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rec.puzzles Archive (cryptology), part 11 of 35

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Archive-name: puzzles/archive/cryptology
Last-modified: 17 Aug 1993
Version: 4

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
==> cryptology/Beale.p <==
What are the Beale ciphers?

==> cryptology/Beale.s <==
The Beale ciphers are one of the greatest unsolved puzzles of all
time.  About 100 years ago, a fellow by the name of Beale supposedly
buried two wagons-full of silver-coin filled pots in Bedford County,
near Roanoke.  There are local rumors about the treasure being buried
near Bedford Lake.

He wrote three encoded letters telling what was buried, where it was
buried, and who it belonged to.  He entrusted these three letters to a
friend and went west.  He was never heard from again.

Several years later, someone examined the letters and was able to break
the code used in the second letter.  The code used the text from the
Declaration of Independence.  A number in the letter indicated which
word in the document was to be used.  The first letter of that word
replaced the number.  For example, if the first three words of the
document were "We hold these truths", the number 3 in the letter would
represent the letter t.

One of the remaining letters supposedly contains directions on how to find
the treasure.  To date, no one has solved the code.  It is believed that
both of the remaining letters are encoded using either the same document
in a different way, or another very public document.

For those interested, write to:
	The Beale Cypher Association
	P.O. Box 975
	Beaver Falls, PA 15010

Item #904 is the 1885 pamphlet version ($5.00).  #152 is the 
Cryptologia article by Gillogly that argues the hoax side ($2.00).
A year's membership is $25, and includes 4 newsletters.

TEXT for part 1

	       The Locality of the Vault.


TEXT for part 2

		(no title exists for this part)


CLEAR for part 2, made human readable.

I have deposited in the county of Bedford about four miles from
Bufords in an excavation or vault six feet below the surface
of the ground the following articles belonging jointly to
the parties whose names are given in number three herewith.
The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds
of gold and thirty eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver
deposited Nov eighteen nineteen.  The second was made Dec
eighteen twenty one and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven
pounds of gold and twelve hundred and eighty eight of silver,
also jewels obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation 
and valued at thirteen [t]housand dollars.  The above 
is securely packed i[n] [i]ron pots with iron cov[e]rs.  Th[e] vault
is roughly lined with stone and the vessels rest on solid stone 
and are covered [w]ith others.  Paper number one describes th[e]
exact locality of the va[u]lt so that no difficulty will be had
in finding it.

CLEAR for part 2, using only the first 480 words of the 
Declaration of Independence, then blanks filled in by
inspection.  ALL mistakes shown were caused by sloppy 
  0 ihavedepositedinthecountyofbedfordaboutfourmilesfr
 50 ombufordsinanexcavationorvaultsixfeetbelowthesurfa
100 ceofthegroundthefollowingarticlesbelongingjointlyt
150 othepartieswhosenamesaregiveninnumberthreeherewith
200 thefirstdepositconsistcdoftenhundredandfourteenpou
250 ndsofgoldandthirtyeighthundredandtwelvepoundsofsil
300 verdepositednoveighteennineteenthesecondwasmadedec
350 eighteentwentyoneandconsistedofnineteenhundredands
400 evenpoundsofgoldandtwelvehundredandeightyeightofsi
450 lveralsojewelsobtainedinstlouisinexchangetosavetra
500 nsportationandvaluedatthirteenrhousanddollarstheab
550 oveissecurelypackeditronpotswithironcovtrsthtvault
600 isroughlylinedwithstoneandthevesselsrestonsolidsto
650 neandarecovereduithotherspapernumberonedescribesth
700 cexactlocalityofthevarltsothatnodifficultywillbeha
750 dinfindingit

TEXT for part 3

	 	Names and Residences.


Evidence in favor of a hoax-
   . Too many players.
   . Inflated quantities of treasure.
   . Many discrepancies exist in all documents.
   . The Declaration of Independence is too hokey a key.
   . Part 3 (list of 30 names) considered too little text.
   . W.F. Friedman couldn't crack it.
   . Why even encrypt parts 1 & 3?
   . Why use multi-part text, and why different keys for each part?
   . Difficult to keep treasure in ground if 30 men know where it was buried.
   . Who'd leave it with other than your own family?
   . The Inn Keeper waited an extra 10 years before opening box with
      ciphers in it?  Who would do this, curiousity runs too deep in
   . Why did anybody waste time deciphering paper 2, which had no title?
      1 & 3 had titles! These should have been deciphered first?
   . Why not just one single letter?
   . Statistical analysis show 1&3 similar in very obscure ways, that
      2 differs.  Did somebody else encipher it?  And why?
      Check length of keytexts, and forward/backward next word
      displacement selections.
   . Who could cross the entire country with that much gold and only
      10 men and survive back then?
   . Practically everybody who visited New Mexico before 1821, left
      by way of the Pearly Gates, as the Spanish got almost every


   "The Beale Treasure: A History of a Mystery", by Peter Viemeister,
       Bedord, VA: Hamilton's, 1987.  ISBN: 0-9608598-3-7.  230 pages.
   "The Codebreakers", by David Kahn, pg 771, CCN 63-16109.
   "Gold in the Blue Ridge, The True Story of the Beale Treasure",
      by P.B. Innis & Walter Dean Innis, Devon Publ. Co., Wash, D.C.
    "Signature Simulation and Certain Cryptographic Codes", Hammer,
	Communications of the ACM, 14 (1), January 1971, pp. 3-14.
    "How did TJB Encode B2?", Hammer, Cryptologia, 3 (1), Jan. 1979, pp. 9-15.
    "Second Order Homophonic Ciphers", Hammer, Cryptologia, 12 (1) Jan. 1988,
	pp 11-20.

==> cryptology/Feynman.p <==
What are the Feynman ciphers?

==> cryptology/Feynman.s <==
When I was a graduate student at Caltech, Professor Feynman showed me three
samples of code that he had been challenged with by a fellow scientist at
Los Alamos and which he had not been able to crack.  I also was unable to
crack them.  I posted them to Usenet and Jack C. Morrison of JPL cracked
the first one.  It is a simple transposition cipher: split the text into
5-column pieces, then read from lower right upward.  What results are the
opening lines of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Middle English.

