No, the Ancient Greeks Didn't Have Laptops
The ancient Greek grave marker.Sailko/Wikimedia Commons
The Internet loves conspiracy theories. Last December, silly claims that archaeologists in Austria unearthed a clay tablet with a cuneiform writing perfectly resembling a modern-day mobile phone went viral.
Now it’s time for another crazy theory.
Reports this week have resurrected a 2014 video from the YouTube channel “Still Speaking Out” which maintains that a modern-day laptop, complete with USB ports, is depicted on an ancient Greek grave marker.
Paranormal fans and conspiracy theorists went nuts: this is could be proof of time travel. The laptop would link in with none other than the Oracle of Delphi, they claimed.
“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 and various aspects,” StillSpeakingOut said in the video.
Currently on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., the marble carving is titled “Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant” and dates to about 100 B.C.
The relief, which is a little over 37 inches tall, depicts a woman sitting on a cushioned throne while a servant girl holds open a small box.
According to the museum, the rectangular object held by the servant is “the lid of a shallow chest.”
“The depiction of the deceased reaching out for an item held by a servant has a long history in Greek funerary art and probably alludes to the hope of continuing earthly pleasures in the afterlife,” the museum stated.
The dead woman must have come from a wealthy family, as revealed by the snake-bracelets on her upper and lower arms and the elaborate chair showing a leg decorated with lions’ paws and an eagle arm-support.
As for the young attendant, her clothes and hairstyle indicate she was a slave.
But according to StillSpeakingOut the earthly pleasures the deceased woman hoped to continue in the afterlife included the laptop she appears to reach toward, her eyes focused on the screen.
He noted that another picture taken by a random tourist from a better angle reveals the object is wide with a structure too narrow to be a jewel box.
“The claim is ridiculous as it is clearly a box,” classical archaeologist Dorothy Lobel King told Discovery News.
According to Janet Burnett Grossman, author of “Greek Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of the Collections at the Getty Villa,” the relief was formerly in the collection of British statesman Sir William Fitzmaurice Petty, second Earl of Shelburne and first Marquess of Lansdowne, and most likely came from the Greek island of Delos.
Burnett Grossman described the woman in the relief as reaching out to touch “the lid of an open flat box or mirror held by a girl standing in front of her.”
“This pose is similar to that on several monuments from Delos,” Burnett Grossman wrote.
Lobel King found the claim too idiotic “to deign to reply to.”
“Any time traveler would know that laptops are powered by electricity, whilst the Greeks did not have sockets,” she said.