indy has anywhere on the deck that cannot be seen from the top of the conning tower to hide. Such as, oh, right at the base of the conning tower.
Except that the Germans in the very next shot order the U-boat to submerge. Even though they could only run on batteries they would presumably remain submerged for more than two or three minutes, so either Indy managed to open the hatch in time, climb in, and somehow remain unnoticed, or he's the world champion in holding his breath.
If it ran underwater on diesel engines, it would keep the Schnorkel up, and Indy could hold onto that.
Since this is an Alternate Universe, plain and simple (how else do you explain Afrika Korps in Egypt in 1936?), so in this Alternate Universe, the schnorkel was undoubtedly invented several years before it actually was, so the U-boat could easily have remained submerged the entire voyage without once using battery power, with Indy lashed to the periscope.
I highly doubt it was alternate universe. That was NOT the Afrika Korps. That was an artifact finding expedition of the kind Hitler sent out to find stuff, in many cases supposed proof of Aryan superiority. Having a very tiny German presence in Egypt is not exactly something that would worry Britain in 1936, especially since its whole purpose is not (as far as the British government would be told) militarily related.
The uniforms were definitely Afrika Korps uniforms, which were not issued until 1941, and they are shown almost universally using MP 40s (not developed and issued until 1940), even though submachine guns were secondary and most used rifles, but, considering such an event never actually occurred - actual archeological expeditions had only the archeologists, no soldiers, for the reason that troops entering a foreign country's protectorate was and is an act of war - it would seem like an example of Artistic License.
The Afrika Korps symbol (a swastika over the trunk of a palm tree) is also visible at least once here and also in Last Crusade.
What was originally supposed to happen is that Indy would use his whip to lasso himself to the periscope, which would remain above water through the whole trip. But that bit ended up getting cut. It's still kind of a flimsy plan, though.
In the comic of the movie, which explains that he lashed himself to the periscope, shows the U-boat cruising just below the surface, enough to be submerged yet still use a Schnorkel.
The submarine trip has other problems as well: he had no food or water for what was likely a 38+ hour trip. Also: there's no way they could have fit the crate the Ark was in through the hatch of the submarine.
A Giant Mook punches Indy and he falls to the ground...and then the mook just lets Indy stand up before punching him again. What did he do that for?
Because he was winning, and arrogant.
Because he was having fun with Indy. You can tell he's that kinda guy right when he comes out of the hut, spots Indy, and instead of grabbing a gun or calling for backup he takes his shirt off and proceeds to take him on one on one. The whole point of the character is that he's an overconfident bully.
He didn't let him get up; he grabbed his jacket and helped him up.
The entire villainous plot strikes me as more than a little bit daft, even viewed from the very start before anyone knew melting faces would be involved. There are two possibilities: either the God of the Bible is not real and therefore possession of the Ark is meaningless, or the God of the Bible is real and the Ark has immense power. If it's the latter, what remotely sane individual actually thinks the Creator of All Things is going to just sit back and let it be used by the foremost enemies of His chosen people to conquer the world? It's really hard to imagine just what they expected to happen when they opened the Ark. The whole thing is properly buried under Rule of Cool and doesn't diminish the awesomeness, and it's also an satisfying Take That from Spielberg to the Nazis, but it's one of the bigger Villain Balls around.
Most Germans were Catholic - Hitler himself was an altar boy and still considered himself Catholic late in the war (he has in fact never been excommunicated so the Vatican still considers him to be a Catholic as well). Think of what the Catholic Church taught about the Jews for almost 2000 years. Yes, they WERE God's chosen people until Jesus came along and they betrayed and killed him. The official Catholic doctrine was that the Catholic Church was now the only way to God and the only true faith therefore any relic of the God of the old testament would be a boon to a Catholic country and its armies - not to Jews. To me, it makes less sense that Beloche would attempt to perform a Jewish ceremony.
The Vatican doesn't have to excommunicate him. Hitler committed suicide, so he was automatically condemned to Hell even if he hadn't been a psychotic murderer. And excommunication is supposed to be used to coax a heretic back to the church, not as a punishment or condemnation.
