Note: In April 2006, sculptor Sanborn announced a corrected solution to K2, so some of the below pages are out of date. For details on the corrected solution, please read the announcement.
Note: In November 2010, Sanborn offered a clue, that the ciphertext letters NYPVTT in K4 decrypt to the plaintext letters BERLIN.
OBKR UOXOGHULBSOLIFBBWFLRVQQPRNGKSSO TWTQSJQSSEKZZWATJKLUDIAWINFBNYP VTTMZFPKWGDKZXTJCDIGKUHUAUEKCAR
On Friday, October 18th 2002, I had the rare opportunity to closely examine the Kryptos sculpture in the main courtyard. Due to understandable security reasons, I was not able to take my own pictures, but my guides kindly arranged for an official photographer to take a few pictures of me next to the sculpture, plus I was permitted to take some rubbings of Kryptos itself. Each rubbing was done on a standard 8.5 x 11" piece of paper, which gives an idea of the size of the sculpture. And yeah, I know the rubbings are smudged and uneven. I've never done rubbings before, so I make no claims to skill at this! (grin). If you'd like to see them though, check here to see the rubbings. A couple in particular that are worth checking out came from the top line of the lower left panel in the picture. The letters there are "ENDYAHROHN..." This particular line is of interest because a few of the letters were out of alignment with everything else. In the "NDY" and "AHR" rubbings, you can see that the letters "Y", "A", and "R" are a couple centimeters out of alignment. All the other rows on the sculpture seemed to be properly aligned though. So was it an error in the sculpting process, or a deliberate misalignment related to some part of the code? Heck if I know, but here're the ahr and ndy rubbings if you'd like to see them.
Note: I have heard that there are other related sculptures around the complex, including some with morse code messages, but I was unfortunately unable to see these due to time limitations.
On the plus side, it was a sunny day when I saw Kryptos, so I was able to see some interesting ways that light and shadow played around the sculpture.
Using the picture on the right for reference, the viewer is facing roughly northwest towards the sculpture. When I was there in the afternoon, the sun was in the sky to our left, and shining down on the sculpture, through some of the letters. There were areas of shadow behind the sculpture where you could read the letters in light. Due to the curve of the sculpture, there were other areas where the light came through in narrow bars, giving a morse code or "i ching" effect.
Another interesting sight was late in the afternoon, when I was standing near the red petrified wood "gnomon", and when I looked at the white rock on the right, I saw letters illuminated on it. This was especially odd because for this to occur, the light source would have had to have been behind the sculpture, but the sun was still off to the left, so how could that be? Upon further investigation, what I found was that the sun's rays were hitting the windows of the New Headquarters Building behind the sculpture (you can see the green-tinted windows in the photo), and then the glare from the windows was shining back on the sculpture in such a way as to shine beams of "letter" light back onto the white rock, making letters ripple across the surface. It was actually quite pretty!
Another observation I was able to make had to do with the latitude and longitude coordinates that are referred to in the second part of the deciphered code. According to Gillogly's translation, it says:
"It was totally invisible. How's that possible? They used the earth's magnetic field. x The information was gathered and transmitted undergruund to an unknown location. x Does langley know about this? They should: it's 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. ID by rows."
Checking those coordinates (38 57 6.5 N, 77 8 44 W) via one of the online mapping services such as Mapquest, Terraserver or Topozone, it obviously points to the general area of CIA Headquarters in Virginia, though the different maps disagree as to the exact location (plus of course it's very hard to see something at that level of detail). Of particular interest to me is the "6.5 seconds" resolution of the north latitude, since this "tenth of a second" resolution narrows a location down to a very specific area (maybe 10-50 feet across).
There'd been some speculation that the coordinates pointed to the exact location of the Kryptos sculpture itself. By my own calculations with a GPS though (granted, it's a cheap GPS which may have its own accuracy errors built in), the coordinates point to an area about 150' southeast of the sculpture. This was in another courtyard on the other side of a walkway, and I couldn't get into that courtyard because there was a sign saying "emergency exit only". Looking through the windows though, I saw a courtyard with another walkway, some more landscaped areas, and, right where I thought "x marks the spot" might be, I saw an area with a tree and, of most interest, a manhole cover.
At the base of the Kryptos sculpture itself is a round pool with a built-in fountain/pump, forcing water in a circular motion around the pool. I couldn't see into the pool because the water was too murky. As sheer speculation though, what I'm wondering, is whether the manhole cover might lead to some utility tunnels underneath the courtyard, perhaps even to the location of the pump that controls the fountain. There might be another clue or message near that "undergruund" pump.
It is of course impossible for me to explore down that utility tunnel, and probably just as unlikely for any of the agency's analysts to go down there. I'm hoping though that someone there might befriend one of the maintenance staff who *can* go down there, and see if there's anything interesting!
Lastly, I must offer heartfelt thanks to my guides around the building, who patiently answered my questions, worked through the redtape required in order for me to visit, showed *enormous* patience in waiting for me while I examined the sculpture and obtained the rubbings, and acted as gracious (and did I mention patient?) hosts. Thank you!
July 2013: General cleanup, removed a bunch of dead links, added a couple new ones, including FOIA-obtained report about NSA's work on the sculpture in the early 1990s, as well as the comprehensive Wired article about the release.
October 2011: Adding FB "like" button
November 2010: Updating press links, info about the new "Berlin" clue
August 2010: Added link to jimsanborn.net
March 2010: Link updates, added ''Secrets of the Lost Symbol'' article, added links to kryptos.info and kryptosrevisited.com
September 2009: Miscellaneous link updates
May 2009: Added links to Wired article and KMOV TV segment, updated a couple other links that had succumbed to web rot.
August 2008: Added link to upcoming PBS segment
April 2008: Adding link to How Stuff Works video, plus other miscellaneous updates
July 2007: Updated
January 12, 2007: Fixed some broken links
April 26, 2006: Created new "Radio interviews and podcasts" section
April 20, 2006: Posted link to announcement about corrected K2 text, added Wired article, updated spoilers section
2006: Fixed broken image, added link to Croatian article, started Books section
November 2005: Added link to Irina Dubova's site
October 2005: Added link to Monet's intriguing webpage.
September 2005: Removed links to the late Gary Warzin's email address. Rest in Peace, Gary. :/
July 2005: Added links to article in French newspaper Libération, and Canadian TV interview with Sanborn
June 2005: Added links to Binrev Episode #99, NPR segment, Guardian article, Hungarian Kryptos page, CNN articles
May 27, 2005: Added link to Wall Street Journal article
March/April 2005: Added links to a couple new articles, as well as a new Kryptos site in Argentina.
January 2005: Added links to Kryptos information in Spanish, Japanese, Turkish, Portuguese, and Dutch. Added link to new article and Scheidt/Sanborn transcripts at wired.com site, and updated FAQ with the new information. Fixed links to articles that had been lost to web rot, by linking instead to the mirrors at the wonderful archive.org site. Added link to Stein report, and Jaco radio interview. Mirrored some other information from David Wilson's now defunct website (thanks to David Wilson for as long as it lasted though!)
8/20/2004: Fixed and updated some links to other sites and discussion groups.
1/9/2004: Added heads-up about Kryptos being on "Good Morning America" on 1/12
1/6/2004: Added link to German news item and Slovakian article that covers Kryptos.
1/2/2004: Added link to transcript of 4/2/1991 World News Tonight interview with Jim Sanborn, moved older updates to their own page.
For older updates, please check here.
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The Kryptos sculpture is copyrighted as of 1988 by Jim Sanborn. Images used with permission.