View Full Version : The Voynich Manuscript

Friday, December 16th, 2005, 10:48 AM

In 1912, the antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich bought a number of mediaeval manuscripts from an undisclosed location in Europe. Among these was an illustrated manuscript codex of 234 pages, written in an unknown script.

Voynich took the manuscript to the United States and started a campaign to have it deciphered. Now, almost 100 years later, the Voynich manuscript still stands as probably the most elusive puzzle in the world of cryptography. Not a single word of this 'Most Mysterious Manuscript', written probably in the second half of the 15th Century, can be understood.

Attached to the manuscript was a letter in Latin dated 1666 from Johannes Marcus Marci of Kronland, once rector of the Charles University of Prague, to the learned Jesuit Athanasius Kircher in Rome, offering the manuscript for decryption and mentioning that it had once been bought by Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia (1552-1612) for 600 gold ducats. The letter further mentioned that it was believed that the author of the manuscript was Roger Bacon (the Franciscan friar who lived from 1214 to 1294).

Another early owner of the manuscript was identified by Voynich when, on the lower margin of the first folio, under special illumination, the erased signature of Jacobus de Tepenec was found. Tepenec was one of Rudolf's private physicians and the director of his botanical gardens and he must have owned the manuscript between 1608, when he received his title "de Tepenec", and 1622, when he died. The manuscript has changed hands sevetal times, and despite some minor gaps in our knowledge its path from the court of Rudolf to its final resting place, the Beinecke Rare book library of Yale University, can be traced fairly accurately.

The manuscript became famous when, in the 1920's, William Romaine Newbold proposed a spectacular decipherment with which he meant to prove that it was indeed written by Roger Bacon, and that Bacon had not only dreamt of, but actually built microscopes and telescopes. When this 'solution' of the manuscript was disproven by John M. Manly in 1931, the manuscript gradually became a pariah in world of mediaeval studies. In the 1940's and 1960's the eminent cryptanalyst William F. Friedman made several valiant attempts at deciphering it, aided by groups of experts, but also he did not find any solution.

In 1961 the book was acquired by H. P. Kraus (a New York book antiquarian) for the sum of $24,500. He later valued at $160,000, but unable to find a buyer he donated it to Yale University. Though officially registered as MS 408, it is still best known as the Voynich Manuscript.

More information here (http://www.voynich.nu/)


Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, 12:45 PM
Someone recently decoded it as an attempt to transliterate Nahuatl. The images correspond to the 1tch century Badianus manuscript and the paint used in the manuscript possibly contains New World atacemite. From the style of the Voynich MS it was written in the 15th century and the scientific dating of the parchment suggests it was written in the early 15th century. The MS now looks colonial New Spanish. However the syntax of the MS suggests it is written in a tonal language which Nahuatl is not. Oto-Manguean languages (Oaxaca and so on) are tonal as are some Mayan languages.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, 02:19 PM
What's the name of this guy and where is the translation? The Voynich manuscript seems to have lots of information concerning plants. I'd be interested in that.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, 02:31 PM
What's the name of this guy and where is the translation? The Voynich manuscript seems to have lots of information concerning plants. I'd be interested in that.

These are the authors.
http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue100/hg100-feat-voynich.html?ts=1390369202&signature=402e6a559a0e56b5343a6f4d002492 fa&ts=1480775168&signature=6f7c445f84cfc7abb8cf6788df5bce bc


Mesoamerican tonal languages are said to use a similar syntax to those from Asia so a New Spanish origin now looks most likely.

Sunday, December 4th, 2016, 07:32 PM
Since the pages themselves have been dated between 1404-1438, my guess would be it is not a hoax.

It could be a code to hide pharmacological and esoteric knowledge from the church at the time.

It reminds me though, there are hundreds of extinct languages and dialects (and possibly alphabets) in Europe.
Some of them we might never know about, and may have been peculiar to one village.

There may also have been underground movements that survived church persecution since pagan groups, Mithraists, and "heretical" groups were forced to go into hiding - perhaps centered around groups of monks who came from one now-linguistically extinct region.

I think this is very likely.

If I had to think large within current conspiracy theory however - perhaps it describes the fauna, and the customs of a journey into the inner earth at the time.

Monday, December 5th, 2016, 04:44 AM
An old but unpopular theory was that MS 408 is written in an unknown North Germanic language and another is that it is written in a Germanic-Romance creole. By far most analysis has agreed the manuscript to be written in a tonal language such as Chinese, and tonal IE languages are few for example in the Punjab. If the MS isn't New world then its East Asian. similarities have been noted between the script used in the Voynich MS and an old Sumatran script. Sumatran is not a tonal language either however.