1. Easier

2. Harder

3. New Message

Chris Cole
Peregrine Systems

==> cryptology/Voynich.p <==
What are the Voynich ciphers?

==> cryptology/Voynich.s <==
The Voynich Manuscript is a manuscript that first surfaced in the court of
Rudolf II (Holy Roman Emperor), who bought it for some large number of
gold pieces (600?).  Rudolf was interested in the occult, and the strange
characters and bizarre illustrations suggested that it had some deep
mystical/magical significance.  After Rudolf's court broke up, the
manuscript was sent to (if memory serves) Athanasius Kircher, with nobody
on the list having been able to read it.  It ended up in a chest of other
manuscripts in the Villa Mondragone [?] in Italy, and was discovered there
by Wilfred Voynich, a collector, in about 1910 or so.  He took it to a
linguist who wasn't a cryptanalyst, who identified it as a work by the
12th century monk Roger Bacon and produced extended bogus decryptions based
on shorthand characters he saw in it.  A great deal of effort by the best
cryptanalysts in the country hasn't resulted in any breakthrough.  William
F. Friedman (arguably the best) thought it was written in an artificial
language.  I believe the manuscript is currently in the Beinecke Rare
Book Collection at [Harvard?].

Mary D'Imperio's paper is scholarly and detailed, and provides an
excellent starting point for anyone who is interested in the subject.
David Kahn's "The Codebreakers" has enough detail to tell you if you're
interested; it also has one or more plates showing the script and some
illustrations.  I believe D'Imperio's monograph has been reprinted by
Aegean Park Press.  A number of people have published their own ideas
about it, including Brumbaugh, without anybody agreeing.  A recent
publication from Aegean Park Press offers another decryption; I haven't
seen that one.

If you want *my* guess, it's a hoax made up by Edmund Kelley and an
unnamed co-conspirator and sold to Rudolf through the reputation of John
Dee (Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer).
	Jim Gillogly
	{hplabs, ihnp4}!sdcrdcf!randvax!jim

I read "Labyrinths of Reason" by William Poundstone recently.  I'm
posting this to so many newsgroups in part to recommend this book, which,
while of a popular nature, gives a good analysis of a wide variety of
paradoxes and philosophical quandaries, and is a great read.

Anyway, it mentions something called the Voynich manuscript, which is
now at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
It's a real pity that I didn't know about this manuscript and go see it
when I was at Yale.  

The Voynich manuscript is apparently very old.  It is a 232-page illuminated
manuscript written in a cipher that has never been cracked.  (That's
what Poundstone says - but see my hypothesis below.)  If I may quote
Poundstone's charming description, "Its author, subject matter, and
meaning are unfathomed mysteries.  No one even knows what language the
text would be in if you deciphered it.  Fanciful picutres of nude women,
peculiar inventions, and nonexistent flora and fauna tantalize the
would-be decipherer.   Color sketches in the exacting style of a
medieval herbal depict blossoms and spices that never spring from earth
and constellations found in no sky.  Plans for weird, otherworldly
plumbing show nymphets frolicking in sitz baths connected with
elbow-macaroni pipes.  The manuscript has the eerie quality of a
perfectly sensible book from an alternate universe."

There is a picture of one page in Poundstone's book.  It's written in a
flowing script using "approximately 21 curlicued symbols," some of which
are close to the Roman alphabet, but others of which supposedly resemble
Cyrillic, Glagolitic, and Ethiopian.  There is one tiny note in Middle
High German, not necessarily by the original author, talking about the
Herbal of Matthiolaus.  Some astrology charts in the manuscript have the
months labeled in Spanish.  "What appears to be a cipher table on the
first page has long faded into illegibility," and on the other hand, some
scholars have guessed that a barely legible inscription on the *last*
page is a key!   

It is said to have "languished for a long time at the Jesuit College of
Mondragone in Frascati, Italy.  Then in 1912 it was purchased by Wilfred
M. Voynich, a Polish-born scientist and bibliophile...  Voynich was the
son-in-law of George Boole, the logician..."  A letter written in 1666
claims that Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia (1552-1612) bought
the manuscript for 600 gold ducats.  He may have bought it from Dr.
John Dee, the famous astrologer.  Rudolf thought the manuscript was
written by Roger Bacon!   [Wouldn't it more likely have been written by
Dee, out to make a fast ducat?]

"Many of the most talented military code breakers of this century have
tried to decipher it as a show of prowess.  Herbert Yardley, the
American code expert who solved the German cipher in WW1 and who cracked
a Japanese diplomatic cipher without knowing the Japanese language,
failed with the Voynich manuscript.  So did John Manly, who unscrambled
the Waberski cipher, and William Friedman, who defeated the Japanese
"purple code" of the 1940's.  Computers have been drafted into the
effort in recent years, to no avail."

Poundstone goes on to describe a kook, Newbold, who was apparently driven
batty in his attempt to crack the manuscript.  He then mentions that one
Leo Levitov also claimed in 1987 to crack the cipher, saying that it was
the text of a 12th-century cult of Isis worshipers, and that it
describes a method of euthanasia by opening a vein in a warm bathtub,
among other morbid matters.  According to Levitov's translation the text

"ones treat the dying each the man lying deathly ill the one person who
aches Isis each that dies treats the person"

Poundstone rejects this translation.  

According to Poundstone, a William Bennett (see below) has analysed the
text with a computer and finds that its entropy is less than any known
European language, and closer to those of Polynesian languages.  

My wild hypothesis, on the basis solely of the evidence above, is this.
Perhaps the text was meant to be RANDOM.  Of course humans are lousy at
generating random sequences.  So I'm wondering how attempted random
sequences (written in a weird alphabet) would compare statistically with
the Voynich manuscript.   

