The Aiq Bekar Coding Scheme
The cypher shown in "La Profezia" looks to me like a modification of the Aiq Bekar cypher, a kabbalistic code which, I suspect, dates back at least to medieval times. All Aiq Bekar cyphers are based on what is essentially a tic-tac-toe grid. The letters of the alphabet are distributed among the nine sectors of this grid. (In the original Aiq Bekar, three Hebrew letters are placed within each sector.) Then, to code a message, you draw the sector, and place a dot where the letter would appear. In the original Aiq Bekar, the Hebrew letter aleph was placed on the far-right side of the upper-right sector of the tic-tac-toe grid. To represent aleph, you drew that sector of the grid (like a capital English letter L), and placed a dot in the far-right of that sector. (For a clear understanding of how to work the Aiq Bekar cypher--not something you'll get from Googling "Aiq Bekar," I'm sorry to say--see pp. 928-929 of the 2007 book by Arturo de Hoyos, Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide, available at substantial discount through the "Master Craftsman" program.)
The difference here is that "La Profezia" appears to involve the distribution of only two letters per sector. But this would only allow for 18 letters. What alphabet has 18 letters?
Given that this prophecy is purportedly by Da Vinci, it makes the most sense to look to either Italian or Latin as candidates for the appropriate alphabet. Latin has 23 letters (including three, K, Y, and Z, that are only used to represent letters of Greek origin). Take the Latin alphabet, and drop the letters of Da Vinci's initials, as shown on the parchment itself; This leaves us, very neatly, with 18 letters of the ancient Latin alphabet:
A B C E F G H I K M N O Q R T X Y Z .
Super. But, how to distribute the letters in the modified Aiq Bekar matrix?
Good luck on that one. Different schemes of the somewhat similar "pig pen" or so-called "Freemasons" cypher (see my earlier post) illustrate many different schemes: put the first letter in the upper-left corner--or the upper-right corner, or elsewhere; then move horizontally--or vertically; move from up to down--or down to up. Hey, start somewhere and move in a spiral. Depending on the guiding assumptions one makes, there are many potential grids.
How Many Possible Grids Are There?
Let's get the nightmare out of the way right from the beginning. If we allow for the possibility that some perverse fiend at Doubleday--perhaps a certain best-selling author--placed the letters randomly through the grid, there are 18-factorial, or 6,402,373,705,728,000 possible grids, that is, well over 6 quadrillion possible grids to check. That's about 1 million possible grids for every human being now alive on the Earth today. Good night, Dolores.
However, the whole point of making an Aiq Bekar grid is not to randomly distribute the letters, but to come up with a distribution scheme that is easy to remember, so that the code person can easily reproduce it. Thus, the likely number of possible grids is far, far smaller than the maximum possible. Here are the parameters involved, roughly speaking:
- Where does one start? That is, where does one place the letter "A"? There are 18 possible places. However, I suggest that the aspiring codebreaker focus on only 4 of them: (1) the far left position of the upper-left sector, (2) the far right position of the upper-right sector, (3) the far left position of the lower-left sector, and (4) the far right position of the lower-right sector.
- In what direction do you then move--that is, working from "A," where do you place "B"? There are two main choices here, each followed by four sub-choices. The two main choices are: (I) place the second letter right next to the first letter, in the same sector of the grid, and (II) place the second letter in the next sector of the grid. (Of course, what is "next"? Your call: the sector to the left, right, up, or down of the sector where you placed "A.") Within each of these main choices, the sub-choices are these: (a) move horizontally to the right, (b) move vertically down, (c) move horizontally to the left, and (d) move vertically up.
- When you get to the end of the row or column, what do you do? That is, when you fill up the first set of positions with A, B, and so on in a straight line, where do you move? Here again, four choices: left, right, up, down.
I estimate that this brings the number of potential grids down to something like 256--a lot, but not impossible to work with, especially for a group of cryptographers working together.
Please note: It is also possible that our fiend is working in a spiral distribution of some sort. This makes for a larger number of grids, but it is still likely hundreds, not millions.
I have not looked at the possiblity that the seemingly ornamental flourishes under Da Vinci's initials may have some significance here.
Good luck, my brethren. Let's crack this one.