A steampunk sculpture sparked a major bomb scare at Germany’s biggest airport, after authorities mistook a detail on an artwork for a bomb.

The incident began when employees at the Frankfurt am Main Airport spotted what they thought was a hand grenade in an American’s suitcase. It turned out the grenade was a fake, used as a detail on the sculpture.

The artwork was found during X-ray cabin security checks for a flight scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., at about 5:15 p.m. on Aug. 3.

The suitcase in question belonged to a 56-year-old American, whose identity was not disclosed, and who had already boarded the plane, said a Federal Police Department spokesperson.

The seized steampunk sculpture with a fake hand grenade at its top. (Federal Police Directorate at Frankfurt Airport/Zenger)

Airport employees closed the affected area and delayed the plane’s departure, which was already on an airport ramp and ready to take off.

In addition, authorities alerted the bomb-disposal unit of the Federal Police, which came on site to defuse what looked like an explosive weapon.

However, after an inspection, experts were able to confirm the grenade was only a detail in steampunk accessory.

After an 85-minute delay, the flight — with the suitcase’s owner on board — was able to start its flight to the U.S.

However, the owner will have to wait a little longer to get his luggage back.

According to a press release by the Federal Police, the suitcase containing the accessory were both seized by authorities. But while the American is expected to get his suitcase back, the eventual fate of the accessory that caused the uproar is not yet known.

Steampunk fashion and artwork are subgenres of the steampunk movement in science fiction, which combines retro futuristic technology and aesthetics inspired by 19th-century steam-powered machinery.

The culture is a mixture of the Victorian era’s romantic view of the American “Wild West” and elements from the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 1800s.

The fashion is designed with a post-apocalyptic sensibility and consists of clothing, hairstyling, jewelry, body modification and make-up inspired by works of writers from the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th, such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and G. K. Chesterton.

In recent times, the “first wave” of American steampunk occurred during the 1990s, according to an article on the Perspectives on History website.

For a time, steampunk “remained a tiny fanboy culture based mainly in science fiction and graphic novels,” the article said. “The far more interesting ‘second wave’ of steampunk, especially the emergence of a counter-cultural community, began around 2006 — perhaps not coincidentally, soon after the appearance of the iPhone, a now-ubiquitous device that typifies the opaque, inaccessible and depersonalized nature of today’s consumer technologies.”

The “second wave” period also saw the release of two “Sherlock Holmes” movies (in 2009 and 2010, respectively) that incorporated steampunk production design.

Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Fern Siegel



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