Anyway, the only source Poundstone seems to cite, other than the
manuscript itself, is Leo Levitov's "Solution of the Voynich Manuscript,
A Liturgical Manual for the Endura Rite of the Cathari Heresy, the Cult
of Isis," Laguna Hills, Calif., Aegean Park Press, 1987, and William
Ralph Bennett Jr.'s "Scientific and Engineering Problem-Solving with the
Computer," Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall 1976.

I will check the Bennett book; the other sounds hard to get ahold of!  I
would LOVE any further information about this bizarre puzzle.  If anyone
knows Bennett and can get samples of the Voynich manuscript in
electronic form, I would LOVE to get my hands on it.

Also, I would appreciate any information on:

The Jesuit College of Mondragone
Rudolf II
The letter by Rudolf II (where is it? what does it say?)
The attempts of Yardley, Friedman and Manly
The Herbal of Matthiolaus

and, just for the heck of it, the "Waberski cipher" and the "purple

This whole business sounds like a quagmire into which angels would fear
to tread, but a fool like me finds it fascinating.

  -- sender's name lost (!?)

To counter a few hypotheses that were suggested here:

The Voynich Manuscript is certainly not strictly a polyalphabetic cipher
like Vigenere or Beaufort or (the one usually called) Porta, because of
the frequent repetitions of "words" at intervals that couldn't be
multiples of any key length.  I suppose one could imagine that it's an
interrupted key Vig or something, but common elements appearing at places
other than the beginnings of words would seem to rule that out.  The I.C.
is too high for a digraphic system like (an anachronistic) Playfair in any
European language.

One of the most interesting Voynich discoveries was made by Prescott Currier,
who discovered that the two different "hands" (visually distinct handwriting)
used different "dialects": that is, the frequencies for pages written in
one hand are different from those written in the other.  I confirmed this
observation by running some correlation coefficients on the digraph matrices
for the two kinds of pages.

W. F. Friedman ("The Man Who Broke Purple") thought the Voynich was
written in some artificial language.  If it's not a hoax, I don't see any
evidence to suggest he's wrong.  My personal theory (yeah, I've offered
too many of those lately) is that it was constructed by Edward Kelley,
John Dee's scryer, with somebody else's help (to explain the second
handwriting) -- perhaps Dee himself, although he's always struck me as a
credulous dupe of Kelley rather than a co-conspirator (cf the Angelic
language stuff).

The best source I know for the Voynich is Mary D'Imperio's monograph
"The Voynich Manuscript: An Elegant Enigma", which is available from
Aegean Park Press.

 Jim Gillogly

Here's an update on the Voynich manuscript.  This will concentrate on
sources for information on the Voynich; later I will write a survey of
what I have found out so far.  I begin with some references to the
case, kindly sent to me by Karl Kluge (the first three) and Micheal Roe
<> (the rest).

 TITLE     Thirty-five manuscripts : including the St. Blasien psalter, the
           Llangattock hours, the Gotha missal, the Roger Bacon (Voynich)
           cipher ms.
           Catalogue ; 100
           35 manuscripts.
 CITATION  New York, N.Y. : H.P. Kraus, [1962] 86 p., lxvii p. of plates, [1]
           leaf of plates : ill. (some col.), facsims. ; 36 cm.
 NOTES     "30 years, 1932-1962" ([28] p.) in pocket. Includes indexes.
 SUBJECT   Manuscripts Catalogs.
           Illumination of books and manuscripts Catalogs.

 AUTHOR    Brumbaugh, Robert Sherrick, 1918-
 TITLE     The most mysterious manuscript : the Voynich "Roger Bacon" cipher
           manuscript / edited by Robert S. Brumbaugh.
 CITATION  Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, c1978. xii, 175 p.
           : ill. ; 22 cm.
 SUBJECT   Bacon, Roger, 1214?-1294.

 AUTHOR    D'Imperio, M. E.
 TITLE     The Voynich manuscript : an elegant enigma / M. E. D'Imperio.
 CITATION  Fort George E. Mead, Md. : National Security Agency/Central Security
           Service, 1978. ix, 140 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.
 NOTES     Includes index. Bibliography: p. 124-131.
 SUBJECT   Voynich manuscript.       [NOTE: see alternate publisher below!]

author = "Bennett, William Ralph",
title = "Scientific and Engineering Problem Solving with the Computer",
address = "Englewood Cliffs, NJ",
publisher =  "Prentice-Hall",
year = 1976}

author = "D'Imperio, M E",
title = "The Voynich manuscript: An Elegant Enigma",
publisher= "Aegean Park Press",
year = 1978}

author = "Friedman, Elizebeth Smith",
title = "``The Most Mysterious Manuscript'' Still Mysterious",
booktitle = "Washington Post",
month = "August 5",
notes = "Section E",
pages = "1,5",
year = 1962}

author = "Kahn, David",
title = "The Codebreakers",
publisher = "Macmillan",
year = "1967"}

author = "Manly, John Matthews",
title = "Roger Bacon and the Voynich MS",
boooktitle = "Speculum VI",
pages = "345--91",
year = 1931}

author = "O'Neill, Hugh",
title = "Botanical Remarks on the Voynich MS",
journal = "Speculum XIX",
pages = "p.126",
year = 1944}

author = "Poundstone, W.",
title = "Labyrinths of Reason",
publisher = "Doubleday",
address = "New York",
month = "November",
year = 1988}

author = "Zimanski, C.",
title = "William Friedman and the Voynich Manuscript",
journal = "Philological Quarterly",
year = "1970"}

author = "Guy, J. B. M.",
title = "Statistical Properties of Two Folios of the Voynich Manuscript",
journal = "Cryptologia",
volume = "XV",
number = "4",
pages = "pp. 207--218",
month = "July",
year = 1991}

author = "Guy, J. B. M.",
title = "Letter to the Editor Re Voynich Manuscript",
journal = "Cryptologia",
volume = "XV",
number = "3",
pages = "pp. 161--166",
year = 1991}

This is by no means a complete list.  It doesn't include Newbold's
(largely discredited) work, nor work by Feely and Stong.
In addition, there is the proposed decryption by Leo Levitov (also
largely discredited):

"Solution of the Voynich Manuscript: A Liturgical Manual for the
Endura Rite of the Cathari Heresy, the Cult of Isis_, available from
Aegean Park Press, P. O. Box 2837, Laguna Hills CA 92654-0837."

