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Encryption Security

Cryptic Code Stumps Experts 537

moonboy writes "From the CBSNews.com article: 'The experts who cracked Nazi Germany's secret codes are tackling a 10-letter enigma that has stumped fine minds for more than 250 years - D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M. Former code-breakers from Britain's World War II intelligence center at Bletchley Park set out this week to decipher a cryptic inscription on an 18th-century monument at an English country estate. Legend says it reveals the location of the Holy Grail. Some believe it is a private message to a deceased beloved. No one knows for sure."
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Cryptic Code Stumps Experts

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  • heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DashEvil ( 645963 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:47PM (#9163203)
    Maybe it just means nothing?
    • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by JoeBaldwin ( 727345 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:52PM (#9163243) Homepage Journal
      Exactly.

      I wish people would stop reading meaning into everything, it's just stupid. It's just like those people who see Jesus on tortillas...pure idiocy.
    • Re:heh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:57PM (#9163274) Journal
      It most likely could be something like a quote, or a saying or something like that -- a lot of weird inscriptions at various sites across the world have been found to be such statements.

      Would be funnier still if it were a prank of some sorts, just someone's trick to drive people up the wall -- a very pissed off grandpa perhaps? :)

      Or, it could refer to something like a name. For instance, Egyptologists supposedly saw Imhotep everywhere and were not sure what it meant. For the longest time, he was thought of as a mythological figure and only later established to be a real historical person.

      But as you said, it most likely is nothing.
      • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:01PM (#9163304)
        I.M. Hotep & Sons, Builders & Contractors, Est 4004 BC. The Old firm.
      • Re:heh (Score:3, Funny)

        by MikeXpop ( 614167 )
        I always knew this would come up one day.

        Once I found a piece of news I was going to submit to slashdot. Since I only knew that Quark 6 for OS X was going to be released, I figured I'd throw in an extra bit of information. I asked a question, relating Diablo 2's release to Quark 6's to see how people would make the connection, or to see if anyone would see that it was just bunk.

        I found it very humorous [slashdot.org]
      • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:27PM (#9163763)
        When I die, i want to be burried in an elaborate toomb, with false dates, and lots of armor and shit, and an inscription in Latin and Greek that reads "Here lies the king of all that is and ever will be." Imagine when archaeologists dig me up in a few thousand years :-)

        This, However, I suspect is an abreviation of Latin words.
    • my theory (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:41AM (#9165092)
      here's my theory...

      if it's a location of the holy grail (assuming it's the holy grail) then there has to be numbers, most likley a lagitude and latitude values

      so here's the deal...

      ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
      00000000011111111112 222222
      12345678901234567890123456

      so by getting the numbers of each letter we get the following values

      4 15 21 15 19 22 1 22 22 13

      so now we will join each latitude/longitude value as in (latitude/longitude)

      4/15 connects to 21/15 which connects to 19/22 which connects to 1/22 which connects to 22/13

      after connecting these we have a sort of triangule in around central africa, and to add more interest it surrounds the country of CHAD (Map [gesource.ac.uk] [gesource.ac.uk] and Info [gesource.ac.uk] [gesource.ac.uk]) which has been in the news a few years ago about a discovery of the oldest skull found that might related to the human being (news [csmonitor.com] [csmonitor.com].

      quoting from that news:

      What's more, it was found along the shores of a dry lake in the country of Chad, 1,500 miles west of the east African rift valleys often called "the cradle of humankind."

      For years, lead researcher Michel Brunet has tilted mostly unsuccessfully against the long-held theory that hominids emerged from the Great Rift Valley around Kenya then spread westward across Africa and into the broader world. Now, in the hominid he has named Toumai, or "hope of life" in the local language, he has proof that the earliest prehumans covered a larger area.


      interesting eh?
      clepto9@excite.com
  • by cnelzie ( 451984 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:48PM (#9163209) Homepage
    ...Slashdot. They would have had the answer quite some time ago then...

