A mysterious West Point time capsule from 1820s
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A pre-recorded introduction by academy historian Jennifer Voigtschild invited the audience to “literally uncover a piece of West Point history”. During the video, cadets were filmed predicting what would be inside the nearly 200-year-old lead box: an American flag, boots, or maybe a class ring.

Mud instead covered the ground.

Thirty minutes prior, Ms Voigtschild led the school through the breathless build-up, inviting some of West Point’s top brass on stage to celebrate.

The grey box – 12in by 12in by 13in (30cm by 30cm by 33cm) – stood before them, and two school employees with purple rubber gloves and white masks prepared to open it.

During the removal of a bronze statue of Thaddeus Kosciuszko a few months earlier, the box was discovered. A box was discovered underneath the marble face of the monument, apparently placed there during the 1829 completion of the statue.

From the stage, Ms Voigtschild said, “We’re guessing it’s a time capsule, or a piece of art that was placed there when the monument was finished in 1829.” But they were just guessing, she said, because West Point researchers found no evidence of a box, artefact, time capsule, or any other object being placed inside the Kosciuszko statue’s base. Due to the box’s lead construction, an x-ray revealed only some “anomalies” in the interior – thought to be signs of something.

As the lid of the box was carefully pried open with a metal tool, the auditorium fell silent. The livestream camera zoomed in, capturing the painstaking process. Using a tiny flashlight, one employee scanned the contents of the box once it was safely open.

Nothing was found.

We’re not sure if it’s soil, mud, or dust, he said later, adding: “The box didn’t meet our expectations.”

The silt will be carefully examined in hopes that West Point’s ancestors did not actually leave a box of dirt to be found centuries later.

After the mud was found, Ms Voigtschild asked, “I’m sure some of our audience members have questions for our various experts?”.

None were found.