According to Earl Boebert, this book is reviewed in
Cryptologia XII, 1 (January 1988).  I should add that Brumbaugh's book 
above gives a third, also largely discredited, decryption of the Voynich.

According to, Aegean Park Press does mail-order
business and can be reached at the above address or at 714-586-8811 
(an answering machine).   

Micheal Roe has explained how one get microfilms of the whole

"The Beinecke Rare Book Library, Yale University sells a microfilm of the
manuscript. Their catalog number for the original is MS 408, ``The Voynich
`Roger Bacon' Cipher MS''. You should write to them.

The British Library [sic - should be Museum] has a photocopy of the MS 
donated to them by John Manly circa 1931. They apparently lost it until
12 March 1947, when it was entered in the catalogue (without
cross-references under Voynich, Manly, Roger Bacon or any other useful 

It appears as ``MS Facs 461: Positive rotographs of a Cipher MS (folios 1-56)
acquired in 1912 by Wilfred M. Voynich in Southern Europe.'
Correspondance between Newbold, Manly and various British Museum experts
appears under ``MS Facs 439: Leaves of the Voynich MS, alleged to be in
Roger Bacon's cypher, with correspondence and other pertinent material''
See John Manly's 1931 article in Speculum and Newbold's book for what the
correspondance was about! There are also a number of press cuttings.

Both of these in are in the manuscript collection, for which special 
permission is needed in addition to a normal British Library reader's pass."

Also, Jim Gillogly has been extremely kind in making available
part of the manuscript that was transcribed and keyed in by Mary
D'Imperio (see above), using Prescott Currier's notation.  It appears to
consist of 166 of the total 232 pages.    I hope to do some statistical 
studies on this, and I encourage others to do the same and let me know
what they find!  As Jim notes, the file is pub/jim/voynich.tar.Z and is 
available by anonymous ftp at   I've had a little trouble with
this file at page 165, where I read "1650voynich   664" etc., with page
166 missing.  If anyone else notes this let Jim or I know.

Jim says he has confirmed by correlations between digraph matrices the 
discovery by Prescott Crurrier that the manuscript is written in two
visibly distinct hands.  These are marked "A" and "B" in the file 

Because of the possibility that the Voynich is nonsense, it would be 
interesting to compare the Voynich to the Codex Seraphinianus, which 
Kevin McCarty kindly reminded me of.  He writes:

"This is very odd.  I know nothing of the Voynich manuscript, but
I know of something which sounds very much like it and was created
by an Italian artist, who it now seems was probably influenced
by this work.   It a book titled "Codex Seraphinianus", written in 
a very strange script.  The title page contains only the book's title
and the publisher's name: Abbeville Press, New York.  The only clues
in English (in *any* recognizable language) are some blurbs on the
dust jacket that identify it as a modern work of art, and the copyright
notice, in fine print, which reads

"Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Serafini, Luigi.
	Codex Seraphinianus.

 1. Imaginary Languages. 2. Imaginary societies.
 3. Encyclopedias and Dictionaries-- Miscellanea.

I. Title.
PN6381.S4	1983	818'.5407	83.-7076
ISBN 0-89659-428-9

First American Edition, 1983.
Copyright (c) 1981 by Franco Maria Ricci.  All rights reserved
by Abbeville Press.  No part of this book may be reproduced...
without permission in writing from the publisher. Inquiries should
be addressed to Abbeville Press, Inc., 505 Park Avenue, New York
10022. Printed and bound in Italy."

The book is remarkable and bizarre.  It *looks* like an encyclopedia
for an imaginary world.  Page after page of beautiful pictures
of imaginary flora and fauna, with annotations and captions in 
a completely strange script.  Machines, architecture, umm, 'situations',
arcane diagrams, implements, an archeologist pointing at a Rosetta stone
(with phony hieroglyphics), an article on penmanship (with unorthodox
pens), and much more, finally ending with a brief index.

The script in this work looks vaguely similar to the Voynich orthography
shown in Poundstone's book (I just compared them); the alphabets
look quite similar, but the Codex script is more cursive and less
bookish than Voynich.  It runs to about 200 pages, and probably
ought to provide someone two things:
- a possible explanation of what the Voynich manuscript is
  (a highly imaginative work of art)
- a textual work which looks like it was inspired by it and might
  provide an interesting comparison for statistical study."
I suppose it would be too much to hope that someone has already
transcribed parts of the Codex, but nonetheless, if anyone has any in
electronic form, I would love to have a copy for comparative statistics.

Jacques Guy kindly summarized his analysis (in Cryptologia, see above)
of the Voynich as follows:

"I transcribed the two folios in Bennett's book and submitted them to
letter-frequency counts, distinguishing word-initial, word-medial,
word-final, isolated, line-initial, and line-final positions. I also
submitted that transcription to Sukhotin's algorithm which, given a text
written in an alphabetical system, identifies which symbols are vowels and
which are consonants. The letter transcribed CT in Bennett's system came
out as a consonant, the one transcribed CC as vowel. Now it so happens
that CT is exactly the shape of the letter "t" in the Beneventan script
(used in medieval Spain and Northern Italy), and CC is exactly the shape
of "a" in that same script. I concluded that the author had a knowledge 
of that script, and that the values of CT and CC probably were "t" and
"a". There's a lot more, but more shaky."

By popular demand I've put a machine-readable copy of the Voynich Manuscript
up for anonymous ftp:

	File: pub/jim/voynich.tar.Z

It uses Prescott Currier's notation, and was transcribed by Mary D'Imperio.
If you use it in any analysis, be sure to give credit to D'Imperio, who put
in a lot of effort to get it right.

 Jim Gillogly

This post is essentially a summary of the fruit of a short research 
quest at the local library.

