In our last article, we shared some of our Oak Island 90 Foot Stone research with you, as it pertained to the man thought to have deciphered the symbols on the 90 Foot Stone. The only known representation of those symbols that we have today comes from what is known as the Kempton Cipher, so named because Rev. A. T. Kempton produced it in 1949 to both Oak Island treasure hunter Frederick L. Blair, and to historian and author Edward Rowe Snow. From this single source, we now have a few variations in the symbols because of interpretations made from the information Kempton supplied. For example, Snow reproduced the rectangle symbol as a Roman numeral two, while Blair's notes show it more as a rectangle. As Kempton's original notes can no longer be found, the best copy comes to us from the R.V. Harris archive papers housed at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Harris obtained his copy from Blair. In the image below, using an exact copy of how the cipher was presented in the Blair papers, we get the idea of how the symbols could be open to various interpretations. All four symbols highlighted below represent the letter "D".
Rowe also interpreted the letter "M" as a Roman numeral one, as show below.
Over a year ago, at the same time we were preparing to screen the movie Shakespeare: The Hidden Truth as a fundraiser at our local theatre, we discovered a photo of the never seen before Professor Liechti. No book on Oak Island had ever published a photo of Liechti before, so we were quite excited to make this find. That find led to another, which would open up a whole new ongoing line of investigation for us, pertaining to the 90 Foot Stone and the Kempton Cipher. Of course, to current knowledge, there is no proof positive that the Kempton Cipher represents the actual symbols that were carved on the 90 Foot Stone, taken out of the Money Pit on Oak Island, but it is the best conjecture currently floating around out there. So what was this new find? Notebooks from the Liechti household.
These four old notebooks produced some very interesting and tantalizing possibilities.
Within the pages of one notebook is related the story of The Red Cross Knight. For those who favour the theories revolving around Sir Francis Bacon and the Rosicrucians, this is interesting indeed. Another notebook was a visitation log, kept by Professor Liechti's wife Minna, which recorded visits with people bearing such names as Creighton, Smith, Marshall, and McNab. The brief notations of these visits do not tell us whether or not any of these people were related to the people who figure so prominently in Oak Island history. Perhaps Minna visited with them for reasons of church? We can't be sure, but it was interesting to see those names in her log book. What really caught our interest very quickly is that we started to see symbols from the Kempton Cipher jump out at us from the pages of the notebooks. Imagine trying to keep quiet in the viewing room of the archives when that happened!
Take a look at this page from one of the notebooks. How many symbols from the cipher do you see on just this page alone? The centre dot circle, the triple dot, the triangle, the plus symbol, and depending on your interpretation, the letter "C" (some people think of it as a left bracket in the cipher, and maybe it is). Take a look at another page from the notebooks.
Even the badly written Roman number one makes an appearance.
One frustrating observation we made was that the first four or five pages were cut out of this notebook. What was on those pages that some previous Oak Island researcher made off with? Perhaps I assume too much. Maybe the original owner of the book had need of paper and cut those pages out. You can tell, from what remains of the pages, that some of those cut out had been written on.
Now before we go any further, I do have to draw your attention to evidence that this particular notebook was used by Professor Liechti's daughters in their studies at Dalhousie University. One daughter was named after her mother Minna, and the other daughter was named Bertha. As one of the notebooks in the collection (the visitor log) belongs to Minna the mother, it may be her name on the page in the image below, but I suspect the names reference the two daughters.
So where do we stand? Here we have Liechti notebooks, containing seven or more of the eighteen unique symbols that make up the Kempton Cipher, but they do not appear to belong to the Professor himself. What we realized was that many of the Kempton Cipher symbols were mathematical symbols in use in the late 1800s.
Are all the symbols in the Kempton Cipher mathematical symbols?
Mathematical symbols? Is it possible that they are nothing more than mathematical symbols? Not an ancient language? Not Alchemy symbols? Not Masonic symbols?
To be sure, some of the symbols can be found in all of the above, but as it turns out, only mathematics uses the whole symbol set. None of the others use every symbol. This was very intriguing. Kel Hancock, Thomas Kingston, Petter Amundsen (who was not researching with us but was involved in the conversations in the discovery process), and myself, had a few exciting weeks as more and more of the symbols prove themselves to be a part of mathematics and mathematical notation. But how can we use this realization? If we accept that all the symbols are mathematical in origin, what does that tell us about the cipher and the person who created it?
