Ancient Time Capsule Found Buried Within A European Church Is Leaving Us With Chills

Ancient Time Capsule Found Buried Within A European Church Is Leaving Us With Chills

When local government officials of Ziebice, a small Polish village, looked up at one of the most prominent evangelist churches, they knew it was on its last legs. The huge crew of construction workers tasked with revitalizing the structure was prepared for the enormity of the project. They were not, however, prepared to uncover a rare bit of history tucked away in a dark nook.

Renovations Begin

Renovating the Polish church was going to be dangerous. Construction crews were operating heavy equipment and working carefully on the scaffolding wrapped around huge spires… which were covered in several bullet holes!

Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images

World War II Evidence

When brought to the attention of local historians, they theorized the bullet holes came from the Soviet Army after they invaded Poland in 1945, prior to the defeat of the Nazis. This, however, was far from the most interesting find.

Photo by Romano Cagnoni/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Opening The Globe

Before the crew could dismantle the spire itself, they had to remove a small globe that rested on the very top. Once it was lowered to the ground, crews opened it up, and that’s when their jaws dropped.

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Time Capsule Appears

Inside the unassuming globe was a time capsule! No one had any idea it existed or how old it was. It was immediately brought to the attention of the Ziebice heritage organization, who couldn’t wait to crack it open.

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Buzzing With Excitement

The contents were carefully removed one by one and placed on a table. Local experts and historians sat around buzzing with excitement at the thought of what they might learn about the town’s history.

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Standing The Test Of Time

Once everything was removed, the team realized there were so many more items in the capsule than they initially thought. It was meticulously packed so each relic would stand the test of time.

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Acting With Caution

Before any of the items would really get a thorough look, they were carefully dusted off with brushes to avoid any grime tarnishing them. This was too important a find to act carelessly with, no matter how excited everyone was.

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Reading The Documents

The fact these papers remained so white blew the historians away! Some of these documents detailed the construction of the church and spoke about donors who offered up funds to help build it.

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More Revelations

It was this wax seal, which was popular on documents long ago, that ensured the papers stayed bound together while in the capsule, thus maintaining their condition. As more papers were read, more information was revealed.

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A Stunning Date

Apparently one of the notes was a friendly message from two local women who were kind enough to offer personal donations. While this was an amazing read, it was the date on the paper that stunned experts.

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Oldest Capsule In Europe

The time capsule was hidden in the spires globe in the year 1797! This was officially the oldest time capsule ever discovered on the entire continent of Europe. It was created when the town was part of the now defunct Kingdom of Prussia, and experts were excited to see what else it held.

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Coin Discrepancy Theory

A handful of coins were also stuffed inside the capsule, with the dates varying. Some were from the time the documents were written, while others were much more recent. Historians, however, had a theory behind the discrepancies.

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Adding To The Capsule

They proposed the idea that the capsule was actually found and removed around 1900 by church officials, who then placed coins of that era inside to indicate to future finders just how old everything was.

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“We Were Here”

Marek Kowlaski, a member of the Lower Silesia Heritage Conservation, said, “These people wanted to tell us: we were here, we put our heart and life into this, and now you take it over and look after what we left here.”

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A Mayor’s Excitement

Ziębice’s mayor Mariusz Szpilarewicz said, “It may be one of the oldest time capsules in the world. The oldest capsule in the world dates back to the 18th century and was discovered in Boston, Massachusetts. Our capsule is probably two years younger.”

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Heading To The Museum

The deputy mayor of Ziebice, a woman named Małgorzata Wołczyk, was equally as astonished. She explained after the contents underwent extensive conservation work they’d be passed along to a local museum for all to see and enjoy.

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A Lucky Find

Although the structure, which was built where a fifteenth-century castle once stood, did serve as an actual church, the building now serves as a sports hall. Without the recent renovations, however, the capsule may have remained untouched for hundreds of more years.

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Returning The Capsule?

There have been suggestions by several of the historians, as well as town residents, to place copies of the documents inside a new time capsule and return it to the building. Of course, in creating a new time capsule, locals did have some concerns.


Celebrating Fifty Years

For instance, officials would need to pick the right items to bury. In 1957, Oklahoma locals similarly wanted to celebrate 50 years of statehood, so they built a time capsule. The results were devastating.

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A 100th Birthday Gift

City officials and locals wondered what they could bury that would give Tulsans 50 years later — on the state’s 100th birthday — an accurate depiction of ’50s life. Most time capsules, they knew, were about the size of a box. Oklahomans wanted to do bigger and better than that.

