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Re: VMs: Tranchedino - on line now

Hi everyone,

At 20:15 08/12/2003 +0100, Petr Kazil wrote:

Here's my quick-start user's guide to the Tranchedino cipher ledger - hopefully, this will make it clearer what's going on there & what to look for. Let's look at the first two pages of Petr's first file: Tranchedino_vv_10r.pdf

Page 1 contains some Latin (which includes a few notae-style abbreviations, like "q3") introducing the text. Incidentally, I'd expect the second paragraph (below, but please correct my Latin transcription!) to contain a cryptogram of some sort - feel free to hunt for it! :-)

        Scriba hunc cui dabitor manu Libellum
        Pertractare nimis Laboriosum
        Quanq~ difficiles notas uidebis
        Has exactus habet Labor fideles
        Inuente q3 tamen tibi pLacebunt
        To sis naro uolo diligens disectus
        Et pensare caracterum Labores
        Ne tis nescius Imprimens notabis
        Exemplar faciles dabit figuras
        Vt quascunq3 uoles notas resignes .j.

The page also has column of symbols at the bottom right: don't worry, that's merely an overflow from the first and most important cipher in the ledger (on the next page), that of Nicodemo Tranchedini da Pontremoli, Milan's ambassador in Florence.

Page 2 holds his cipher: unlike other ciphers in the ledger, this page is undated - perhaps because it was updated/revised numerous times? Or perhaps because it was *so* important?

If you can read this cipher (the most complex one in the ledger), you should be able to read every other one without problem: so here we go...! This cipher starts with two symbols per plaintext consonant (three symbols per plaintext vowel), laid out in vertical columns:-


As normal, "i" = "j", and "u" = "v" (as there's no need to code these as well).

Then, a list of double letters ("Duplicate") is given (other ciphers use "Gemine" [twins]); followed by a list of nulls ("Nulle").

After that, we see symbols for a number of common short words ("qua / que / qui / quo / che / perche ...", which appear (mostly) unabbreviated.

Next, there's a list of (vowel, consonant) letter pairs. While you might imagine a [consonant, vowel] syllabic cipher holding "ba / be / bi / bo / bu / (etc)" to be useful, this actually holds a *reversed* (ie, [vowel, consonant] syllabic cipher "ab / eb/ ib / ob / ub / (etc)". To use this tricky feature, you'd encipher the first letter of a word (using the vertical tables at the top), but then try to use these [vowel, consonant] ciphers for the middle of the word. Here's what I mean:-

ie, "nicodemo" => "n.ic.od.em.o"

BTW, though I haven't counted precisely, something like 15%-20% of the ciphers Petr has scanned & posted so far have this "reversed syllabic cipher" (ab / eb / ib...) feature. Interesting...!

Finally, the nomenclatura itself appears - this is a list of symbols coding for common words, such as "Papa" [the Pope], "Duca de Milano", "Fiorentini", etc: these normally give a strong indication of the kind of features (people, places, etc) the code would typically carry (and thus would be required to hide).

* * * * * * *

BTW: here are my notes on this very first cipher:-
(1) "b" uses the astrological sign for Jupiter and "&" uses the astrological sign for Saturn - perhaps this gave rise to the idea that this cipher ledger contained many astrological symbols (as IIRC they are actually quite rare across the whole ledger).
(2) "q" can be encoded using the "picnic table" sign. This is also an astrological sign (for the "quincunx" aspect, IIRC), so perhaps we shouldn't read *too* much into its presence here? :-)
(3) "d" encodes as "4", and "is" as "4o" (though with the "o" above the horizontal bar of the "4", ie, non-ligatured). However, the cipher also uses "4a", "4e", "4:" (etc), so it looks like a systematic part of the cipher, rather than a free-standing "4o"-related effect.
(4) I'm really not 100% sure what the final few words on the <short words> line (beginning "qua / que / etc") are. The last two look like "in effecto" and "concludendo" (written using abbreviations) - have I got this right?
(5) Can anyone tell me what the very first line on this page says? To my eyes, it looks like:-
"iota eta sigma. chi rho sigma" (in Greek, of course)
Could this be some kind of date in Greek numbers, some kind of notarikon, or something else?

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

PS: does anyone know which ciphers (IIRC, a particular set of six of them) in the ledger were the "intercepted" ones?

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