Little addendum to that bit about the Jews no longer being the Chosen People. They are still the Chosen People, but the rest of humanity has been added among the Chosen. The big difference is that the Gates of Heaven have been opened and Jesus is the road to get there. A lot of people (including Catholics) don't understand this and religious zealots have a tendency to take whatever they want to be so and run with it off the ragged edge of sanity.
Watch 'God on Trial', the Jews at the concentration camps were pretty much convinced God had forsaken them and started a new covenant with the Nazi party.
The two American agents who assign Indy say that Hitler is a nutter on the subject of religious artifacts. In real life the Nazis did in fact pursue knowledge about religion and the occult, and they even went so far as to place the swastika at archeological digs (picture cutting and pasting hieroglyphics in Egyptian temples) to make it looks like they were predestined to rule the world.
Hitler actually wasn't obsessed with archeology, he considered it a waste of time. Himmler was obsessed with archeology.
Nazis were religious and believed that they were doing God's work, you know. Just because they were Nazis doesn't make them immune to religious mania.
Well...not really. Or, rather, kind of yes, and kind of no. The connections between the Nazis and Christianity, especially, are pretty complicated. On the one hand, more than a few Nazi supporters did think they were doing God's work and were Christians of the 'Jews are the Christ killers!' variety. The Third Reich even had an 'Aryan' Church which tried to advance the idea that Jesus was not himself a Jew. On the other hand, another large chunk were extremely hostile to Christianity and sought to eliminate it from German life, and as time progressed that was the group which clearly held the most influence. It's largely accepted that had Hitler won the German church's days were numbered; it was to be systematically isolated and destroyed as a competitor ideology to Nazism. Too much Serious Business, I know.
It's simpler to consider the Nazi Party as similar to the American mainstream parties. Take the Democrats, they have both religious black preachers and militant left wing atheists. The Republicans? Well, they include fundamental Christians as well as libertarian agnostics.
Take a Third Option, captain. The Nazis though the Ark was a powerful artifact that wasn't associated with God in any way. They believed it was simply a weapon anyone could use.
Fridge Brilliance: This bothered me too until I realized that it makes perfect sense: The real life Hitler was always convinced that God was on his side (and was said to have searched for things like the Spear of Destiny), and what more fitting and sadistic way of disposing of the Jews would there be than to try to bring the wrath of their own Lord upon them? Remember, it doesn't have to make sense.
Certain anti-semetic Christians believe that when the Jews refused to follow Jesus they forfeited their place as god's chosen people, with Christians taking their place. Hitler's own religious beliefs were a rather weird mixture of Catholicism and Germanic myth, but it wouldn't surprise me if he believed something like this.
Something of an in-universe research flub: Belloq mentions that he thinks the Nazis are looking for the Ark because it makes any army carrying it invincible. In the Bible, every time the army carried the Ark into battle without God's specific direction to do so, they were SOUNDLY trounced and usually lost the Ark as well.
Of course, some of the Nazis may believe that they have God's specific direction to do so.
It's never been an element of anti-semitism that the God of the Jews is both real and opposed in some way to anti-Semites. So there's no reason for it occur to the Nazis that the ark might be a threat to them. Plus the "inherently powerful/magical artifact that doesn't actually channel the will of God" is another perspective. As stated in the movie itself, the Nazis (at least some of them) really were interested in all sorts of occult/supernatural stuff that might help them out.
There's God. He's looking at the goings-on on Earth and someone approaches, looks where He's looking and says:
"So, Hitler took over the world, huh?"
God responds: "He had the Ark, and the Grail, My hands were tied."
Either God unleashes lots of stuff like floods and plagues or he allows his creations the free will he gave them to try and fix their own problems first.
Well in that case, why doesn't God just teleport all of Germany's guns, tanks, planes, and battleships into heaven? You can't have it both ways. Either God lets His creations follow their own free will or He doesn't.
I think what the above poster was trying to say is that God's actions have no reason to be limited to grand catastrophes like plagues and floods. Why can't he affect his creation with smaller miracles, like teleporting away the Ark?
