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Kryptos is the name of a sculpture (art that is like a statue) on the grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia, USA. Kryptos is very famous. It has codes (secret hidden messages) on it. There are four messages. People know what three of the messages say. No one knows what the fourth message says yet.
Not very many people have seen Kryptos, because only a few people are allowed to go into the CIA building. They do very important work at the CIA, and have to be very careful.
The word Kryptos comes from the Greek language. It means "hidden".
The sculpture is about 12 feet high and 20 feet long. It is made of metal and different kinds of rocks. It has thousands of letters and other things written in the metal.
The first person to find out what the first three messages say, was Jim Gillogly. He learned the answers in 1999. After he said what the answer was, the CIA said that a man who works at the CIA, David Stein, knew the answer too. A few years later the NSA (another agency in Washington D.C.) said that they had people who had solved it too.
Before he made Kryptos, Jim Sanborn had not made any other sculptures with letters on them. After Kryptos he made many other sculptures with letters on them. Some of them have secret messages. One is called Antipodes. There are two copies of Antipodes. One belongs to a man in California. The other is in a museum in Washington DC called the Hirshhorn Museum.
Another sculpture that Sanborn made which has secret messages is called the Cyrillic Projector. It has secret messages in Russian. The Cyrillic Projector was independently cracked by Michael Bales and Frank Corr in 2003.
There are two famous books that talk about Kryptos, which were written by Dan Brown. He wrote a book in 2003 called The Da Vinci Code. On the cover of the book is art. In the art there are secret messages. Two of the messages talk about Kryptos. Dan Brown wrote another book in 2009 called The Lost Symbol, which also talks about Kryptos.
- The CIA website about Kryptos
- NY Times Library An article in the newspaper (The New York Times: CIA's Artistic Enigma Reveals All but Final Clues, – June 16, 1999)
- Elonka Dunin's Kryptos page
- Washington Post ("Cracking the Code of a CIA Sculpture" – July 19, 1999)
- New York Times article and other articles ("Gillogly Cracks CIA Art", & "The Kryptos Code Unmasked")
- Wired News ("Solving the Enigma of Kryptos" – January 21, 2005)
- CNN story, "Cracking the Code", June 19, 2005
Pictures of Kryptos from high up in the sky