Curious Codes: History’s Strangest Cryptograms
Puzzles are there to be solved. Across history, there has been no end to the number of enigmas and riddles and over time, experts have put their heads together in order to shine a light on some of the most difficult cryptograms. There have been some, however, that haven’t been quite so easy to crack, leading even the brightest minds years down a labyrinthine rabbit hole. These complicated codes have made the history books for their sheer strangeness, puzzling even the best experts in the field today.
- Ricky McCormick’s Notes
The missing person’s alert that was sent out in June 1999 should have simply been a tragic event for the police forces in Missouri. When officers finally uncovered the body of Ricky McCormick, however, they stumbled into a world that was a whole lot stranger than they had bargained for. While the body of McCormick was discovered 72 hours after he was listed as missing, the corpse was a great deal more decomposed than it should have been after that time. Stranger still, McCormick was found with a set of scrawled notes in his pockets which didn’t seem to make much clear sense. Despite being sent to the FBI and the American Cryptogram Association, the codes were never cracked and after 12 years of trying, experts finally released them to the public.
- The Voynich Manuscript
Dating back a little further into history is the Voynich Manuscript, a 240 page text that is chock full of all sorts of strange information. The book looks at biology, cosmology, astronomy and pharmaceuticals, listing information and facts that have very little to do with the real world. Stranger still, the manuscript is full of bizarre symbols that don’t seem to follow any rules or uncover any information. The medieval text has still not been fully understood and if experts were to get their heads around it, we might begin to see the world in a very different way.
- Linear A
Packed with hundreds of individual symbols, Linear A is one of the most complex cryptograms out there. Dating back to between 1850 BC and 1400 BC, the text could uncover a great deal about ancient Greek life, giving us an insight into aspects we simply don’t understand yet. Linear A’s counterpart, Linear B, was cracked in the 1950s and despite certain similarities between the two, they haven’t been able to be used together as a complete text. Found on the Greek island of Crete, Linear A’s symbology is believed to have aspects of Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian and might link back to any number of ancient civilizations.
- The Dorabella Cipher
One of the finest composers in recent history, Edward Elgar was known for his fondness of riddles and enigmas. He became so taken with them, in fact, that he even penned a complete musical work entitled “The Enigma Variations”, writing each individual melody after someone in his life. At the same time, he took up writing his own enigmas, sending them to his loved ones. The Dorabella Cipher is the only known remaining note, having been sent by Elgar to his friend Dora Penny. The cipher has never been cracked and even today, historians are clueless as to what is lying behind the symbols.
- The Beale Cryptograms
It’s not only words and letters that can make an enigma; over the years, there have been a fair share of numerical cryptograms, each using numbered sequences in a unique and complicated way. Take the Beale Cryptograms for example. Created in 1865, the Beale Cryptogram uses numbers to create a sequence of letters, the culmination of which is said to reveal the secret location of a box of buried treasure. Over the years, many people have tried their luck at the cipher, either believing in its validity or concluding that the whole thing was simply a hoax.