Saturday, July 26, 2014

Secret Codes of the Middle Ages

Middle Ages Unit Study
Week 20: We made a secret code and sent secret messages.

The middle ages were full of secret messages and secret codes. One way secret messages were sent throughout history was to tattoo a message onto someone's head, send them to the recipient who shaved their head to read the message. Another way was to carve a message into the wood which held a wax tablet. Once the wax was removed the message could be read.

Graffiti was the monk's word for secret codes. Sometimes secret messages were sent by mixing cursive and print type faces. The message could be read by only reading the cursive letters. Writing letters in a grid and using column and row numbers to refer to boxes in a grid, shifting the alphabet a certain number of characters or using symbols instead of letters are all ways to create codes.

Lu and Clancy's Secret Codes book is a fun way to introduce kids to codes.

We used wheels to create secret alphabet shift codes.

A=>X
B=>Y
C=>=Z
D=>A
E=>B
F=>C
G=>D
H=>E
I=>F
J=>G
K=>H
L=>I
M=>J
N=>K
O=>L
P=>M
Q=>N
R=>O
S=>P
T=>Q
U=>R
V=>S
W=>T
X=>U
Y=>V
Z=>W

Two circles with the alphabet written around the perimeter were cut from a sheet of paper. The larger circle was glued to cardboard. The smaller circle was placed on top and a brad was punched through the center of the circles to attach them together while allowing them to spin.

The wheel was used to create and decipher secret codes.

To create and decipher the secret code only the number of characters of the shift was required. Here are a few secret messages written with a shift of 4 letters.

EBADFB XQB ZXHB CLO IRKZE

JV EBXOQ YBILKDP QL AXAAV

F ILSB PBZOBQ ZOABP





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