Latest trends in the History of cryptography


Wednesday 26 June 2013, 10h30 - 12h30


Collegium de Lyon, 15 parvis René-Descartes, 69007 Lyon, salle R143

Latest trends in the History of cryptography

Séminaire organisé par Benedek Lang


Benedek Lang is associate professor at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, in 2012-2013 he is an EURIAS fellow in the Collegium de Lyon.


1) A social history of cryptography and secrecy

A large number of enciphered texts survived from the early modern period (16th-18th centuries), which are as yet unsolved, even though mathematical and statistical methods are available to decipher them. The majority of these sources are fruits of professional diplomatic practice, however, a number of them were written and used by noblemen, medical doctors, scientists, university students, engineers, and “everyday” members of the society. The aim of Dr. Lang’s research is to provide a comprehensive and contextualizing history of cryptography, studying ciphers in the context of their applications in a wide range of social strata, and integrating them in the larger intellectual milieu of secrecy (private, scientific, religious, alchemical, magical, and political secrets).


2) The Copiale Cipher


In 2011, an American Swedish research team cracked a 250-old manuscript, the Copiale Cipher, by using modern computational technology combined with philological methods. It is a 105-pages long, hand-written encrypted manuscript from the mid-eighteenth century. Dr. Megyesi and Dr. Schaefer will describe the book, the features of the text, the method by which the research team deciphered it and will give a brief description about its content and the society that was hiding behind the document. The manuscript is digitized, transcribed, decoded and translated to English, and is available to the public from the Copiale webpage:


Histoire des sciences et des technologies
Histoire médiévale
Histoire moderne
17/09/2012 - 15/07/2013