aesthetics  →
being  →
complexity  →
database  →
enterprise  →
ethics  →
fiction  →
history  →
internet  →
knowledge  →
language  →
licensing  →
linux  →
logic  →
method  →
news  →
perception  →
philosophy  →
policy  →
purpose  →
religion  →
science  →
sociology  →
software  →
truth  →
unix  →
wiki  →
essay  →
feed  →
help  →
system  →
wiki  →
critical  →
discussion  →
forked  →
imported  →
original  →
[ temporary import ]
please note:
- the content below is remote from Wikipedia
- it has been imported raw for GetWiki
{{about|the sculpture|other uses|Kryptos (disambiguation)}}{{Italic title}}{{More footnotes|date=March 2010}}

}}Kryptos is a sculpture by the American artist Jim Sanborn located on the grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia. Since its dedication on November 3, 1990, there has been much speculation about the meaning of the four encrypted messages it bears. Of the four messages, the first three have been solved, while the fourth message remains as one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world. The sculpture continues to be of interest to cryptanalysts, both amateur and professional, who are attempting to decipher the fourth passage. The artist has so far given two clues to this passage.


The main part of the sculpture is located in the northwest corner of the New Headquarters Building courtyard, outside of the Agency's cafeteria. The sculpture comprises four large copper plates with other elements consisting of water, wood, plants, red and green granite, white quartz, and petrified wood. The most prominent feature is a large vertical S-shaped copper screen resembling a scroll or a piece of paper emerging from a computer printer, half of which consists of encrypted text. The characters are all found within the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, along with question marks, and are cut out of the copper plates. The main sculpture contains four separate enigmatic messages, three of which have been deciphered.In addition to the main part of the sculpture, Jim Sanborn also placed other pieces of art at the CIA grounds, such as several large granite slabs with sandwiched copper sheets outside the entrance to the New Headquarters Building. Several morse code messages are found on these copper sheets, and one of the stone slabs has an engraving of a compass rose pointing to a lodestone. Other elements of Sanborn's installation include a landscaped garden area, a fish pond with opposing wooden benches, a reflecting pool, and other pieces of stone including a triangle shaped black stone slab.The name Kryptos comes from the ancient Greek word for "hidden", and the theme of the sculpture is "Intelligence Gathering".The cost of the sculpture in 1988 was US $250,000 (worth US $501,000 in 2016).

Encrypted messages

The ciphertext on the left-hand side of the sculpture (as seen from the courtyard) of the main sculpture contains 869 characters in total : 865 letters and 4 question marks.In April 2006, however, Sanborn released information stating that a letter was omitted from this side of Kryptos "for aesthetic reasons, to keep the sculpture visually balanced".Zetter, Kim. "Typo Confounds Kryptos Sleuths" Wired April 20, 2006 There are also three misspelled words in the plaintext of the deciphered first three passages, which Sanborn has said was intentional{{citation needed|date=May 2017}}{{dubious|date=May 2017}}, and three letters (YAR) near the beginning of the bottom half of the left side are the only characters on the sculpture in superscript.The right-hand side of the sculpture comprises a keyed Vigenère encryption tableau, consisting of 867 letters.One of the lines of the Vigenère tableau has an extra character (L). Bauer, Link and MolleBauer, Link and Molle, 2016, p. 548. suggest that this may be a reference to the Hill cipher as an encryption method for the fourth passage of the sculpture.{|----|EMUFPHZLRFAXYUSDJKZLDKRNSHGNFIVJYQTQUXQBQVYUVLLTREVJYQTMKYRDMFDVFPJUDEEHZWETZYVGWHKKQETGFQJNCEGGWHKK?DQMCPFQZDQMMIAGPFXHQRLGTIMVMZJANQLVKQEDAGDVFRPJUNGEUNAQZGZLECGYUXUEENJTBJLBQCRTBJDFHRRYIZETKZEMVDUFKSJHKFWHKUWQLSZFTIHHDDDUVH?DWKBFUFPWNTDFIYCUQZEREEVLDKFEZMOQQJLTTUGSYQPFEUNLAVIDXFLGGTEZ?FKZBSFDQVGOGIPUFXHHDRKFFHQNTGPUAECNUVPDJMQCLQUMUNEDFQELZZVRRGKFFVOEEXBDMVPNFQXEZLGREDNQFMPNZGLFLPMRJQYALMGNUVPDXVKPDQUMEBEDMHDAFMJGZNUPLGEWJLLAETG| ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABCDAKRYPTOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPBRYPTOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTCYPTOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTODPTOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSETOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSAFOSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABGSABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCHABCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDIBCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDEJCDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDEFKDEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDEFGLEFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDEFGHMFGHIJLMNQUVWXZKRYPTOSABCDEFGHI
Sanborn worked with a retiring CIA employee named Ed Scheidt, Chairman of the CIA Office of Communications, to come up with the cryptographic systems used on the sculpture.Sanborn has revealed that the sculpture contains a riddle within a riddle, which will be solvable only after the four encrypted passages have been deciphered. Another, albeit amateur theory, contends that the true purpose of the sculpture is to assess nearby reactions, or to realize that the solution to plat 4 is not one of purely cryptanalysis; and rather, has its solution in the artist’s psychology. Vague notions of possible support for the theory points to the inclusion of petrified wood, and now, the patina itself, a possible nod that the sculpture would stand the test of time. An even less well known group of amateurs insists that the solution to Plate 4 exists, yet requires the safe application of electric current to the original copper. He has given conflicting information about the sculpture's answer, saying at one time that he gave the complete solution to the then-CIA director William Webster during the dedication ceremony; but later, he also said that he had not given Webster the entire solution. He did, however, confirm that within the passage of the plaintext of the second message which reads "Who knows the exact location? Only WW."Sanborn also confirmed that should he die before the entire sculpture becomes deciphered, there will be someone able to confirm the solution.Zetter, Kim. "Questions for Kryptos' Creator," Wired (January 20, 2005).


