Codes and technology and hackers are an all-too-common part of our world in 2018, but one famous code has proven to be unbreakable – even for the CIA and the NSA. The Kryptos sculpture created by Jim Sanborn has remained an unsolved mystery since it was installed in 1990 at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Code-breakers from the CIA, NSA and even some freelancers not employed by our government in jobs relating to our national security have worked on the Kryptos sculpture code for years. Several successfully cracked the first 3 sections years ago, but one final section remains.
Now I know this isn’t a secret room or a secret chamber, but the second section of the Kryptos code does refer to something buried underground, likely at the CIA headquarters itself, given the coordinates that were discovered when the code was deciphered as well as the inclusion of the initials WW. When the sculpture was originally created in the 1980’s William Webster was the director of the CIA. It was believed WW referred to him, which was later confirmed by the sculpture’s creator Jim Sanborn.
The third section of the code mentions the hidden chamber of King Tut’s tomb. In fact, the deciphered code is a paraphrased quote from a book written by Howard Carter that describes the experience of opening King Tut’s tomb, hidden within a pyramid in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
Here are the sections of the Kryptos sculpture that have been cracked so far:
BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION (meant to be illusion, but an error in the code by the creator)
IT 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 TWO
SLOWLY 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 ?
If you’re keeping track that means we’ve got a section that talks about shading, absence of light and illusion, another that references something hidden underground and a third that discussed the opening of dark, long-hidden room where an ancient pharaoh was believed to be buried. Talk about an interesting mystery!
The Final Section
It’s hard to know exactly what Jim Sanborn expected when he created the codes and the sculpture, but each section is believed to be a clue, a part of the larger riddle that will only be revealed once the final section is cracked.
Since it’s been more than 20 years since the code was originally created, Jim has since released some hints to help the codebreakers try to figure out the cipher that was used to encrypt the final message. A few years ago he released the first clue. 6 letters out of the 97 in the 4th section, the 64th-69th letters. The clue was that the letters NYPVTT translate to BERLIN.
Sanborn expected that this clue would help someone to finally crack the code, but again it went unsolved. After a few more years Sanborn released yet another clue to the 4th section. Letters 70 to 74 in the code were revealed to translate to CLOCK. With these 2 clues, we know that part of the translated code says BERLIN CLOCK.
Despite these 2 clues and many codebreakers working on it, the code has still remained unsolved. The creator Jim Sanborn is not in his 70’s and was asked in an interview what would happen if he died before the mystery was solved. He has assured us that his will was written to pass the answer on to someone who could confirm it should the code ever be cracked.
It’s hard to imagine in a time when we have super computers, artificial intelligence and a slew of brilliant minds dedicated to breaking codes that this particular one has remained unsolved. It’s also hard to imagine what exactly the riddle will reveal. Sanborn has confirmed that the riddle will require anyone solving it to be on the CIA grounds.
If you have any guesses about what the Kryptos sculpture riddle could lead to, head over to our Facebook page and let us know in the comments of this post! We hope it’s a secret room hidden underground at the CIA, but we imagine if it is, we won’t ever know about it!