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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topics and resources Brown was likely to use in writing the sequel, I was able to write a complete primer on the as-yet unpublished book in late 2004.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.

Lost Symbol Cover Art Revealed!

Dan Brown's publisher has just released the cover art for The Lost Symbol. Check 'em out:

The covers confirm that The Lost Symbol retains the main subjects first mentioned under the book name The Solomon Key - namely, Washington D.C. and Freemasonry. Also, the clues given via Dan Brown's Twitter account have been confirming more of the finer points, including the influence of Freemasonry on the founding of America, transmission of Rosicrucian ideas through the likes of Francis Bacon and the 'Invisible College', and so on. (For those seeking answers to the clues given on Twitter, I'm posting solutions via my @lostsymbol account)

All of which were written about in detail some 4 years ago by some guy cheeky enough to write a guide to an unpublished book. Ahem!

You can read about a few of these topics right now by checking out the 'Latest Articles' block on the right hand side of the page.

Solomon Key to Lost Symbol

A note: a few people have asked whether I'm bothered by the decision by Dan Brown and his publisher to change the title of his book to The Lost Symbol. In short, not at all. When I published my book, his publisher had announced the title of the book in the New York Times as The Solomon Key. My title was based on that announcement. If anything, the change of title indicates to me that my book, The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key, may well have been so close to the mark that they decided to change the title of Brown's book to The Lost Symbol.

Given the statements about Brown's research at the copyright trial in London, and recent Twitter updates referencing Freemasonry, Washington D.C. and Francis Bacon, every indication is that much of my research was spot on. For more information, browse the articles available here on the website, or pick yourself up a copy of The Guide from Amazon.

Lost Symbol: Website, Facebook and Twitter!

The website for Dan Brown's upcoming book The Lost Symbol has gone live, though at the moment it just features a countdown clock to the release of the next blockbuster. More interesting though, is that there are also pages on Twitter and Facebook devoted to the book - and the Twitter page is featuring clues to the content of The Lost Symbol.

Seems from the Twitter clues so far that the change of title *does not* mean that the content has changed - already there have been mentions of Freemasonry and Washington, D.C. Also, other things that I covered that weren't so well known - such as the influence of Francis Bacon - have turned up in the clues after just a few days, so I'm feeling good that I was on the right track with a lot of my research. I've noticed a few other things of interest as well, but I'll post about them separately at a later date.

I'll be posting solutions to some of the puzzles, and linking to other content of interest, via my own Twitter account: @LostSymbol. Warning: spoilers!

No Inside Word on The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown is keeping tight-lipped regarding the upcoming sequel to The Da Vinci Code - he hasn't even told director Ron Howard what the book is about:

“At the premiere in Rome, we were all surrounding Dan, refilling his wine glass, trying to get him to tell us what the book is all about,” Ron, who directed both the “Angels…” and “Da Vinci…” films, told us in a recent interview in New York. “But (a), Dan can hold his liquor and (b), he was not going to tell us a thing except that he believes it’s very cinematic and when the time comes, he is eager for us to look at it. He hopes it’s a movie. And yes, it’s another Langdon story. He has not told me anything more than he did when I began filming ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ He said then that it was set in Washington. I also know that he’s gone back and deepened the story. He reworked it several times.”

Tom Hanks tells a similar story about not being told any details (although one would think Howard - given his front and centre role in the film versions of Brown's books - would have been filled in somewhat as to the territory the next book will be heading for). To read Howard literally though, it sounds as if the Washington focus remains, just with more added to the mix.

Angels and Demons Gets Thumbs-Up

The BBC has a summary of the pre-release reviews for the film version of Angels and Demons, and things are looking up for Ron Howard. Screen International says the new film is a "far superior job" than that done in adapting DVC, Variety labeled it a "cleverly produced melodrama", and the Hollywood Reporter said that "Ron Howard and his crew have worked hard to make Professor Robert Langdon's return a thrilling, faster-paced walk in the park." The latter review also mentioned that the action was pretty much non-stop for 139 minutes. So it would seem A&D is a better film, despite clocking in at almost 2 and a half hour.

Kryptos Creator on Dan Brown

Just in time for the announcement of The Lost Symbol, Wired Magazine has released a special issue devoted to puzzles. In amongst the articles there is one on the enigmatic Kryptos sculpture at CIA HQ in Langley, Virginia. The article talks to the creator of Kryptos, Jim Sanborn, and it appears Sanborn is not too happy about the link being made to Dan Brown's next novel:

Though Sanborn's usual practice is to stay in the background, every so often he feels obliged to comment. In 2005, he refuted author Dan Brown's claim that the "WW" in the plaintext of K3 could be inverted to "MM," implying Mary Magdalene. (Brown included pieces of Kryptos on the book jacket of The Da Vinci Code and has hinted that his next novel will draw on the CIA sculpture, a prospect that deeply annoys Sanborn.)

You can find more information about Kryptos at Elonka Dunin's website.

The Telegraph Profiles Dan Brown

The UK's Telegraph published a profile of Dan Brown last week, undoubtedly a puff piece to jump on the publicity of the announcement of The Lost Symbol. In saying that "details of the plot have leaked", they seem to mean "people have written about the contents of The Solomon Key for a number of years now", because as far as I know there have been on plot leaks regarding The Lost Symbol. Much of the article also seems to have been regurgitated from Lisa Rogak's biography. Nothing to see here, move along...