The first person to announce publicly that he had solved the first three passages was Jim Gillogly, a computer scientist from southern California, who deciphered these passages using a computer, and revealed his solutions in 1999.NEWS,weblink CIA's Artistic Enigma Reveals All but Final Clues, June 16, 1999, New York Times, December 11, 2011, Markoff, John, John Markoff, After Gillogly's announcement, the CIA revealed that their analyst David Stein had solved the same passages in 1998 using pencil and paper techniques, although at the time of his solution the information was only disseminated within the intelligence communityJOURNAL, Studies in Intelligence, The Puzzle at CIA Headquarters: Cracking the Courtyard Crypto, David D., Stein,weblink 1999, 43, 1, and no public announcement was made until July 1999.NEWS,weblink Cracking the Code of a CIA Sculpture, July 19, 1999, Washington Post, December 11, 2011, WEB, Zetter, Kim, CIA Releases Analyst's Fascinating Tale of Cracking the Kryptos Sculpture,weblink, 5 June 2013, The NSA also claimed that some of their employees had solved the same three passages, but would not reveal names or dates until March 2000, when it was learned that an NSA team led by Ken Miller, along with Dennis McDaniels and two other unnamed individuals, had solved passages 1–3 in late 1992.NEWS,weblink Unlocking the secret of 'Kryptos', March 17, 2000, December 11, 2011, The Baltimore Sun, Bowman, Tom, Tom Bowman (journalist), In 2013, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Elonka Dunin, the NSA released documents which show the NSA became involved in attempts to solve the Kryptos puzzle in 1992, following a challenge by Bill Studeman, then Deputy Director of the CIA. The documents show that by June 1993, a small group of NSA cryptanalysts had succeeded in solving the first three passages of the sculpture.NEWS,,weblink Documents Reveal How the NSA Cracked the Kryptos Sculpture Years Before the CIA, Kim, Zetter, July 10, 2013, NEWS,,weblink NSA Cracked Kryptos Before the CIA. What Other Mysteries Has It Solved?, Jathan, Sadowski, July 11, 2013, The above attempts to solve Kryptos found that passage 2 ended with WESTIDBYROWS, but in 2005, Monet Friedrich, a logician, philosopher, and computer scientist from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, determined that another possible plaintext was: WESTXLAYERTWO.WEB,weblink From a radio interview on BellCoreRadio, season 1, episode 32, Barcode Brothers, 2005-10-11, 2011-11-12, In 2006, Sanborn announced that he had made an error in passage 2, and confirmed that the last passage of the plaintext was WESTXLAYERTWO, and not WESTIDBYROWS. Sanborn had inadvertently omitted a letter S in the crypt text. By rotating the keyword to BSCISSAA it decrypts to WESTPLAYERTWO{{dubious|date=August 2019}}. The significance of this is that WESTXLAYERTWO is the original plain text. It was intentional that WESTIDBYROWS was discovered at a later stage by following a clue to manipulate the letter (or numeral) X{{dubious|date=August 2019}}.WEB, Zetter, Kim, Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA's Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture,weblink 25 November 2014, 20 November 2014, Wired, in 2006, Sanborn realized he had also made an inadvertent error, a missing "x" that he mistakenly deleted from the end of a line in passage 2, a passage that was already solved, {{Failed verification|date=August 2019}}


The following are the solutions of passages 1–3 of the sculpture.WEB, Corey Lindsly,weblink Kryptos: The Sanborn Sculpture at CIA Headquarters,, 2011-11-12, Misspellings present in the text are included verbatim.

