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Centuries-Old US Time Capsule Opened in Boston

Pam Hatchfield, head of objects conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, removes a folded 19th-century newspaper from a time capsule at the museum, Jan. 6, 2015.

Officials in the northeastern U.S. state of Massachusetts have opened a 220-year-old time capsule buried by American founding fathers Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.

The contents, unveiled Tuesday in Boston, included documents, coins and other artifacts described by state official William Galvin as symbols of "the great hope" of colonial Americans as they pursued and gained independence from British rule.

Items in the corroded metal box included a 17th-century shilling struck by colonists in defiance of British authorities. It also contained a copper medal depicting the first U.S. president, George Washington; historical newspapers; and a silver plate made by the silversmith Paul Revere.

Galvin said the artifacts — found beneath the State House late last year — will most likely be displayed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, before eventually being reburied with additional modern-day items.

The capsule was first buried under the cornerstone of Massachusetts' 18-century State House building — a Boston landmark covered by a Revere-built gilded copper dome — on July 4, 1795. That ceremony marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War.

At the time of the burial, Samuel Adams was governor of the state, with Revere a living icon best known for warning colonial fighters about the approach of British forces ahead of the battles of Lexington and Concord. The battles were the first military engagements of the 1775-1783 war.

Authorities were found to have transferred the contents of the original cowhide capsule to a copper box in 1855. That box was discovered in December 2014, during a State House construction project.