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Vikings' Secret Code Cracked

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the join-for-coffee-in-denmark-love-ingrid dept.

Encryption 89

sciencehabit writes "What may look like mere scratches is much more. A 900-year-old Viking code known as jötunvillur has been cracked. The code-cracker, runologist Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo, deciphered the system after realizing he needed to replace the original runic character with the last sound used to pronounce it. For instance, the runic character 'k' is pronounced 'kaun,' so k becomes n. Nordby believes secret messages were created by the Vikings for entertainment. One piece of wood reads: 'Kiss me.'"

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Real story... (5, Informative)

Raistlin77 (754120) | about 7 months ago | (#46239323)

The real story is at http://www.thisiscolossal.com/... [thisiscolossal.com]

Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239377)

What is the secret code for "Fuck beta"?

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239411)

"Kiss Me"? Did CmdrTaco write that?

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (4, Funny)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 7 months ago | (#46239575)

"Eat me, I'm Danish."

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240091)

Eat me, I'm a danish.

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (2)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 months ago | (#46240341)

Rock me I'm-a-danish.

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240487)

British women are bad at cooking.

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 months ago | (#46240867)

"My wife Aud left me and changed her name to Anyanka, wtf. Me sleeping wih other village wenches never bother her before. This whole village has changed, people are funky and dying. Encoding because not safe, my blacksmith hammers have ears."

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#46242755)

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

3leggeddog (981745) | about 7 months ago | (#46244741)

Ich bin ein Berliner!

How many Berliners did he think we thought he was?

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46256121)

A berliner is a type of donut.

It would be similar to saying 'Ich ben ein Hamburger'

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

3leggeddog (981745) | about 6 months ago | (#46269381)

The point of my comment (which both the Evaluator and this AC commenter appear to have missed) is that JFK's line appears to have been given him by someone who had nearly no familiarity with German but did have an English-German dictionary and a firm belief that there exists a one-to-one mapping between English and German, words and idioms; a typical American, unfortunately. "Ich bin ein Berliner" means "I am one Berliner." Someone familiar with idiomatic German would most likely say something on the order of "Auch bin Ich Berliner": "I, too, am a Berliner."

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239739)

Nah, that was Kathleen's code to Nigga Tyrone.

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 7 months ago | (#46243417)

"Kiss Me"?

Perhaps this was really the Viking version of Candy Hearts..?

http://refinerymagazine.com.au... [refinerymagazine.com.au]

shut up (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240007)

you know how everyone comes to slashdot for the comments? Well, you also know what's killing slashdot faster than dice? The fucking "fuck beta" crowd ruining every comment thread. You guys are making the comments section even worse because instead of it just being a crappier system, now the content is 50% about how bad beta is.

Re:shut up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240497)

Slashdot is dying. Don't get mad at the people who care. Fuck Beta

Re:shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240779)

These clueless $"&1% put 25% of their userbase onto a completely broken discussion system because they thought it needed exposure. Or so they say. I mean, that is something you do when you think your site is ready for prime time.

I mean, I thought the change to the current "classic" system was abysmal. Broken javascript... slashdot idle... stuff didn't work. But it doesn't even compare to the clusterf**!* that is slashdot beta.

They demonstrated that they did not understand the criticisms when beta was first launched. What other idea do you have to get the message across that... well... how do I say it... fuck beta!

Re:Fuck beta and the horse it rode in on! (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#46240913)

What is the secret code for "Fuck beta"?

I believe the Slashdot-approved secret code would be "Shpx orgn".

Re:Real story... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46241589)

Sounds like the viking version of pig latin more than any 'cipher' to me. But I guess you had to be there.

Link to summary that links to article that .... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239325)

Ok, dove through the reference-pit and found this [medievalists.net] as the apparent root story.

Please, either mod this up or edit the Slashsummary to actually link to a useful article in the chain.

Re:Link to summary that links to article that .... (5, Informative)

maubp (303462) | about 7 months ago | (#46239507)

No, this longer piece http://www.forskning.no/artikler/2014/januar/379474 in Norwegian seems to be the source (by Ida Kvittingen). Oddly the photo credit links there.

Beta? (-1, Offtopic)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 7 months ago | (#46239327)

Fuck the Beta. And Dice.

Re:Beta? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239347)

And fuck you, jackass.

Re:Beta? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239425)

fuck YOU, queerbait.

Re:Beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46242119)

How did you know his donkey's name was Jack?

That or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239343)

More likely kiss my ass....

Re:That or (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#46239685)

well, Bender did travel through time.

Re:That or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239981)

And, "kiss my shiny metal hat" is definitely something a viking could say.

Utility in the American Latin alphabet: (1)

ctheme (2694307) | about 7 months ago | (#46239357)

h, y. How disappointing.
For Commonwealth nations, you may add 'z' to the list.

Re:Utility in the American Latin alphabet: (1)

Slagothor (1156549) | about 7 months ago | (#46242575)

But you can (American and Republican) say "hooey". Very important for us Umuricuns.

The cypher (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 months ago | (#46239383)

As far as I could make out the cypher is something like, the letter I is pronounced "eye", so replace I with E. The letter K is pronounced "kay" so K will be replaced with Y. Obviously the hash is many to one. Both B and I will map to E in English. Not sure it would be one-to-one in runes.