    • Simple!

      D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M.

      Do Other Users On Slashdot View A Very Visible Message?

      - Oisin
    • Indeed. I had a hunch that it must be something evil, and sure enough, soon I found proof:
      **** THE PROOF THAT D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M. IS EVIL ****

      D O U O S V A V V M
      68 79 85 79 83 86 65 86 86 77 - as ASCII values
      5 7 4 7 2 5 2 5 5 5 - digits added
      \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_____/
      3 2 7 7 1 - digits added

      Thus, "D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M." is 32771.

      Turn the number backwards, and add 1834 - the year Vesuvius erupted.
      The number is now 19557.

      Subtract 4591 from the number - this is the year Elvis recorded his
      debut single, putting the end to all morality and good taste, written
      backwards. It gives 14966.

      Subtract 7, the sacred number of Illuminati. The result will be 14959.

      Add 7691 to it - this is the year Che Guevara was executed in Bolivia,
      written backwards - you will get 22650.

      Turn the number backwards, subtract 1952 - the year killer fog haunted
      London. The number is now 3670.

      This number, read as octal, gives 1976 - the year George Harrison
      performed the lumberjack song with Monty Python - if you have seen it,
      you should understand.

      This is truly evil. QED.
      Good thing we have evilfinder [freshports.org] to help see the TRUTH!

      ps. 6+8=14=>1+4=5

      • by sholden ( 12227 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @09:59PM (#9164484) Homepage
        A far more slashdot friendly interpretation:

        D O U O S V A V V M
        68 79 85 79 83 86 65 86 86 77 - as ASCII values
        5 7 4 7 2 5 2 5 5 5 - digits added
        \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_____/ \_____/
        3 2 7 7 1 - digits added

        Thus, "D O U O S V A V V M" is 32771.

        Add 1964, the year Beatles with "Can't buy me love" topped the charts in a very mysterious way - the result is 34735.

        Add 5181 to it - this is the year first commercial cheese factory was established, written backwards - you will get 39916.

        Turn the number backwards, and add 1954 - the year Elvis recorded his debut single, putting the end to all morality and good taste. The number is now 63947.

        Add 1591 to it - this is the year the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death for spying by the US, written backwards - you will get 65538.

        Add 1792, the year guillotine was first used - the result is 67330.

        This, when read backwards, gives 03376. This is 1790 in octal, the year US patent system was established (eevil)...
  • 10 letters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by detritus` ( 32392 ) * <awitzke@wesayso.oTEArg minus caffeine> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:48PM (#9163210) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, how much information can be in 10 letters? not to mention this is only 250 years old and the grail went missing over 1000 years ago... sounds like they got punk'd
    • Re:10 letters (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:57PM (#9163282)
      With respect to how much info, it could contain a lot. There is more to it than ten letters, there is the picture (a mirror image of a known painting) and placement of the letters (the D and M are not in line with the rest), and of course the other words 'Et in arcadia ego'.

      Beyond that, it could even have meaning in context in other monuments in the garden or, well anything...

      There could be a lot of meaning in it, or just a dedication, or some artist with a weird whim that meant nothing...
  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:48PM (#9163213)
    LOL, WTF? IMO, IIRC, tho IANAL, this looks familiar!
  • by TrunkLine ( 669374 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:50PM (#9163228)
    Isn't that the code for infinite lives on Contra?
    • Re:I recognize that (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      No, that's Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-Select-Start ... which is also a popular backdoor code in many other video games from that era.
      • Re:I recognize that (Score:5, Informative)

        by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:17PM (#9163715) Journal
        No, that's Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-Select-Start ... which is also a popular backdoor code in many other video games from that era.

        Actually, It's "Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A." The "Select" you're remembering was to choose two player mode, while "Start" of course started the game--but neither of the last two were actually part of the code.

        This was the standard "30 lives" (NOT infinite lives) cheat on NES games by Konami, and not just "many other games from that era."

