History Of Cryptology Essay

966 words - 4 pages

Cryptology played a crucial role during WWII and after cryptology really became a modern use of technology, but the real story is where cryptology actually had its beginnings. In order to truly understand cryptology and its purpose we must go back thousands of years ago to its first beginnings in Ancient Egypt and discover how cryptology rose to its infamous aid of the Second World War.
Approximately four thousand years ago in Menet Khufu, a small village in Ancient Egyptian, the beginnings of an essential component to cryptology was founded, the modification of text. In a tomb of a local noblesman, Khnumhotep II, hieroglyphic inscriptions were written with unusual symbols in order to confuse and obscure the meaning of the inscriptions being written. It is said that a nobleman’s tomb’s decorations often “break” with the norms of a typical Egyptian tomb (www.cs.dartmouth.edu). Khnumhotep’s tomb is an example of this “breaking from the norm”, which could signify his importance during his lifetime. The next example of cryptology surfacing in ancient times is about 400 years later in Ancient Mesopotamia.
A tablet found on the banks of the Tigris river contained en encrypted formula for pottery glaze. This small three by two inch tablet must have been important to have encrypted such a recipe. Pottery was a crafted art done by individuals that specialized in creating different types of pottery. It can be seen that such a highly prized art form would have wanted to maintain its trade secret so that only those trained would be allowed to succeed in such a business. By encrypting this recipe the Sumerians clearly wanted to keep this ability, glazing pottery, a secret but also by making it into a tablet, they wanted the recipe to last. These clay plaques were “nearly indestructible” which allowed the clay tablet to survive thousands of years later (Gardner and Kleiner). Following the Sumerian’s clay tablet in Mesopotamia, hidden text isn’t seen again until one thousand years later.
The book of Jeremiah, part of the Hebrew bible, written by scribes used what is known as the “Atbash Cipher” to encrypt (library.thinkquest.org). The Atbash cipher is a substitution cipher with a “specific key” (Lyons, James), in which all of the letters of the alphabet are reversed. For example, the letter ‘a’ is encrypted to the letter ‘z’, the letter ‘b’ is encrypted to the letter ‘y’, and so on until you reach the end of the alphabet. This form of encryption is very insecure and once one letter is decrypted you can assume it is encoded by the Atbash cipher and then the rest of the message can easily be deciphered. It can be concluded that because of the simplicity of the cipher itself, encryption by the Atbash cipher was not necessarily meant to keep what was being written secret. If an individual wanted to decrypt the text they could spend little to no time at all, deciphering it. Then after...

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