Namecoin archeology “Gospel according to Matthew”

fragment of a flyleaf with the title of the Gospel of Matthew, ευαγγελιον κ̣ατ̣α μαθ᾽θαιον (euangelion kata Maththaion). Dated to late 2nd or early 3rd century (source: Wikipedia)


Namecoin (NMC) is a cryptocurrency originally forked from Bitcoin. Namecoin can store data within its own blockchain. Its flagship use case is the censorship-resistant “top level domain” .bit (which is similar to .com or .net domains but independent of ICANN). These TLDs are stored as a “name”, for example “d/bitcoin” was one of the first that got registered on April 21, 2011.

Recent Namecoin rediscoveries

Last year we had Twitter Eggs and Blockheads which were rediscovered.

Earlier this year some people found out there were names that were registered as “punycodes”. For example the name “d/xn--8vh1d9ftiaa” can be decoded to┣▇▇▇═─

So I’ve been in the Punycodes Discord for a while, discussing Namecoin stuff, punycodes mostly but also other Namecoin stuff like identities (id/ prefix). Then 2 days ago (January 31st 2022) Adam McBride told me on Discord:

“Check out what’s happening in the Punycode Discord” — Adam McBride

I hadn’t seen it yet but user Swooty (admin of the NFT relics Discord) shared he found this ASCII Cat artwork encoded as a hex name:

ASCII Cat artwork found by Swooty

This is the involved tx for those wondering.

Then I realised “OMG I have to explore this too!”

So he shared his (I think) MySQL JSON export with over 700k items in it. Then the digging began…. A little while later he shared this wonderful tool he setup together with Poodle, which really helped a lot of people searching the big chunk of data.

After registering some short emoji names and symbols I stumbled upon these weird names:

What was this? Looks like Greek? So I pasted it in Google Translate.

It translated to “Gospel according to Matthew”

The nmcf part I think should represent "Namecoin Files". So there were 301 names which had this "Κατά Ματθαίον". The last number in the filename is the timestamp (in unix epoch format). When you convert 1404958387415979770 you get "Thursday, 10 July 2014 02:13 GMT" I noticed those names had some encoded values in it (for example nmcf/Κατά Ματθαίον/1/301/1404958387415979770 contained this in the name_values property):

Looks like gibberish, right? Well, when you paste this in a base64 decoder you get this:

OMFG, someone put the entire “Gospel according to Matthew” (all 28 chapters) on the Namecoin blockchain back in 2014?!?!?! That is f*cking awesome!! 🤩

Then my journey began to register all of the 301 parts, it took me all day (I guess something like 12–14 hours) before they were all confirmed. In the meantime I hope nobody else would register some 🤞

So when I finally got them I needed to write this article to share it with the world. What an honor to excavate this beautiful historical pieces. 🤩

I’ve made a Github repo for those that want to know a bit more of the data part.

I’d like to thank everyone in the Punycodes Discord that I was chatting with, it eventually led to this amazing discovery! 🙏🏻

AMEN (or should I say “Ἀμήν” ? 😉)





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