Almost 300 years ago, someone implanted what now might be the world's oldest time capsule, hidden high upon the pregnant finial of a church spire in Poland.
It was announced by the Museum of Wschowa [Ssh-hova] Land on Thursday, Sept. 21, that the round copper bulb atop St. Stanislaus parish church in the small town of Wschowa was brought down and was found to contain four separate parcels from three distinct centuries.
The oldest and most impressive was a heavily corroded copper box with the date 1726 embossed on the lid, closed by a hook. A smaller box made of sheet iron decorated with a pointed cross was found attached.
Additional dates were stamped into the larger box with 1786 on the bottom and 1884 in three locations, including on the lid, demarcating when the capsule was believed to have been opened before.
Some of the boxes' contents were dated nearly 300 years old. The researchers had found a literal time capsule that had been placed at several different times, starting from when a reconstruction had repaired the church after a fire in the late 1600s.
The large box contained finely scripted, yet somewhat damaged, papers sealed with official wafers. Parcels from 1726, 1786, 1884, and 1914 were included in the larger box, as well as a pair of relics:
Two reliquaries, from 1884 and 1914, with descriptions indicated their contents to be of soil collected from the grave of St. John of Nepomuk.
A gunshot appears to have damaged the larger copper box and some of its contents, according to the museum, as a bullet hole was found in the bottom and a small-caliber bullet inside, no less.
The adjacent smaller iron container held some old coins from the 1800s wrapped in newspapers in two separate packages.
All of the documents inside the time capsule were photographically documented by researchers. The museum says the time capsule might be even older than the one found in Boston atop Faneuil Hall—once believed to be the world’s oldest.
As the finial ball is being prepared to be hoisted back up the tower with a modern time capsule, the contents and original casket will join the museum's collection once conservation works have been completed, the museum stated.
“We found the capsule in June 22, 2023, during the dismantling of the ball for conservation works,” conservation supervisor Marcin Pechacz told The Epoch Times. “What was surprising was the age of the find, its form as a relatively large casket, and its rich contents.”
From 2021, St. Stanislaus Church had undergone restoration mainly focused on its brick façade. The spire was not forgotten, though; before witnesses, including the parish priest, the orb containing the time capsule was removed and brought down, the museum stated.
Work is currently being done on the tower’s finial, ball, and flag.
The parish church had previously burnt down in 1685 before it was rebuilt between 1720-1726, records show. Considerable work went into its superstructure after the fire including the decoration of the tower, which hadn’t been covered in copper until then.
The church had seen turbulence before then. It was destroyed a number of times, including in the years 1435 and 1529, and fell into Protestant hands during the Reformation before being returned to the Catholic community in 1604.