From the ocean and its waves
Then the year was generated-
A pointer of the days and nights
Ruler of all mortal beings


A project that preserves concrete physical objects of human memory for one thousand years or more requires an integrated construct of material, rite and symbol. In addition, the location of this construct is a central feature in the effort to guarantee its preservation through the next ten centuries of time.

We present here a design not only for a capsule to be closed this winter and opened in one thousand years, but for a whole system that inscribes the capsule into the most significant communal experience of the Western world. This system has its roots in rituals at the very core, established at the very dawn, of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its symbols and remembrances are communicated through a rite that resonates with the themes of freedom, human rights and human dignity that are the moral raison d´être of this nation and this city.

We have named the capsule and the rites surrounding it THE MILLENNIUM SPHERE. In providing the alternative name ARIADNE'S CLEW (the ball of thread Ariadne gave Theseus to extricate himself from the labyrinth), we suggest a linkage from the sphere to one of the most significant mythologies of human memory: a method of venerating the past as the sphere itself foresees another thousand years of human development.

We provide the means of keeping alive not only the contents of the capsule as a slice of time at the dawn of the Third Millennium. We also provide a means of preserving the very core of ideas and ideals of what may be considered the Western contribution to human civilization in which that slice of time took place and has meaning.

We have embedded the capsule in interlocking systems of knowledge and memories, which have already successfully withstood the assaults of time for at least two millennia. We have physically placed it on sacred ground within a structure and an architectural system that is most likely, if the lessons of history are consistent, to last for another thousand years.

Such a system as here proposed will of course cost more than the sum allocated in the terms of the competition. That sum would adequately cover the cost of one capsule. But there is no doubt that if the project were so limited, that capsule would soon join the throng of those previous attempts to preserve relics of the past which have been irretrievably lost among the ravages of natural disaster and human conflict.

There is no doubt that the relatively modest sums required to build THE MILLENNIUM SPHERE and its associated physical and ritualistic elements will be easy to raise. The themes evoked by the project are deep and wide enough to enlist support from civic, humanitarian and cultural organizations and foundations, local as well as national in scope.



Copyright © 1999 The Cooper Union