The Void

Recapping: K1’s primary keyword comes from K0’s Morse in the form of palindromes producing PALIMPSEST. Additionally, there is a secondary keyword ALMOSTPI, by removing all E’s and performing the same operations that produced PALIMPSEST. Meaning: Uncertain. Possibly related to the fractional phrases, and implying a hint from digital interpretation.

Moving on to K1 we got: BETWEENSUBTLESHADINGANDTHEABSENCEOFLIGHTLIESTHENUANCEOFIQLUSION. Seasoned cryptic crossword solvers might deduce the clue as meaning “BRAVO”, constructed from what lies between PENUMBRA and VOID, two possible definitions. The entire construction could anagram to OVID PA NUMBER (Presumably, for the well read puzzler, PA would likely refer to the Palatine Anthology, or perhaps Pennsylvania; of course it also could just be one of the puzzle’s many chimera and false doors). Removing the letters for BRAVO and anagram the remainder produces DIME PUN.  Thin ice around here, if you ask me.

Let’s set these aside and stick with the date that brought us here to the dance. One of the odd things about this puzzle thus far is that practically none of the fancy footwork leads anywhere. We have solved the entire upper tableau using our “basic” methods. We did it with just the idea of palindrome, deduced from the very first thing we encountered when approaching the sculpture from the NHB entrance walkway: the SOS in Morse Code on the new dedication plaque.

Continuing the theme from K0 and K1 into K2, according to the hypothesis of symbolic “removal” of unnecessary or obscuring characters, we note that in K2 there are 5 X’s and 3 ?’s that don’t “fit” and are superfluous to the way a real coded message would be composed. Thus we have 365 characters that contribute meaningfully to the PT, and 8 left over that don’t. The wording of the dialogue does not use typical Morse Code economy in phrasing nor abbreviation anyway, and the stops do not seem to indicate changes in speaker. The question marks are preserved from their original CT locations and “passed through” the Vigenere substitution unchanged. If we remove the extras, it seems beyond the possibility of coincidence, that we should have 12 rows of 365 characters by accident. Patterning our actions from the previous two steps, let’s remove them, and see the results re-gridded into their original CT locations, minus the abscissa:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Dec I T W A S T O T A L L Y I N V I S I B L E H O W S T H A T P O
Nov S S I B L E T H E Y U S E D T H E E A R T H S M A G N E T I
Oct C F I E L D T H E I N F O R M A T I O N W A S G A T H E R E D
Sep A N D T R A N S M I T T E D U N D E R G R U U N D T O A N U
Aug N K N O W N L O C A T I O N D O E S L A N G L Y K N O W A B O
Jul U T T H I S T H E Y S H O U L D I T S B U R I E D O U T T H
Jun E R E S O M E W H E R E W H O K N O W S T H E E X A C T L O
May C A T I O N O N L Y W W T H I S W A S H I S L A S T M E S S A
Apr G E T H I R T Y E I G H T D E G R E E S F I F T Y S E V E N
Mar M I N U T E S S I X P O I N T F I V E S E C O N D S N O R T H
Feb S E V E N T Y S E V E N D E G R E E S E I G H T M I N U
Jan T E S F O R T Y F O U R S E C O N D S W E S T I D B Y R O W S

Beyond coincidence, am I right? By constructing a coordinate matrix for hiding specific locations based upon a calendar matrix of dates, we provide a solution context unrelated to, nor deducible from the K2 CT itself. Sheidt and Sanborn have created a panoply of puzzling possibilities which rival even idiot codes for security and resistance to cryptanalysis. Yes, even idiot codes!

Note that we as humans have instinctive familiarity with the Julian calendar and have no trouble at all switching between different numerical bases and moduli when thinking about it. In general, we humans adapt our arithmetic and numerical symbols effortlessly to different contexts that may be completely unrelated to mathematical operations, or if related, operate in numerical bases apart from decimal. We have mnemonic codes for memorizing information that’s “outside the box”, like “thirty days hath September…” to remember the anachronistic month lengths of the calendar. We know that there’s no zero day, some years are leap years, and we record dates as fractions without ever doing the math.  We also have a lunar calendar, and various religious observances based upon it; and civil holidays that fall on specific days of the week or dates for arbitrary reasons. That’s why we instinctively use birthdays, anniversaries, etc. as passwords because they’re easy to remember. It all makes perfect sense to a human, in the context of “calendar”, which if you think about it, is a universally shared experience down to the day, stretching back thousands of years. We’re probably not changing it any time soon.

How easy would these “ordinary” human activities be for a computer programmed to use “brute force” on the 373 letter CT of K2 according to typical approaches in cryptography? Could it come up with “calendar” by making the symbolic leap based upon 12 rows and 365 letters? Would it notice how the months all worked out perfectly if we merely “flipped” the month labels from their normal perspective. Could it have known to take 8 chars out because they didn’t “fit” or “look good”? No. Would it matter how powerful the computer? Not really. The whole thing is an interesting proof of Godel’s first incompleteness theorem. For example, we can now make “possibly” true statements about the code text like 2/22 = G, or 2/22 = Washington’s Birthday, or (2,22) is a point in Cartesian Space. In the context of machine arithmetic and the natural numbers, the same expression explicitly produces a value of .0909090~. The computer has no way of reconciling these results, nor are the expressions “provable” within the computer’s “logic space”. Yet in formal logic, the statements are true: they may be internally consistent with systems like the calendar or a map. It is an example demonstrating Godel’s assertion that there will always be statements about the relations of the natural numbers which are both true, and inconsistent with the formal rules of arithmetic.

