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VMs: Code dictionaries...?
From my research, I believe that the VMS was written in Northern Italy
(influenced by both Milanese and Florentine cultures) around 1460, and
*without* the aid of complex cryptography.
Given this, here's my current hypothesis about the structure of its
code/cipher. I predict:
(1) It's essentially a "dressed up" Florentine number code
(2) The numbers are expressed in Roman numerals
(3) Those numerals are hidden using a mixture of steganography and stenography
(4) Gallows characters are based loosely on the idea of the Cistercian
(5) Non-dictionary words are typically anagrammed
(6) <dain> words express simple quantities
(7) Any extra letters required are simply thrown into the mix, perhaps in a
It may well be that the dictionary itself is simply encoded (perhaps in
some anagrammatic or every-other-letter form) in the final section at the
back. This would seem to be the simplest explanation.
Plainly, number codes can't be decoded using cipher cryptology: nor can
they be decoded if you can't even read the numbers. :-) I believe that
this is the reason why this hasn't been cracked.
However: while the idea of a "dressed up" number code has often been
proposed on-list, are there any Italian number code dictionaries from about
1400-1500 still in existence that we could compare it against?
I'd be interested to see if they share any structural elements... for
example, common words having low index values (for quick writing, similar
to Morse code), etc. Or if there was a perceived upper limit to the size of
those dictionaries - 50 words? 100 words? 200 words?
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....