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Pic/Vid: 200-year-old time capsule opened at West Point

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)
August 29, 2023

A time capsule believed to have been buried by military cadets in the 1820s was opened Monday following its recent discovery in the base of a monument at West Point.

The 200-year-old time capsule was opened during a ceremony in Thayer Hall that was livestreamed on West Point’s YouTube channel. However, when the time capsule was opened, experts and historians only discovered a box of silt.

The time capsule was discovered in the base of a monument erected in honor of Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kościuszko. The box was discovered during renovations of the monument in May, according to The Hill.

“It’s not really what’s important what’s in there,” Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves, West Point’s dean, said just prior to the opening of the historic time capsule. “Make no mistake — I hope it’s cool. I hope it’s awesome. I can’t wait to see what’s in there. But at the end of the day, what this is really about is an opportunity.”

West Point assembled a panel of historians and experts to talk about the possible contents of the lead box. According to The Associated Press, experts believed the box could have contained blueprints of the monument, military class lists, military uniform buttons or musket balls, medallions, historical papers or a variety of other artifacts that could have been placed in the box in honor of Kościuszko.

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However, when experts carefully opened the time capsule Monday with a chisel and shears, the only things discovered in the box were silt and some markings.

“So, the box didn’t quite meet expectations,” West Point archaeologist Paul Hudson said as the box was opened during the ceremony.

“We don’t want to think that they went to all the trouble to put this box in the monument and not put anything in it,” Hudson added. “We’re going to collect all the silt at a later point. We’ll screen it through a fine mesh screen to see if we can find any remains in it and determine what — if anything — was in here.”