Back before Twitter and Facebook gave us the ability to share exactly what we’re thinking at all times, there was another way to throw your thoughts into the void: a message in a bottle.
The Telegraph reported Thursday that the world’s oldest such communication has just been found in Germany by Marianne Winkler, a retired post office worker. While vacationing on the island of Amrum in the North Sea, a bottle washed ashore with the visible instructions “break the bottle.”
Inside was a postcard written in English, Dutch, and German with a return address to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England. The note said that whoever returned it — with the location where they found it — would be rewarded with a shilling. Winkler did just as the note instructed, and the Marine Biological Association was in for a major surprise.
See, between the years 1904 and 1906, former president of the association George Parker Bidder released 1,020 bottles into the North Sea in an attempt to study how various deep sea currents worked. This bottle is believed to have been released in 1906, making it approximately 108 years old — beating out the previous record holder of 99 years and 43 days.
So next time you’re about to fire off a subtweet, write it down, stick it in an empty bottle, and throw it into the deep blue sea.
Photos by H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images