News from our contributors:

Sarah Lang (Graz) (see the article on the Merian platform>)

Alchemical code deciphered!

After roughly two years of working on a mysterious alchemical cipher in a shared notebook of father and son, John and Arthur Dee (Sloane MS 1902, Folio 13r 13v 14r, British Library), an international team of researchers has been able to finally crack the code.

Megan Piorko (Science History Insitute), Richard Bean (University of Queensland) and Sarah Lang (University of Graz) had been working on the cipher together, beginning with a thorough bibliographical description to determine what type of cipher it could be – it was a Bellaso cipher – to finally being able to obtain the cipher key using cryptanalysis techniques. With this key in hand, it became possible to decrypt the ciphertext to obtain a Latin plaintext containing the
end phase of  an alchemical process for creating the Philosopher’s stone. The key was exceptionally long (45 characters) and made up of a verse from a Neo-Latin mythalchemical poem by Augurelli.

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