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Buried Under A Statue

A 130-year-old square-shaped medium size box, made of copper, has triggered a sensation in Virginia, the US. Virginia Governor Ralph Shearer Northam has twittered that the copper box is no ordinary thing, at all… it is, actually, a Time Capsule! The concerned authorities are yet to reveal what is there inside the box. According to the Governor, the conservationists would open the box soon. Then only, the mystery will be solved, as it will become clear which antique items are kept inside the capsule.

A Time Capsule is basically a box that is intentionally buried deep in the ground. Usually, items with considerable historical value are kept inside that box, so that the next generation would have an idea about the history and evolution of human civilisation after retrieving it.

The time capsule, found beneath the statue pedestal

According to Governor Northam, construction works were going on near a statue of Robert E Lee, a Confederate General in Richmond, the capital of Virginia and one of the oldest major US cities. It may be noted that Black Lives Matter (BLM), a decentralised political and social movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against the African-Americans, rocked the US in July 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin 17 months earlier in February 2012. The movement took a new turn after George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, was murdered during an arrest on May 25, 2020. Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis Police Department officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, as three other White officers looked on and prevented passers-by from intervening. After considering the situation, the local authorities asked the construction workers to destroy the statues of Confederate Generals, which were a symbol of Slavery and Apartheid.

As per the order, the construction workers were dismantling the statue in the last week of December 2021. In the process, they suddenly discovered the box at the base of the statue. An excited Northam immediately tweetered a few pictures of the box, saying: “They found it! This is likely the time capsule everyone was looking for. Conservators studying it – stay tuned for next steps! (Won’t be opened today)

It may be noted that another time capsule was found in Virginia the previous week. As per a report published in a daily in 1887, it was just like the box that was placed beneath the statue of Confederate General Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870), best known for his service to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861-65), during which he was appointed the overall Commander of the Confederate States Army. The box, kept under the base of the statue, contained some coins, buttons, cartridges and a rare portrait of the bullet-riddled President Abraham Lincoln. Lee’s statue was dismantled, and subsequently destroyed in September 2021.

Statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee

However, the Time Capsule, found on December 20, is about twice the size of the one previously found at the base of Lee’s statue. Director of Virginia Department of Historic Resources Julie Langan said that the copper box was found beneath the pedestal “below grade in a very wet area“. She added that it would be “too soon to know whether water infiltrated the box“, which measures 13.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches. Langan stressed: “It is a second time capsule and likely the one that was known to have been placed in the pedestal. The one recovered in the third week of December was unexpected and likely left by men involved in the construction.

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