  • nes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dema ( 103780 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:50PM (#9163229) Homepage
    Another mind boggler...

    U U D D L R L R B A S

    I need more lower case letters so that this will actually post, hehe.
  • how do they know? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) * <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:51PM (#9163233) Journal
    after reading the article, no one suggests that it could be complete jibberish. How do they know it's not completely random? There's people out there like myself who enough of a bastard to do exactly that to baffle people for as long as the memorial exists...
  • Holy Grail (Score:5, Funny)

    by xgamer04 ( 248962 ) <xgamer04&yahoo,com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:51PM (#9163237)
    If they really want to know where the Holy Grail is, they should just ask the old man in Scene 24.
  • by ajutla ( 720182 ) <ajutla at gmail dot com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:51PM (#9163240) Homepage
    D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M, eh? That's easy. It stands for "Does Our Universe Often Say Very Ambiguous Variegated...." oh. I give up. Don't listen to me, I'm a moron. I apologize. That could have been really funny in the hands of the right /.er. Me, I dropped the ball and said something amazingly stupid. I think I'm gonna go cry now.
  • translated (Score:5, Funny)

    by axonal ( 732578 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:52PM (#9163241)
    "All Your Base Are Belong To Us"
  • That's Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:52PM (#9163242) Homepage
    That's easy to decipher. It does there where the holy grail is:

    I.S. O.V.R. T.H.E.R.E

    Unfortunatly, the arrow that would accompany the message must have gotten rubbed off.

    :)

  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:52PM (#9163244) Homepage
    Former code-breakers from Britain's World War II intelligence center at Bletchley Park

    Most old geezers sit around and do the cryptic crossword when they retire. I guess these guys need something a little more challenging. :)

  • by taped2thedesk ( 614051 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:52PM (#9163246)
    ... "He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of aaaaaagggh'."

    He must have died while carving it.

  • by manavendra ( 688020 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:54PM (#9163256) Homepage Journal
    Some believe it is a private message to a deceased beloved
    i tell you they wont be pleased to find after all this toil that is just some sleazy steamy message to someone's girlfriend...or boyfriend!
  • by Keruo ( 771880 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:54PM (#9163259)
    clearly it was test run with enigma and says:
    F.I.R.S.T._.P.O.S.T
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:57PM (#9163277)
    I've seen it. It's actually a three line inscription. The entire text reads as follows:

    S T E A L U N D E R W E A R
    D O U O S V A V V M
    P R O F I T !
  • ROT-13? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BinBoy ( 164798 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:57PM (#9163279) Homepage
    QBHBFINIIZ. Nope. I give up.
  • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:01PM (#9163305) Journal
    It's an ancient Greek slogan, often used to commemorate the Greeks' victories over their opponents in war. Curiously, the slogan is not grammatically correct, even in the original Greek, but the fractured phrase, once established, was never corrected out of deference to tradition.

    So in English, it roughly translates as:

    All
    Your
    Base
    Are
    Belong
    To
    Us
  • The Solution.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:05PM (#9163329)
    In the original painting on which this monument is based, the letters are on two lines:
    -- O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V. --
    D. ---------------- M.
    Uhh, perhaps it's simply a reference to the line of poetry, "Out of your own sweet vale alicia vanish vanity 'twixt deity and man, thou Shepherdess the way"?
    • by duffel ( 779835 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:21PM (#9163736)
      The original painting, and a bit of information on the phrase "et in arcadia ego" can be found here [wikipedia.org] (bigger version of the painting here [student.kun.nl]. Note that you can't really make out the letters in either)

      I first heard the phrase while studying Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in school, and our interpretation was close to one of the two on wikipedia:

      "I, Death, am also in Arcadia"

      This is a memento mori, a reminder that death is certain even if life seems perfect at the moment.

      The painting features 4 shepherds in "Arcadia" (a pastoral paradise), puzzling over those words engraved in a small monument.