Brief description of the Voynich manuscript:

The Voynich manuscript was bought (in about 1586) by the Holy Roman
Emperor Rudolf II.  He believed it to be the work of Roger Bacon 
an english 13th century philosopher.  The manuscript consisted of about 
200 pages with many illustrations.  It is believed that the manuscript 
contains some secret scientific or magical knowledge since it is entirely
written in secret writing (presumably in cipher). 

The Voynich Manuscript is often abbreviated "Voynich MS" in all of the 
books I have read on Voynich.  This is done without explanation.  I 
suppose it is just a convention started by the founding analysts of 
the manuscript to call it that.

William R. Newbold, one of the original analysts of the Voynich MS after
Voynich, claims to have arrived at a partial decipherment of the entire
manuscript.   His book The Cipher of Roger Bacon [2] contains a history
of the unravelment of the cipher *and* keys to the cipher itself.  As well
as translations of several pages of the manuscript.  

Newbold derives his decipherment rules through a study of the medeival 
mind (which he is a leading scholar in) as well as the other writings 
of Roger Bacon.  Says Newbold, ciphers in Roger Bacon's writings are not 
new, as Bacon discusses in other works the need for monks to use 
encipherment to protect their knowlege.

Newbold includes many partial decipherments from the Voynich MS but most of
them are presented in Latin only. 

Newbolds deciphering rules (from The Cipher of Roger Bacon [1])
1. Syllabification: [double all but the first and last letters of each 
word, and divide the product into biliteral groups or symbols.]
2. Translation: [translate these symbols into the alphabetic values]
3. Reversion: [change the alphabetic values to the phonetic values, by use
of the reversion alphabet]
4. Recomposition: [ rearrange the letters in order, and thus recompose the
true text]. 

The text I copied this from failed to note step 0 which was:
0. Ignore. [ignore the actual shape of every symbol and analyze only the 
(random?) properties of the direction of swirl and crosshatch patterns
of the characters when viewed under a microscope.  14 distinct contruction
patterns can be identified among the (much larger) set of symbols]

John M. Manly in The Most Mysterious Manuscript [3], suggests that Newbold's
method of decipherment is totally invalid.  Manly goes on to show that it
is not difficult to obtain *ANY DESIRABLE* message from the Voynich MS
using Newbold's rules.  He shows that after fifteen minutes deciphering 
a short sequence of letters he arrives at the plaintext message 
	"Paris is lured into loving vestals..." 
and quips that he will furnish a continuation of the translation upon 

The reason I have spent so much time explaining Newbold's method is that 
Newbold presents the most convincing argument for how he arrived at his 
conclusions.  Notwithstanding the fact that he invented the oija board of
deciphering systems.

Joseph Martin Feely, in his book on the Voynich MS [2] , claims to have 
found the key to deciphering at least one page of the Voynich MS.  His entire
book on the topic of the Voynich manuscript is devoted to the deciphering of
the single page 78.  Feely presents full tables of translation of the page 78
from its written form into latin (and english).  It seems that Feely was using
the exhaustive analysis method to determine the key. 

Feely suggests the following translation of (the first fiew lines of) page 
78 of the Voynich MS:

"the combined stream when well humidified, ramifies; afterward it is broken
down smaller; afterward, at a distance, into the fore-bladder it comes [1].
Then vesselled, it is after-a-while ruminated: well humidified it is 
clothed with veinlets [2].  Thence after-a-bit they move down; tiny 
teats they provide (or live upon) in the outpimpling of the veinlets.
They are impermiated; are thrown down below; they are ruminated; they are
feminized with the tiny teats.  .... "

	... and so on for three more pages of "english plaintext".

The descriptions by Feely say that this text is accompanied in the Voynich MS
by an illustration that (he says) is unmistakably the internal female 
reproductive organs (I saw the plate myself and they DO look like fallopian
tubes *AFTER* I read the explanation).

The most informative work that I found (I feel) was "The Most Mysterious 
Manuscript".   Of the five books on Voynich that I found, this was the only
one that didn't claim to have found the key but was, rather, a collection
of essays on the history of the Voynich MS and criticisms of various attempts
by earlier scientists.  It was also the *latest* book that I was able to 
consult, being published in 1978. 

My impression from the black and white plates of the Voynich MS I've seen, are
that the illustrations are very weird when compared to other 'illuminated' 
manuscripts of this time.  Particularly I would say that there is emphasis
on the female nude that is unusual for the art of this period.  I can't say 
that I myself believe the images to have ANYTHING to do with the text.  
My own conjecture is that the manuscript is a one-way encipherment.  A 
cipher so clever that the inventor didn't even think of how it could be 
deciphered.  Sorta like an /etc/passwd file.

1. William R. Newbold. _The Cipher of Roger Bacon_Roland G Kent, ed. 
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1928.
2. Joseph Martin Feely. _Roger Bacon's Cipher: The Right Key Found_
Rochester N.Y.:Joseph Martin Feely, pub., 1943.
3. _The Most Mysterious Manuscript_ Robert S. Brumbaugh, ed.  Southern Illinois
Press, 1978

Unix filters are so wonderful. Massaging the machine readable file, we find:

4182 "words", of which 1284 are used more than once, 308 used 8+ times, 
184 used 15+ times, 23 used 100+ times.

Does this tell us anything about the language (if any) the text is written 

For those who may be interested, here are the 23 words used 100+ times:
 121 2
 115 4OFAE
 114 4OFAM
 155 4OFAN
 195 4OFC89
 162 4OFCC89
 101 4OFCC9
 189 89
 111 8AE
 492 8AM
 134 8AN
 156 8AR
 248 OE
 148 OR
 111 S9
 251 SC89
 142 SC9
 238 SOE
 150 SOR
 244 ZC89
 116 ZC9
 116 ZOE

Could someone email the Voynich Ms. ref list that appeared here not 
very long ago? Thanks in advance...

Also... I came across the following ref that is fun(?):

The Voynich manuscript: an elegant enigma / M. E. D'Imperio
Fort George E. Mead, Md. : National Security Agency(!)
Central Security Service(?), 1978. ix, 140 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.

