the Crypt of Civilization

At the heart of the beautiful historic Oglethrope University campus lies a a crypt, situated on the granite bedrock under Hearst Hall, in a former swimming pool covered with a 7-foot thick stone roof.

I was taking the old roads back from Duluth the other day when I stopped there for the first time. There was a summer camp raging in Hearst Hall, teens ran back and forth in the hallways working on projects and when I asked a staffer pointed me to the basement, “The crypt of what? well, there IS a vault down there…” Sure enough, wedged between two adult ESL classes in progress on this claustrophobic hallway was a shiny spaceage door. Well, it looked as much like a door as a door to a vault does and that’s exactly what it is. “Crypt” is hardly the right word, reliquary or vault are more accurate.

the Crypt of Civilization

In the late 1930s Dr. Thornwall Jacobs lead the project to create a permanant time capsule of what life was like on earth at the time. (The Great Depression must’ve really been getting to him). Because the first known date in recorded history, 4241 B.C., was 6177 years previous, Jacobs suggested that the Crypt be sealed until another 6177 years had passed, thus setting the date for the Crypt’s reopening in the year 8113.

Representing human civilization on the eve of World War II are microfilm of documents and images, artifacts such as seed samples, dental floss, the contents of a woman’s purse, tailored clothing on mannequins, and a bottle of Budweiser most of which are archival sealed in stainless steel receptacles with inert gas. The first item upon entering the crypt, however, is a machine to teach the English language should it be, in 6177 years, a forgotten tongue. As the microfilm contains more than 800 works of literature including the Bible and the Iliad, this machine seems pretty indispensable. Some of the last items placed in the Crypt of Civilization were steel plates of the Atlanta Journal newspaper reporting on World War II. (Wiki)

As historic preservation goes this thing is really in for the long haul. What will have become of Hearst Hall, of Oglethorpe, of Atlanta and the United States by the time someone opens this thing??!

read more: at Oglethorpe University
and Wikipedia of course and

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