      The artist of the Shugborough version may very well have intended for us to puzzle over his version like the shepherds in the original... and if the act of us puzzling over the carving was the artist's goal, there may well be no solution like there would be in normal puzzles. (Or there might only an arbitrary solution that cannot be attained without further data.)

      Perhaps some poets should look at it in addition to code breakers.
      • by Evil Pete ( 73279 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:40AM (#9166116) Homepage

        Years ago I read "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" after seeing a documentary called "The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem ?" by one of the authors. This is basically the origin of the background of "The Da Vinci Code" from what I know of it, though I haven't read that book. The documentary showed some amazing codes that had been coded into gravestones and other places in particular places, including the painting by Poussin, which contained hidden messages. Anyway, getting back to this stuff: the inscription discussed was shown in the book underneath a mirror image reproduction of the very mysterious painting of Poussin. BTW, the tomb in the painting actually exists and was found by the doco makers not far from the source of the mystery, the town of Rennes le Chateau. Anyway, marvellous story, but I don't believe the stuff about the bloodline etc ... just stretching the evidence too far I think. But wonderful stuff, especially if you're into conspiracies, codes etc ... if you liked Cryptonomicon then this kind of stuff is for you.

        "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" however does not include the amazing codes etc. A big pity since they were fascinating. One I particularly liked was a copy of the Lord's Prayer in latin that when you noticed the slight misplacement of various letters spelt a message ... and formed a pentagram as well (I vaguely remember that the letter was to or from Poussin). Or the hidden spaces in hollow columns with parchments and the mysterious figures at the chapel at Rennes le Chateau ... hmmm. Lots of fun.

        One of the suggestions for "Et in Arcadia ego" was that it was an anagram since the phrase is not correct Latin anyway. One suggested anagram translates as "Begone! Behold I conceal the secrets of God" ... eh (shrug). Note also that Arcadia was also part of the Hidden Stream symbolism that described a secret stream of knowledge underneath Christendom ... hence the the painting combined with the unstranslated letters was not picked randomly as an interesting puzzle, there is an air of genuine mystery about it.

  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:05PM (#9163330)
    The best possible answer, barring actually finding the holy grail, is quoted in the article.
    "Lord Lichfield's grandmother believed it stood for the opening letters of a line of verse: "Out of your own sweet vale Alicia vanish vanity 'twixt deity and man." based on a poem by Anna Seward.

    How would it be possible to come up with a better explanation? This woman was of the family and is in the best possition to know. Think about it: what type of answer could satisfy such a short "code" better?

    Its like reading Nostradamus: you will find patterns if you look hard enough.

  • Fascinating... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:07PM (#9163337)
    Good old google shows a relatively interesting page with respect to this with more potential background:
    http://www.veling.nl/anne/templars/re nnes-sion.htm l
  • by FrenZon ( 65408 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:07PM (#9163343) Homepage
    It's just an acronym!:

    D.O.U.O.S.B.A.V.V.M:
    "Deadly Odour: Underpants Or Socks Violently Aromatic - Very Very Manky."
  • by omnirealm ( 244599 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:08PM (#9163353) Homepage

    The entropy of the English language is 1.5 bits per character (as an example; other languages have other entropy characteristics). When performing cryptanalysis on ciphertext derived from English plaintext, the cryptographer can determine whether or not he has achieved successful decryption by calculating this entropy on the result. The accuracy of the entropy derivation depends largely on the quantity of the data used to calculate the entropy.

    It appears that the message D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M. does not carry near enough information to derive any meaningful statistical information of the sort. This means pretty much that any potential decryption is as good as any other. In the worst case scenario, this message is the result of a one-time pad [wikipedia.org], in which case it is completely futile to attempt to decrypt it; even if P is proven to be equal to NP, one-time pads still maintain their security, since all possible decryptions are equally probable. Perhaps some information get be gleaned from the context of the message (the fact that it is either Latin or Greek and based on some historical happening).

