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Codes on The Lost Symbol Cover - The Symbol Quest

Update: For an updated version of this article, please see this PDF file, which is a free PDF download taken from The Guide to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (just $9.95 on The Guide takes you deeper into the hidden history of the United States, Freemasonry, Noetic Science, and other topics that Dan Brown wrote about in his latest bestseller. Check out the Guide now, to get a better understanding of the fascinating revelations in The Lost Symbol. A HTML version of the article is also now available.


It's like deja vu all over again - Yogi Berra

Almost six years ago now, it was pointed out to me that the dust cover of The Da Vinci Code contained a number of 'anomalies': map co-ordinates in 'mirror writing', biliteral ciphers using bolded letters to hide messages, and more. The reason for these strange inclusions became clear when Dan Brown announced in an interview that clues about the sequel to The Da Vinci Code were hidden on the cover of the bestselling book. By solving these puzzles and ciphers - and being conversant with many of the topics and resources Brown was likely to use in writing the sequel, I was able to write a complete primer on the as-yet unpublished book in late 2004. Originally titled (and self-published) as Da Vinci In America, it was later renamed The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key in 2006, when Dan Brown's publisher announced the title of the book to the New York Times. In The Guide, I gave background information on many of the topics that I surmised would be in the new book: Francis Bacon and the transmission of Rosicrucian philosophies, the history of Freemasonry, how 'the Craft' influenced America's Founding Fathers, and the esoteric landscape of Washington, D.C. (including such exotic locales as the Scottish Rite's "House of the Temple").

There was therefore a lot of confusion when early in 2009, Brown's publisher suggested that the topics and title of the sequel to The Da Vinci Code were still unknown. This seemed to be further confirmed when a change of title was announced - the book was now named The Lost Symbol, with a scheduled publication date of 15 September, 2009. However, since the announcement of the new book, clues and hints to the topics covered have been given via Facebook and Twitter, and I can happily say that I was spot on with most of The Guide to The Solomon Key - excepting of course, the minor matter of the title! Although I do wonder whether my book had anything to do with the title change in the first place...?

Further confirmation of the key topics came when the cover artwork for The Lost Symbol was released in early July 2009. The cover features a 'torn parchment' theme similar to the cover of The Da Vinci Code, though with Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. featured rather than the Mona Lisa. Also prominent is a wax seal emblazoned with a double-headed eagle - a direct confirmation that Freemasonry, in particular Scottish Rite Masonry - would play a major role in the new book (see here for the same seal used by the Scottish Rite).

According to Gould's History of Freemasonry Throughout the World:

The double-headed eagle was probably first introduced as a symbol in Masonry in the year 1758 . In that year, the body calling itself the Council of Emperors of the East and West was established in Paris. The double-headed eagle was possibly assumed by this Council in reference to the double jurisdiction which it claimed and which is represented so distinctly in its title.

Every Supreme Council in the world, and the subordinate bodies thereto, extensively employ this emblem in their Degrees, jewels, lectures, paraphernalia and stationery, making it the distinctive emblem of the Rite.

The 33 in the centre of the triangle comes from the fact that there are 33 'degrees' (levels of initiation) in the Scottish Rite. Interesting numerological insight/coincidence - the individual numbers of the release date of the book, 15/9/9, add to the number 33!

Not so noticeable on the cover though are the various symbols covering the parchment, taken from astrology, alchemy and other esoteric fields. Perfect vibe for a Dan Brown book. But if we look closer, we find something else. Once again, the cover of a book by Dan Brown has some hidden codes!

Firstly, there are three letter-number combinations hidden on the cover. Above the R of "Brown" we find "B1". On the left, above "a novel", there is another: "C2". And also, on the far right of the cover, "J5". Here's the magnified views:

But that's not all. Just on the inside and outside of the left hand side of the faint circle surrounding the seal, there are two sets of numbers:

For those that can't make it out, they are...

Outside: 22-65-22-97-27
Inside: 22-23-44-1-133-97-65-44

I haven't had much time to think about the above yet, but the one thing that does strike me is the non-random appearance of repeated numbers: 22, 44, 97 and 65. Perhaps worth noting is that there was a similar code on the back page of Dan Brown's Digital Fortress (128-10-93-85-10-128-98-112-6-6-25-126-39-1-68-78), where each of the numbers referred to a chapter, and taking the first letter of each of those chapters yielded (after using a Caesar Box cipher key) a secret message.

So it may be that, for now, these are largely unsolvable puzzles - we may need the book in hand to check for correspondences in the text, or we may need to wait for another post-publication online challenge giving more information, as was the case with The Da Vinci Code. Taking the example of that book, it's also likely that there will be more clues on the back cover of The Lost Symbol which we won't see until the book is released.

And so, more than 5 years after I first wrote a book about the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, based on the ciphers hidden on its cover, I find myself investigating new ciphers on the cover of that new book. If you've got any thoughts on the above, feel free to share it by commenting below.

(For those interested in exploring the topics in The Lost Symbol, you can read articles here on The Cryptex - check out the "Latest Articles" block on the right side of the page, and also the sample chapter on Washington D.C. from The Guide, which can be found in the "Guide to the Solomon Key" block on the top right of the page.)

Update 11th August, 2009:

Dan Brown's website has just had a makeover, and on the new design there is now a section just for The Lost Symbol. In there you'll find a "Coming Soon" section devoted to an upcoming "Symbol Quest", which I assume will be along the lines of the previous webquests, and based on the clues on the cover.

Also on the new website is a downloadable PDF of the book cover which, in addition to the front cover, also shows the spine of the book. On the spine there are three things worth noting. The first two are another couple of letter-number codes, as are found on the front cover. At the top left of the spine we find "E8", and just above the keyhole we can see "H5":

So now the full complement of letter-number codes are B1, C2, E8, H5, and J5 (unless there are more on the back cover).

One last thing worth noting is that inside the 'keyhole' at the bottom of the spine we can see the Washington Monument:

Is this indicative that the Washington Monument is 'key' to the plot in some way, or is it just a nice design element further pointing to Washington, D.C.? And, perhaps, a sign that the theme of the novel has remained unchanged for some time (echoing the 'old' title of The Solomon Key). In any case, you can read more about the history of the Washington Monument, and the rest of Washington, D.C., in the sample chapter from my book, "Strange Constructions", available as a free PDF download. Or pick up the new, updated Kindle version of The Guide to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol from Amazon to get a full primer on the likely topics in the sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

Update 9th September 2009: has just opened the doors to the Symbol Quest challenge. After answering 33 'symbol riddles' correctly, you get to hear a voice recording of Dan Brown announcing that the codes on the book cover will decipher to a phone number. The first 33 people to decipher the codes and call the phone number will each receive a signed copy of The Lost Symbol.

Update 16th September 2009:

To view a high resolution image of the back cover, click here (2MB) - thanks Tim. The final codes in the Symbol Quest challenge are there, as well as a number of ciphers to try your skills on. I'm quite busy for the next few days, but I'll do a summary when I get a free moment. In the meantime, check the comments below for hints, clues and solutions...

Update 2nd December 2009:

A revised and updated version of this article, with all the codes found so far - and their solutions - was included as an Appendix in my book The Guide to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (just $9.95 on I have also made it freely available here on The Cryptex as a downloadable PDF file.

Update 19th December 2009:

I have also put a web version of the updated article here on The Cryptex.