(to the poster before the above) Well, following your brand of logic, is the Ark an instrument of God or not? Then its effects are his responsibility, above and beyond any group of peoples' free will. Teleporting the Ark away is not the same as teleporting Germany's military assets away. False equivalency there. In any case, the Free Will Is Why Evil Exists has always been a terrible argument for God's inactivity.
Free Will is Why Evil Exists is a terrible argument? We'll that's certainly debatable.
Alternative theory: Indy's always in the right place at the right time, has a pistol fired at him at point blank range but gets away with a flesh wound, and avoids an attempted poisoning by sheer random chance. God's already acting to stop the Nazis, he's just not being flashy about it.
We saw what happened when the Nazis tried to actually use the Ark. Clearly, God wasn't about to let them get away with anything.
One of the first traps Indy comes across is this big wall of spikes that activates when anyone steps into the beam of light streaming in from a skylight. "Forrestal..." But how could the temple builders have possibly built a light-sensitive trap using ancient technology?
Now we know: the aliens did it!
Worse yet, if Forrestal's skeleton is on the spikes that pop out, who wound it up again after it killed him?
Probably the Hovitos.
How do we know it was light sensitive? I always assumed the traps all used mechanical levers in the floor that activate the wall of spikes and the arrows and were one shot deals. Something like that is well within ancient technologies.
The spike trap only activated when a solid object moved into (and partially blocked) the light beam.
What is a large Nazi military encampment doing in the suburbs of Cairo? Granted, it was before the war, but the appeasement strategy didn't go that far.
Archaeology. Why do you ask?
It wasn't anywhere near Cairo. When Marion goes to flee from his tent, Belloq tells him that the desert is "Three weeks in every direction." True, he may have been bluffing, but then Indy has that long, protracted fight scene with the Nazi convoy on its way to the Cairo airfield so it was clearly a significant drive.
Belloq was almost certainly bluffing, since Indy reaches a village on horseback barely 10 minutes after leaving the Nazi camp (couldn't have been much more than that, given how energetic his horse still was after chasing after the Nazis' cars at full gallop). We see dense growths of palm trees and grasses, houses, a primitive irrigation system, and one Nazi motorcyclist actually ends up in a small pond.
What sort of person sees a metal object in a fire and not only grabs it unprotected, but grabs it with their entire palm? Everything except the first two acts of the movie should have been Indy marching to the Ark unmolested and maybe catching a nap!
An idiot. What, you asked.
Or, someone who's desperate to get it, doesn't have time to think of other options, and knows that if he doesn't grab it he's not going to get the main thing he's set out to find in the first place?
He burnt his hand so badly, he didn't get it anyway. Some quick thinking there. Obviously, a master of the Indy Ploy.
The fight with the Giant Mook, as classic as it was, due to Indy's uncharacteristic refusal to just shoot said behemoth. He uses all sorts of dirty tricks (groin kicking, biting, throwing sand in the guy's eye), but doesn't think to just shoot him until his gun falls out of his holster during the brawl, whereupon he suddenly remembers he has it with him, and spends the rest of the fight trying to pick it up again. It's just such an odd lapse in logic, and a sharp contrast to the swordsman scene from earlier (oh, the potentially awesome missed running gag).
It did become a running gag - just look at Indy's reaction towards the end of "Temple of Doom", when faced with a bunch of Hindjas.
Yes, but my main point that it was out of character for the Combat Pragmatist Indy to engage in a fist-fight with a clearly bigger and stronger enemy rather than just quickly shooting him still stands. And yes, I am aware of the Rule of Cool reasons, but I'm looking for a Watsonian explanation here.
The big guy was unarmed and begging for a fist fight. Indy figures "Okay, he doesn't have a sword, I can probably save a bullet, beat him up and look totally badass in doing so by dodging his attacks and hitting him when he gets tired". It's only when the fight starts going badly for him that he considers just shooting him.
Also, the huge Nazi isn't actually coming after Indy with a lethal weapon. The swordsman was. Now, the situation Indy's in is dangerous. But if Indy is at all reluctant to kill people who aren't actively trying to kill him, that reluctance is likely to crop up here.