Solution of passage 1


Solution of passage 2

Method : VigenèreKeywords: Kryptos, AbscissaIT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE HOWS THAT POSSIBLE ? THEY USED THE EARTHS MAGNETIC FIELD X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGRUUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS ? THEY SHOULD ITS BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION ? ONLY WW THIS WAS HIS LAST MESSAGE X THIRTY EIGHT DEGREES FIFTY SEVEN MINUTES SIX POINT FIVE SECONDS NORTH SEVENTY SEVEN DEGREES EIGHT MINUTES FORTY FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWOOn April 19, 2006, Sanborn contacted an online community dedicated to the Kryptos puzzle to inform them that the accepted solution to passage 2 was incorrect.He said that he made an error in the sculpture by omitting an "X" used to separate sentences, for aesthetic reasons, and that the deciphered text that ended "...FOUR SECONDS WEST ID BY ROWS" should actually be "...FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWO".WEB,weblink The Kryptos Group announces a corrected answer to Kryptos Part 2,, 2006-04-19, 2011-11-12, The coordinates mentioned in the plaintext: {{coord|38|57|6.5|N|77|8|44|W}} are for a point that is approximately 150 feet southeast of the sculpture.

Solution of passage 3

Method : TranspositionSLOWLY DESPARATLY SLOWLY THE REMAINS OF PASSAGE DEBRIS THAT ENCUMBERED THE LOWER PART OF THE DOORWAY WAS REMOVED WITH TREMBLING HANDS I MADE A TINY BREACH IN THE UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER AND THEN WIDENING THE HOLE A LITTLE I INSERTED THE CANDLE AND PEERED IN THE HOT AIR ESCAPING FROM THE CHAMBER CAUSED THE FLAME TO FLICKER BUT PRESENTLY DETAILS OF THE ROOM WITHIN EMERGED FROM THE MIST X CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING Q ?This is a paraphrased quotation from Howard Carter's account of the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun on November 26, 1922, as described in his 1923 book The Tomb of Tutankhamun. The question with which it ends is asked by Lord Carnarvon, to which Carter (in the book) famously replied "wonderful things". In the November 26, 1922 field notes, however, his reply was, "Yes, it is wonderful.". {{webarchive |url= |date=May 18, 2007 }}

Solution of passage 4

Method(s) : Unknown

Clues given

When commenting in 2006 about his error in passage 2, Sanborn said that the answers to the first three passages contain clues to the fourth passage.WEB, Zetter, Kim, Kim Zetter,weblink Typo Confounds Kryptos Sleuths,, April 20, 2006, 2011-11-12, In November 2010, Sanborn released a clue, publicly stating that "NYPVTT", the 64th–⁠69th letters in passage four, become "BERLIN" after decryption.WEB, Schwartz, John,weblink Artist releases clue to Kryptos,, 2010-11-20, 2011-11-12, WEB, All Things Considered,weblink 'Kryptos' Sculptor Drops New Clue In 20-Year Mystery, NPR, 2011-11-12, All Things Considered, Sanborn gave The New York Times another clue in November 2014: the letters "MZFPK", the 70th–⁠74th letters in passage four, become "CLOCK" after decryption.WEB, A New Clue to 'Kryptos',weblink The New York Times, 21 November 2014, 20 November 2014, The 74th letter is K in both the plaintext and ciphertext, meaning that it is possible for a character to encrypt to itself. This means it does not have a weakness, where a character could never be encrypted as itself, that was known to be inherent in the German Enigma machine.Sanborn further stated that in order to solve passage 4, "You'd better delve into that particular clock," but added, "There are several really interesting clocks in Berlin."WEB, New York Times, Sculptor Offers Another Clue in 24-Year-Old Mystery at C.I.A.,weblink Schwartz, John, November 20, 2014, November 22, 2014, The particular clock in question is presumably the Berlin Clock, although the Alexanderplatz World Clock is another candidate.

