In a 1984 video clip by British Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden, several messages consisting of strange symbols can be seen. Can they be decrypted?

As frequent readers of this blog will know, there are quite a few movies, TV series and video clips that contain encrypted or hidden messages. Here are a few examples:

  • There is an encrypted message in the German TV series “Operation Mozart”.
  • In the intro of the German TV film Im Namens meines Sohnes, a message is hidden.
  • Fringe, a successful US TV series, contains a hidden code. It has been solved by fans of the series.
  • In the end credits of the 2010 movie Fair Game, some letters are marked. Do they spell out an encrypted message? Ten years after the release of the film, this question is still unanswered.
  • The Professional, a French movie with Jean-Paul Belmondo, involves an encrypted telegram.
  • The movie Wanted (starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman) contains a steganographic message.
  • In the 2006 British-American mystery thriller The Prestige, a stage magician keeps an encrypted journal. Some passages of it can be seen in the movie.
  • A video clip by US rock band Linkin Park shows a wall with an encrypted inscription.
  • In the TV series Sneaky Pete, an encrypted message can be seen.


The Iron Maiden clip

Blog reader and comedy hacker Tobias Schrödel has recently made me aware of another potential encrypted message of this kind. This one is contained in a 1984 rock music video by British Heavy Metal band, Iron Maiden. The title of the song is 2 Minutes to Midnight. The clip is available on Youtube:

The video starts with something that looks like a cipher disk:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video

This scene shows two seemingly encrypted messages:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video

Here’s another encrypted (?) text:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video

I don’t know what this is:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video

The following cryptogram is the most interesting one in the video:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video

A later scene shows a man who decrypts this message with a special-character keyboard:

Source: “2 Minutes to Midnight” video


Do these messages have a meaning?

Although this video clip is 36 years old, the symbols and the messages shown in it have never received much attention in the crypto community. I haven’t found an Iron Maiden fan page that mentions these cryptograms, either. I hope that this article will make these messages a little more popular.

The most interesting question is, of course, whether these glyphs can be decrypted at all or whether they represent just meaningless nonsense. If solutions exist, it is high time to find them – after all, the video has been around for almost four decades.

If a reader can make sense of any of these cryptograms, please leave a comment.

Further reading: A cryptographic challenge from the German TV show “TV total”


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Kommentare (7)

  1. #1 Ralf Buelow
    9. August 2020

    The song is from Iron Maiden’s Egyptian phase as documented in the cover of the corresponding album “Powerslave” The hieroglyphs may have been inspired by those from the Abydos Temple, the five-pointed star is an old-style pentagram, a popular esoteric symbol.

  2. #2 Richard Bean
    9. August 2020

    The video director James Yukich is still around – the easiest way would be to ask him directly.

    In the video for “Can I Play With Madness” (1988) (directed by Julian Doyle) the books of Robert Fludd feature, and have these concentric circles, which are quite reminiscent of the cipher disk here. The disk looks like it’s from some medieval book, but I don’t know which.

  3. #3 Ralf Buelow
    9. August 2020
  4. #4 Gerry
    10. August 2020

    Some of the hieroglyphs are non-standard, but I think in the third row below the Horus eye it reads “IRON”, as the palm leaf = I, the rhombus looks similar to the open mouth R, the triangle is a T and sometimes an O, and the waves stand for N. The three vertical lines below them normally stand for “many”.

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    11. August 2020

    >I think in the third row below the
    >Horus eye it reads “IRON”
    Great! After 36 years, at least one word is deciphered.

  6. #6 Gerry
    11. August 2020

    For the last row: The 2nd symbol (“arrow”) means “belly with tail” or “two” or “twin”, the square with the dot is unknown, the waves 〰️〰️ stand for “n”, the “lantern” symbol can mean “o” or “u”, the “radiator” symbol is again unknown, the horizontal line could be “s”, and the last symbol (with some fantasy) could be “darkness”. So with some guessing it could read “TWO miNUteS to DARKNESS” (capital letters quite sure, lower case are guesses) – so it could be the song’s title “2 Minutes to Midnight”… A wild guess, I know 🙂

  7. #7 h.wied
    16. August 2020

    Das Udjat-Auge oder Horus-Auge dient der Zahlendarstellung der ägyptischen Bruchrechnung. Die Pupillel bedeutet 1/4,
    Das Weiße im Auge, links von der Pupille stellt 1/2 dar, das Weiße im auge , rechts von der Pupille 1/16. Die Augenbraue bedeutet 1/8. (aus Mathematisches Sammelsurium S 105) Die gekringelte Linie unter der Pupille bedeutet 1/32 und die senkrechte dreieckige Form stellt 1/64 dar.