Alternatively, Indy is Genre Savvy enough to be familiar with what usually happens to characters who bring a gun to a fistfight. He already tried his luck once by bringing a gun to a swordfight; twice would be too many.
Did Indy even have his gun at this point?
Yes he did. Alternatively, maybe he was worried about the sound of the gunshot attracting more guards or something.
Ze Germans don't hear gunfire; only fuel tanker explosions.
Look again, He loses it fairly early on in the fight, which he consented to because otherwise the guy would just raise the alarm or shoot him anyway, a good portion of Indy's strategy is getting it BACK.
At first he is trying to remain unnoticed, sneaking up on the pilot having knocked the other guy out without killing him, he probably still figured he could keep it quiet if he won quickly by using the dirty tricks. The German pilot fires first which is probably what convinces him he might as well draw his gun, but after that he first doesn't have much chance to draw the pistol, and then loses it and spends the rest of the fight trying to get it back. If we take that he was going to be quiet, which given the number of Nazi soldiers he knew where in the camp makes sense, it makes a lot more sense that he doesn't draw his gun until later.
Indy loses his gun and tries to get it back most of the fight to shoot him.
The flying wing pilot doesn't hear the first mechanic shouting at Indy. He doesn't hear the mechanic hit the plane. He doesn't hear the mechanic's wrench hitting the plane. He doesn't hear the wrench getting sheared in half by the prop. But when the Bald Mechanic talks to Indy in a conversational tone, suddenly the pilot is all ears.
A major plot point is that Belloq is digging in the wrong place because the incomplete instructions from the head-piece have him using a staff which is too long. The translator says "six kadan" (which Indy says is "about 72 inches") less "one kadan". The correct length of the staff should therefore be about sixty inches. Yet when Indy enters the map room, the staff he uses is clearly taller than he is - probably even longer than the staff Belloq must have used.
Okay, so, the first ten minutes. What kind of archeologist would care about a stupid little gold statue when he's in a temple with loads of fully-functional death traps? Seriously, consider the ingenuity required for that whole "displaced weight equals rolling boulder" trap!
Um. Pretty much every archaeologist ever has cared more about the artifacts themselves than the mechanisms to protect them. When you read about the Pyramids, you read about two things: Graverobbers having gotten to them first, and the marvel that King Tut's tomb was still intact. Also, because he can, you know, actually take the gold idol. How do you propose he was going to bring a temple full of traps to a museum?
I think what the first troper was trying to say is that Indy's focus on the gold idol is totally misplaced. Any podunk civilization can smelt gold into a small religious statue, but the ones that built that temple were using light-sensitive traps, pressure plates, and then the rolling boulder thing centuries before other peoples could have pulled them off. Studying those would be * much, much* more valuable to understanding that culture than simply taking the idol and sticking it in a glass museum case. In a way, its an unintentional critique of the way we learn history, just grabbing the pretty stuff and showing it off.
Do we really know the traps were light sensitive? I always assumed they were mechanical levers in the floor section that set off the traps, and the arrows were fired from some kind of mini crossbows or simple spring mechanisms.
The spike trap only activated when a solid object moved into (and partially blocked) the light beam.
I agree, I thought the same thing in many scenes where the hero and villain are fighting over the Macguffin in an ancient temple with fantastic architecture, and many still active traps (bonus points for video games where the traps contain traps have continiously moving parts). Let the other guy get the Macguffin, and just come back with a team of engineers to find out how all the stuff works. It's got to be worth something too.
Yes, but no museum is going to pay for an intact ancient temple with working death traps and its own colony of gigantic spiders. It'll never fit through the door.
Maybe Indy's plan was to use the idol as leverage to convince the museum to mount a more thorough expedition. Without the idol, all they have is Indy's word that there's a huge hidden temple deep in the Peruvian jungle. Pretty easy for them to put the REJECTED stamp on Indy's funding proposal. But with the idol, they at least know something's there and they have reason to believe it's highly valuable.
You also have to remember, this was the 1930's; the bad old days of archaeology. Just a few years before, you had dozens of so-called archaeologists looting Egyptian tombs for gold trinkets, and using those dirty old mummies as fuel for the boiler on the ship ride home.
