82 years ago the crypt of civilization was sealed
The Crypt of Civilization was sealed 82 years ago. It will not be reopened until the year 8113 of our era.
While studying ancient Egypt, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs was struck by how little accurate information there was about surviving ancient civilizations. He realized that virtually all of our knowledge of life in ancient Egypt came from just a few sources: the pyramids and a few engraved tablets found in ancient Assyria.
The idea occurred to him that it would be useful – in fact, our “archaeological duty” – to leave traces of our way of life for future civilizations to study. He had designed the first time capsule in modern times, a term he would later coin.
In Phoebe Hearst Hall at Oglethorpe University in Georgia – of which he was president – Jacobs set about creating this time capsule. It was a large hall that would be filled with artifacts of 1930s life and knowledge from the past 6,000 years, buried in a disused pool. The safe was designed to act as a kind of pharaoh’s tomb and contained recordings of clarinetist Artie Shaw who was popular in the 1930s, films showing photographed events from 1898 and 100 books on microfilm. Everyday artifacts included a small Donald Duck model.
A “book of records” listing and describing all objects and their use was also left for future humans, or a new breed of hyper-intelligent dogs – whoever was in charge at the time.
Hudson described the crypt as “beating with life. It’s a living, breathing thing. It’s older than me and it’s bigger than all of us. Can you imagine a cultural anthropologist from the year 8113 opening The crypt would be like a treasure Even things like dental floss would be fascinating.
He realized that there would probably be a language barrier between us (dead) and whoever found him (not dead), making the books inside the capsule useless paperweights. The solution he chose, he named “language integrator”. The hand-cranked device displayed images of objects, as well as the name of that object written in English. A voice on the phonograph spoke the name out loud at the same time.
The opening date of the time capsule has been set at 8113 CE. Jacobs explained that in 1936 – when he conceived the idea – 6,177 years had passed since the creation of the Egyptian calendar. He wanted anyone (or anything) to open the vault to see a glimpse of the midpoint between their day and the ancient Egyptians.
Four years after we had the idea, as the world entered World War II, the vault was sealed, hopefully to be found millennia away. The optimistic view of mankind’s longevity contrasted sharply with the note left by Jacobs in the crypt.
“The world is burying our civilization forever, and here in this crypt we leave it to you.”