Factual error: As Ben is clinging to the staircase while it is falling apart, there is a close-up of a nail being pulled out of the wood. This nail is round-headed, rather than square as it would have been over 200 years ago. It's also shiny instead of rusty, which indicates that it's galvanized. Galvanization as an industrial, metal-preservation process was not patented until 1837, and was not used in building materials until well into the late-1800s. Since the film states the staircase was made by "the Founding Fathers, " and there was no galvanization of iron nails in any industrialized nation in 1780s-1830's, this is a huge anachronism.
Factual error: When Ben, Abigail, and Riley are discussing the correct time to be at Independence Hall, they would need to know the exact date, not only the time, of the painting to be sure to see the correct shadow.
Factual error: The sun's location horizontally changes throughout the year. Because of this, Ben, Abigail, and Riley shouldn't know where the shadow is falling, horizontally.
Factual error: When Ben and the rest of the group start to climb under the church, Ben moves some spider webs out of the way with his torch. The dust on the spider webs would have burst into flames when he did this, but instead they just fall to the side.
Factual error: When Dr. Chase receives the Washington campaign button from Ben Gates, she immediately picks it up with her bare fingers and rubs it with her thumb. An expert collector would *never* handle metal objects with their bare hands like this, as the acid on the fingers will corrode the metal. Cleaning the coin afterwards is also not an option, as this presents an even higher damage risk to the coin. See http://www.stujoe.com/content/view/30/34/ for more details on this subject.
Continuity mistake: When Ben is first confronted at his father's car by the FBI, you can see Chase and Riley in the background standing there and then turning around and leaving. Then as they arrest Ben against the car, you can see Chase and Riley just turning the corner, noticing Ben being arrested, and leaving.
Continuity mistake: The actor who plays Ben as a child has brown eyes, but Nicholas Cage has blue eyes.
Factual error: When Ben finds Charlotte buried in the ice, he would have encountered solid, thick ice. The small pick-ax he uses seems to easily break through the ice. Also, he seems to be digging through packed snow, rather than thick ice, which is indicative to the Arctic ice shelves.
Factual error: During the heist preparation scene, Riley enters the National Archives Metro station to record surveillance camera footage. Surveillance camera feeds for the National Archives would never be accessible within a Metro station due to both security concerns and the fact that the feeds are not needed outside of the National Archives building. (00:32:00)
Continuity mistake: When Ben walks in to the bathroom to remove his overalls, he slams the tool belt up in the corner of the counter next to side panel wall and tile wall. When Ben unzips the overalls, the tool belt is now behind the last sink's faucet with part of the belt and fastener in the middle sink. None of the tool belt is next to the side panel wall. We next see a shot where the tool belt is almost entirely in the last sink, then back to being behind the faucet.
Continuity mistake: When Ben ducks into the Gift Store, there is a blonde lady in a black dress standing at the counter between Ben and the door. She steps forward out of the picture as Abigail goes by. Then as Ben starts to turn to leave the store you see her arm come back into the picture. But as Ben walks by that part of the store and the clerk says to Ben, "Are you trying to steal that?" the lady has disappeared.
Continuity mistake: When Ben puts his tool belt on the conveyor belt to go through the X-ray machine, we see the gloves are on the left and pointed down while the red, rubber encased plyer handles are approx. in middle leaning slightly to the right and no space between the plyer handles. As we watch the tool belt go through the X-ray machine, the gloves are on the right side with the plyer handles almost directly above the gloves, both handles visible and the rest of the belt all to the left.
Continuity mistake: After Ben And Riley climb down into the smuggler's hole and are scrambling to get away, Ben grabs Riley and throws him through a hatchway. Riley lands in the snow with a wall next to him, on the screen's left side. Right before the blast, Ben dives (is thrown) facedown in the snow next to Riley but the screen is a mirror image of the previous one because the wall is now on the right of the screen and so is Riley.
Continuity mistake: When we first see Dr. Chase's desk there is a Rolodex on the upper left hand side (as she is looking out over her desk). Then when Dr. Chase confirms that the FBI is right, that nobody could steal the Declaration of Independence, we see the Rolodex in the shot between her and Ben. It then disappears until Dr. Chase says, "You're treasure hunters,aren't you?" where it reappears between her and Ben. It not on her desk as Riley says "...owned by Freemasons." but reappears as Dr. Chase says, "Did Bigfoot steal it?"
Factual error: The security to get into Independence Hall is very strict, since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Security would not have allowed Ben to keep his pocket knife when he entered it. This should not be confused with his disguising as a janitor, as this happened at a different location (National Archives) earlier in the film.
Continuity mistake: When Abigail runs down the aisle trying to find a hiding place from Shaw and Viktor, she jumps over a small space between some meat display coolers. In that shot the "butcher lady" can be seen behind a large roll of brown paper to the right of the scene. To the left of the space, behind a roll of white paper, is a second butcher. This second butcher is right next to where Abigail lands and is sitting when the first butcher lady says: "If you're not a steak, you don't belong here." But there is no one near Abigail when the camera show her sitting there, talking to the butcher lady.
Factual error: The National Archives room with the Declaration of Independence is actually darker than portrayed in the movie. The lack of light is for the protection of the documents, so that the writing doesn't fade away.