The photo of a gloved hand holding what appears to be an ancient (or alien) cell phone has been heavy shared on social media since late 2015. It’s also not real.
Ancient Cell Phone
The photo shows what appears to be a modern cell phone, ravaged by thousands of years of time, held in a gloved hand. A December 2015 story by the website Conspiracy Club (which was greatly expanded days later by Mysterious Universe) claimed that Archaeologists in Austria found the curious artifact which oddly resembled a modern cell phone. YouTube videos also popped up featuring the mysterious image, and surmised that it was evidence of an advanced civilization, aliens, or even time travel. These articles claimed that the “tablet” was dated to the 13th century BCE, and included Sumerian symbols. The so-called “Cuneiform tablets” were not said to be particularly rare – with millions of examples supposedly excavated.
Some social media users referred to it as an “800-year old mobile phone,” although the original (and still fake) story stated that it was dated to the 13th century BCE, which would make it over 3,000 years old. (This was likely due to confusion between BCE and CE).
Although such a discovery would be a sensational news event, the story was a total fabrication. The bogus articles were published without citing any sources as corroboration, nor did they include the names of the individuals who allegedly discovered this incredible artifact.
The object in the photo is real, but its origin has a more terrestrial explanation than the outlandish backstory created by Mysterious Universe. Referred to by a reader as the “BabyloNokia,” this is merely a work of art created back in 2012 by Karl Weingärtner of Art Replik Studio. The object was made of clay and was being sold online.
Weingärtner did not approve of the popular (and quite fake) backstory attached to his creation, telling Huffington Post, “The photo was used without my knowledge and without my consent. It’s not what I wanted. I do not believe in UFOs and I do not believe in aliens.”
As the fake Mysterious Universe story spread on social media, many readers were fooled into knee-jerk sharing of the image. Even recording artist Wiz Khalifa was fooled, as evidenced by his tweet which read, “They found an aliens cell phone.”
They found an aliens cell phone. Thats fire.
— KOE (@wizkhalifa) February 18, 2016
With the true source of the phone proven to be a work of art, one might assume that the story would go away, however it seemed to actually pick up steam in the weeks after the story first appeared.
The photo – and accompanying story – which shows an “ancient cell phone” is actually a 2012 work of art by a German sculptor by the name of Karl Weingärtner.