Canterbury Museum says it should be possible to read a parchment buried for nearly 150 years under a statue that toppled over in the earthquake, revealing a time capsule underneath.
A sealed time capsule and a glass bottle containing the parchment were found on Tuesday morning in Cathedral Square sticking out from the fallen plinth on which stood the 1867 statue of Canterbury founder John Godley.
Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright says parchment is very strong and stable, and writing is clearly distinguishable through the bottle's glass.
Dr Wright says the items are an exciting find but need the urgent attention of conservators.
Mayor Bob Parker says he has asked that the statue be repaired. When it is, Dr Wright says, the bottle and capsule will be replaced in the plinth.