June 23, 2000
9:57 PM   Subscribe

Evidently, there's a whole time capsule industry out there: the going rate is $60 for a 100-year personal capsule; there's a 500-year one as well. Someone at Future Archaeology has done some thinking about relevant time capsule items. What would you include in a time capsule that would be buried tomorrow and opened in 1000 years? What's your rationale?
posted by jkottke (14 comments total)
I dunno what I'd add to a capsule myself...I guess an early computer, maybe the tim berners lee book to explain the web. What else? Toss in a few newspapers I guess... dang, 1000 years is a really long time. Who knows what the world will be like 100 years from now, much less 1000 years into the future.

Talking about capsules reminds me of all the times I saw one go into the ground, like at schools, big new construction areas, new city halls. What ever became of my 6th grade class' "time capsule for the year 2000?" Was there anything pertinent or interesting in it? I can remember being a kid and thinking how pointless the whole capsule thing was, since it was such a tiny glimpse into some time frame.
posted by mathowie at 1:57 AM on June 24, 2000

An electric guitar, a stapler, a box of kleenex and an empty coke can. A scratching post and a microwave oven. Headphones.And that was a pretty interesting article there. (did I hit 7:57?)
posted by EngineBeak at 7:57 AM on June 24, 2000

I would include a timepiece, a watch or clock to let them know how we "tell time" in our present. I would include a message to notify them we haven't mastered time travel yet, so if they have and are tempted to come visit us, they will learn they won't be able to return to their present. I would share the secrets taught to us by the ancient Anasazi about calendral repetition. In short, I would fill my time capsule with time.
posted by netbros at 8:07 AM on June 24, 2000

Super Mario Bros. paraphernalia, a box of Vector cereal, a copy of Maxim magazine, a Speedo, some hip-hop CDs, some pamphlets from various community colleges (particularly those with a strong computer graphics curriculum), a non-flat-screen monitor, and some blaxploitation movies.

These are all things that would make me crack up laughing in 1000 years, or at least I'd imagine so.
posted by Succa at 8:44 AM on June 24, 2000

I think the best approach for deciding what should go in, is to work out what you would like to find in a time capsule from the past. With so many collectors, a lot of stuff will probably survive anyway. But what would be interesting is to somehow preserve our thoughts on day to day living. I suppose if I'm interested in what it might have been like to live in say, Roman times, someone might be interested in day to day living circa 2000AD. Any items that help illustrate that existence would help. I'd probably include a dictionary - to provide a snapshot of the language available to us, and some magazines/newspapers to show what words we actually used.
posted by c huber at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2000

History Books, just incase everything gets lost or rewritten.
posted by Mick at 9:00 AM on June 24, 2000

I think about the things I would have liked to see in a 1000 year old time capsule. Most of the objects that might go in will already be collected in museums or whatever. I'd rather see some of the things historians and archeologists seem to never get: Some experiences of the common man. In their own words.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:05 AM on June 24, 2000

I'd include a good print of Clockwork Orange...
Hmm.. maybe sometime in the *near* future, data storage can be so advanced that it would be feasable to copy all of the net, just storing everything. heh. a bit of a strange throught. But then, they'd know what it was.
posted by tiaka at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2000

I'd include a copy of the Bible. It's what so many of our principals are based on, despite individual beliefs. Also, copies of the Torah and other religious books. A copy of the US Constitution. A map of the world, and also a map depicting what we know of outerspace. Articles relating our trips to the moon and to Mars. A sampling of commonday medications.

And a box of fruity pebbles.
posted by phooey at 5:17 PM on June 24, 2000

A picture of myself, my family, my friends, and the woman I love, along with a book in which I would describe each of them, writing down why each of them means so much to me.
posted by Calebos at 8:09 PM on June 24, 2000

Hula Hoop. Definitely a Hula Hoop... and a whoopie cushion. Actually, I'd want to put in a bunch of silly items that would never be remembered in 1000 years... And pictures. I love old pictures, and by old I mean 20 years, 50 years, 100 years... seeing photographic images from the world 1000 years ago would be amazing. If you put in CDs and a CD player, do you think they could make it work? How do you deal with the technology changes? How do you keep everything from turning to dust? I know the Time Capsule place guarantees their 500 year capsule to protect your stuff, but c'mon, that's a pretty safe promise, right? Time Capsules, Inc isn't going to be in business in 2500, and if they are, they'll be run by apes who no longer recognize human law.

I really love the idea of time capsules, and I can't believe I've never made one. The closest I've come was to stash things behind loose bricks in my old neighborhood, and putting a "treasure map" inside a coke bottle that I stashed in the attic of our old house before we moved. The people who bought that house from my parents had no kids, but I know they moved a couple of years ago - I wonder if the new owners had kids... I wonder if they found my map... I'm sure the brick wall would be gone - and even if it weren't the stuff would be gone, but still... maybe in the alley behind York Street in Denver right now, some kid is on a treasure hunt with my map.

posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2000

A bunch of Marvel comics from before, say, 1975, written only by Stan Lee or Roy Thomas, preferably illustrated by Jack Kirby, but Don Heck's work on the Avengers and X-Men would be okay as a contrast. I want people 1000 years from now to think that that was how we really talked. Let them wonder about the significance of the kirby dots in late 20th century iconography. What would they deduce about our culture from these? I don't know, but it sure would be wierd.
posted by elgoose at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2000

I was going to say a Bible too, but would have added books on a broad sampling of atrocities committed in the name of God. Message: love your brother, but better than we did.
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:08 PM on June 26, 2000

...actually, now that I think of it, I'm thinking scrapping the entirety of the Old Testament might not be a bad idea :>
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:09 PM on June 26, 2000

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