Related sculptures

Kryptos was the first cryptographic sculpture made by Sanborn.After producing Kryptos he went on to make several other sculptures with codes and other types of writing, including one entitled Antipodes, which is at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., an "Untitled Kryptos Piece" that was sold to a private collector, and Cyrillic Projector, which contains encrypted Russian Cyrillic text that included an extract from a classified KGB document.The cipher on one side of Antipodes repeats the text from Kryptos. Much of the cipher on Antipodes{{'}} other side is duplicated on Cyrillic Projector. The Russian portion of the cipher found on Cyrillic Projector and Antipodes was solved in 2003 by Frank Corr and Mike Bales independently from each other with translation from Russian plaintext provided by Elonka Dunin.Cyrillic Riddle Solved Science, vol 302, 10 Oct. 2003, page 224Ex Nexum was installed in 1997 at Little Rock Old U.S. Post Office & CourthouseSome additional sculptures by Sanborn include Native American texts: RippowamWEB,weblink 127. UConn Public Art Collection (8 of 30),, was installed at the University of Connecticut, in Stamford in 1999, while Lux was installed in 2001 at an old US Post Office building in Fort Myers, Florida.WEB,weblink Jim Sanborn: The Artist's Official Site,, Indian Run is located next to the US Federal Courthouse in Beltsville, Maryland and contains a bronze cylinder perforated with the text of the Iroquois Book of the Great Law.This document includes the contribution of the indigenous peoples to the United States legal system.WEB,weblink 2008-11-23, H. Con. Res. 331, October 21, 1988, United States Senate, The text is written in Onondaga and was transcribed from the ancient oral tradition of five Iroquois nations.WEB,weblink Sanborn's Indian Run Artwork,, A,A was installed at the Plaza in front of the new library at the University of Houston, in Houston, TX in 2004, and Radiance was installed at the Department of Energy, Coast, and Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in 2008.

Pop culture references

The dust jacket of the US version of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code contains two references to Kryptos - one on the back cover (coordinates printed light red on dark red, vertically next to the blurbs) is a reference to the coordinates mentioned in the plaintext of passage 2 (see above), except the degrees digit is off by one. When Brown and his publisher were asked about this, they both gave the same reply: "The discrepancy is intentional". The coordinates were part of the first clue of the second Da Vinci Code WebQuest, the first answer being Kryptos. The other reference is hidden in the brown "tear" artwork—upside-down words which say "Only WW knows", which is another reference to the second message on Kryptos.WEB,weblink FAQ About Kryptos,, 2011-11-12, NEWS,weblink CIA sculpture 'kryptos' draws mystery lovers, May 27, 2005, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 11, 2011, McKinnon, John D., Kryptos features in Dan Brown's 2009 novel The Lost Symbol.Secrets of the Lost Symbol, pp.319–326A small version of Kryptos appears in the season 5 episode of Alias "S.O.S.". In it, Marshall Flinkman, in a small moment of comic relief, says he has cracked the code just by looking at it during a tour visit to the CIA office. The solution he describes sounds like the solution to the first two parts.A picture of Kryptos appears in the season 2 episode of The King of Queens "(List of The King of Queens episodes#Season 2: 1999–2000|Meet By-Product)". A framed picture of Kryptos hangs on the wall by the door.The progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me has a reference to Kryptos in their song "Obfuscation" from their 2009 album, The Great Misdirect.In the book "Muko and the Secret" four young pupils from the class of Naturals learn about the mysterious sculpture hidden in the school. The hints in the book suggest that this is the sculpture of "Kryptos".BOOK, Materna, Greg, 2018-11-07, Muko and the Secret,weblink 978-83-951701-1-9,

See also





  • BOOK, Atomic Time: Pure Science and Seduction, 2003, 0-88675-072-5, Jonathan Binstock and Jim Sanborn, (contains 1–2 pages about Kryptos)
  • BOOK, Elonka Dunin, Dunin, Elonka, The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms, 2006, 500, Constable & Robinson, 0-7867-1726-2,
  • BOOK, Secrets of the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel, Daniel Burstein, Arne de Keijzer, Dunin, Elonka, Harper Collins, 2009, 978-0-06-196495-4, Kryptos: The Unsolved Enigma, 319–326,weblink
  • BOOK, Secrets of the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel, Daniel Burstein, Arne de Keijzer, Dunin, Elonka, Harper Collins, 2009, 978-0-06-196495-4, Art, Encryption, and the Preservation of Secrets: An interview with Jim Sanborn, 294–300,weblink
  • BOOK, Illustrated Guide to the Lost Symbol, John Weber, Taylor, Greg, 978-1-4165-2366-6, 2009, Decoding Kryptos, Simon & Schuster,weblink

Journal articles

  • JOURNAL, Bauer, Craig, Link, Gregory, Molle, Dante, 2016, James Sanborn's Kryptos and the matrix encryption conjecture, Cryptologia, 40, 5, 541–552, 10.1080/01611194.2016.1141556,


External links

{{Commons category|Kryptos}}

- content above as imported from Wikipedia
- "Kryptos" does not exist on GetWiki (yet)
- time: 12:57am EST - Fri, Nov 15 2019
[ this remote article is provided by Wikipedia ]
LATEST EDITS [ see all ]
Eastern Philosophy
History of Philosophy
M.R.M. Parrott