Conspiracy theorists think this ancient Greek statue depicts a laptop user

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
Did the Ancient Greek have laptops? Of course not, but that isn’t stopping some people from looking at an ancient statue and thinking they see one.

The marble sculpture, created around 100 BC, is called “Grave Naiskos of an Enthroned Woman with an Attendant.” According to The J. Paul Getty Museum it depicts a woman reaching out to the lid of a shallow chest held by a servant girl. Or is it a laptop?

It isn’t, but that hasn’t stopped British tabloid The Daily Mail from asking “Is this ancient Greek statue proof someone took a laptop back in time (or is it just a TABLET?)” in a headline earlier this week. The story has been bouncing around for a few years now, when conspiracy theorist and YouTuber StillSpeakingOut contemplated it in a somewhat rambling video.

“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,” he said in a video, while also stating that he is “not saying that this is depicting an ancient laptop computer.”

Historians say the statue was once part of a grave naiskos, or three-sided grave monument. It was common at the time for depictions of deceased wealthy people to include them reaching for items. The J. Paul Getty Museum says this “probably alludes to the hope of continuing earthly pleasures in the afterlife”.

Whatever the servant was holding — some think it was a jewelry box, some think it was a writing tablet — it’s clear that most of it, including a chunk of the servants hand, has fallen away. We’re not seeing the full picture right now, and thinking it’s a laptop probably has more to do with the viewer than it does the piece itself.

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:

  • Why is a servant holding this laptop for the user? Shouldn’t it be on her … lap?
  • Why is this woman holding the screen? Has the hinge gone bad?
  • Why is this laptop so narrow? We know some people don’t like widescreen laptops, but this might be the narrowest aspect ratio we’ve ever seen.
  • Why are the supposed USB ports circular, and the exact same size as circles seen in other broken statues?

Sadly, we’ll likely never know.

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