A friend just told me a lovely story about a mosque in Turkey. It needed some maintenance, but the stone-masonry skills required to repair an arch had been lost. They found a letter from the architect, hidden in the archway, with detailed instructions of what was required.
I have found a re-telling of this story here (Microsoft Word document).
Şehzadebaşı Mosque: Architect Sinan -known all over the world especially with his mosques and his interior architecture works - was a far-sighted artist who could see 400 years later. A civil engineer who worked on the restoration of the mosque has talked about an interesting event on T.V. He said that: There were some rottings on the stones that form the a rches over the doors. But they wouldn’t know exactly how to restore the arch .And they had to find a way to work. During the work they found a glass bottle between two stones. Here by they found a note in the bottle which was written by the architect Sinan. The note was about how arch can be restored. Architect Sinan wrote these things: The lives of the stones are 400 years old. These stones are eroded in 400 years…You will need to restore the arches. And probably you will not know how to restore. I have written this letter for you to explain how to restore the arch. At the same time, Architect Sinan told us where these stones that used in the construction of the arch come from. Architect Sinan has left a letter which explains the construction of the arch. Architect Sinan knew how long the life of a stone last. He used a paper and ink which remain stable for 400 years. This shows us that Architect Sinan was a very intelligent man and excellent architect.
I hope this story is true, but there are elements of urban myth about it. Are there any reliable accounts of the discovery? When did it occur?