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What's in the box? West Point historians reveal what's hidden in near-200-year-old statue

West Point historians open lead box hidden in 194-year-old statue
West Point historians open lead box hidden in 194-year-old statue 02:06

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- There is a mystery at the U.S. Military Academy.

A lead box hidden inside a statue almost 200 years ago was opened to much fanfare on Monday, and -- spoiler alert -- there wasn't much inside.

But what historians did find merits further study.

An artifact from the past was the center of attention at West Point during a slickly produced live stream broadcast to answer the question: What's in the box?

The box was found in May during renovation work on an 1829 monument to Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

"The box is approximately 1 square foot in volume. It's made entirely of lead with solder seams," archeologist Paul Hudson said.

That's why x-rays were ineffective in trying to see inside the box. Believing it to be time capsule, West Point assembled a team of historians and experts, amid inevitable comparisons to the 1986 live broadcast, when Geraldo Rivera found nothing inside Al Capone's vault.

"I guarantee it's gonna be better than Geraldo, okay?" Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland said.

Those were bold words that Gilland may have to eat. As archeologists pried the lid off the box, there was laughter as it dawned on everyone the box was basically empty, except for some silty material sitting on the bottom.

"Little disappointed. We built up to this quite a bit, and I'll tell you the truth -- that was the last outcome I expected," Hudson said.

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West Point historians feel strongly there must be some reason why that box was put inside the monument that used to stand at the site.

"The fact that it was constructed so well, the fact that it was ... the top was soldered in there like it was, leads us to believe there was something in there, maybe organic," command historian Jennifer Voigtschild said.

Historians said they will test that silty material and research the name found stamped inside the box -- "E W Bank."

There may be more to the mystery of the empty box.

When the monument is rebuilt, West Point will place a new time capsule inside, to be opened at a later date.

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