So in K2 we have one and only one letter out of 365 that appears contextually inconsistent: the U in UNDERGRUUND where an O is expected. The date implied by the misspelled letter’s location is September 22.

Beginner’s Mind

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Suzuki

(To the Reader,

I have taken a long time off from Kryptos, both to clear my mind, and restore my objectivity to the problem. In the following piece, I shall attempt to recreate the steps which led me to where I left off.  My normally succinct and spotless prose, is still on vacation. I’m spilling it now, and spellcheck and Strunk and White are out the window. Sorry.


As I related in prior postings, we have deconstructed the notion that by analyzing the text of the curved panel installation without clear contextual guidance and confirmation as to what we are looking for, we will produce anything that will decrypt Kryptos’ unsolved section. We have to somehow get into the mind of an artist, who masqueraded as a cryptographer, and was mentored by a shadowy figure referred to by no less than William H. Webster as the “Deep Throat” and “Wizard” of Codes. His imagery recalls an actress, an informant, and a reference to a hidden figure who secretly controls the Emerald City from behind a curtain. I’m just sayin’ folks. It don’t look good here.

I am not an artist, don’t work for any agency, intelligence or otherwise, and I’m unemployed. In fact my entire interest and involvement in this cryptic quagmire happened entirely by accident. I was researching the Voynich Manuscript. Purely a hobby interest. I know…weird; whatever, don’t judge. So, I saw it “live” at the Folger Library in DC, along with a bunch of books by the Enlightenment’s version of Wizner’s Wurlitzer in a show called “Decoding the Renaissance”. When you open the program, on page one, there is a portrait of the two most influential people in field of unreadable old texts: William and Elizebeth Friedman. Most of these old books were heavily illustrated (which suits me just fine), and authored by mysterious and shadowy historical figures in Cryptology like Trithemius, della Porta and Bacon. Occasionally, you needed a gizmo, or a table to solve these things. I contacted the curator, who supplied me with a bibliography and notes relating to the Voynich. The most substantial work that I found I cross-referenced to William Friedman and John Tiltman, or people who worked with them. So I looked a little deeper, and it turns out they were both involved in the NSA, and not just your average IC Joes, but NSA Hall of Honor! Maybe the two best crypto guys ever. Holmes and Watson. Hmm. Curious.

These two Promethean figures in Five Eye lore decided together, after writing all the manuals, solving pretty much everything and inventing systems nobody else could solve, to turn to the Voynich manuscript. Solved it right? Umm, no, not so much. My inner Sen. Clay Davis went sheeeeeeeeeeee…it. If these super brilliant guys couldn’t do it, we might as well all quit right? I definitely should! My hopes deflated about the Voynich, I set out to know more about these two mysterious figures.  That’s when I encountered Kryptos.

Presumably as grand potentates of the Dundee delegation within the Puzzle Palace they would have access to anything about the Voynich, no matter how well hidden away, concealed or politically incorrect. I mean Friedman wrote the effin’ MilCryp book! Tiltman made a filet out of Tunny with a pencil and paper! Along with Friedman’s protegé, Lambros Callimahos, they taught, inspired and initiated an entire generation of spook geniuses who went on to invent, develop and break the computer-based crypto systems that the world relies on to this day. There are quite a few figures in “that world” today who knew, were taught by, and interacted with these men. They’re kind of running the place now, actually.

Enter Sanborn. In 1990 he left a flaming bag of Krypto poo on the new doorstep, in an apparent ding-dong-ditch intramural prank via the GSA, to let the PTB know that some of the old skool crippies are alive and well.  A marmalade jar and a tin of fine snuff were found near the scene. So I was exposed to Kryptos. How could I resist with a story like that? For 25 years, you, me and the IC have apparently fallen for this ruse like an egg from a tall chicken.  What would Friedman do? I bet he would have asked his wife for some ideas. The problem is very much like the Renaissance ciphers they enjoyed researching together: it doesn’t have to make sense to us, and most of it is pictures anyway! In a very real sense, those flaky seeming pictures and gizmos the Enlightenment scholars came up with ended up becoming computers, the internet, HTML and the NSA.  In their times, these people were way, way far out. Artists, basically.

Artists are different.  Artists are the real architects of change in society.  Society engages political contractors that construct change after the fact based upon blueprints painted on canvasses, written in coded prose, and carved from stone. The best of them seem to us normal folks like crazy people. They are. They confront us, challenge us, and give us a window in a universal consciousness shared with all other humans, but they are not role models. They’re whistle-blowers, they expose the inconvenient truths, and quite often we just say “go away, leave us alone”. We gawk at them. Discourage them. Imprison them. Once their work goes into the world, they disappear again into shady and unfamiliar neighborhoods. Their work is seldom acknowledged as important, or considered valuable during their lifetimes. Next to working in the IC, being an artist has to be one of the most soul-killing things you can willingly inflict on yourself. Can you imagine doing both? Meet Sanborn: Incomprehensible Intelligence Asset. Whose? If I told you…

OK.  He’s not totally incomprehensible. Like many skilled artists in the performance art genre; his specialty is plausible deniability in his message. He’s incognito, yet somehow, quotable and available for photo ops. Through training (and lord knows what else), Ed must have confessed the inconvenient truth of Cryptology to Sanborn: that there’s only one kind of code that’s unbreakable, and it has nothing to do with the level of genius of the cryptographer.  I refer to Idiot Code. Terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp said that the men who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the United States used basic e-mail and what he called “idiot code” to discuss their plans.  Despite the fact that we could intercept these messages, there was nothing in the messages themselves that could have led us to deduce what the underlying symbolic values were for the vocabulary. Here’s an example: what if our code is simply “if the word “Magnus” appears anywhere in the text, the entire message means ‘Get me a venti half caff latte, with room’?” All the rest of the text is distracting filler. See? This whole essay is just a Starbucks order!

