The Crypt Of Civilization

Samuel Reason

An airtight chamber that was built sometime between 1937 and 1940 is found in Georgia, by the Oglethorpe University. It’s called the Crypt of Civilization and is not planned to be opened until AD 8113. The container is filled with many artifacts and sound recordings from early 20th-century life. The idea was to build something very similar to an ancient Egyptian tomb.

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As a result, the creator Thornwell Jacobs mirrored the crypt after the pyramids. Essentially, he created a complete library of every 1930s object plus the complete records of human knowledge over the past 6000 years. The Guinness Book of Records declared this crypt as the first attempt at creating a permanent record of 20th-century culture. Thousands of years into the future people will open up the crypt and find things they probably would never have seen otherwise.

Thornwell Jacobs who died in 1956 is considered by many historians as the creator of modern time capsules. In 1936, he calculated that the first Egyptian tomb was opened 6,117 years after it had been closed. Therefore he proposed the Crypt of Civilization to be opened in 6,117 years time. It was built in a former swimming pool basement in one of the university buildings called Phoebe Hearst Hall, a gothic building that was built in 1915. The chamber itself is airtight and only 20 ft long and 10 ft high. The doorway was welded shut after the room had been removed of oxygen by pumping it full of nitrogen.

Inside you can find many airtight canisters containing microfilms of over 800 standard books. Ranging from the Christian Bible, the Quran, or Dante’s Divine Comedy. There are even many artifacts donated by the King of Sweden Gustav V and seed samples for different plants. Historians also placed many recordings of various political leaders from the 1930s such as Joseph Stalin or Franklin D. Roosevelt. Given it was created before World War II, there are even recordings of Adolf Hitler that may never have been kept otherwise.

Many Americans were intrigued by the crypt at the time. Which led to various other Universities creating their time capsules such as the Westinghouse time capsule and the International Time Capsule.

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