    In any case, I get the feeling that this particular puzzle is going to be eternally unsolved. There will be plenty of equally feasible decipherments based on defendable premises, but we will never know for sure.

    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:12PM (#9163375)
      Looking at just the letters is misleading. The letters are on a monument with a mirror image of a known painting, and even within the letters, the D and M are positioned differently, and there are the words 'Et in arcadia ego' with the image.

      Add to that that other aspects of the monument may be significant, or there may be significance in the context of other monuments in the garden and/or other entities.

      Now as to whether it will be solved, can be solved without knowledge of an inside joke, or even contains interesting subject matter at all is one issue. If it does have meaning, I would give it better odds of being figured out than a plain 10-letter inscription.
    • by mrgeometry ( 689087 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:21PM (#9163412)
      Welllll.... They are not trying to do a substitution cypher or anything. The idea is that the letters are a sequence of initials for words in some quotation or something.

      There can't be all that many quotations, or even meaningful phrases, with two consecutive words that start with V (and three out of four contiguous words), can there? Witness the incredibly awkward attempts to come up with "joke" answers in other posts on this page. And the line of poetry is pretty awkward, too. So those V's would seem to impose some pretty strong conditions after all---giving hope that there might be a unique meaningful answer. Not much hope, though. (Still, as mentioned elsewhere, there's a lot of "side" info: the painting, etc.) We'll see.

      zach
  • I know! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:10PM (#9163359)
    b e s u r e t o d r i n k y o u r o v a l t i n e

    ... a crummy commercial?

  • decoded (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Clockwork Troll ( 655321 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:11PM (#9163364) Journal
    don't overanalyze unusual old scriptures,
    verily always void of valuable meaning
  • by prozac79 ( 651102 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:14PM (#9163380)
    And who was "D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M."? And how did he manage to write his name in solid cement?

    I know! Let's use technology to bring him back.

    Wow! What's normal to him amazes us.

    He is a lot smarter than his sister "M.V.V.A.V.S.O.U.O.D" of whom we no nothing.

    He will be our new god.
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:16PM (#9163385) Homepage Journal
    Come on... It's quite obvious that it's a cheat mode for a popular 18th century FPS. D O U O S V A V V M = Extra Ammo

    Duh.

  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:22PM (#9163423) Homepage
    The MPAA recently commissioned Lawrence Livermore Laboratories to create a working time machine, in order to seek litigation against the first known cracker of CSS.
  • Multiple meanings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aneurysm ( 680045 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:27PM (#9163442)
    The problem with such a small amount of "code" to go on, it is possible that many people will find different ways to explain it. For example the explanation in the article that it is an acronym for the words in a line of a poem. Another person may decide that it is a reference to Greek literature. However it is very possible that many little coincidences can be found to match and fit with the code, so we will probably never know the TRUE intention of the message.
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:30PM (#9163455) Homepage Journal
    They probably died before they could buy a vowel.
  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:38PM (#9163480) Homepage Journal
    Select Webpages From Google Where Upper(Words) like "D% O% U% O% S% V% A% V% V% M%"
  • by BlightThePower ( 663950 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:44PM (#9163513)
    I was reading in a book about Heroic Failures there was a case that many local historians got interested in; a stone in a graveyard marked "HWP". Rubbings were taken and dispatched to the British Museum for analysis and opinion. Local historians dug deep in their archives, but it still remained a mystery. The brevity of the inscription was pondered by some (an unknown man who came to die in the villiage) others wondered about its positioning at the edge of the graveyard (perhaps the grave of someone 'unworthy'?) To confuse matters more, the rough masonry work dated the stone somewhat earlier than the surrounding graves.

    That was until someone got in touch with a former vicar, who informed them the mysterious "HWP" was in fact...Hot Water Pipe.

  • by Gruturo ( 141223 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:46PM (#9163523)
    IDDQD
    IDKFA
    IDCLIP (or IDSPISPOPD)

    Hmm... no.