You’re not going to crack that kind of code with any of the tools in MilCryp. This is where the CIA and their ilk come in. Like me researching the Voynich, what do you do when you run out of ways to decode or decipher and you still don’t know what you need to know? In my case, it began with tracking down the footnotes and talking to the curator. Having deduced that Friedman and Tiltman knew more than anybody, I researched and compiled a list of their known associates and their activities during their period of interest in the Voynich. I discovered that this was in fact a puzzle of great interest to NSA personnel.  Most of Tiltman’s work (the finest example of investigative cryptology I’ve ever seen btw,) and notes have been declassified. With the help of the research librarian at NCMF, I found transcripts of lectures and presentations, as well as editorial notes and correspondence. These gave important background facts, and helped to determine what influences may have been involved at political, social and economic levels both in the creation of a manuscript made to be unreadable, and the reasons why such secrecy would be necessary. I tracked down the monastery where it resided prior to Voynich’s 20th century purchase. I visited and interviewed experts, librarians, and collectors. So, the CIA’s job is similar, but it goes much deeper. Investigation. Observation. Primary sources, Shoe Leather. HUMINT, etc.  The world is one big Voynich manuscript to the CIA. They call it the World Book.

Lucky for the IC, I came along. After leaving the Folgers, I dropped by the NSA to find out more about these and other shadowy figures in our crypto past, which as I discovered through meeting the Friedmans, stretches back much further, and includes a much larger cast of characters than I first realized. That’s right, I went to Ft. Meade, and drove right in the front gate. Then I turned left at the planes on Canine Dr, where the black suburban posse hangs out (Editor’s note: you really don’t want to miss this turn btw.  Just trust me, and turn left when you get to the light. The Museum is fine. Otherwise, there’s pretty much nothing within miles that’s “ok” for you to see or even slow down your car for), and I went to the Museum.  The National Cryptologic Museum, that is, which is very much open to the public.  You should go. This is apparently where the NSA sends its retired informants and whistleblowers: I saw the museum director spilling the whole story of the NSA and GCHQ’s deeds in the latter 20th century to group of school children! Amazing. He was actually showing these impressionable youngsters exactly how these codes were cracked, the machines used, the methods, etc. I kid you not. Anyway, it took me about 5 minutes to realize that this was Ed Scheidt’s CIA Cryptographic Center. The Vietnam-era radio-equipped NVA motorcycle, complete with mobile shortwave TX/RX unit, all done with camo nets and bivouac gear sort of gave it away. All that crypto stuff too.

It gets worse. You’d think the Hall of Honor would be filled with guys, right? Good ‘ol boys. A place where Rumsfeld and Cheney would feel at home? Not so much. The first honoree was an Eastern European Jewish kid, who changed his name from Wolf to William. The second honoree was his wife. William and Elizebeth Friedman, the same people from the Folgers. The place was built, conspicuously staffed, and often run by women! Glass ceiling? Actually, two female former directors went from G3 to Flag Officer rank (look it up). One of the founding fathers of computers, Alan Turing, another recent honoree was, (gasp) openly gay! When faced with denying it, or death, he chose death. Damn! Echoes of Patrick Henry, am I right? If there was an oppressed group within American society for practically any reason, the NSA seems to have found a way for somebody on that team to be in a position of leadership at Meade.

One of my favorites is Grace Hopper. I’m going to be honest here, Navy culture is pretty butch, right? Diversity is not the first thing that normally comes to mind. So how do you explain how a Vassar grad, 4’10” and 95 lbs, got to be a Rear Admiral and wear the Defense Distinguished Service Medal?  Well, if it’s the 1950’s, and you invent the first machine independent computer operating language, the Navy apparently didn’t care what you looked like. They still don’t. They named a Destroyer and SuperCray after her. Alright, so they are still kinda the Navy we thought, but they’re not afraid to admit what put them on top.

It’s almost like these people in the IC are a microcosm of American Democratic society itself. Holy cow. Lesson: Things aren’t always as they seem, and if want to know what is really going on, get out there and figure it out for yourself.  Big Brother?  More like Big Sister and the friends of Dorothy. I guess this is what happens when you a have an organization that promotes its leadership based on merit and effectiveness, over rank and privilege. Surprised? All you had to do was look this stuff up in the first place.  Degree of research difficulty?  It’s all on the NSA’s public website! Just like “Palimpsest” was right there in the dictionary!  Sheeeeeeeeeeee…

OK, back to Kryptos: where is it?  CIA right? the CENTRAL Intelligence Agency. Palindromes call attention to the thing in the CENTRAL position in groups, as if there was a mirror image of the sequenced values in reflection. After translating a binary code, and using the alphabetic values that resulted to identify palindromes, we got PALIMPSEST, an anagram made from the centrally positioned letters. We were also introduced to the notion of dictionary codes. All we had to do was look up Palindrome in the first place, and there it was, Palimpsest is the preceding definition to Palindrome in the dictionary. We also got a clue that by rearranging the rows according to a coordinate system, the keyword appeared acrostically, as if we deduced a “down” answer from solved “across” clues in a crossword puzzle. Decipher, Decode, Transpose, Substitute. All roads lead to Rome. Easy right?

