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Dutch unveil century-old time capsule buried under king's statue

Dutch unveil century-old time capsule buried under king's statue
29 Jan 2024 21:00


A 99-year-old time capsule discovered hidden under a statue of King William II during renovations was opened on Monday, revealing historical documents and books about the Dutch battles against Napoleon.

Workers renovating the Binnenhof parliament building in The Hague were astonished to uncover a metal time capsule concealed between two walls holding up the king's plinth.

Wearing white gloves, mayor Jan van Zanen ceremonially opened the capsule to a packed room of journalists, to reveal its contents -- letters, documents and the books.

"It was a very nice impression of those days. There was a poem for the king and a poem to the city and to the country. It has brought 99 years ago back to 2024," Van Zanen told AFP.

The discovery stunned historians who had no idea the time capsule existed, said city art historian Sophie Olie. 
"It was a very big surprise. It was built in between two walls in a specially made chamber. It was carefully opened. It was sawn open," she said.

The books are a three-volume account in French of William II's battles against Napoleon, including the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, by F. de Bas, a famous military historian of the time.

The city is already making plans to continue the tradition by laying down its own time capsule when the statue is replaced in 2028, said the mayor.

"The idea now is to ask the people of The Hague to advise us on what to put in the box for those who will open it 100 years from now," he said.

He will bow to the will of the people but said his own preference would be to stuff the box with "text and some images of nowadays, some text about the renovation, and a coin, a euro for instance".

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