Listen&Learn: The Beale Ciphers

Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the mystery of possible buried treasure in Virginia.
Beale Ciphers

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • cipher: a message written in code
  • treasure: valuable items
  • pamphlet: a small booklet of information
  • anonymous: using no name
  • stash: a hidden collection of something
  • key: the text that can be used to translate a code
  • evidence: facts that prove something

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

The Beale ciphers are coded that supposedly reveal the location of buried treasure in Virginia. The ciphers were first published in 1885 in a pamphlet written by an anonymous . According to the pamphlet, the person who wrote the code was an named Thomas Beale, who had hidden a large amount of , silver, and jewels. This stash would be worth millions of dollars today. Beale supposedly left behind three ciphers that explained the treasure and its location. The author of the pamphlet decoded one of the ciphers after discovering that the United States Declaration of Independence was the key. The other two ciphers are still unsolved. Though people have been fascinated by the ciphers for many years, there is little evidence of the treasure. 

Comprehension questions

See answers below

  1. The treasure is supposedly buried in
    a. Virginia
    b. Florida
    c. Georgia
  2. Thomas Beale supposedly created
    a. the pamphlet
    b. the ciphers
    c. the map
  3. The key to the decoded cipher was
    a. the Constitution
    b. the Bible
    c. the Declaration of Independence

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Linguists have found that the writing style of the decoded message is similar to the writing style of the pamphlet. This has caused many people to believe that the author of the pamphlet made up the story. What do you think? 

Transcript

The Beale ciphers are coded messages that supposedly reveal the location of buried treasure in Virginia. The ciphers were first published in 1885 in a pamphlet written by an anonymous author. According to the pamphlet, the person who wrote the code was an explorer named Thomas Beale, who had hidden a large amount of gold, silver, and jewels. This stash would be worth millions of dollars today. Beale supposedly left behind three ciphers that explained the treasure and its location. The author of the pamphlet decoded one of the ciphers after discovering that the United States Declaration of Independence was the key. The other two ciphers are still unsolved. Though people have been fascinated by the ciphers for many years, there is little historical evidence of the treasure. 

Answers to comprehension questions

1a 2b 3c

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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