Next we learned something about symbolic palindromes.  We were troubled by the apparent excess of E’s until we realized that they too might call attention to alternative ways of dividing the alphabetic Morse text. From this I discovered other Sanborn games like Pig Latin: a cipher whereby consonants are shifted one place value, and vowels shifted according to a different rule. It produced a fascinating historical retrospective of some of the great names in intelligence.  Apparently the symbolism suggests the old disused entrance in the front, with its brass plaque, is now reflected in code at the new entrance, with the architects and founders of the NHB selected from a broader context and time scale.

In K1’s deciphering, nobody (that I have heard of) has come up with a logical way that we may have retrieved the Abscissa keyword from the plaintext message.  How about this?  There are 10 E’s in K1 PT.  An even number of E’s suggests that some text may be captured in the middle, just like an alphabetic palindrome captures a central letter.  There are three letters in K1 between E#5 and E#6: ABS. Dictionary, remember? Look it up! The definition before ABSENCE (the word where ABS was located) is what? ABSCOND. ABSCOND is actually a derivative of ABSENCE itself, so go one more definition forward: ABSCISSA. I could narrow the search even more by following the “Pig Latin Rule” Sanborn showed me. Even if all I had were ABS and a Dictionary, I would have gotten it pretty quick.  Why? If I know the first three letters are ABS, I only need to try 3 letters in position 4 before half the plaint text would pop out of a trial (i.e.: using ABSC as a 4 letter key phrase), and the rest could just be trial and errored from the dictionary words that fall between ABSC and ABSE. Cool, right?

I also suggested that the surplus E’s in the Morse may represent a padding layer, which if removed may reveal even more information.  The then newly discovered Archimedes palimpsest was circulating throughout the United States during the 1989-1990 period, and as it turns out, it was on display at the Library of Congress for most of the period Scheidt and Sanborn collaborated. Recall that Archimedes’ work in Greek was covered by Latin text, and through spectral analysis, researchers virtually removed this text to reveal Archimedes’ lost works. I have a hobby interest in classical languages and history as well as anything Archimedes related, so I tried things on Kryptos that seemed thematically similar.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the Morse:







We have 32 E’s total, 26 of them appear to have nothing at all to do with forming English words, and in contrast to the other vowels, which appear only in the context of word-formation, the extra E’s in this case appear to be superfluous. At least I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. My interest in classical languages brought to mind that prior to Greek, most languages were abjad alphabet based, like Phoenician and Hebrew, and didn’t have vowels.  Also, if I were using the index of coincidence to try to uncover a hidden message, E is the most likely letter to appear in random English text, so it occurred to me that hiding a message in a block of text in which all E’s were removed would be a devilish way of distracting the Dundee delegation, and Ed could be fairly confident that most CA400 grads would try this route first (and get lost). Perhaps the words in the Morse are just red herrings?

Here’s the Morse phrases without E’s: VIRTUALLY, INVISIBL, SHADOW, FORCS, LUCID, MMORY, RQ, SOS, DIGTAL, INTRPRTATIT, TISYOUR, POSITION. Without any E’s, the following palindromes are recovered: LL, ISI, MM, SOS, RPR, TAT, TIT, ITI, and their central characters are LSMOPAIT. Unlike Palimpsest, Which was the only 10 letter anagram for those letters, these new eight letters do not have a common English, one-word anagram available. Two-word anagrams for those letters are numerous, but the vast majority are nonsensical as two-word phrases. I found a total of 98 possible unique two-word anagrams, 97 if you remove “pails mot” (which includes a French emprunt and I disagree with Wordsmith’s inclusion of this phrase in a result for a query of English words). Mail Post, Opal Mist, Moist Lap, and Almost Pi lead my list of “sensible” alternatives. Opal mist, and moist lap I’m throwing out as either too vague, or excessively suggestive.  Mail Post and Almost Pi are the short list.

I’m going to pause here, because I need to introduce a brand new concept. I have ideas for both Mail Post (looks like a number 4 to me), and Almost Pi (is there such a thing?).  They’re not going to mean much until I show you the coordinate system Sanborn created out of K1 and K2, and it’s been right in front of our eyes for years! I’ll be posting shortly, so save the date, er, uh, mark your calendar, oh, dammit just forget it.

I’ll post soon.


No, we’re not going to “decipher” K1 with Palimpsest. Not yet.

By now it should be fairly clear to my readership that the mystery surrounding the sculpture’s creation, it’s authors, and cryptological impenetrability to this point, are all carefully scripted. I already exposed some of the flaws in the “Ed Scheidt” identity in a previous essay. I feel it is counterproductive to begin a new dirty laundry list of the manifold deceptions and shady characters that have been taken for granted to this point. The puzzle is beatable. The story? Not so much. The problem is that none, and I mean none of the information is real in the way we think it is, and yet, paradoxically, everything that “they” have said has been “true”. If we take our Morse derived passkey and try to follow in the footsteps of the contrived cast of characters that went before us, we may just as well stop trying to solve the puzzle. Very smart people have taken that approach for 25 years with no results, and the illusion that any sections have been “solved” for any part of Kryptos thus far constitutes its principal defense. The story we possess is an elaborate misdirection.