The (?!) are mine... Sorry if this was already on the list, but the
mention of the NSA (and what's the CSS?) made it jump out at me...

Ron Carter |  rcarter GEnie  70707.3047 CIS 
  Director | Center for the Study of Creative Intelligence
Denver, CO | Knowledge is power. Knowledge to the people. Just say know.

Distribution: na
Organization: Wetware Diversions, San Francisco

From sci.archaeology:
>From: (Jamie Andrews)
>Date: 16 Nov 91 00:49:08 GMT
>     It seems like the person who would be most likely to solve
>this Voynich manuscript cipher would have
>(a) knowledge of the modern techniques for solving more complex
>    ciphers such as Playfairs and Vigineres; and
>(b) knowledge of the possible contemporary and archaic languages
>    in which the plaintext could have been written.

An extended discussion of the Voynich Manuscript may be found in the
tape of the same name by Terence McKenna.  I'm not sure who is currently
publishing this particular McKenna tape but probably one of:
Dolphin Tapes, POB 71, Big Sur, CA 93920
Sounds True, 1825 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302
Sound Photosynthesis, POB 2111, Mill Valley, CA 94942

The Spring 1988 issue of Gnosis magazine contained an article by McKenna
giving some background of the Voynich Manuscipt and attempts to decipher
it, and  reviewing Leo Levitov's "Solution of the Voynich Manuscript"
(published in 1987 by Aegean Park Press, POB 2837 Laguna Hills, CA 92654).
Levitov's thesis is that the manuscript is the only surviving primary
document of the Cathar faith (exterminated on the orders of the Pope in
the Albigensian Crusade in the 1230s) and that it is in fact not
encrypted material but rather is a highly polyglot form of Medieval
Flemish with a large number of Old French and Old High German loan
words, written in a special script.

As far as I know Levitov's there has been no challenge to Levitov's
claims so far.

Michael Barlow, who had reviewed Levitov's book in Cryptologia, had sent me
photocopies of the pages where much of the language was described
(pp.21-31). I have just found them, and am looking at them now as I am
typing this. Incidentally, I do not believe this has anything to do with
cryptology proper, but the decipherment of texts in unknown languages. So
if you are into cryptography proper, skip this.

Looking at the "Voynich alphabet" pp.25-27, I made a list of the letters of
the Voynich language as Levitov interprets them, and I added phonetic
descriptions of the sounds I *think* Levitov meant to describe. Here it is:

Letter#  Phonetic              Phonetic descriptions
         (IPA)         in linguists' jargon:          in plain English:

1       a           low open, central unrounded       a as in father
        e           mid close, front, unrounded       ay as in May
        O           mid open, back, rounded           aw as in law
                                                      or o as in got

2       s           unvoiced dental fricative         s as in so
3       d           voiced dental stop                d
4       E           mid, front, unrounded             e as in wet
5       f           unvoiced labiodental fricative    f
6       i           short, high open, front,          i as in dim
7       i:          long, high, front, unrounded      ea as in weak

8       i:E (?)     I can't make head nor tail of Levitov's
                    explanations. Probably like "ei" in "weird"
                    dragging along the "e": "weeeird"! (British
                    pronunciation, with a silent "r")
9      C            unvoiced palatal fricative       ch in German ich
10     k            unvoived velar stop              k

11     l            lateral, can't be more precise from
                    description, probably like l in "loony"

12     m            voiced bilabial nasal             m
13     n            voiced dental nasal               n
14     r (?)        cannot tell precisely from        Scottish r?
                    description                       Dutch r?
15     t            no description; dental stop?      t
16     t            another form for #15              t
17     T (?)        no description                    th as in this?
                                                      th as in thick?
18     TE (?)       again, no description
    or ET (?)
19     v            voiced labiodental fricative      v as in rave
20     v            ditto, same as #19                  ditto

(By now, you will have guessed what my conclusion about Levitov's
decipherment was)

In the column headed "Phonetic (IPA)" I have used capital letters for lack
of the special international phonetic symbols:

E for the Greek letter "epsilon"
O for the letter that looks like a mirror-image of "c"
C for c-cedilla
T for the Greek letter "theta"

The colon (:) means that the sound represented by the preceding letter is
long, e.g. "i:" is a long "i".

The rest, #21 to 25, are not "letters" proper, but represent groups
of two or more letters, just like #18 does. They are:

21    av
22a   Ev
22b   vE
23    CET
24    kET
25    sET

That gives us a language with 6 vowels: a (#1), e (#1 again), O (#1 again),
E (#4), i (#6), and i: (#7). Letter #8 is not a vowel, but a combination
of two vowels: i: (#7) and probably E (#4). Levitov writes that the
language is derived from Dutch. If so, it has lost the "oo" sound (English
spelling; "oe" in Dutch spelling), and the three front rounded vowels of
Dutch: u as in U ("you", polite), eu as in deur ("door"), u as in vlug
("quick"). Note that out of six vowels, three are confused under the same
letter (#1), even though they sound very different from one another: a, e,
O. Just imagine that you had no way of distinguishing between "last",
"lest" and "lost" when writing in English, and you'll have a fair idea of
the consequences.

Let us look at the consonants now. I will put them in a matrix, with the
points of articulation in one dimension, and the manner of articulation in
the other (it's all standard procedure when analyzing a language). Brackets
around a letter will mean that I could not tell where to place it exactly,
and just took a guess.

                     labial     dental  palatal   velar
             nasal     m          n
       voiced stop                d
     unvoiced stop                t                 k
  voiced fricative     v         (T)
unvoiced fricative     f          s        C
           lateral                l
         trill (?)               (r)

Note that there are only twelve consonant sounds. That is unheard of for a
European language. No European language has so few consonant sounds.
Spanish, which has very few sounds (only five vowels), has seventeen
distinct consonants sounds, plus two semi-consonants. Dutch has from 18 to
20 consonants (depending on speakers, and how you analyze the sounds.
Warning: I just counted them on the back of an envelope; I might have
missed one or two). What is also extraordinary in Levitov's language is
that it lacks a "g", and *BOTH* "b" and "p". I cannot think of one single
language in the world that lacks both "b" and "p". Levitov also says that
"m" occurs only word-finally, never at the beginning, nor in the middle of
a word. That's true: the letter he says is an "m" is always word-final in
the reproductions I have seen of the Voynich MS. But no language I know of
behaves like that. All have an "m" (except one American Indian language,
which is very famous for that, and the name of which escapes me right now),
but, if there is a position where "m" never appears in some languages, that
position is word-finally. Exactly the reverse of Levitov's language.

