Researchers studying a rare 16th century manuscript at the University of Indiana have discovered that the ancient kingdom of Maharlika in what is now known as the Philippines was not only the richest country in the world but also the most technologically advanced advanced, commanding technology that would not reach the west for the least 500 years.
Professor Lirf Loopa and Doctor Avril Poisson were alerted to the astonishing discovery while cleaning the Boxer Codex, an illuminated manuscript from the 1500s.
A figure in a boat in the lower left of a pictureis seen offering a mobile phone to Spaniard aboard a galleon.
“At first we thought it might be a VHS tape,” says Professor Lirpa, “but we know only Betamax was available in the archipelago at the time.”
It would take many centuries before the cellphone reached the west because there were no cellphone towers available in Spain until the 20th century.
Ms Poisson says: “Inevitably, internet technology advanced far more rapidly in the West but the internet speeds in the Philippines are a reminder of how those ancient users would have experienced it.”
The picture is remarkable and one American historian says: “We are lucky a drone was there to capture the scene.”