Our only hope of understanding how we may avoid the puzzle’s palindromic pitfalls is by forgetting what anybody else did. In the history of 20th century cryptology, and through it the rise of computers, software and the internet, the major advances were often made when performing work that was deemed “below” the abilities of more “competent” minds. In fact, Colossus, the first digital computer owes its development to this desire to automate such tasks. Thomas Flowers, a gifted electrician and engineer with experience at Dollis HIll, the UK’s central mail processing facility at the time, built Colossus from scratch, with practically no design engineering help but for the guidance of Bletchley’s gifted, but eccentric staff of linguists and mathematicians. His prototype was named after Heath Robinson, who was Rube Goldberg’s “opposite number” over at GCHQ.

The initial breakthrough in the Venona project, Arlington Hall’s version of Bletchley’s Tunny triumph, was made by Richard Hallock, An Assyriologist and Elamitologist (ed: I can’t make this stuff up folks). The future Hall of Honor member Genevieve Feinstein collaborated extensively. Later, yet another honoree, Meredith Gardner would further develop this work, leading ultimately to the exposure of the double agent Kim Philby, and his Cambridge 5 co-conspirators. All of this resulted from the analysis of what was thought to be a boring, mindless waste of time: attempting to find flaws in Soviet use of one-time-pads in practice through traffic analysis.  This was not thought of at the time as high priority, and computers couldn’t really help yet. The vast majority of the work was performed by female cryptanalysts, often pigeonholed for seemingly dead-end, intractable problems like these, and the work performed by hand with paper, pencils, scissors and glue.

So the fact that you are not a trained linguist, mathematician, or code breaker, and never worked at any three letter agencies, likely makes no difference in whether you end up solving Kryptos. If it did, it would have been solved already. What can we do differently? For starters, we can start to educate ourselves. We are dealing with one of the last, great cryptology puzzles of the pre-computer era. 25 years of throwing computers at it have gotten us nowhere.  It should be obvious now that Ed Scheidt has an artistic statement involved here too, which has been expressed ironically through the negative space: the gaping absence of any computer based, brute-force solution thus far.

Having deduced “palimpsest” from “palindrome”, by relating the significance of the concepts of  “symmetry” and “reflection”, we are invited to explore the Morse in the other conceptual and symbolic dimensions before we enter the courtyard. So far, the dictionary has been a reliable guide, and so it shall remain our “source”.

A Palimpsest is a text that survives as traces of original ink from vellum or papyrus scrolls, which were subsequently reused by later scribes who recycled the costly material into new texts. The process involved cutting the scrolls into pre-defined lengths, and washing or otherwise effacing the previous text. The now clean sheets are dried and stacked at a 90 degree orientation to the original text. Four sheets were “gathered” at a time, by centrally folding the stack into a quire giving 8 leaves, and 16 sides. The quires were gathered again, sewn together at their fold lines to make a Folio. Four gathered quires would yield a 64 page folio. Alternatively, the pages were cut individually at the quire’s fold lines, stacked and sewn together at the binding to form a Codex.

The new text was often a hymnal or liturgical piece, relating to monastic worship, and recycling one large illegible (or inconvenient) scroll into useful quarto and octavo codices made practical sense to the industrious monks. Ironically, the contents of the texts remaining in palimpsest under these rather common and ordinary books, were authored by the great Greek and Roman philosophers, statesmen and scientists, and would have been quite radical and destabilizing to the Monks’ world view indeed if they could be read.




For example, in the Archimedes Palimpsest pictured above, the original text and diagrams of the scroll from which the pages were made are visible in certain sections of this 10th century codex in ordinary light (top). In the middle photo, imaged in the X Ray wavelength, the vertical orientation of Archimedes’ text running under the horizontally oriented monastic text is clearly visible. Through further Image analysis in the UV wavelength, more detail emerged, such as in the lower photo showing the graphic illustration of Archimedes’ Spiral. The various forms of imaging and contextual sequencing revealed the entire manuscript to contain three of Archimedes’ most important mathematical treatises: “The Method”, “The Stomachion” and “On Floating Bodies.” They were not known to exist, other than by reference from classical period commentary, prior to their rediscovery in palimpsest.

I suspect that Sanborn takes pride and satisfaction from the parallel: lurking under the foundations of ritual and dogma are often radical and destabilizing ideas. That is very image he intended for Kryptos- as an architectural palimpsest- with successive generations of strata built one on top of another. Underneath, hidden knowledge struggles to break the surface and be rediscovered. The implication is that this information is somehow present already underneath the scaffolding of contexts, and the core, original message is obscured by successive generations of overwritten text.

The following is one of only a handful of primary source materials relating to Kryptos that we have that is dated prior to the sculpture’s putative installation date:

December 15, 1989

Dear Agency Employees:

I am writing this letter to give you an idea of what I am up to at the Agency, and to explain those big tilted slabs of stone.