Howard Defends Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons, with its Vatican-centred conspiracy, has created somewhat of a backlash from the Catholic Church - both in Rome and the United States. Now, in a recent blog entry at The Huffington Post, directory Ron Howard has defended his upcoming movie, most particularly against recent polemics about the movie by Catholic League president Bill Donahue:

For a $5 donation to his organization, Mr. Donohue will send you his glossy new booklet (Angels & Demons: More Demonic Than Angelic), in which he writes that I and the people who made this thriller "do not hide their animus against all things Catholic."

He's been making these assertions for years, going back to the theatrical release of The Da Vinci Code. He stepped up his campaign more than a month ago with a series of press releases. And there he goes again, in a Daily News op-ed last Friday, saying that Dan Brown and I "have collaborated in smearing the Catholic Church...."

Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome. After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?

Some really nice glove work from Ron Howard in the blog post, although Bill Donahue's the kind of guy who will stand there bruised and bleeding, telling his friends "you should see the other guy".

Da Vinci Code Sequel Announced: The Lost Symbol

After almost five years of delays, the publication date and title of Dan Brown's sequel to his blockbuster The Da Vinci Code has been announced. The Lost Symbol is the title, and it will hit bookstores on September 15 this year:

The Lost Symbol will have a first printing of 5 million copies, and it will once again feature Dan Brown's unforgettable protagonist, Robert Langdon. The announcement was made today by Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor in Chief of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

"This is a great day for readers and booksellers," said Mehta."The Lost Symbol is a brilliant and compelling thriller. Dan Brown's prodigious talent for storytelling, infused with history, codes and intrigue, is on full display in this new book. This is one of the most anticipated publications in recent history, and it was well worth the wait."

Brown's longtime editor, Jason Kaufman, Vice President and Executive Editor at Doubleday said, "Nothing ever is as it first appears in a Dan Brown novel. This book's narrative takes place in a twelve-hour period, and from the first page, Dan's readers will feel the thrill of discovery as they follow Robert Langdon through a masterful and unexpected new landscape. The Lost Symbol is full of surprises."

"This novel has been a strange and wonderful journey," said Brown. "Weaving five years of research into the story's twelve-hour timeframe was an exhilarating challenge. Robert Langdon's life clearly moves a lot faster than mine."

Of course, having a book called The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key, I'm a bit disappointed with the title change. Not least, because it makes me feel that I've misled readers. However, it is worth noting that The Solomon Key was obviously always planned as the title until recently - the title was announced by Brown's publisher back in 2005, he has website domains for that title listed under his name until 2016, and he has maintained a trademark claim on the title since 2004, updating it most recently in December 2008*.

The question is: Brown has changed the title of the book. Will he change the content as well? That would be a bold move, considering that his publisher has run website competitions which overtly stated many of the topics to be discussed in the DVC sequel, and Brown's website has also stated the setting (both of which I expanded upon in my book). On the other hand, both my book, and things like the National Treasure movies and Brad Meltzer's The Book of Fate, may have stolen much of Brown's thunder when it comes to revealing hidden aspects of American history - so he still could have been tempted to change the setting and themes on that basis. Though today's press release keeps the book's themes secret, perhaps the most revealing part is Dan Brown's statement that he had weaved "five years of research" into the book. This would suggest that many of the original topics are in the book, rather than a late change of theme in the last couple of years.

One more mystery worth contemplating: last year, Brown's then-publisher Stephen Rubin (who originally announced the title The Solomon Key a few years previous) talked to the press, saying "Dan Brown has a very specific release date for the publication of his new book, and when the book is published, his readers will see why." Now, it's only been a few hours since I've heard the publication date of September 15th, but at this stage I can't see the significance of the release date (the only possibilities I've thought of thus far couldn't be considered obvious: the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows, the birth date of William Howard Taft, the founding date of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and some of the more significant Nuremberg Laws instituted by the Nazi regime in 1935 and the adoption of the swastika on the German flag). Was Brown originally aiming at a date linked to the Presidential election or inauguration, but simply missed the boat? Or have I missed something significant about September 15?

In any case, I do apologise to anybody who feels misled by my book. I'm pretty sure though that, regardless of the title and content of Brown's upcoming book, The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key provides a fascinating look at the 'hidden history' of U.S. history which stands by itself as a fun read. I'd be inclined to say as well that it still provides some good background to the material likely to be in The Lost Symbol (peruse the articles here on The Cryptex for plenty of free content on these topics).

Feel free to share your thoughts on the new title, and likely content, in the comments.

Update: It has been pointed out to me that the significance of the September 15 release date could well be that the Constitutional Convention voted to approve the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1787. Not only would this tie in with the original topics announced as being in Brown's next book, it's also a neat 222 years since that day - seems a likely candidate. Thanks Clay.


* Dan Brown has legal reasons for saying he intended the title to be The Solomon Key until recently. The trademark extension filed in December 2008 contains the words "The applicant has a continued bona fide intention to use or use through the applicant's related company or licensee the mark in commerce on or in connection with all of the goods and/or services listed in the Notice of Allowance or as subsequently modified for this specific class...The undersigned being hereby warned that willful false statements and the like are punishable by fine or imprisonment

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