THIS image of an alleged 800-year-old mobile phone allegedly dug up by archaeologists went viral after emerging online.
Stories filled the internet with speculation the object could even be proof of time travel.
But, now can reveal just where the image came from and how it was used to spread the hoax story.
Video clips of the alleged bizarre discovery emerged in September 2015.
The conspiracy theory story accompanying the discovery claimed the object was unearthed during a dig in Austria.
It was said to be a clay copy of a mobile phone with a Sumerian writing style known as cuneiform on the keys.
YouTube channel Paranormal Crucible reported: “What is it? Is it evidence of an advanced civilisation or time travel?”
The tablet was dated to around the 13th century BCE.
By that time, the Sumerian writing style – usually known as cuneiform – had already been around for a few thousand years.
Editorial on the channel goes on to say: “Cuneiform tablets aren’t unusual – an estimated two million have been excavated. The language was a mystery until the 19th century when its code was deciphered.”
Cuneiform was one of the first systems of writing developed by the A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ Sumerians of Mesopotamia around 3,500BC to 3,000 BC.
When the news of the discovery broke, conspiracy website tothede̳a̳t̳h̳media.com reported: “According to reports, during archaeological excavations at Fuschl am See, (in Salzburg), Austria, researchers unearthed a mysterious artefact from the thirteenth century with cuneiform writing that strangely resembles a cell phone.
“This type of writing is typically found in modern-day Iran or Iraq (A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ Mesopotamia).
The image that went viral of an alleged clay phone inspired by a time traveller.
“What a device like this with Cuneiform writing is doing in Austria is something that no one is able to fully understand or explain.
“Regrettably the information about this ‘sensational’ discovery is limited.”
The website added: “We cannot explain what it is, whether it is real or not, but it has caught our attention and we would love to know more about it.”
Some U̳F̳O̳ h̳u̳n̳t̳e̳r̳s̳ even pounced on the “discovery” as “evidence of a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s visiting A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ civilisations on Earth, and bringing sophisticated technology to the more primitive beings,” without questioning the validity of the claims.
Scott C Waring, editor of U̳F̳O̳ Sightings Daily, concluded: “It is evident from this cell phone like device that someone with an advanced knowledge of the future created it.
“The language is said to go back tens of thousands of years…very cool discovery.”
The lack of originating detail about the footage, which just shows a white-gloved hand holding the clay sculptured object in close-up concerned most commentators, who said if it were genuine it could be proof of time travel and sensational world news.
It turns out the video was nothing more than a clever hoax.
Ancient Code website reported: “Most of you will remain sceptical about the discovery, and trust me so do I.
“There are two things that just don’t add up.
“First of all discovering anything that resembles cuneiform writing in Austria is an extraordinary finding since great distance separated Austria and Ancient Mesopotamia, so it is a true mystery how the object ended up in Europe.
“Secondly, and the most mysterious part of the finding is in fact that the objects eerily resembles a modern-day cellphone.
“You can clearly make out the nine “keys” in the lower part of the artefact which are positioned in a way mimicking the keys on a cellphone.
“Obviously we cannot avoid considering the possibility that this artefact is a hoax.
“Finding something like this is more than sensational and points to the possibility that its creator could have seen a similar device in the distant past. What does this mean?
“Well, it means that it is possible that in the distant past, someone saw something that resembled a communication device like a mobile phone and decided to recreate the device in stone.”
But the lack of checkable information on the dig and the startling similarity to a cell phone handset had many online posters convinced it was just an imaginative hoax.
And it turns out they were right.
Was contacted by Karl Weingartner, of the Art Replik studio in Germany, who revealed the phone was a piece of artwork he created, and the images of it were stolen to create the hoax.
The story about it being found by archaeologists was completely fabricated.
He said: “I am the producer of this clay-tablet cellphone with cuneiform letters on it.
“My photo of this artwork went around the world.
“More than 500 newspapers reported from the so called “A̳l̳i̳e̳n̳-mobile-phone” and used the photo from a YouTube Video from Paranormal Crucible.
“Paranormal crucible used my photo without my permission.”