The stonework in the courtyard and at the entrance to the new building serves two functions:

First, it creates a natural framework for the project as a
whole and is part of a landscaping scheme designed to
recall the natural stone outcroppings that existed on this
site before the Agency, and that will endure as do

Second, the tilted strata tell a story like pages of a
document. Over the next several months, a flat copper
sheet through which letters and symbols are cut will be
inserted between these stone “pages.” This code, which
includes certain ancient ciphers, begins as International 
Morse and increases in complexity as you move through
the piece at the entrance and into the courtyard. Its
placement in a geologic context reinforces the text’s 
“hiddenness” as if it were a fossil or an image frozen in time…

The code “begins as Int’l Morse and increases in complexity as you move through the piece at the entrance.” To the best of my knowledge, there have been no solution attempts thus far that have taken anything into the courtyard from the Morse besides “Palimpsest”. Sanborn wrote the piece above 11 months prior to the dedication, and years before the disinformation campaign really got underway, and yet, it seems as if nobody to this point has been willing to take his most direct and explicit statements of intention at face value. I’ll cut to the chase. To this point, solvers have failed to account for three elephants in the room: what ancient ciphers?; why “palimpsest”?; and what are those extra e’s supposed to mean?

Let’s begin with the E.  By translating the Morse in whatever direction necessary to produce a cogent word/phrase in each section, we discover that there are 32 E’s total out of 107 alpha characters. The guiding assumption that the E’s may have significance beyond either dots or letters, as some sort of contextual marker.  Of these, 27 appear to be extraneous padding or filler, and 5 appear as parts of words like digEtal, et al. There are 75 consonants total, with 17 represented, and no J, K, X, or Z present in the text.  The entire Morse installation alphabet contains 22 unique characters when interpreted as International Morse.

Relating the “palimpsest” theme, for which we have already demonstrated relevance, let’s ask ourselves a very basic question. Sanborn has explicitly stated that this “book” is a palimpsest.  Arguably, we have one text which is covered up by another, with original text appearing in the spaces between the more modern text’s letters, at a 90 degree orientation.  Ancient languages like Greek and Latin derived from Abjad alphabets like Phoenician, which did not include vowels.  So in deciding which of the “texts” to “read through” to find ancient secrets, which is the ancient and which the modern? Hypothetically, the ancient code will not contain E.

I suggest we stop thinking of the E’s as padding or filler, and instead consider them as a covering text from a more modern era, on top of the “ancient” text.  As scientists demonstrated on the Archimedes Palimpsest, if we could only remove the characters that were superimposed on the ancient text, we could read it easily. Failing that ability, we used imaging techniques involving the electromagnetic spectrum to make the invisible text underneath legible.  Through UV and X Ray analysis, we removed the unwanted text, which provisionally speaking for Kryptos, is in the horizontal axis and represented by dots, or “E”.

Alternatively, the E’s represent the palindrome markers themselves, but in an abstract way. Have you noticed that each of the “lines” in the Morse “fractional phrases” seems to have an even number of E’s? That means instead of an “e” occupying the central position of these abstract palindromes, there is some “non-e” text “trapped” in the middle. Remember how I showed you the “grid” solution in the previous essay? 1st letter, 6th, 1st, 6th, etc. It seems as if the number 16 is suggested by Sanborn as somehow important, after all when we lined it up properly, PALIMPSEST popped right out in the vertical axis.  We have 32 E’s, twice 16. How could we make it so the abstract palindrome concept would apply to the Palimpsest crack, and also account for the extra e’s?

The Morse Part I

Let’s start from the start. The main idea is that everything can be seen as either symbols, words, or ideas. For example, I’m just looking at the very first thing I see approaching the NHB from the parking lot: some dots and dashes on rocks.

…—… = SOS = distress signal | Symbol = Word = Idea

The very first sequence I encounter: 000111000, says the same thing backwards as it does forwards. That peculiar property makes it “palindromic” in both symbolic terms and in context as a string of letters and code. Another thing: all the dit dashes after it are palindromic too, Wait a sec, it looks like the whole Morse installation could be made into a series of palindromic phrases. SOS is a palindrome two ways, as code and as letters. At the level of ideas it is a distress signal. Phonetically, as a word, it is pronounced “May Day” (from French “M’aidez”=”help me”) not “See Air Rah, Oss Car, See Air Rah”. In addition, Morse code has special code sequences called prosigns, which taken together transform the meaning of phrases from being a sequence of letters, to identifying an abstract definition in a code book, or as in the case of SOS, representing a meaning universally understood as “different” from the letters themselves.

The second palindrome which spells “RQ” has the same symmetry, and also is a prosign which backwards (QR) specifically means “?” i.e.: “what precedes it is to be taken as a question”. As opposed to a distress code, this type of prosign, a “Q” code, is identified by the use of the rare letter “Q” as the first letter of a two letter “word”, which as above, references a code definition look-up to convey an idea that is separate from any meaning arising from the combination of those letters as phonetic words. Naturally, a “u” following a “q” informs the receiver that the rest of the letters should follow normal sequencing, and any other letter following a “q” is a prosign.  If I had to interpret a title in English for the two abstract concepts of SOS and QR taken together, it would be “the thing that appears right before the symbolic question marker is the distress code letter sequence”.

Before we move on, it should be clear that any serious analysis of these two phrases is hampered by the idea that the sequence is SOS RQ, when in fact, it could just as easily be QRS OS, or YR SOS, or any number of arbitrary variations we could make by combining the dots and dashes in novel ways.  Bottom line, we don’t have much here-yet, but we have much to think about.