What does Levitov say about the origin of the language?

"The language was very much standardized. It was an application of a
polyglot oral tongue into a literary language which would be understandable
to people who did not understand Latin and to whom this language could be

At first reading, I would dismiss it all as nonsense: "polyglot oral
tongue" means nothing in linguistics terms. But Levitov is a medical
doctor, so allowances must be made. The best meaning I can read into
"polyglot oral tongue" is "a language that had never been written before
and which had taken words from many different languages". That is perfectly
reasonable: English for one, has done that. Half its vocabulary is Norman
French, and some of the commonest words have non-Anglo-Saxon origins.
"Sky", for instance, is a Danish word. So far, so good.

Levitov continues: "The Voynich is actually a simple language because it
follows set rules and has a very limited vocabulary.... There is a
deliberate duality and plurality of words in the Voynich and much use of

By "duality and plurality of words" Levitov means that the words are highly
ambiguous, most words having two or more different meanings. I can only
guess at what he means by apostrophism: running words together, leaving
bits out, as we do in English: can not --> cannot --> can't, is not -->

Time for a tutorial in the Voynich language as I could piece it together
from Levitov's description. Because, according to Levitov, letter #1
represent 3 vowels sounds, I will represent it by just "a", but remember:
it can be pronounced a, e, or o. But I will distinguish, as does Levitov,
between the two letters which he says were both pronounced "v", using "v"
for letter #20 and "w" for letter #21.

Some vocabulary now. Some verbs first, which Levitov gives in the
infinitive. In the Voynich language the infinitive of verbs ends in -en,
just like in Dutch and in German. I have removed that grammatical ending in
the list which follows, and given probable etymologies in parentheses
(Levitov gives doesn't give any):

ad   = to aid, help  ("aid")
ak   = to ache, pain ("ache")
al   = to ail ("ail")
and  = to undergo the "Endura" rite ("End[ura]", probably)
d    = to die ("d[ie]")
fad  = to be for help (from  f= for and  ad=aid)
fal  = to fail ("fail")
fil  = to be for illness (from: f=for and il=ill)
il   = to be ill ("ill")
k    = to understand ("ken", Dutch and German "kennen" meaning "to know")
l    = to lie deathly ill, in extremis ("lie", "lay")
s    = to see ("see", Dutch "zien")
t    = to do, treat (German "tun" = to do)
v    = to will ("will" or Latin "volo" perhaps)
vid  = to be with death (from vi=with and d=die)
vil  = to want, wish, desire (German "willen")
vis  = to know  ("wit", German "wissen", Dutch "weten")
vit  = to know  (ditto)
viT  = to use   (no idea, Latin "uti" perhaps?)
vi   = to be the way (Latin "via")
eC   = to be each ("each")
ai:a = to eye, look at ("eye", "oog" in Dutch)
en   = to do (no idea)
       Example given by Levitov: enden "to do to death" made up of "en"
       (to do), "d" (to die) and "en" (infinitive ending). Well, to me,
       that's doing it the hard way. What's wrong with just "enden" = to
       end (German "enden", too!)

More vocabulary:

em = he or they (masculine) ("him")
er = her or they (feminine) ("her")
eT = it or they ("it" or perhaps "they" or Dutch "het")
an = one ("one", Dutch "een")

"There are no declensions of nouns or conjugation of verbs. Only the
present tense is used" says Levitov.


den  = to die (infinitive) (d = die, -en = infinitive)
deT = it/they die (d = die, eT = it/they)
diteT = it does die (d = die, t = do, eT = it/they, with an "i" added to
        make it easier to pronounce, which is quite common and natural
        in languages)

But Levitov contradicts himself immediately, giving another tense (known
as present progressive in English grammar):

dieT = it is dying

But I may be unfair there, perhaps it is a compound: d = die, i = is
...-ing, eT = it/they.

Plurals are formed by suffixing "s" in one part of the MS, "eT" in another:
"ans" or "aneT" = ones.


wians = we ones (wi = we, wie in Dutch, an = one, s = plural)
vian  = one way (vi = way, an = one)
wia   = one who (wi = who, a = one)
va    = one will (v = will, a = one)
wa    = who
wi    = who
wieT  = who, it (wi = who, eT = it)
witeT = who does it (wi = who, t = do, eT = it/they)
weT   = who it is (wi = who, eT = it, then loss of "i", giving "weT")
ker   = she understands (k = understand, er =she)

At this stage I would like to comment that we are here in the presence of a
Germanic language which behaves very, very strangely in the way of the
meanings of its compound words. For instance, "viden" (to be with death) is
made up of the words for "with", "die" and the infinitive suffix. I am sure
that Levitov here was thinking of a construction like German "mitkommen"
which means "to come along" (to "withcome"). I suppose I could say "Bitte,
sterben Sie mit" on the same model as "Bitte, kommen Sie mit" ("Come with
me/us, please), thereby making up a verb "mitsterben", but that would mean
"to die together with someone else", not "to be with death".

Let us see how Levitov translates a whole sentence. Since he does not
explain how he breaks up those compound words I have tried to do it using
the vocabulary and grammar he provides in those pages. My tentative
explanations are in parenthesis.

