A conspiracy theorist’s YouTube video about how this ancient Greek grave marker depicts a laptop more than 2,000 years before personal computers were even a thing has resurfaced, and went viral
Currently on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, the marble carving entitled “Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant” has been dated to around 100 BC, and sourced possibly to Delos – a tiny island to the east of the Greek mainland with enormous mythological, cultural, and archaeological importance.
Stretching 94 cm high and more than 120 cm across, the carved funerary relief depicts a wealthy woman reclining on an armchair, reaching out to an object being offered up by a servant girl. “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 notes.
Legend has it that the Oracle of Delphi connected priests with super natural beings who passed along advanced technology and information.
And conspiracy theorists claim that is how a modern-day laptop ended up in a Greek sculpture from 100 BC.
But historians say the sculpture is just a deceased woman ‘touching the lid of a shallow chest’.
The official description of the laptop-like item is a “shallow chest”, and despite YouTuber StillSpeakingOut (he sure is) insisting that a tourist’s picture taken from a different angle shows that the object is too wide and narrow to be a jewelry box, US-based classical archaeologist Dorothy Lobel told Discovery News what we’re all thinking.
“The claim is ridiculous as it is clearly a box,” she says.
On its website, the museum describes the marble sculpture — called “Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant” — as showing the woman reaching out “to touch the lid of a shallow chest.” So, no, the ancient figure is not reaching out for the latest Apple product. But that hasn’t stopped some from speculating about the object in question.
Another well-known classical archaeologist, Janet Burnett Grossman, told Discovery that the object is likely a flat box or a mirror, while others have suggested that it’s a wax writing tablet, which were used to record official documents at the time, such as birth certificates.
“If we look at other similar depictions in Greek art, we can see that a tablet – of the ancient variety, not the modern kind – looks a lot like a small laptop, and like the object in this grave marker,” Kristina Killgrove writes for Forbes. “Usually it is men who are depicted with a wax tablet, though, so why this wealthy woman?
There is also evidence of the goddess Athena being shown with a writing tablet and stylus, so the association between the wealthy deceased woman and Athena via a wax tablet makes some sense.”
Here’s a Roman scribe with his stylus and tablets on a tomb in Flavia Solva in Noricum.
But let’s assume this is a laptop, delivered by TARDIS or a plutonium-powered DeLorean to the ancient Greeks. We’ve got a few important questions:
Sadly, we’ll likely never know.
On its official Facebook page, the Getty Museum responds to the conspiracy theorists with humor. When one user writes, “This is what happens when time travelers don’t cover their tracks thoroughly enough. Learn from Doc Brown, people!” the museum responds, “So true, so true.”
A different user saw something entirely different in the statue, making it something of an archaeological Rorschach test: “Pizza box. And the pizza is stuck to the lid,” the user suggested.