This time capsule crypt was packed with iconic treasures in the 1940s, and it won't be opened until 8113. The airtight crypt is a sealed and locked in Georgia's Oglethrorpe University—here's what's inside!

A Good Idea Gets Stolen

Like any entertaining story from history, the 1940s Time Capsule project at Oglethrorpe University was initially shrouded in controversy. Thornwell Jacobs, who was the president of Oglethorpe University for three decades, originally thought of the idea of a "time capsule" and is considered the father of the modern time capsule. He began drafting his plans for the time capsule crypt in 1937, a full two years before Westinghouse Time Capsules copied his idea at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

The Westinghouse Time Capsule

Westinghouse was long credited with manufacturing the first time capsule, which they packed with goodies from the late 1930s and sealed it tight. The contents of the time capsule included items that researchers thought chronicled life in the 20th century. They selected a few copies of Life magazine, a kewpie doll, a dollar in change, a pack of cigarettes, a Lilly Dache hat, an almanac, a dictionary, and more. The United States National Bureau of Standards inspected each item to determine whether it would last the expected 5,000 years in the time capsule.

A Crypt Modeled After King Tut's Tomb


Initially, Jacobs got the idea for the time capsule in the 1920s, when explorers uncovered the tomb of King Tut. Jacobs couldn’t believe how little historical information was present in the tombs, and started thinking of ways he could preserve the feeling of an era better than the ancient civilizations did. As a side note, Jacobs was an avid explorer himself and was actually credited with the discovery of General James Edward Oglethrorpe's burial site in England.

Working The Egyptian Calendar

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The dating system for the opening of the crypt is a little complicated. Jacobs wanted to seal the crypt for 6,000 years and labeled the date of its opening as 8113 AD. The Egyptian calendar was created in 4241 BC. Jacobs noted that at the time he was building his crypt, 6,177 years had passed, so if the crypt was opened in 8113 its time of sealing would be the exact midpoint of human history.

Converting The Swimming Pool

The actual crypt is 20 feet long, 10 feet high, 10 feet wide, and is more or less the size of a swimming pool. In fact, the room was converted from a swimming pool in the university, but the construction materials used for the walls were switched to enamel plates embedded in pitch.

Making The Room Air Tight

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There are several factors that came into play when preparing the crypt for sealing. The air in the room was replaced by inert gasses and the stainless steel door was welded shut. This made the room airtight so all of the delicate items would be preserved for a long time.

Packing The Contents Of The Crypt

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While the 1939 time capsule was certainly cool, the sheer volume of the Oglethrorpe University crypt is what makes it really special. That, and its correlation to the rituals of Ancient Egypt. Buried deep inside the crypt are some of the world's most important relics. It's packed with 640,000 pages of written materials, ranging from the Koran to the screenplay of Gone With The Wind.

Weird Items In The Crypt

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The crypt also has some practical items, like a device that was designed to teach the openers of the crypt how to read English, just in case the language is dead by 8113. There are also some weird objects, like women's stockings, fake eyelashes, a breast form, fake fingernails, a cigarette holder, Donald Duck, and manikins.

Contemplating The Future

Other items sealed away in the crypt include dentures, models of jewelry, and photographs. Jacobs included models of jewelry instead of the real thing to discourage thieves from trying to break into the crypt. If you want to read a full list of the crypt's inventory, visit the university website. While you can visit the door of the crypt, you obviously can't look inside. One does wonder just what life will be like 6,000 years in the future.

The Crypt Legacy

Flickr: Emily T

There is a plaque above the entrance to the crypt which best explains its purpose:

“This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed in the United States and the world at large during the first half of the twentieth century… No jewels or precious metals are included. We depend upon the laws of the county of DeKalb, the State of Georgia, and the government of the United States and their heirs, assigns, and successors, and upon the sense of sportsmanship of posterity for the continued preservation of this vault until the year 8113 … Until that time we beg of all persons that this door and the contents of the crypt within may remain inviolate.”