    DNKROZ
    DNHYPER
    DNITEMS
    DNWEAPONS

    neither.

    /god
    /give all
    /noclip

    bah. Beats me.

  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:52PM (#9163556) Journal
    I was looking through all these posts to see if anyone had placed a link to a picture of the actual monument, and couldn't find one, so I poked around a bit, and found a photo of the monument here. [connectotel.com] Just click on the one on the right and you can see a bigger version.
  • by JayBees ( 124568 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:53PM (#9163562)
    There are two problems with deciphering this:

    1) No one knows if it is meant to be difficult to crack, or if it is just an abbreviated message to someone who would know instantly what it meant. This is an important distinction, because it determines if solving this thing is in the domain of linguists, or of cryptographers. Linguists decipher things which are not maliciously written to be obtuse (e.g., Champollion didn't have to crack any codes to figure out Egyptian Hieroglyphs, he solved it because he knew several languages and made some educated guesses based on his cultural knowledge). On the other hand, cryptographers decipher things which *are* meant to be obfuscated. This is done primarily through mathematical analyses, rather than historical and cultural knowledge. This is the reason that no cryptographer has been responsible for the decipherment of a language. This problem has been exploited in the past, such as the famous use of Navajo in World War II to confuse German code-breakers. Cryptographers can exploit the qualities of a language (such as examining letter frequency), but they aren't even sure what language this thing is in!

    2) The sample set is staggeringly small. Whether you are deciphering a language or a code, it's extremely difficult (and generally close to impossible) to do so without several different, lengthy samples. Often, people make the claim that something is "gibberish" when there's only one or two samples (as someone does in this article). This is really a baseless claim, since there are probably *dozens* of valid decipherments of anything. This is the sole reason why so many undeciphered languages have not been deciphered (e.g., Etruscan and Linear A).

    When I read the summary, the first thing I thought of was the Phaistos Disk. It was found on Crete in 1908 (at Phaistos). It is a disk-shaped tablet, with strange, oddly un-Minoan, characters on both sides, spiraling in towards the center. It is even stranger because the characters appear to be stamped or pressed into the clay. (This is the earliest known example of such stamped writing.) Because the disk is so strange, many have claimed it's an elaborate hoax, but the amount of work necessary to create such a stamped tablet (making all of the stamps with which to place the characters on the disk) would mean it is a *very* elaborate hoax. Most archaeologists think it's for real, but, despite people's best efforts, no progress has been made in its decipherment. Since the sample set is so damned small (1 tablet), and since no one knows what language it's in, *and* since it is clearly unrelated to Linear A or B, there's little hope in it ever being understood. Go on Google and type in "Phaistos Disk" and you're sure to find lots of sites claiming they know the solution.

    Finally, the Voynich Manuscript sets even more historical precedent for the difficulty of this task, and shows that cryptographers are not successful when it comes to solving an unencoded inscription. William F. Friedman (who broke the Japanese Purple Code and worked at Bletchley Park during WWII) and some guys from the NSA have tried to decipher it, and failed. He claims it's a fake language, composed of gibberish, but it follows Zipf's law, which means it appears, based on the ratios of sign frequencies, to be real...so if someone wrote a gibberish language, they knew what they were doing to make it look real...even though Zipf, who discovered this relationship, wasn't even alive when this thing was written.

    Sorry I didn't make any links, but I'm lazy, and if you type any of this stuff into Google, you'll find lots of articles.

    (Wow, looks like I learned something from my Lost Languages and Decipherment course, thank-you, Professor Zimansky.)
  • GOT IT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by RobertKozak ( 613503 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:55PM (#9163571) Homepage
    D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M


    Down step
    Over there
    Under there
    Over a bit more
    South two steps
    Very close now
    Another step backwards
    Very close
    Very close now
    Move another 4 steps
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:12PM (#9163678)
    The Latin version of "ALl Your Base Are Belong To Us"

  • by Temsi ( 452609 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:21PM (#9163737) Journal
    Legend says it reveals the location of the Holy Grail.