Re:The cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239559)

The problem with applying this to other alphabets is that many do not actually have names for the characters. "Eye" isn't the name for I, it's just how you pronounce an isolated I. If you want to do this for the latin alphabet, your best bet would be to use one of the military alphabets.

Re:The cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239625)

That's actually an interesting idea.

Think of a series of 26 words, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet, and ending with a different letter of the alphabet. The NATO phonetic alphabet, for example, has alpha and delta, which both end with 'a', but you could modify that alphabet so every word ends with a different letter.

That would be an interesting exercise for the cunning linguist...

Re:The cypher (3, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 7 months ago | (#46239903)

That's actually an interesting idea.

Think of a series of 26 words, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet, and ending with a different letter of the alphabet. The NATO phonetic alphabet, for example, has alpha and delta, which both end with 'a', but you could modify that alphabet so every word ends with a different letter.

That would be an interesting exercise for the cunning linguist...

Interesting, but a very simple substitution cipher of which there are many.

Most substitution ciphers can be cracked by simple frequency analysis [wikipedia.org] .

Note that the statistical frequency of particular letters is language specific, so you have to know the source language.

Re:The cypher (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | about 7 months ago | (#46239977)

Thanks for beating me to this -- it sounds like a simple substitution cipher; even with a many-to-one I'm amazed it would be THAT hard to crack. Of course, looking at the images in the articles I wasn't having a good time telling one rune from the next (there was a series of like 5 "R" looking characters in a row), so maybe it was a high order many-to-one so the trick helped narrow the field.

I'm impressed that such a cipher lasted this long, though!

Re: The cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46241147)

+1

Not sure why cracking a 900-year-old simple substitution cypher is so significant. I guess the real question is, if it's really just a substitution cypher, why hasn't anybody else figured it out. Perhaps few people have really been trying.

Re: The cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46242013)

why hasn't anybody else figured it out. Perhaps few people have really been trying.

Probably. Why would someone with an interest in cryptography study archeology or cultural history?

This is also the reason to why rolling your own retarded crypto could be safer than using one of the classics. Most people or companies aren't going to be targeted by someone who knows cryptography. The primary threat are automated data gatherers and script-kiddies. Both relies on everyone using standardized systems with known flaws rather than using custom systems.

Re: The cypher (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | about 7 months ago | (#46246635)

My guess would be: 1) as you stated: not many cryptographers tackled the riddle and 2) a simple substitution is easy to spot, if you know the language. Not sure how many people these days "speak" runes and know their pronounciation (which seems part of the substitution).

Re:The cypher (3, Funny)

O-Deka-K (1520371) | about 7 months ago | (#46240443)

Let's do this for Japanese!

a - a, ka - a, sa - a, ta - a, na - a, ha - a, ma - a, ya - a, ra - a, wa - a
i - i, ki - i, shi - i, chi - i, ni - i, hi - i, mi - i, ri - i, etc...
n -> n

Decipher these words/phrases:
oaouoaiau
aiaouoaiau
oniia
aaaai

Re:The cypher (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 7 months ago | (#46242305)

Not sure it would be one-to-one in runes.

I was wondering this too. From the article linked above [forskning.no] by tindur (norwegian), it's not, but it's not too bad:
6 letters map to R
3 to S
2 to
2 to L
2 to N
1 to E

By my counting, english has 10-13 letters mapped to E. Depends on your spelling of letters.
Eeeenes hn ihur seellene hf leeeers.

Interesting (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 7 months ago | (#46239389)

Yeah so that big far bikini it soars!

(Missed first post by this much!)

Re:Interesting (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | about 7 months ago | (#46239563)

Well played! No mod points today, sorry...

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about 7 months ago | (#46240061)

As least it wasn't:

Dumb abusive cart barista abuses nouveau caloric gimmick chocolates.

KAUN!!!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239399)

.......

Decode this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239405)

Back tatami scratches scratches
Loom funny
Beta scratches scratches

Re:Decode this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240203)

Back tatami scratches scratches
Loom funny
Beta scratches scratches

won so
that with a run drink
say o you

(Kiss my Ass)
(No thank you)

Another case of universities teaching... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239455)

..young peoples skills and abilities needed in the 21 century.

Re:Another case of universities teaching... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239509)

...because the only thing worth doing in life is sucking corporate peen for cash.

Secret messages (2)

dudeX (78272) | about 7 months ago | (#46239471)

"...other translated inscriptions turned out to be playful taunts at the person doing the decoding."

Remember to drink your ovaltine!

Re:Secret messages (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 7 months ago | (#46239691)

Sounds like it was some kind of word game / amusement more than anything else.

so disappointing (1)

tehlinux (896034) | about 7 months ago | (#46239497)

"Be sure to drink your ovaltine."

Viking Pig Latin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239525)

Oooyay Otgay Isthay?

Why Bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239531)

Why bother cracking Vikings' secret code? You obviously don't need it to defeat them [go.com]

No point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239573)

There's no point in cracking the code.

