HONOLULU – Using radar equipment along a wall of a landmark Hawaiian building, military specialists Saturday quickly located a time capsule buried more than a century ago by King Kamehameha V.
Historians knew the capsule contained priceless pieces of the islands' history, including photos of royal families dating back to Kamehameha the Great and a constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom. But until now the capsule's exact location was unknown.
"We found it within the first 10 minutes we were here," said Larry Conyers, a University of Denver professor who used ground penetrating radar to find the hollow spot in the northeast corner of the Aliiolani Hale building.
"It never happens like this," he said.
The capsule was left undisturbed. Digging it up would destroy the building above, which is also a historic treasure, experts said.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command located the capsule so it could be protected during future renovations or natural disasters.
"We were more concerned about its actual location," said Matt Mattice, executive director of the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center.
The small casket was buried Feb. 19, 1872 — more than two decades before the kingdom was annexed by the United States — during a celebration where Kamehameha V laid the cornerstone of the Aliiolani Hale.
It contains photos of royal families, Hawaiian postage stamps, the Hawaiian Kingdom constitution, 21 Hawaiian and foreign coins, 11 different local newspapers, a calendar and books, such as a Hawaiian language dictionary.
The building initially put all the government offices, from the Legislature to the Hawaii Supreme Court, under one roof for the first time. It now houses the Hawaii Supreme Court, a law library and the Judiciary History Center.
With the famed gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great in the courtyard, Aliiolani Hale is one of the most photographed spots in Hawaii.