Radar to search for royal time capsule
Military specialists today will apply high-technology equipment used for finding human remains in hopes of locating a long-lost time capsule buried more than a century ago by King Kamehameha V.
The search using ground-penetrating radar comes in conjunction with tomorrow's 175th anniversary of the birth of the monarch, who died in 1872 as the last direct descendant of Kamehameha the Great to rule the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Historians know the capsule was buried Feb. 19, 1872, and contains priceless pieces of the islands' rich royal history more than two decades before the kingdom was annexed by the United States. But they do not know its exact location.
The capsule was buried during a celebration in which Kamehameha V laid the cornerstone of the historic Aliiolani Hale building in downtown Honolulu. The small casket is believed to be beneath heavy concrete slabs on the building's northeastern corner.
It contains photos of royal families dating back to Kamehameha the Great, Hawaiian postage stamps, a constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, 21 Hawaiian and foreign coins, 11 different local newspapers, a calendar and books such as a Hawaiian-language dictionary.
"It sort of shows us what they thought was important at the time," said Matt Mattice, executive director of the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center.
There are no plans to recover the capsule, which could damage the structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. "We're not going to dig it up," Mattice said. "It would be pretty catastrophic for the building."
The main reason for the search, conducted by members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, is to determine the location in hopes of keeping it preserved, Mattice said.
Aliiolani Hale, with the famed gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great in the courtyard, is one of the most photographed spots in Hawaii.
Completed in 1874, it was the first building in the islands to put all government offices under one roof. It was also the site of rallies, political strife, an insurrection, the famed Massie Trial of the 1930s and the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy.
Aliiolani was costly to build and controversial for reasons including its location and size.
Today, it is dwarfed by the high-rise buildings in downtown Honolulu and houses the Hawaii Supreme Court, a law library and the Judiciary History Center.