There are many reasons why people make time capsules but generally the most common reason is to mark the anniversary or to celebrate some kind of special event such as reopening of a school or even perhaps the marking of a new school year.
Generally time capsules are made with groups of people rather than individuals and items will be selected that are either valuable in cost or that hold a member to the individual or group. The exercise of putting together a time capsule teaches people in principles that are used by many professionals, ranging from material scientists to preservation expects such as conservators, archivists, librarians, historians, chemists and other professionals like teachers.
Making a time capsule can be lots of fun with the people involved, especially if younger children are involved. Children will often draw pictures that are dated and then proceed to drop them into the time capsule which they will then seal for a set amount of time before opening again; the process is fun during and even when opening the time capsule can overwhelm people with wonderful memories of their childhood and the school that they attended.
Below you can read even more information how time capsules came about and how you can make your very own.
What is a Time Capsule?
A time capsule is anything that encapsulates time, time capsules can be as small as a matchbox and as large as a house or in fact anything you can enclose special items and then sealed afterwards. Most people associate time capsules with a box or cylinder that is buried into the ground, while this is generally the method people will use as mentioned above it can be something on the surface on the ground that is sealed for a X amount of time.
Who thought up the idea of Time Capsules?
The idea has been around for many hundreds of years as early as 1876, however the idea could be even older than that as we are always finding little stashes of items in the ground that are hundreds to thousands of years old, often with no other traces of other items which makes us believe that they were purposely buried.
The word “Time Capsule” is pretty new and was first reported being used in the year 1939 at the World’s Fair, Earlier evidence indicates that it used to be called a “Century Safe” around about the 1870’s which obviously then was called this to mark the Century so to speak. Time capsules have also been known to be called many other things such as Crypt of Civilization, Time Vessel, Box of Time etc.
Things to Consider before Making a Time Capsule
It is important that the things that you plan to put inside your time capsule are items that how long life. If you are planning to use a time capsule for a set amount of time for example 20 years, then most materials will be fine, however if we are talking time capsules that will last for hundreds if not thousands of years then you really need to be careful which items you put into your capsule, some items can damage and even cause damage to the other items in your box.
Below are some items that are either not considered suitable or you should take note and consider.
Not Suitable for a Time Capsule
Some woods can rot and can even contaminate the rest of the time capsule, if you need or want to use wood within the box or cylinder then ensure that the wood is a strong wood and has had the surface treated to extend its life and to stop rotting, most polish and wood finishes will assist here.
Any foods or items that contain proteins will rot and contaminate your time capsule; it is strongly not recommended that you do not use anything that can rot.
Some plastics tend to deform over time as well as lose their color, and can even deform.
Metals like brass and copper can corrode over time, it is best to use a solid and tuff metal such as stainless steel, gold, silver.
Analog Data Storage
Most analog data storage media such as films (tapes) will naturally degrade over time and become useless.
Digital Data Storage
It is very hard to find digital data storage media that will last for hundreds of years, and to be honest since this technology hasn’t ever been around before, we are unsure how long it will last for. If you are considering to use a CD, DVD or even Blu-Ray then ensure that the media is well enclosed and if possible AIR tight from the rest of the container as this could extend its life.
Photographs generally work well but will degrade over time naturally but even so they last for decades to hundreds of years and since they do not contaminate and they are ultra-thin meaning you can put lots of items in your time capsule it makes a worthy item to use.
Hair, Nails or Even Teeth
While these items will naturally degree they still make excellent items that be analyzed hundreds, thousands of years later.
Any items that are made from stone will last for thousands if not millions of years, good stones items may be hand crafted gifts, arrowheads, geodes etc.
Glass and ceramic items work well but do ensure that they are well padded should you be dropping or placing the time capsule once all items are placed in.
There are loads of good metals such as gold that can be placed in your time enclosure, generally good metals will be those that do not rot, rust, or corrode. Many man made metals will work well.
Any type of currency makes an ideal choice to mark time within your time capsule, paper money, and stamps are generally the most popular choice, but things like gold coins could be used.
Seeds or Plants
You can use seeds or plants that have come from your garden, depending on the seed type many can be planted again, after a period of time. Best to research the expiry date on types of seeds should you want to replant the seed.
Marking Your Time Capsule
In more recent years people are using stones, and metal plates to mark where their time capsule may be. A stone plaque generally works really well to mark your time capsule as stones has been on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions and will outlast us all.
Stones can be easily engraved onto dating exactly when the time capsule was made, of course such details is recommended to be contained with the box or cylinder but it’s also good to allow people to see when it was buried.
Below you can find many images Time Capsule Markers in their full glory.
To be Opened in 100 years Time Capsule
Lovely Metal Enclosed Time Capsule
A Fine example of Plaque for a Time Capsule
A Stone Sealed time Capsule
The Worlds biggest Time Capsule, Maybe..