1957 Plymouth Belvedere

The perfect idea came soon enough: they would bury a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere. “In our judgment [the] Plymouth is a true representative of automobiles of this century – with the kind of lasting appeal that should still be in style 50 years from now,” a local official said.

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And since this was going to be a momentous Oklahoma occasion, they wanted to add a few extras inside the car. There were statements and prayers from officials, some wooden nickels, and even a recording of “Riding into Tulsa” by Ralph Blane, who also wrote “Meet Me In St. Louis.”

More Goodies for the Missus

There were a few other goods in “Miss Belvedere” — the car’s nickname — that were of note: the contents of a woman’s purse, a bottle of tranquilizers, and a case of beer. After the goods were safely placed in the car, it was time to wish the car goodbye.

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Before being placed in her tomb, she was coated with a preservative substance. It was used by the U.S. Army on their military vehicles during World War II, so you know it had to have been seriously tested.

A Cover Model

The crew that created the bunker for the car was also responsible for lowering her inside. Workers, of course, had staged a few practice lowerings so journalists could get some pictures. This definitely paid off because the car made the cover of Life Magazine.

Now, the Waiting Game

Once Miss Belvedere was coated in preservatives and lowered into the bunker, and once photographers had their fill of photos, the workers sealed up the capsule with some concrete. They never could’ve guessed what would have become of their capsule.

Buck Rudd’s Worry

Time, as time does, passed. As the years went by, the general public forgot about the car. But not Buck Rudd, below, Tulsa’s County Court House’s building operations deputy chief. Buck remembered the car, and he was worried.

James Plumlee / The Oklahoman

Talking Traffic

“There’s a lot of traffic going by only 15 or 20 feet from that thing,” Buck said. “We’ve been curious to know if vibrations from the heavy traffic might have caused it to crack. If moisture starts getting in there, it’s going to cause things to deteriorate.”

James Plumlee / The Oklahoman

Opening the Bunker

Nevertheless, Buck was excited in 2007, when Miss Belvedere was set to be unearthed. The crowd was gathered. People were getting pumped. They wanted to see this car. They needed to see Miss Belvedere. A new crew cracked open the bunker.

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The Reveal

It was apparent right away that Miss Belvedere was in the need of a makeover. Her coating was covered in slimy, red mud and this was only the beginning. The vehicle was sitting in several feet of water. It turns out Buck’s comments were prophetic.

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Inside the Tomb

The Plymouth was protected, but the tomb wasn’t. The water turned this vintage machine into a rust monster. Her engine was ruined, the beautiful upholstery was a mushy mess, the white-walled tires were completely flat. And that wasn’t all.


The two-toned paint job that had looked so elegant all those years ago on the cover of Life had crumbled into rust and desolation. Unfortunately, we aren’t sure how the beer or tranquilizers fared. Locals couldn’t believe it.

A True Snapshot?

The people who were still around from the original “Golden Jubilee Week: Tulsa’s celebration of Oklahoma’s semi-centennial” were supremely disappointed. Their fabled Miss Belvedere wasn’t what they’d hoped for. Still, the car, they knew, was special.

The Oklahoman

Tulsa Convention Center

Though the reveal hadn’t gone as planned, people were still clamoring to see the vehicle. What was left of Miss Belvedere was displayed at the Tulsa Convention Center, and she had a steady stream of visitors. Somehow, she became a legend outside of Tulsa — even outside Oklahoma!


Moving On

She had even more visitors at her next spot, a local Dodge dealership. “Tons of people have been in today to see it. People are calling from Kansas and Arkansas wanting to know if they can come down and see it,” Heather Cody, Dodge spokesperson said.

On the Move

Since the ceremony, Miss Belvedere has been passed among a number of dealers. No one held on to her for too long. Eventually, she made her way to Wayne Lensing of Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois. Still, the car raised some troubling questions.

The Oklahoman

A Prowler’s Purpose

Namely, what would become of the car Oklahomans buried in 1998? They buried another Plymouth — a Prowler this time — hoping to open it in 2048. Did Tulsans learn about the power of water-proofing before burying that car?

Learning From Experience

We won’t know until 2048, but we’d like to think Tulsans in 1998 were weary of the harm citywide meltdowns could cause. They’d witnessed an event just a few states over that proved the importance of making sure public events go off without a hitch.

James Plumlee / The Oklahoman