TanvieT faditeT wan aTviteT anTviteT atwiteT aneT

TanvieT = the one way (T = the (?), an = one, vi =way, eT = it)
faditeT = doing for help (f = for, ad = aid, i = -ing, t = do, eT = it)
wan     = person (wi/wa = who, an = one)
aTviteT = one that one knows (a = one, T = that, vit = know, eT = it.
          Here, Levitov adds one extra letter which is not in the text,
          getting "aTaviteT", which provide the second "one" of his
anTviteT = one that knows (an =one, T = that, vit = know, eT = it)
atwiteT  = one treats one who does it (a = one, t = do, wi = who,
           t = do, eT = it. Literally: "one does [one] who does it".
           The first "do" is translated as "treat", the second "one" is
           added in by Levitov: he added one letter, which gives him
aneT    =  ones (an = one, -eT = the plural ending)

Levitov's translation of the above in better English: "the one way for
helping a person who needs it, is to know one of the ones who do treat

Need I say more? Does anyone still believe that Levitov's translations are
worth anything?

As an exercise, here is the last sentence on p.31, with its word-for-word
translation by Levitov. I leave you to work it out, and to figure out what
it might possibly mean. Good luck!

tvieT nwn anvit fadan van aleC

tvieT    = do the ways
nwn      = not who does (but Levitov adds a letter to make it "nwen")
anvit    = one knows
fadan    = one for help
van      = one will
aleC     = each ail

==> cryptology/swiss.colony.p <==
What are the 1987 Swiss Colony ciphers?

==> cryptology/swiss.colony.s <==
Did anyone solve the 1987 'Crypto-gift' contest that was run by
Swiss Colony?  My friend and I worked on it for 4 months, but
didn't get anywhere.  My friend solved the 1986 puzzle in
about a week and won $1000.  I fear that we missed some clue that
makes it incredibly easy to solve.  I'm including the code, clues
and a few notes for those of you so inclined to give it a shot.



The puzzle comes as a jigsaw that when assembled has the list of
numbers.  They are arranged as indicated on the puzzle, with commas.
The lower right corner has a drawing of 'Secret Agent Chris Mouse'.
He holds a box under his arm which looks like the box 
the puzzle comes in.  The upper left
corner has the words 'NEW 1987 $50,000 Puzzle'.  The lower
left corner is empty.  The clues are printed on the
entry form in upper case, with the punctuation as shown.

					Ed Rupp
					Motorola, Inc., Austin Tx.

==> cryptology/vcrplus.p <==
What is the code used by VCR+?

==> cryptology/vcrplus.s <==
This program will decode codes 1 through 1000.

 * Copyright 1991 Ken Shirriff   shirriff@sprite.Berkeley.EDU

char *tn[8] = { "6:30", "4:00", "7:30", "4:30", "3:30", "5:30", "6:00", "2:30"};

int argc;
char **argv;
    int num, month;
    int line, day;
    int time, chan;
    int shift;
    int wrap;
    int decnum;
    int num0;
    int table[32][32];

    if (argc != 3) {
	printf("Usage: decode num month\n");
    num = atoi(argv[1]);
    num0 = num;
    month = atoi(argv[2]);
    decnum = decode100(num%100);

    if (num==103 || num==387 || num==474 || num==536 || num==658 ||
	    num==745 || num==929) {
	printf("number %d does not fall into the range of the others\n", num);
    } else if (num <= 100) {
	 * Swap 1-9 decoded with 1-9 encoded
	if (1<= num && num<=9) {
	    decnum = num;
	} else if (decnum<=9) {
	    decnum = decode100(decnum);
	day = 1 + (decnum-1)/32;
	line = (decnum+day-1)%32;
    } else {
	 * We decode the last two digits.
	 * Then we shift according to the first digit.
	 * Each shift moves us 3 days over and 7 lines down.
	 * But since we are using the sheared table, the 3 days over
	 * results in moving 4 days down.
	shift = (11 + num/100 - shift100(decnum))%10;
	day = 1 + (decnum-1)/32; /* 1-4 */
	line = (decnum-1)%32;  /* 0-31 sheared table */
	line += shift*4; /* 0-31 + wrap */
	 * If we've moved down more than 32 lines, we have to wrap back.
	wrap = line/32;
	day += shift*3 + wrap;
	line += day; /* Undo the shear */
	decnum = ((line-day-1)%31)+(day-1)*32+1; /* sheared table number*/
	 * If we decode a number >100 into something in the first 100,
	 * we have to take the number there and start over.
	 * This ensures that numbers 1-100 map into codes 1-100.
	if (decnum<100) {
	     * Get the appropriate entry from the first columns, and start over.
	    num = decode100(num%100);
	    decnum = decode100(num);
	    goto retry;

     * Apply the month correction.
    line = (line+day*month)&31;

     * Decode the line into the time and channel.
    time = ((line&16)>>2) | ((line&4)>>1) | (line&1);
    chan = (((line&8)>>2) | ((line&2)>>1))+1;
    printf("Code %d in month %d = %s, ch %d on day %d\n", num0, month,
	    tn[time], chan, day);

 * Decode 0-99 into a sequential number 1-100:
 * 1
 * .. 33
 * ..    65
 * .. .. .. 97
 * .. .. .. ..
 * .. .. .. 100
 * 32     
 *    64
 *       96
    int day;
    int row, col, rem, div;

     * 4 special cases that make the modulo operations messy
    switch (num) {
	case 87:
	    return 97;
	case 58:
	    return 98;
	case 29:
	    return 99;
	case 0:
	    return 100;

     * Break up into 7 rows of 5 columns on 3 days.
     * The numbers are broken mod 29 and then broken in half again.
    rem = num%29;
    div = num/29;
    if (rem<16-div) {
	row = 3-div;
    } else {
	row = 6-div;
	rem -= 13;
    col = 4-(rem-1)/3;
    day = (rem-1)%3;

     * The numbers are then assigned consecutively down the columns.
    return col*7+row + day*31;

 * Compute the 100's digit shift.
    int shift;
    int i,j;

    i = (num+30)%31;
    j = (num+30)/31;

    shift = ((i+1)/10)*7 + j*4 + i*3;
    if ((i==8 || i==28) && (j==2 || j==3)) shift += 7;
    if (i==6 && j==4) shift += 8;
    if ((i==17 || i==18) && j==3) shift += 7;
    shift = shift%10;
    return shift;

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