The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript?

In 1912, antique book dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich purchased a strange unreadable manuscript near Rome. Despite a century of efforts, it has defied all code-breaking attempts. What is the Voynich Manuscript?

The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript?

At this very moment, a conference is underway in Rome, a sort of 100-year celebration of Voynich’s purchase. Various experts will hold presentations with such topics as:

  • Forensic investigations of the Voynich MS
  • Voynichese word structure and statistics
  • Statistical Properties of the Voynich Manuscript Text – How Can we Make Sense of Contradicting Results?

So, what do we know about the Voynich Manuscript? Well, not very much as it turns out. Its author is unknown. It has been carbon-dated with 95% accuracy to 1404-1438, making it ~600 years old. The earliest known owner is believed to be Emperor Rudolf II (1552 to 1612). It contains about 240 pages, many of which are filled with drawings of unidentified plants, astrological diagrams, and images of strange women bathing in basins that are connected to each other with elaborate pipe networks (see the picture above).

The text itself remains a complete mystery. The Voynich Manuscript was written from left to right and appears to lack punctuation. The exact alphabet used is unknown. However, 20-30 letters would account for almost all of the text. Unfortunately, all attempts to map these letters on to existing languages have fallen short. Many scholars have put forth possible explanations for the mysterious text, ranging from unknown dialects to some form of code. But no one knows for certain.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

All this begs the question, is the Voynich Manuscript even authentic? Over the past few decades, numerous scholars have speculated it’s actually some kind of ancient hoax. However, if it’s a hoax, it’s one of epic proportions. The Voynich Manuscript is incredibly complex with many subtle characteristics.

At this point, we must conclude our knowledge of the Voynich Manuscript is slim and driven more by what we don’t know than what we do. Still, researchers continue to study it, looking for that elusive breakthrough. Maybe one day soon, someone will crack the text and at last, we’ll be able to learn the tome’s true secrets.

Recent Comments

  • Anonymous
    May 14, 2012 - 3:46 pm · Reply

    We know very little about the language, it’s true. Most people believe it is in code. I happen to believe it is a real, but defunct script. The imagery appears – after some years’ study of it – to have originated in Hellenistic and Roman works, from the period c.3rdC BC-3rdC AD.

    Copying antique texts was a popular thing to do during the early fifteenth century, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. The most important thing it reveals is that the text, too, may not be an original fifteenth-century author’s creation.

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