Everybody knows it's going to be a handoff to Adrian Peterson, who will run the ball.

Here's the translation: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 months ago | (#46239589)

1. Invade
2. R@pe
3. Plunder
4. ???
5. Profit!

Re:Here's the translation: (2)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about 7 months ago | (#46239671)

I don't think that vikings needed the fourth step.

Re:Here's the translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240881)

vikings need therapist for step 2.

DICE = vikings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239689)

They sure are r@ping this beta interface.

Re: Here's the translation: (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 months ago | (#46240219)

Much simpler

Pillage then burn.

Never
Burn then pillage

Re:Here's the translation: (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46240545)

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

Re: Here's the translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46243025)

pillage is traditionally in that list.

Hm. (2)

vikingpower (768921) | about 7 months ago | (#46239599)

Damn.

Igpay Atinlay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239637)

And I thought I was clever...

Tally Board (1)

Martin S. (98249) | about 7 months ago | (#46239675)

It looks more like a Tally Board [merriam-webster.com] for stock keeping to me.

Am i the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239713)

who missread the headline as "Victoria Secret Code Cracked"..?

Disssssapointing....

Pig Norse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239891)

You've heard of Pig Latin? This is Pig Norse.

Re:Pig Norse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46241005)

"Kiss me. I'm Bacon, Kevin Bacon." The final part was lost due to natural causes.

Simple substitution cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46239965)

So it turns out to be a simple substitution cypher - but in Norwegian.
Of course - an easy thing to miss. Norwegian substitution cyphers can only be read by the light of a moon of the same shape and season as the day in which they were written.

Re:Simple substitution cypher (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46240927)

Lossy simple substitution since Thorn, Khen, Man, and Khon all map to Not, Suhil and Hagale map to Lagu, etc. You can easily translate some letters, but you have to use context to figure out the rest (with a vastly reduced set of possible runes if you know the secret).

Re:Simple substitution cypher (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46240977)

And if you go with elder fuþark, then half the runes map to "z" (algiz), including algiz itself.

Re:Simple substitution cypher (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46241021)

Well you discovered a fixed point congratulations!

Child's play (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46240001)

So it's a monoalphabetic substitution cipher? How the fuck was it not cracked until now?

Re:Child's play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46241857)

No one was expecting it to be so simple!

Kiss me I'lm Viking! (1)

NetNinja (469346) | about 7 months ago | (#46240017)

Time to trademark that.

Re:Kiss me I'lm Viking! (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 7 months ago | (#46241219)

First, put down the axes.

kiddie code? (1)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about 7 months ago | (#46240291)

I imagine that 1000 years into the future some 20th century English runologist will crack the code of pig latin.

Re:kiddie code? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about 7 months ago | (#46247413)

I imagine that 1000 years into the future some 20th century English runologist will crack the code of pig latin.

Or ubbi dubbi [wikipedia.org] .

Ég skil ekki (2)

Rei (128717) | about 7 months ago | (#46240411)

eir eru að tala um rúnir en myndin er bara rispur á spýtu. Hvernig ýðir maður rispur á rúnir?

Re:Ég skil ekki (1)

tindur (658483) | about 7 months ago | (#46241817)

að er vitlaus mynd.

substitution cipher? (1)

pz (113803) | about 7 months ago | (#46240723)

From the description it sounds like a simple substitution cipher (from their examples, /e/ for /f/, and /n/ for /k/). How hard can that be to decode if you have enough of the text? Yes, neato that we can now read certain notes that have been encoded for 900 years, but were they really only undeciphered that long because no one had a proper, scholarly look at them?

Re:substitution cipher? (4, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46241025)

Because:
Åruz -> algiz
thurisaz -> algiz
ansuz -> algiz
hagalaz -> algiz
naudiz -> algiz
iwaz -> algiz
algiz -> algiz
tiwaz -> algiz
ehwaz -> algiz
mannaz -> algiz
laguz -> algiz
ingwaz -> algiz
dagaz -> algiz
So their coded documents would have looked like
zzjgu zzzzknzz uzbzz uzzzzzzb zznzzrzzz jzzzzzrzzuzzzrfz zuiz zdzzzzf gzz zzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzz

"He must have fell asleep while carving it."
"Well, if he fell asleep, he wouldn't have bothered carving ZZZ, he would have just said it."
"Perhaps he was dictating."

Re:substitution cipher? (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#46241109)

Ah, they were using younger futhark, so that's why all the R's:
ur -> reidh
naudhr -> reidh
ar -> reidh
madhr -> reidh
yr -> reidh

Pig Viking? (1)

thejuggler (610249) | about 7 months ago | (#46241303)

So they had a form of Pig Latin back then too? "issKay emay Iyay'may ikingVay"

Plaintext (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#46241349)

"A m00se once bit my sister...."

Plaintext (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46242979)

Bloody Swedes

Re:Plaintext (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46246249)

"A m00se once bit my sister...."

The next line in Runic probably would read: "So she tore its head off and roasted it."

change (1)

greatscott02 (2024270) | about 7 months ago | (#46243113)

The amount of change the internet will see this year will make your life miserable if you continue to over think things instead of making like water and adjust to the new reality.
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