The following article is Part 6 of a six-part series on the Kryptos Plaintext discovery. The original free pdf document can be downloaded from https://stephenbishop.org/downloads.
Jim Sanborn has spoken about another layer to the puzzle once the K4 plaintext is known.
Imagine Jim Sanborn had not released the plaintext words, and K4 *had* been cryptographically solved. The solver would have found the oddly repetitive plaintext, and presumably they or someone else would have realized the plaintext describes the CIA NHB shape.
The building shape then becomes the next layer of the puzzle. This is the decryption stage we are at now. A visual decryption of a visual encoding method.
The CIA NHB shape is K5. But how do you “solve” a building shape?
As mentioned above, the Berlin Clock building shape is upside down when the CIA NHB image is oriented facing Compass North in order to properly read off the EAST NORTH EAST directions. This did not have to be the case, Jim Sanborn could have “drawn” the building shape with the building viewed facing Compass South instead of Compass North. If so, the BERLINCLOCK plaintext and the Berlin Clock building shape would have agreed in direction, and WEST SOUTH WEST would have been the pattern on the left side of the plaintext instead of EAST NORTH EAST.
Why would Jim purposely use the 180 degree rotated image to construct the remainder of the plaintext, thereby forcing the Berlin Clock building shape to be upside down compared to the BERLINCLOCK words in the plaintext?
Could the next visual encryption layer involve rotating the building image to view facing Compass South? We already viewed the building from this perspective. Can another yet unseen similarity be found?
If we rotate the building image 180 degrees again, resulting in the Berlin Clock shape being upright again, there is a possible visual pun.
The CIA New Headquarters Building looks similar to an Owl. Please compare.
To be 100% transparent, an owl picture was chosen which looked similar to the building. But this was not hard to do, as the building shape does look similar to an owl. This particular owl’s rounded head and feathers also look similar to the cafeteria arches when viewed from nearer the ground. Your owl may vary.
In modern Western culture, the Owl has come to symbolize wisdom and intelligence. What better mascot for the CIA than an owl? The CIA could support local owl populations. Maybe plant some more trees.
But did Jim Sanborn recognize the owl/building similarity and purposely use the wrong building rotation while constructing the plaintext to clue for the need to rotate the building image and find the building/Owl similarity? Couldn’t we have recognized the owl shape without the wrong building orientation?
The issue with the Owl as a K5 solution is that, if the answer is “The CIA building looks like an owl ha ha ha”, then where is the question? There needs to be a riddle before there is an answer to the riddle. The owl similarity would have been more convincing if Jim Sanborn had designed the building, or if there was a reference somewhere in the Kryptos ciphers about an Owl.
The owl interpretation without further supporting evidence is far fetched, but still rather fun. Whether or not this was the intended answer to K5, the CIA NHB will now always look similar to an owl.
Jim Sanborn has mentioned that the K5 answer would not be straight forward. He appears to delight in vagueness and ambiguity. If there is a reference to an owl somewhere in the Kryptos ciphertext or plaintext, its not obvious. The final answer to Kryptos may be a subtle joke about an owl. But the world may never know for sure.
Stephen Bishop does not endorse this product and has not received revenues/gifts from this product advert – Old commercial about solving Kryptos K4
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Stephen Bishop is a pathologically private person who has worked on cryptographically solving Kryptos K4 for more than 10 years. This is not the article series he thought he would be writing. He is currently accepting donations to fund the writing of The Kryptos Book.