Using mummies as fuel is an apocryphal tale: a desiccated mummy wrapped in centuries-old linen would burn like gunpowder in a fire.
Maybe a background element of the Indyverse is that ancient temples are usually filled with complicated deathtraps, so they're not seen as interesting, just annoying obstacles to the good stuff.
By far the most hilarious part is when Belloq dons that ridiculous quasi-Jewish getup (that the Nazis somehow let him bring along. They forgot to check his luggage, I guess?)
This Just Bugged the filmmakers too. That's why they added the scene where Dietrich says he's "uncomfortable with the thought of this... Jewish ritual" and Belloq talks him into it (apparently, this was the last scene to be added to the script before filming). And the dialogue in that scene seems to imply Belloq had already talked the Nazis into this and that Dietrich was getting cold feet at the last minute, so they must have known ahead of time that he was bringing the outfit and what it was for. Of course, considering how much the Nazis hated Jews, this is still a pretty big Hand Wave, but at least they tried.
This troper never really questioned it, just assumed Belloq was more or less sincere (or at least genuinely thought it was a just a "say the secret word and the duck will come down" situation where all he had to do was wear the right hat and say the right lines to make the magic box work) while the Nazis justified it to themselves as taking the ritual to use the Ark "back" as its rightful owners, as THEY are obviously the rightful rulers of the world and Jews are just underhanded Christ-killing subhumans who aren't entitled to ritual pomp and circumstance. That or they viewed it as just another way to mock Judaism. (Toht obviously finds the entire situation hysterically funny.) In that light, Dietrich's discomfort looks more like he's starting to suspect they're making a horrible, horrible mistake.
Why does the US want to stop the war when they are supposed to be isolationist? And why don't they work with the British government (Egypt was under British rule then)?
This movie is set before WWII. The UK wouldn't be fighting it until 1940s, the US a year later. And why would the US, with isolationist policies still around, have anything to do with Egypt?
That's the problem right there — the American officials who recruit Indy talk like the war's already started and Hitler's proven himself to be the most dastardly villain of all time, when in the real 1936 Hitler had only reoccupied a portion of German territory that had been demilitarized after the First World War.
The UK declared war on Germany after their invasion of Poland in September 1939.
In 1936, American Isolationism was only just ramping up, and the Neutrality Acts (easily among the biggest effects of Isolationism, and not a pretty part of US history) weren't passed until 1937, primarily to prevent more American citizens from fighting in the Spanish Civil War.
Just because they're hesitant to engage in open warfare doesn't mean they're at all averse to covert operations. The US was pretty hesitant to go to war with Soviet Russia too. Didn't stop us from spying on them and trying to muck up their operations whenever we could.
I always assumed it was because they expected a war sooner or later, and didn't want the Nazis to have such a powerful weapon at their disposal when it did. This is more of a justification in LC, when the war was a lot closer.
Why is there so many people convinced that this takes place during WW2? The movie legends are clear: 1936, 1935 and 1938. So really, there should not be any problem for the Nazis to dig in Egypt or for an American to move freely through Italy and Germany (as long as they don't see him murdering people).
Because most people equate the Nazis to WWII (for blindingly obvious reasons), and forget that they were around before they decided to start their conquest of Europe. Hitler didn't just go, "Okay, let's invade Poland" the moment he seized power.
There still would be a problem with digging in Egypt. While nominally independent, it was still basically run by the British, and they would not have allowed a full-on German military operation there.
The series is implied to take place in an Alternate History, where Nazi Germany is already at war with Britain, which would allow them to dig in British-held territory and the Afrika Korps is created that much sooner, and with US isolationism still in place, the US government is unwilling to get involved with another foreign war, at least in 1936, but are not above covert operations.
Where is that implied? The Nazis sent expeditions similar to the one shown in the film to quite a few places looking for artifacts. Had war actually been going on, I'm pretty sure we would have known about it.
The actual digs were only the archeologists, without a Werhmacht or Waffen SS detatchment for the very reason that troops entering another nation's protectorate is an act of war. The North Africa Campaign was started (by Italy) for almost the same reason.