Let’s look up the definition of “palindrome” and start from there. Thumbing through the dictionary I find the page.  Scanning down, I see Palilogia, Palimony, Palimpsest, oh here it is: Palindrome. Keep in mind that we have deduced that the thing that appears right before the question mark, is what we’re looking for. This is copied from the dictionary:

Word Origin and Definition for Palindrome:

“Numerals, code, or text that reads the same backward and forward,” 1620s, from Greek palindromos “a recurrence,” literally a running back, from palin “again, back” (from PIE root *kwel- “move round,” with notion of “revolving; see cycle (n.)) + dromos “a running” (see dromedary ). 1. a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward, as Madam, I’m Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop. 2. Biochemistry. a region of DNA in which the sequence of nucleotides is identical with an inverted sequence in the complementary strand: GAATTC is a palindrome of CTTAAG.

Let’s explore this in the three dimensions.

First, just code. We have 16 dashes and dots that comprise the palindromic phrases SOS and RQ. As demonstrated in the Arecibo Message, one of the easiest ways to deliver context for decryption is to encode meaning by the number of discrete code units in the message. The dashes and dots are a binary code. We have 16 total units, but taken as “code” we have the numbers “1” and “6”, just the digits, not a compound “numerical word” like “16”. So lets analyze sequencing intervals of 1 and 6 on the words that precede the question mark.


Notice how the T in INTERPRET seems to form the center of the 10 words, The top five rows add to 15, and the bottom five add to 18 in our right hand register, placing the center on T again. At Digetal, we learn a game about forcing the dash dot sequences into palindromes using the extra “e”s. More later. Overall the 1.61616 sequence hints at a Greek letter Phi. That’s much later.

For now, you just figured out that the key is PALIMPSEST, when taken in a perpendicular axis to the existing layered content. Phrased differently we discovered the answer acrostically, when we recovered a sequence that allowed us to reconstruct an original decryption matrix. Is it “valid”? Who knows? We’re still gathering evidence to supply context. It might be “wrong”.

Okay, next. Letters/Words. Now we’re not thinking anymore about dashes and dots, just letters and the symbolic values that arise from their placement into context through the application of combination rule or grammar. SOS and RQ are still out of the mix because in this context, they are prosigns, not words “made” of letters, nor are they the individual letters themselves. How can “Palindrome” help? Remember Ed calls attention to clues by misspelling. DIGETAL. If spelled correctly, it would have produced a palindrome, with G as the central, mirror letter. He’s an artist, he communicates meaning through the negative space. Why would he not want G? A good question. Why call attention to it in this sequence of letters? I guess we just have to dig. We investigate if there are other palindromes in the other words. Indeed there are, and including the double LL in “VIRTUALLY”, the mirror letters within all palindromes are: P, A, L, I, M, P, S, E, S, T. Again, as above, there are 10 units of code: in this case mirror letters within words. The target length for the key is given by the number of words in the Morse, excluding the prosigns in this context. As above, so below.

Ed knows I’m bad at math, and worse at English so at the very start he constructed a little trapdoor for me. If the question mark after the distress signal implies a sequencing, and prosigns by definition replace a word with an abstract value using a dictionary, then the thing that comes right before the abstract symbolic question mark, i.e.: palindrome, is analogous to the answer I seek in a dictionary context.  The definition preceding “PALINDROME” in the dictionary is PALIMPSEST.


Top Secret: UMBRA


An original G-man, and 13 time Checkers Champ. Are you seeing the corrupting influence on poor Ed Jr’s growing psyche? To me the subversive message it sends is quite clear: I’m smart, I’m a boss, and I like simplicity in my games.  Wow.  Right under our noses I tell you!

OK, I know this is going to come as a shock to most of my readership, but I really can’t even get started on the Morse without spilling the beans on this. Seriously, don’t tell anyone.  You ready? Ed’s a mole! An informant. Not that guy in the picture above, but his son. I think. I don’t know what happened, and it’s none of my business, but this guy’s singing like Aretha Franklin now.  It sounds crazy, since from day one he told us he “worked with Sanborn” and “showed him a few innocent codes”. Now, the whole story seems to be falling apart. The IC and everybody else is thinking: “Oh good job Ed, you go and show this guy, who has no clearance and has been educated in a foreign country at the intellectual center of the liberal labor movement, our secret stuff? What were you smoking? How do we know you weren’t jiving us from the start, Ed? If that’s even your real name! Scheidt’s German, is it not? Means “Separate” right? Hey boss, we have a family of undercover separatists here. In the past tense Scheidt would be Schist, meaning “layered” would it not, as in Mica Schist, denoting a layered rock transformed by age? Let’s have a look at Ed’s file shall we?

Alright, I’m just kidding, but throughout the history of cryptology in the 20th Century, tremendous damage could have been avoided if we had just done a little more research into who people were and deduced their true motivations.  When William H. Webster referred to Ed as the “deep throat of codes”, many people took it as some sort of good ‘ol boy backslap: a catchphrase throwaway line probably stemming from a basic training incident, some youthful overseas indiscretion or possibly a highly classified story.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that beyond his female cinematic cognomen, there was another “deep throat” and it gets better: he’s a guy!  Mark Felt. OMG. I’m not keeping quiet about it anymore: I’m ratting these two guys out. This subversion needs to be exposed. It’s anti-American! If it’s one thing I can’t stand it’s whistle-blowers undermining the criminal justice system.  Wait.  What?

