How can we capture a moment? If you were asked to place some items in a locked box so that they could be stored for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, and you wanted those items to reflect 2020 what would you put in? It is a difficult question as you may want to capture the current top news items, so you could put in a picture of Donald Trump and a face mask, although without an explanation people in the distant future may think you worshipped an orange man and that face masks were a popular fashion item. You could put in a mobile phone, a picture of a family, maybe a book that captures the greatest writers of our time. Recently an incredibly old time capsule was discovered in Poland and what they chose to put inside is fascinating to discover.
The time capsule discovered dates all the way back to 1797 making it the second oldest time capsule discovered in the world and the oldest found in Europe. The artifact was found hidden in a church spire in a town called Ziebice in Poland, although in 1797 the country was called Prussia and the town was called Munsterberg.
Inside the time capsule, the historians found documents, books, photographs, and coins. Interestingly the newspapers in the time capsule dated from two different times. This leads the experts to believe that the capsule was originally hidden in the spire in 1797 but discovered in the early 1900s added to and buried again. This makes it an even rarer find as it is now not only a snapshot of a time long ago but a story over time.
The people who discovered the time capsule immediately contacted local historians so that they could better understand the discovery and know what to do with it. The plan now is to place the time capsule in a local museum as evidence of a time long past. However, historians realize that when the time capsule was built it may not have been intended for them, perhaps it was not meant to be opened for a much longer time. The people in the early 1900s were humble enough to bury the time capsule again with some additions, should we do the same?
The historical organization decided that the museum was the best place for the capsule instead of reburying it. If it is put back in a hiding place there is no telling what damage may take place. There hope is that by placing it in the museum it will last fora longer time and although they want it to age for many more years it is best to be put on a show instead of locking it away. They do plan to create their own time capsule of 2020 to capture the spirit of the current age when the piece was found. They have said they may even leave it in the former church to leave it up to chance.
The church where the time capsule was found is no longer a church as it is now a venue for sporting events. However, this is still an ideal place to bury some treasure. Now the people of Ziebice, Poland must determine what to put in the time capsule. Should they align with that of 1797 and put in some coins and newspapers to show the passing of time, or should they put in something more modern to show how different the world we live in is today?
The greater question is of course whether the purpose of time capsules has now changed given we are in the age of the internet? We no longer need a time capsule to show the world what was important as all information will likely be accessible via the internet (or whatever form of technology replaces it) in hundreds and thousands of years in the future. This means the time capsule may be far more about physical things. Including items of significance that will be important for years to come may be more valuable. What is your advice for the people of Ziebice, and what would you do if you were in the same position?