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Time-travel theory debunked after man is ‘spotted with iPhone’ in 1937 painting

Time-travel theory debunked after man is ‘spotted with iPhone’ in 1937 painting

Surely they couldn't have seen the advent of the iPhone before time?

A painting from 1937 recently went viral after people were convinced they spotted a man using an iPhone in it, but unsurprisingly, this theory has since been debunked.

The painting - Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield by Umberto Romano - shows the colonisation of what is now Springfield Massachusetts and includes one detail which has got people talking.

The detail shows an Indigenous man holding a grey rectangular object. He is also staring at it intently, with an odd expression on his face.

It's easy to see the resemblance.
David Stansbury/Smithsonian National Postal Museum

This is where that habit of imposing our modern thinking on the past comes in.

Many people have jokingly suggested that the man is actually holding an iPhone, despite the device not being released until decades later.

It's easy to see the comparison, as the form of the man's hand actually looks very similar to how we scroll through our phones today.

One Redditor wrote: "Looks like they are going through the tied-up guy's browser history. Thinking maybe we should untie him. He seems to be into this kinda thing."

Another posted: "Sure as hell does. Including the look on guy's face, like he just saw his most recent post got downvoted into oblivion."

It's a pretty brutal painting.
David Stansbury/Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Of course, there's no way that Romano could actually have intended to convey someone looking at an iPhone.

It's not the only time his work showed someone appearing to use a piece of modern technology - another piece shows a woman looking at an object which, to a modern eye, could be an iPad or tablet.

So what actually are they? It's difficult to say exactly, but there are many possibilities. One of the most likely explanations for the woman is that she is looking at a mirror which happens to be about the same size as a modern tablet. As for the man with the 'iPhone', it could be some sort of axe head, or again a hand mirror.

Although, the base description of a small rectangular object which can be held in the hand doesn't really narrow it down a great deal!

Nonetheless, it's an interesting way to show how modern conceptions can be projected back onto things from the past, as I'm sure we can safely assume the man was not checking his Instagram notifications at the time of the painting...

Featured Image Credit: David Stansbury/Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Topics: News, Weird, History