A photograph showing what is inside the Crypt of Civilization. Credit: New Georgia Encyclopaedia.

The Crypt of Civilization: Time Capsule Extraordinaire

The Crypt of Civilization is the time capsule of time capsules.


Who wouldn’t want to send a message to future generations, sealed with a knowing wink and a dollop of our era’s charm? That’s exactly what the Crypt of Civilization, a time capsule unlike any other, aims to do. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, this ambitious project is more than a mere curiosity; it’s a treasure trove for the future.

The Crypt of Civilization

Inside the time capsule, which is as large as a swimming pool, a curated collection of items fills the space. These items have been carefully chosen to symbolize a comprehensive chronicle of human life and traditions up until the year 1940, the point at which the crypt was closed and sealed. The internal structure of the crypt mimics that of a chamber within a pyramid, adorned with pictographs that embellish the walls.


Overview: The Ultimate Time Capsule

The Birth of the Crypt of Civilization

The Crypt of Civilization is no ordinary time capsule. It is a room-sized, hermetically sealed container located at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Conceived by the university’s president, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, in 1936, it was designed to provide future generations with an understanding of the 20th-century civilization.

Folks, we’re talking about the granddaddy of all time capsules here. If time capsules were Hollywood movies, this would be the blockbuster hit.

What’s Inside the Crypt?

Designed to be opened in the year 8113 AD, the Crypt houses an extensive collection of artifacts and documents, including:

  • A set of classic literature, history books, and encyclopedias
  • Audio and visual recordings of political leaders, cultural icons, and daily life
  • A wind-up gramophone with instructions (just in case our future friends need a quick lesson in “old-school” tech)
  • Everyday items like toothbrushes, typewriters, and plastic toys
  • A specially designed “language integrator” to teach English to whoever discovers the Crypt

Sealing the Crypt: A Ceremony for the Ages

Closing the Door on History

The Crypt was sealed on May 25, 1940, in a ceremony that captured the imagination of the world. A stainless steel door was welded shut, ensuring that the contents remain undisturbed until the designated opening date. It’s like a “Do Not Disturb” sign for the next six millennia.

Why Wait 6,177 Years?

The choice of the reopening date was far from random. Dr. Jacobs calculated that the length of time from the first date in recorded history (4241 B.C.) to 1936 was 6,177 years, so he decided to match that span for the Crypt. Talk about planning ahead!

The Influence of the Crypt

Inspiring Future Time Capsules

The Crypt of Civilization wasn’t just a one-off stunt. It inspired a wave of time capsules around the world, becoming the progenitor of an ongoing cultural phenomenon. The 1939 New York World’s Fair’s “Westinghouse Time Capsules” drew direct inspiration from the Crypt.

A Historical Snapshot

The Crypt of Civilization stands as a testament to the desire of humankind to communicate across vast stretches of time. It’s like sending a text message to the future, only without emojis and autocorrect mishaps.

A Gift for Posterity

The Crypt of Civilization isn’t just an ambitious project; it’s a grand gesture, a handshake across time. While it may seem a quirky curiosity today, it encapsulates the hopes, dreams, and mundane realities of a generation-long past.


Perhaps, in the distant future, a historian—or maybe an alien with a penchant for human artifacts—will crack open this monumental time capsule. Until then, the Crypt of Civilization rests, a silent guardian of our era’s memory.

And let’s face it, folks: If future beings do manage to play those recordings, they’ll be in for a real treat. Imagine the puzzled looks when they hear the swing music and see the flapper dresses. The future might have flying cars and teleportation, but we’ll always have style!

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Written by Justin Gurkinic

Hey, my name is Justin, and my friends call me Gurk. Why? Becuase of my last name. It sounds like a vegetable. Kind of. I love sleeping and writing. History is my thing.

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