    This is of course based on the assumption that The Holy Grail is an object. Most often it refers to the cup Jesus drank from at the last supper, or the cup used to catch his blood as he hung on the cross, or both.

    This is most likely a mistake, or a misunderstanding due to faulty translation of the original text.

    The original term used for the holy grail is "sangraal", and that's where the problem starts.
    San Graal does in fact mean "Holy Grail".
    Sang Raal however, means "Royal Blood".

    Since there is ample evidence to suggest Jesus was in fact the descendant of Solomon and David, and therefore he was true Royalty, the rightful heir to the throne of Palestine, and a threat to the Roman Empire. Which is exactly why they killed him (jews did not), if he was even killed, which is not even certain and cannot be proven.

    So if Royal Blood is indeed the proper translation of sangraal, and due to its inherent connection with Christianity then it most likely refers to Jesus' bloodline.
    As is generally believed, Mary Magdalen moved to the South of France after the crucifixion carrying with her the Holy Grail, so it's not such a big leap of logic to assume the Holy Grail was in fact Jesus' son, being brought out of Palestine in order to save his life, and the Royal bloodline.
    There is also ample suggestion in the gospels of Jesus being married, and that Mary Magdalen and Mary of Bethany were one and the same. Seeing how close Jesus was to this Mary of Bethany, and her brother Lazarus, it's also very likely Lazarus was in fact Jesus' brother-in-law, and that Mary Magdalen was in fact Mary of Bethany.
    Also, Mary Magdalen was not a prostitute and Magdalen was not her last name. If you can point to the passage in the Bible that specifically says she was a prostitute, please make a note of it and inform the world, because not a single biblical or historical scholar has been able to do so to this day. It is in fact a lie concocted by religious leaders trying to obfuscate the fact Jesus was a married man with a family; being married and having children was practically required at that time and it's unfathomable that he didn't.

    If you found any of what I said interesting or infuriating, please read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" available here [amazon.com].

    Oh, and in case you were still wondering, I am an Atheist.

    However, just to stay a little bit more on topic, here are a few suggestions as to what DOUOSVAVVM stands for:

    Designed Overreacting Usage Of Some Very Agitated Violent Viagra Malfunction.

    Do Only Uneducated Overly Simplistic Villains Accept Very Violent Methods?

    Deaths Of Unbridled Overreaching Sacrifices Values And Virtue Very Much.

    But of course, DOUOSVAVVM is NOT an english acronym...

  • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:36PM (#9163811) Homepage Journal
    While the famous version [renneslechateau.com] of Les Bergers d'Arcadie shows a version that is reversed from this monument, other versions were created. One version [univ-montp3.fr] came several years before the famous one. This page [richmond.edu] shows both.

    But most interestingly (and cryptically) is this image [renneslechateau.com]. I don't know the origin of this engraving, but it is almost exactly the same as as the monument [connectotel.com]. Down to the swirling clouds, which actually aren't present in the famous version! The only obvious difference is the present of an additional urn on top of the sarcophagus in the monument. I have little doubt that either this engraving was created from the monument, or the monument was created from this engraving.

    Can anyone offer anymore insight into this engraving?
  • web theories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sm8000 ( 780163 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @08:44PM (#9164147)
    Punched the letters into google and found some interesting pages about it....some think it has to do with the Grail, the Ark, Knights Templar, Masons, and even Mars! Be sure to eliminate the space before "grail" in the first URL, and before "ic10.htm" in the second one.

    http://www.fortunecity.com/tatooine/zelazny/212/ grail_1.html

    http://www.lundyisleofavalon.co.uk/templars/temp ic10.htm

    http://www.worldofthestrange.com/nlv455.html

    http://www.dreamscape.com/morgana/metis.htm

  • by Fr33z0r ( 621949 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @08:51PM (#9164171)
    The code is indeed directions to the holy grail (well, close enough), it breaks down like this

    "Up Down Up Down Left Right Left Right A B A B Select Start"
  • D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @09:02PM (#9164218) Homepage Journal
    I looked at this for a few minutes. The chances of decyphering the meaning is very very (VERY) slim, unless you find a good reference from the period about it.

