#Kryptos #k4

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Thanks to heads-up from @SourceConNews I took a look at the Kryptos Challenge and spent a bit of time trying to figure it out. Challenges are addictive! 🙂

I have no knowledge of cryptography. But the author, Jim Sanborn, has just revealed a clue, and (who knows) maybe it’s not too hard now.

The way I see it, the K4 challenge has two sides. First is the coded 97-letter piece, that needs to be converted to plain English. Here it is:

OBKR

UOXOGHULBSOLIFBBWFLRVQQPRNGKSSO

TWTQSJQSSEKZZWATJKLUDIAWINFBNYP

VTTMZFPKWGDKZXTJCDIGKUHUAUEKCAR

The just-revealed piece of K4 is the word Berlin, which, when K4 is decoded, should appear in the positions 64-69.

Second, there’s the linguistic (or the semantic?) side of things, that should help decide what this last piece is about. While I have made no progress on decoding whatsoever, I am pretty sure I know what the text, that is to be discovered in K4, will say. Let me share it.

To start with, here are some hints coming from the parts K1-K3 and also the Morse Code that can be found near the sculpture (check the links above for more details on #Kryptos):

  • (K1) “…lies the nuance of iqlusion” Misspelled (i.e. important) word illusion
  • (Morse) Shadow forces
  • (Morse) “Virtually invisible
  • (K1) “Absence of light
  • (K2) “The information was gathered and transmitted undergruund“. Misspelled (i.e. important) word underground
  • (K3) The question “Can you see anything?” related to the discovery of the King Tutankhamun’s Tomb in 1922 – to which the answer was, “Yes, wonderful things”, and there was one other chamber discovered after the first, with lots of golden things (and then a third one, with the body of the King)
  • (Jim’s hint) Directions; and (K2) North. West
  • Pond with ducks near the sculpture

OK, and here is what this all relates to. Compare the highlighted words above with the highlighted words below. (And it’s not the Berlin Wall, as most posts seem to point to!)

The Berlin Tunnel was a project code-named Operation Gold. The tunnel was build by the CIA together with the British Secret Intelligence Service, to tap conversations on the East side of Berlin. It was a large information gathering project.

There was illusion on both sides. The Americans felt that the project was successful, while the Russians knew about it from day one from a British double agent (a mole) George Blake. The fact of the spy’s actions became known about five years after the Tunnel was “discovered” by the Russians. The story is even more complicated, as the KGB, after learning about the tunnel from Mr. Blake, did not let the Soviet Army know, so it’s likely that conversations that were tapped were between people who had no idea about being heard. (It’s quite a story, I recommend reading about it!).

I am wondering whether the sculpture itself is supposed to remind us of the iron curtain.

Also, take a look at the article: BERLIN: Wonderful Tunnel (1956). It gives us a few more initial details on the Tunnel discovery, and its style seems more like “Jim’s style” in k1-k3 to me.

“…Self-important ducks and chickens strut like commissars in Alt-Glienicke’s cobbled streets…Mobile generators were humming to provide lights for the occasion, and at the entrance to a hole dug in the ground, a colonel of the Russian signal corps was on hand to explain it all. Ten feet below, its entrance a hole cut in the roof by the Russians, lay the tunnel itself: a cast-iron tube about six feet in diameter and 500-600 yards long, crammed with electronic equipment, cables, tape recorders, ventilating apparatus and pumps of both British and American make. At the East German end, cables led out of the main body of the tunnel to a separate chamber where they were linked to two East German cables and a third used by the Russians. What was at the American end? The newsmen were not permitted to know…”