One of the loosely scientific tests we did was to ask a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds to fill out a form that was divided into 18 blocks. I asked these people to write one unique mathematical symbol in each of the 18 blocks. This was done without an explanation as to why. I wanted to see how easy it was for someone to be able to cite eighteen mathematical symbols. Out of the 30 people I tasked with filling out the form, twenty-six of them had a university education. Only one person filled out the whole form. The average number of symbols written on the form was 9. The only value in this exercise was that it illustrated that it isn't easy to come up with 18 unique mathematical symbols from memory. The only person to cite 18 unique characters was a mathematician. This suggests to me that the person who created the cipher was likely either trained in higher mathematics, like a mathematician, engineer, or surveyor would be, or this person turned to a mathematics textbook for his symbol set. That doesn't really narrow the field to much, but then again, how many people had a book on mathematics at hand in the 1800s or earlier?
Perhaps we could analyze the symbols and prove the cipher a fake.
Finding the symbols in the Liechti notebooks also drove home the point that many of those symbols were in use in 1887, and that perhaps Liechti himself used them to fake the cipher. Many Oak Island authors and researchers have raised the possibility that the cipher was made up to excite people and help sell shares in a new treasure hunting venture on Oak Island. If this was true then perhaps we could analyze the symbols and prove the cipher a fake. After all, symbols in mathematical notation have a documented origin. If any of those dates of first use were after 1804, then the cipher was more than likely a fake (if you accept that the were derived from mathematics).
Let's take a look at each symbol in the cipher. To help us determine the date of first use of a symbol, we used the book shown below and written by Florian Cajori, which was recommended to use by the Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University. He said that this book was the go to book for reference by todays mathematicians.
Here is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia about the expertise of Cajori in the history of mathematics:
Cajori's A History of Mathematics (1894) was the first popular presentation of the history of mathematics in the United States. Based upon his reputation in the history of mathematics (even today his 1928–1929 History of Mathematical Notations has been described as "unsurpassed") he was appointed in 1918 to the first history of mathematics chair in the U.S, created especially for him, at the University of California, Berkeley.
We couldn't prove the cipher a fake
Several times during the assessment of individual symbols I thought I had found proof that that particular symbol was too new to have been used in a cipher that was supposedly on a stone and in the ground before 1804 (the year the stone was supposedly found), but each time I was able to push the "first use" date back to a time prior to 1804. We couldn't prove the cipher a fake in this manner. What I came to realize was that mathematical symbols get used and reused to represent different values in mathematics. Over the years, decades, and even centuries, one mathematician would use a symbol in his work, but no other mathematician would use it. Some symbols came into vogue and fell out of vogue, only to be snapped up again in the future, to be used for another purpose. To reach this point in my research, I have read more books on mathematics than I ever did in all my years of schooling combined. I scanned math books written in different languages all the way back into the 1500s, looking for these symbols in their equations. Sometimes the same symbol was used to represent totally different things. You see, as I came to find out, duels and been fought and cold wars had developed over the centuries due to disagreements in mathematical notation. European mathematicians would use a symbol to mean one thing, and British Mathematicians would use the same symbol to mean something else. Neither accepting the others methods. As David Blankenship commented to me, "What a stupid thing to fight over".
After proving to myself that all the symbols used in the Kempton Cipher could be identified as being in use prior to 1804, I turned my focus towards the country of origin for each symbol. Perhaps a clue could be found there? Before we discuss whether that bore any fruit, lets take a look at what I was able to find out about each of the symbols as a mathematical symbol. As was mentioned before, some symbols are so universal that we can find them used in languages, and signage other the math, and some are so universal within mathematics that they are basic geometry that go back to math's misty beginnings.
Let's identify and set aside those universal symbols right away. I have a page from an early textbook to help illustrate these symbols.
As you can see, some of the symbols used in the cipher can be said to be derived from the very basics of math. Take a look at the image immediately above. Look in the narrative to the left. See the cross at the end of the fifth line?
The following images show the information we gathered on the symbols:
Note: Research by author Joy Steele has shown that a duplicate crossed out character in written word can mean that the preceding letter should be capitalized. I mention it here because it is an intriguing insight, though just like a crossed out character, it does not change the meaning of the cipher.
Note the date of first use (always in red in the lower right-hand corner. the name of the mathematician to use the symbol will be displayed here as well). This was one of those instances where I though we had proven the cipher a fake.