    The "D.M." aparently has to do with a funeral right, in Latin, of course. I'd have to assume the rest is in Latin too. The number of latin words that the phrase could match are huge. Even if you did find a match for the phrase, which shouldn't be all that hard, it may or may not be right, without some other reference.

    Our
    Utterance
    Omits
    Some
    Valuable
    Assertation
    Validating
    Vexation

    Think of the phrase (and rather obnoxious to non-christians) WWJD.

    Where Would Joseph Drive?
    Why Would Josie Drink?
    Would Willy Just Die?
    White Water Jewish Dancing.

    From what I hear, it doesn't really mean any of those. Ask a Christian for the right answer.

    I considered finding a latin dictionary file, and having a program run through all the possible combinations, but since I don't read latin, it wouldn't make too much sense, now would it? If it is a reference to "the holy grail", that means some of those letters probably represent cities or countries somewhere in Europe or Asia, with their name from several centuries ago.

    For all we know, it's a tribute to all of someone's illigitimate children.

  • The hunt is on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by j.leidner ( 642936 ) <`leidner' `at' `acm.org'> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @09:02PM (#9164219) Homepage Journal
    I was tempted to believe the 'A' stood for Arcadia (Greek: ''), if only it weren't preceeded by a V...

    But the glyph V is also often used for the letters U or W (if doubled, VV), or for the digit 5 in (mostly Latin) inscriptions, so solving the puzzle it is best treated as a character class. It might be in Greek since Arcadia is mentioned, but the tombstone's ironic and ambiguous inscription (either "I, death, am in Arcadia, too" or "I, too used to dwell in Arcadia") suggests Latin.

    So we may consider V = [VWU5] as a working assumption.

    Since Arcadia is where the 'goddess' Artemis was said to live, we may assume the 'D' of D and M is a lady named Diana (the Latin name for Artemis), which supports further the hypothesis that it is all Latin.

    If this is so, we may extend out working assumption to A = [D].

    Now could anyone please post a complete family tree of Nicholas Poussin as well as the Anson family (and others who lived at Shugborough House around the time the stone was set up? Guests, staff, etc). We would need to find all possible candidates for D and M, then define some constraints to prune the search space (e.g. solution might be a couple, i.e. sex(D) != sex(M), female(D) => male(M) or a group of either 3 or five (again, 'V') friends).

    Here's an interesting picture collection [chez.com] to support the cryptoanalytic hunt.

    As for the 'holy grail', you can easily participate in the Sunday mass tomorrow (between breakfast and reading ./), sharing the Eucharist in rememberance of Jesus with much less hassle.

  • by TrozPoit ( 778816 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:30AM (#9165209)
    D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M

    It's obvious where the grail is...

    Down. Over. Up. Over. South. V... Vest. Ah, fuck it.

  • A Publicity Stunt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by polyp2000 ( 444682 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:27AM (#9166081) Homepage Journal
    Im more than certain that this is a publicity stunt. A very good one apparently that it should appear on CBS. "As it happens!" I was at Shugborough Hall on this very same day. I was doing a bit-part in a documentary called "All The Queens Cooks". There were a number of people milling around doing press-shoots etc. But to me it seemed like a stunt, to get people to visit the Hall, I think it also some sort of anniversary of the Enigma or Alan Turing round about now too.

    They had got the Enigma all layed out on display on a table with red velvet, (ie for show). In reality if the real purpose of this excersize was to crack those codes dont you think they would have used a laptop with an enigma simulator/code cracking program? So while they may be attempting to crack that code I think there were also some alterior motives on their mind, like getting a bit of publicity for the tourist trade!

    nick ...

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