Facebook accounts set to English by default would see two captions, one in Portuguese and one in English:
Estátua de três mil anos encontrada na Capadócia.
Three thousand year old statue found in Cappadocia.
On May 7 2021, the image was shared to Reddit’s r/Incredibly. As with the Facebook iteration, the identical image and wording did not include any corroborating information:
The same account shared the image to r/interesting:
Top comments on the post were skeptical of the claim as it was presented, and suggested that the image might have been altered in order to prevent reverse image searches from finding what the photograph actually showed:
“Cool… Wanna post an article? Further info? Any evidence at all that this isn’t bs? Because Google brings up nothing and it even looks like the image has been slightly rotated so you can’t image reverse search.”
“Before looking into is, I would say 100% false based off the quality of this figurine. Condition is too good to be very old. After researching this claim with no evidence, and similar claims of bicycles and astronaut sculptures on old temples being debunked, my novice conclusion would be: fake … It’s a cool looking statue tho, just not very old”
The image was popular, and clearly evoked notions of “ancient astronauts,” a concept somewhere between speculation and pseudoscience (at least according to Wikipedia, where all conspiracy theories end up as entries eventually):
“Ancient astronauts” (or “ancient aliens”) refers to the idea, often presented in a pseudoscientific way, that intelligent extraterrestrial beings visited Earth and made contact with humans in antiquity and prehistoric times. Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of modern cultures, technologies, religions, and human biology. A common position is that deities from most, if not all, religions are extraterrestrial in origin, and that advanced technologies brought to Earth by ancient astronauts were interpreted as evidence of divine status by early humans.
The idea that ancient astronauts existed is not taken seriously by most academics, and has received no credible attention in peer reviewed studies. When proponents of the idea present evidence in favor of their beliefs, it is often distorted or fabricated.
Well-known proponents in the latter half of the 20th century who have written numerous books or appear regularly in mass media include Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K. G. Temple, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and David Hatcher Childress.
That entry included several images of artifacts argued as evidence of “ancient astronauts,” but the 3,000 year old Cappadocia statue was absent from the page entirely.
Google Image Search returned only a handful of results for the Cappadocia “ancient astronaut,” most of which pointed back to tweets from late April or early May 2021. Google suggested “artifact” as a label and returned 14 results; when we changed the text to “3000,” we found 18 iterations:
Without a specific source for the claim, determining anything else about the image was difficult, and zero results were returned on image search engine TinEye. Reverse image search did track down the earliest iteration we found, which was shared to Facebook on April 24 2021:
Like the other posts, no source or additional information about the image accompanied the post. A caption in Spanish (and an English translation) included a link to a YouTube channel, but none of its videos had to do with the image or claim:
Esto fue encontrado en Capadocia
Saquen conclusiones , tiene 3 mil años de antigüedad.
This was found in Cappadocia
Draw your own conclusions, it’s 3 thousand years old.
Commenters in a thread requested further information, but none was shared by the original poster. One commenter linked to a Google image search, and another observed (matching our own conclusions):
In a nutshell, there is no true information about the origin of the craftsmanship.
Searches outside the image returned fact checks and news reports of an “ancient astronaut” claim from 2019 and 2020, which in that case was about an “astronaut” purportedly carved into a cathedral in Salamanca. Reuters debunked the claim, concluding:
False. The cathedral website, national Spanish news outlets and various cultural and tourism websites explain that the astronaut was added in a restoration in 1992.
Otherwise, the image of a three thousand year old astronaut statue from Cappadocia was a dead end. We located no information about any anomalous finds matching the claims in the posts, and as commenters pointed out, reverse image search only went as far back as late April 2021. While we rate the claim Unknown, there’s no indication the image or explanation were at all accurate or even a little credible — and based off share counts, it was reasonably likely the explanation was added to the image in order to (successfully) obtain social media shares.