CIA Wish List

As Kryptos is located on the grounds of CIA Headquarters in Langley Virginia, it is not possible for the public to view it.  A few of the cryptanalysts who are working on the Kryptos code have been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to view the sculpture up close while visiting on other business, but these opportunities are few, far between, and frustratingly brief.

If you have access to CIA, or know someone who does, we who are working on the code would very much like if you could make some observations or measurements, or report back on the placement of parts of the artwork.  This page is a list of the things we'd love to get, if we could.  If you can help with even a single item on the list, we would be most appreciative!

In summary, what we want is:
  • Where are things?
  • Which way do they point?
  • How big are they?
  • How many things are there?
  • What's at the lat/long coordinates?
  • What's down the manhole?
  • Can we get pictures?


  • Closely examine the Kryptos sculpture for any subtle font changes between letters.
  • Is it possible that some letters were carved by machine, and some by hand? Do you see any differences in texture between the insides of various letters?
  • Which way exactly is the needle on the compass rose pointing?
  • Which way exactly is North on the compass rose pointing?
  • Which way exactly are the morse codes lines pointing?
  • Are all of the morse code lines parallel? Or do some point in other directions?
  • The latitude/longitude coordinates point to a spot about 100 feet south of the sculpture, near the edge of the grassy lawn area.  Could someone please go look at that spot, and tell us what they see?
  • We need exact measurements of the Kryptos sculpture. Height, width, and the thickness of the copper sheeting (the 3D artists need this in order to make a good computer model). For example, measure the exact dimensions of each of the four plates that the sculpture is made of.
  • We need details on the exact location and orientation of the other Sanborn sculpture-pieces around the facility. Where exactly are the morse code and compass slabs and arrowhead slab located in relation to Kryptos, and which way are they pointing?
  • Is the round stone that the engraved compass needle is pointing to, a lodestone?  Is it magnetic? Is it movable?
  • Are there any morse code bits or slabs that we don't have records of yet? Sanborn pointed to an area south of the compass slab, away from the walkway. Our existing pictures of this area are here, but are there other pieces, further away from the walkway, that we don't have pictures of yet?
  • Is there anything interesting at the bottom of the pool?  What about the duckpond?
  • The two large stones at the base of Kryptos: Are they movable? Is there anything underneath?
  • In a different Sanborn sculpture, a compass needle is pointing at an area with plants, and a lodestone is hidden among the plants. Check the gardens around the sculpture for anything unsuual?
  • The stone benches behind Kryptos: Is there anything unusual around them? Can someone please take a flashlight and look underneath, to see if any message might perhaps be scratched there?
  • Are there any manhole covers or access panels nearby?
  • There's a kite- or arrowhead-shaped slab in one of our pictures. Where exactly is it?
  • At the base of the main sculpture is a white rock which also seems to be carved into an arrowhead or pointer shape. Which way is it pointing?
  • Some of the morse code messages are on the "compass" slab, and some are on the other large slab on the other side of the walkway. Which messages are on which slab?
  • Are there any messages or other engravings on the slabs that are next to the duck pond?
  • Does the lodestone cover any dots and dashes? If you look from the side can you see anything else?
  • Are any of the morse code messages repeated anywhere?
  • Part 2 of Kryptos deciphers to "Who knows the exact location? Only WW." Is there a portrait of past Director William Webster somewhere? Is his name engraved on a list of past Directors? Which row is his name on? Is there anything that looks like a clue or hint around his name or picture? If it's a picture or a statue, which way is he facing? Where does he appear to be looking?
  • Another section of decrypted text says "ID BY ROWS". Perhaps this means "ID by rose"? Do you see anything unusual near the engraved compass rose at the entrance to the New Headquarters Building? What about the compass rose in the floor of the main entrance? If the needle from the engraved compass were overlaid on the entrance compass, where would it be pointing?
  • (If a camera is allowed):
    • More detailed pictures of Kryptos itself, to aid with a 3D rendering.
    • More detailed pictures of all those morse code slabs, from different angles.
    • Pictures of the spots where we believe that the lat/long coordinates point to
    • More pictures of the entire Kryptos courtyard area, in context, such as to obtain four pictures from each of the four corners of the courtyard, looking towards the center.
    • More detailed photos of the other parts of the Kryptos sculpture which we tend to overlook. The petrified wood? The "bench" stones behind the sculpture? The stones that are arrayed around the pool? The plaza itself?
    • Pictures of the "reflected light" letters that beam upon the rocks around Kryptos in the afternoon, when sunlight is reflecting off of the New Headquarters Building back through the sculpture.
    • If we've learned one thing about Sanborn from compiling a list of his other works, it's that he's fascinated by ways that light can be projected on and through things. So we'd definitely like pictures of the Kryptos sculpture at different times of day, on clear days so we can see how sunlight hits it: Early morning, noon, and late afternoon, so we can see how the shadows change.
    • A picture of Kryptos, taken from the spot where the latitude/longitude coordinates point to.
  • What does the sculpture look like at night? Supposedly there's a a lamp in the pool at its base. Does this light project through the letters in any interesting way?

  • Contact the facilities manager, and see if they would be willing to be interviewed about the installation of the Kryptos sculpture.  For example, we have heard that during installation, there were x-rays done of the various granite slabs.  Would it be possible to see those reports?
  • In this June 2005 CNN article, Sanborn referred to some staff at the CIA office of Historical Intelligence, who he showed the answer to when the sculpture was installed. Are they still working at CIA?
  • Bring a flashlight, and see if there's anything in here
  • Bring a ladder, and try to get above the sculpture to look down at it from above. Is there anything unusual along the top of the plates? Or do they look the same as the sides?

If you have information on any of the above, please send it to  Or if you wish to send it snail-mail, please contact Elonka for her mailing address. Thanks!

List created December 14, 2003

Last modified: February 16, 2009

Return to Elonka's Kryptos Page