The Kryptos Sculpture
Kryptos is a sculpture located on the grounds of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Installed in 1990 by artist James Sanborn, its 1800 characters contain encrypted messages, of which three have been solved. There is still a fourth section at the bottom consisting of 97 or 98 characters which remains uncracked.
The first section is a poetic phrase, which Sanborn composed himself. The second hints at something buried, and the third section comes from archaeologist Howard Carter’s diary describing the opening of a door in King Tut’s tomb on Nov. 26, 1922.
It’s been 15 years since Sanborn installed the 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and wood sculpture, and it’s been seven years since anyone made progress at cracking its code. On this page, I’ve provided a transcript of the ciphertext as well as explanations to breaking the first three sections. If you’re interested in the solutions, just follow the links at the top. The first two parts are straight forward enough that nearly anybody with a simple education in cryptography can solve them. The third part is much more advanced, and the fourth part is borderline impossible.
Can you crack the code?