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Ancient Greek Statue of Woman Using “Laptop” Sparks Conspiracy Theories

ancient Greek statue some think shows a laptop
The ancient Greek statue some conspiracy theorists think shows a laptop. Credit: Getty Villa / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

A recurring conspiracy theory which has gone viral claims that an ancient Greek statue supposedly depicting a woman “using a laptop” is “proof” of time travel. The statue once marked a grave and was created around 100 BC.

Many inventions beyond their time are associated with the ancient Greek civilization, but the laptop was certainly not one of them…until now.

Of course, historians have dismissed the theory as nonsense and provided more grounded explanations, suggesting that the object in the statue may be a box or wax tablet.

Does this ancient Greek statue depict a laptop?

The statue that spurred on the conspiracy theory is called the “Grave Naiskos Of An Enthroned Woman With An Attendant” and is on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California.

The ancient Greek statue portrays a seated woman with a slave standing in front of her, holding a slim folding container. The woman, who appears to be the mistress, touches the top of the container with her fingers while looking up towards the upper part of it with her stone eyes.

However, various conspiracy theorists believe that the container depicted is actually a laptop, complete with USB ports on the side of the device.

In one viral YouTube video, an uploader claims that the ancient Greek statue “depicts an astonishing object that bears a striking resemblance to a modern laptop or some handheld device”.

“When I look at the sculpture I can’t help but think about the Oracle of Delphi, which was supposed to allow the priests to connect with the gods to retrieve advanced information,” continued the video’s upload.

They dismissed more feasible explanations, arguing that the container’s base is too shallow to be a jewellry box.

This is not the first time the conspiracy theory has popped up. In 2016, the Daily Mail published an article questioning whether the funerary statue was indeed proof that a time traveler had brought back a laptop to ancient Greece.

Expert opinion

Back in 2016, archaeologist Kristina Killgrove wrote in Forbes debunking the theory that the ancient Greeks had somehow come across advanced computer technology.

“It’s a typical funeral marker, depicting the deceased individual in a vibrant way, often, in the case of women, in a household scene,” explained Killgrove. “These stelai were carved in relief, and were almost always painted, although the painting doesn’t survive in most cases.”

“In this stele, a woman reclines on a chair and reaches to touch the lid of an object that is held by a girl whose hairstyle and clothes indicate she is a slave. This is a rather typical trope in funeral stelai, the image of a wealthy adult woman reaching to a servant, and may have reflected her family’s desire for her to retain her status into the afterlife,” continued Killgrove.

Killgrove suggested a variety of more tangible explanations for what the object held by the woman in the statue may have been, including a wax tablet or some kind of jewellery box or other container.

Rather than being USB ports, the holes on the side of the container may have originally been used to hold wooden items that have long since rotted away.

It is also possible that the holes were made during efforts to rework or copy the sculpture. Other parts of the stele are missing, so this is certainly a plausible explanation.

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