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Scytale Cipher

Tool to decrypt/encrypt using a scytale (a stick), a transposition cipher used in ancient Greece and by spartans.

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Scytale Cipher -

Tag(s) : Transposition Cipher

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# Scytale Cipher

## Scytale Encoder

### What is a scytale? (Definition)

A scytale is a stick, a piece of wood around which a ribbon (leather) is wrapped and on which a message is written, when the ribbon is unrolled an encrypted message appears (the order of the letters having changed).

This cipher is also called the Caesar box.

### How to encrypt using a Scytale?

Scytale Encryption uses a cylinder and a band characterized by its number of turns L (height) of the band around the cylinder of width/wideness (l).

Example: Code DCODE with a band L=3.

The message is written along the cylinder, one letter per band, and when the end is reached, go to a new line.

If needed, complete the last row with another character, e.g. X or _.

Example:

 DCO DE_

The ciphered message is the band unrolled, (i.e the message read by column).

Example: The cipher text is DDCEO_

### How to decrypt a Scytale ciphertext?

Scytale Decryption requires to know the number N of letters by turn of the band (the size of the cylinder), or L the number of turns around the cylinder.

Example: The ciphertext is DDCEO_ (6-character long) and the band is L=3, then N=2 (because 6/3=2).

Write the message on the band and wraps the band around the cylinder (of correct size) and the plain text should appear.

Example:

 DCO DE_
the original plain text is DCODE.

### How to wrap the paper band?

To make a real scytale, the parchment/scroll ribbon and rolled top-down around a wooden cylinder (a solid stem or a regular wood branch).

### What is the Plutarch's staff?

The Plutarch's staff is the other name given to the Scytale, because the philosopher Plutarch is one of the first to have described this encryption process.

### How to recognize Scytale ciphertext?

The coincidence index is equal to the one of the original text (as it is a transposition cipher).

Any synonym of stick, rod, cane, cylinder, whorl, reel, roll, etc. is a clue.

The plutarch's staff is the name given to an album of Blake and Mortimer.

Any references to Greece, Sparta or the Spartans are clues.

### How to decipher Scytale without the size?

One can crack Scytale by testing all possible size of the rectangle.

### What are the variants of the Scytale cipher?

Scytale is a practical application of the Caesar Cipher.

### When was Scytale invented?

8 to 6 centuries BC even if Plutarch describes it only 1 century BC

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Scytale Cipher on dCode.fr [online website], retrieved on 2024-09-14, https://www.dcode.fr/scytale-cipher

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