It could be assumed that their "massive archaeological team" was a cover to smuggle in the military elements, and the British authorities were deceived. There was also (unless I am mistaken) Italian-dominated territory in Ethiopia which could have been used to bring German troops in overland, again possibly without the British knowing; depending on how many were involved and how long they took to come in. It seems as if the dig site was far enough from anywhere to avoid notice from the authorities.
Basically everything having to do with the staff and the headpiece. Firstly, wouldn't the light shine at a different angle on different days of the year (perhaps you only use the staff during certain seasons, but I don't remember it being addressed). Also, how can the Nazi's reconstruct one that would even work? Where do they find out how to angle the gem just right? If it's all based on the imprint left on the guy's hand, they still would not have enough info. Lastly, Sallah says that the new headpiece has markings on one side. If the Nazis only need it for the light beam, why would they bother to put on the markings that give the size of the staff?
In regards to the angle of the sun, I always assumed the reason Indy chose that specific spot on the ground to stick the staff was because the markings on the ground said which slot to place it in depending on the time of year and whatnot.
As for the gem, the point is that they got it wrong, so if their gem is not cut right that would still give them an incorrect location.
As for the markings, the whole expedition is based on and shrouded in mysticism. They probably replicated the headpiece in order to be as authentic as possible, in the off chance it would make a difference. Maybe the light would reflect off the model city and illuminate part of the headpiece for an extra clue, who knows?
The markings on the floor do indicate where to place the staff based on the time of year. The markings on the headpiece tell how tall the Staff of Ra has to be. Since Belloq only got a copy with one side, his staff was too long and the beam lit up the wrong building on the model city. He was digging in the wrong place. Indy's staff was the right length. We can assume that the Germans did not get the same mystical light show that Indy got when they took their staff down to the Map Room, since only Indy was projecting a beam onto the correct model building. That one was probably covered in special magic reflecting paint or some such, just to let you know you had done your homework correctly.
Where did all the snakes in the temple come from? What were they eating during all those dry, dusty centuries waiting for Indy to come swinging down from above? Or are there just that many rats running around in there?
I always assumed that the tomb was like an underground lair for the snakes to hang out in when they weren't out hunting in the desert. They enter and exit through cracks in the walls or holes in the paintings. Indy saw them crawling out of the 'eyes' of a painting and that's what gave him the idea of crashing through the wall to find a way out, after all.
Yet when they open the hatch to the tomb there's a sharp intake of air as if it had been sealed airtight all that time
For all we know, the snakes have been eating each other in all that time.
Does anyone else find it a little disturbing that Indy, the crack archaeologist and professor, has no qualms about lighting a tankful of gas in an ancient chamber crammed with artifacts? I know, I know, the snakes are all over the place... but wouldn't he at least hesitate before engulfing those perishable wooden statues in a fireball?
Indy's not exactly the best at thinking ahead, and this isn't the first time he's screwed up at archaeology; those complex traps in the Native American temple earlier were of far, far greater interest than that idol they were guarding.
Along with being utterly terrified of the snakes and probably wanting to get rid of them ASAP, they were working a dig site practically right on top of the Germans who were digging in the wrong place and had a very limited amount of time to locate the Ark and haul it up and away before anyone noticed. Burning a path would have been the fastest way for him to get it over with.
Indy has survived as long as he has by making quick decisions under pressure. That was the plan his instincts came up with and he went with it.
It's not exactly "crammed" with artifacts, and besides, he only sets the snakes on fire.
Why does Indy have a two-person plane waiting for him just over a hill from the temple? If he knew the location so well, why did he walk there through the dangerous jungle? And what were his companions supposed to do once he took off? It's almost like he was planning to sacrifice them in traps all along.
The guys with him are natives of the country he is in, and he is paying them to guide him and help carry his stuff. Jock is his ride home. The reason why it's just a two person plane is because his guides simply aren't leaving the country. They live there.
How the hell did that chick write "I love you" on her eyelids? Eyeliner smears and smudges very easily!