Further research turned up that this symbol's first known use was in 1720 by Christian Schlesser, and fit the symbols even better than the idea that it was an aleph did. I also investigated the idea that it was a poorly carved division symbol as well, which would have also suggested that the cipher was a fake.
The "colon" symbol is one of the first symbols that started to suggest to me that maybe the symbols chosen in the Kempton Cipher could be used to determine a country of origin for either the cipher or the education of the person who created the cipher. The use of the colon symbol in a mathematical symbol set suggests that the person who wrote the cipher might be from the European Continent, or at least had been educated there. As our Professor Liechti had been. See, I wasn't yet closed to the idea that the cipher was faked.
Was this another basic geometry shape like the others?
Was it a poorly written Roman numeral one? It was really interesting to see it turn up in the Liechti notebooks as well. Other examples within the notebook were written properly, so perhaps this was simply hurried handwriting. It makes one wonder though. Kempton's eyesight was poor and his handwriting really large and messy when he wrote Blair in 1949. Kempton apologizes to Blair for this and states that his assistant wasn't there to write the letter for him. If Professor Liechti was the unnamed teacher who sent Kempton the Oak Island story with the cipher somewhere around 1909, he would have been older and retired as well. Did his daughter write the story up for him? Would that explain the Roman numeral one looking like it does, if indeed this is what this symbol is? As far as mathematics go, the symbol used in either manner as shown in the above images, were in use well before 1803.
This 17th century German math book shows the Roman Numeral one in use back then.
In the above image we see that the triple dot triangle as used in the Kempton Cipher is of the German usage, and not the English usage which would have seen it inverted. I feel that we are starting to see a bias towards mathematical symbols as used by German mathematicians.
So there you have it. One and a half years of researching this possibility has led me to the observations noted in this article. Does it help clear up any of the mystery surrounding the cipher? Maybe not. Does it prove the cipher was faked? No. Does it prove the cipher is real? No, but it does show that it could be. There are no symbols within it that were not in use before 1803. I believe it also shows that someone with a higher education created the cipher. Could it have been Swiss educated Professor Liechti, at the bequest of less than honest promoters? It could. Could it have been an engineer or surveyor employed by the originators of a pre-1795 Money Pit. Yes, it could.
Let me leave you with one other surprising piece of information. Let's look again at the minus oder weniger.
The Swiss Mathematician Christian Schlesser is the only mathematician to use this symbol, that I have been able to identify in the last year and a half. Back then the trail ran cold on this angle of research. I could find nothing on this man.
Recently however, in talking with a cousin of mine whose mother is German, he enlightened me to the fact that Schlesser is an Americanization of the name Scheßler.
Armed with this new piece of intel, I just tried looking this mathematician up again, with much better results. Guess what? Christian Scheßler wrote books on mathematics and the design of fortifications!
What does that mean? On the surface, it suggests that this man had the knowledge to engineer the legendary Oak Island works and to create a cipher that contains his unique symbol. If only we could place him in the service of the usual suspects. I have written to the mathematics society in Germany asking for a biography on Christian Scheßler. The research continues. Here are some illustrations from one of his books on the subject.
This illustration seems to show a weapon which focuses the power of the sun to burn up ships. I can't read the German language, but if one of you can and would care to find out the details about this illustration, I would love to hear about it.
Update: Howard, a reader, tells us that the "weapon is not of German origin, It's Greek, its Archimedes fire ray developed before 212 BC "
Our time is more limited than when we started this line of investigation. I wanted to disclose what we have been working on, in hopes that someone with an interest in Oak Island and better suited to explore the Swiss and German archives might be inspired to look into this further. As stated in the above image, "Nothing could be learned about this author of this very rare work".
If you have managed to read this far into the quagmire that is this line of inquiry, I would be interested in what you think on the possibilities raised here. It may all be a strange coincidence, but I never suspected that it would lead here. Occam's Razor suggests that our Swiss Educated Professor Liechti created the cipher by drawing upon his European education. That would fit with the evidence that suggests the symbol choices seem to be derived from that region. However his motivation to fake a cipher depends upon the perpetration of a fraud by men trying to raise funds for continuing a treasure hunt, and that is something that has been suggested by some, but proven by none. On the other hand, would Liechti have chosen a symbol that fell out of limited use over a hundred years before he even began his education? I hope to hear feedback on the content of this article from those with a fresh eye.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
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Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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