In all seriousness, there’s a wealth of information here in Ed’s language.  Listen to it like this: WW calls him “deep throat“: associating All the Presidents Men: in which the journalists are given key information about how to expose the Watergate coverup via a cryptic catchphrase, thus Felt who was the informant, Felt associates FBI, where Ed’s father was a boss, and liked Checkers In the financial capitol, NY. Hear: “Follow the Money“, NY, and “Checkers“.

Think I’m reaching a bit? Later I’ll discuss the symbolic use of materials in the context of recycled US coinage and paper currency. In addition, I will analyze the rules of movement in checkers to point out a peculiar property of the board’s alternating cell shadings. Interested? I bet.

I’m never content to accept a picture like the one above of “Ed Scheidt Sr” at face value. Lets have a look at some intelligence provided by one of our many informants in this conspiracy. First, we track down the checkers angle. I found this:

Edward F. Scheidt the above checker player [ed: in the picture I posted at the top of this post] , who essentially quenched his checker playing by the mid ’90s is Edward M. Scheidt’s Father.  Ed Scheidt the son born in 1939 is the retired Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center at CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. He was the trainer and mastermind behind James Sanborn a Washington DC sculptor who was commissioned in 1988 to create the art project and finished installing “Kryptos” on campus at Langley in 1990. This becomes the world’s most famous unsolved codes; however, Part 1-3 has been solved but only after nearly 10 years of deciphering. One of them was used by the KBG, during the cold war period. Part 4 (known as K4) and possibly K5 & K6 continues unsolved, and if solved, the messages will most likely be a mystery. Mike Scheidt is the son of Edwin M. Scheidt.

OK first question is: who are these KBG guys? North Korean? Or is it possible that that ‘ol Mastermind misspelled something again to call attention to it as a clue? Pretty slick, right?

On the subject, who the heck are Mike and Edwin M. Scheidt? Are they related to the checkers playin’, federal agency oriented Scheidts, whose patronym is Edward and not Edwin? Maybe they’re the KBG.

Another thing: Scheidt Sr. had not just “essentially quenched his checker playing by the mid-’90’s,” In fact Edward F. Scheidt died at the age of 90, 12/9/1992.

Most of the stuff I highlighted in bold really speaks for itself, but this one is subtle. Do you also detect that these has been translated to English from Russian, comrade? “Part 1-3 has been solved but only…” “this becomes the worlds most famous unsolved codes”.  Both of these sentences demonstrate typical subject/verb/object disagreements one normally associates with Russian speakers in translation.

Remember how he mocked us with his own last name? Via another language, he called attention to his deceased ancestor, and since Scheidt (Ed, present tense). therefore Schist (Ed Sr. Past tense), explicitly self references as “layered”, Ed has given a clue that the decryption to the story may be connected with orienting the material in a temporal context, a layering of generations.

You know who has been completely ignored? Ed Scheidt, born in 1939, who was in fact somebody’s son. Whose? We may never know. However, It explicitly mentions him and only him as having anything to do with the CIA, Crypto, or Langley. Go back up and read the article again.  Can we reasonably conclude that Ed “El Hijo” Scheidt is related to any of these other people? The KBG? Apparently, the only witness just happens to be his Stepford love child: Sanborn. That noise you hear is Angleton rolling over in his grave. Ed’s gone rogue, and he could be anybody.

Just in case you have any doubts, did you bother to even check his resume? “Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center”?  Umm, which center is that exactly?  I was under the impression that the CIA’s “cryptographic center” is called “The NSA”. The only references to this secret “cryptographic” organization at CIA are in relation to the Kryptos puzzle as reported in the news media.

See what happens when you check out cover stories? Track down the details? Me? I research stuff until it finally talks. I investigated the publisher of American Checkerist, and was introduced to the personality of William F. Ryan, who was at the time was the face of Checkers in the popular press and one of its top players. On that subject I encountered Dr. Marion F. Tinsley, considered the game’s greatest player. Going further I discovered that checkers is an ancient game known historically as draughts [say: drafts], whose legacy and representation in arts and literature stretches back to ancient Egypt and Greece. This corroborated a link to Ed “Son” Scheidt’s interest in ancient codes and symbolism, which I cross-referenced from an interview in which Ed’s necktie and office decorations reflected ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic themes and depictions of Pyramids.

Approaching from a different angle, I researched the strategy of checkers, to see if there may be tactical elements present in the game itself that could provide a context for decryption in Kryptos. The game is highly scientific and an elegant art form. It is one of most difficult games to play at the expert, master, or grandmaster level. Two interesting data which may have tangential relevance with Kryptos are: the safest and most versatile strategy at high levels of play is called “The Cross”; and in describing their game-play in magazines like AC, they use a proprietary numeration system based on the following:


Checker moves are recorded by numbers like Cartesian coordinates. On the right diagram, if Red (or the dark side) moves from square 11 to 15, it is recorded as (11-15). If Red jumps three pieces from square 2 to 27, it is (2-27) etc.

Okay, if you’re a little surprised that you let this much get past you about such a seemingly small and insignificant detail, you are really going to flip when we start talking about coins. I’m going to give you guys a break and stop here for now.

11-28-1974 The Sanford Herald Southeastern 2

Here’s our guy. I think. Did you check out Jimmy “Mad Hatter” Haire yet? He’s got style.