People do crazy things for love, and crazier things for childish infatuation.
Egypt, while it was theoretically independent, was under control of the English, so it is doubtful that the Germans would have been able to actually start an excavation in the middle of Egypt.
Which is why they were there under the guise of a legitimate excavation with a renowned archaeologist supposedly in charge.
The series is implied to be an Alternate History, with Germany already at war with Britain, but is not yet at war with the US because of isolationist policies still in place. This explains how they have a large number of troops in British territory, troops who are apparently Afrika Korps (formed 1941), and have free rein with regards to excavation therein. This also explains how German soldiers use MP 40s and P38s years before their development and production.
Where are you getting alternate history from? The MP 40 was preceded by the extremely similar-looking MP 36 and MP 38, each a simplified version of its predecessor. Also, the Luger P08 looks a lot like the P38. Hence no problems with the guns. The Nazis actually did send expeditions to look for artifacts in different countries. The one we see was apparently trying to disguise itself as a legitimate excavation, as said above. I guess reality is stranger than fiction.
Yes, problem with the guns. While the P38 shares a vaguely similar shape as the Luger, they do not even remotely look similar, and while the MP 40 was based on the MP 38, the two do not look alike, and the MP 36 has even less of a resemblance (at least when you actually know what you're looking at; to some, the M3 Grease Gun, MP 40 and PPSh-41 are all the same gun), and that's not even getting into the anti-tank weapon Indy finds - the actual prop was a modified Type 56 (not that Type 56), or RPG-2 copy, standing in for a Panzerfaust - Indy should not have such a weapon (the Germans had no anti-tank weapon in 1936; the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck weren't developed until 1942). The actual digs were conducted by archeologists, without any Werhmacht or Waffen SS detatchment, for the express reason that troops entering a nation's protectorate is an act of war. While it is reasonable for them to be trying to look like a legitimate dig, they're not exactly doing anything that either requires a detachment or would attract unwanted attention, bringing that many troops, trucks and aircraft into a neutral territory would not go unnoticed (exactly what they don't want; besides which, the US government seems to know exactly what's going on the whole time), and would still be unnecessary for a dig (the soldiers don't really do any digging since Belloq and Toht hire or coerce locals to work for them).
If they were in a war, there would have been more signals about it. Also, a Germany holding Tanis during the war would either have already beaten the Brits in Egypt or would still be attacked by the British to push them back. The former would mean that victory in the war was near, the latter would mean that all those soldiers would have been sent somewhere else.
Plus the film DOES specify it's 1936. Germany and Britain still had rather normal peacetime relations back then.
We don't know which part of Egypt Tanis was in. It's possible that it was outside of the 1936 Egyptian borders, like say in what was technically Libyan soil - they'd have had no problem operating there (supported by Belloq's claim that "the desert is three weeks in every direction.") Notice that when they're in Cairo, they're a lot more discreet: they wear civilian clothing and leave the killing and bruising to local thugs.
Except Libya wasn't anywhere near the centre of the Ancient Egyptian empire, which had all its major cities along the Nile because that's where the water was.
Who said the Ark had to be in the center of they Egyptian empire? If I were the Egyptians, I'd think back to what happened to the Philistines when they captured the Ark and do my level best to keep it a safe distance from any population centers.
Why did the US goverment put the Ark in storage instead of studying it? Were they disbelieving of it's power or simply Genre Savvy and not fool with powers beyond them.
Indy can testify 'Yeah, despite the part where Belloq flawlessly followed the ritual as laid out in Leviticus, everybody who opened the box with intent to use it still died.' At this point, the US research staff would feel an understandable reluctance to open the box.
Who makes Indy's clothing? At one point he's dragged behind a truck on a dirt road and they receive pretty much no damage. In fact, they have enough padding that Indy isn't reeling in pain from friction burns.
The movie would be much less exciting if our brave hero cried of carpet burns every five minutes.
How did Indy get off the island at the end? Was there a plane on the island? Did he call in the United States government?
The Nazis were dead, but the area they died in was far away from the Uboat docks. So he just simply trekked to the docks and stole a free Uboat.