What is The Voynich Manuscript?
Discovered in an Italian monastery in the year 1912 by book dealer Wilfred Voynich, it is believed by historians to have been written in Europe. Carbon dating indicates the manuscript was created in the early 15th century, circa 1404 and 1438, during the Italian Renaissance. The book is composed of 240 pages made from a type of parchment produced using calf skin, known as vellum. It contains plant illustrations, diagrams, astronomical patterns and a mysterious text written left to right. The text appears to be composed of ‘words’ and seems to be arranged in short paragraphs. It appears to be a scientific work from the middle ages, but due to its unknown script, the contents are a complete mystery. For decades, cryptographers have been trying to decipher this text without success. This has led to many people claim the book is hoax, or that the writing is nonsense.
Possible Origin of The Voynich Manuscript:
Voynich believed the manuscript originated in England. Others believed that The Voynich Manuscript originates from the South of France, from a Cathar cult of Isis followers. Some researchers suggested the Far East, as the structure of the manuscript text is considered by them to exhibit patterns that could point to an oriental language. Others believe it originates from Northern Italy. There are both Italian and German influences in the MS. Some herbals to which the Voynich manuscript is most similar in style all originate from Nothern Italy: the Italian branch of the Tractatus de Herbis and especially the alchemical herbals.
U.S. botanist, Dr. Arthur Tucker, studied this book and pointed out something in particular about the illustrations of the plants. Tucker suggested at least 37 of these 303 plants would have grown in North America (now known as Mexico) during the 15th and 16th century and believes the text is, therefore, written in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, which originated in Central Mexico during the 7th century. It was only after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century, that the alphabet was replaced with Latin. Varieties of Nahuatl are still spoken by approximately 1.5 million Nahua people in Central Mexico.
Tucker and his fellow researcher Rexford Talbert said one plant in the book bears a resemblance to the picture of a soap plant (xiuhamolli) seen in a Mexican codex from 1552. While another example includes the illustration of the Ipomoea murucoides, taken from the Mexican Codex Cruz-Badianus, which has an identical style to the Ipomoea arborescens in the manuscript. The researchers suggest 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in The Voynich Manuscript have been depicted in ancient Mexican books covering botany across Texas, California and Nicaragua.
If the book was indeed written in the language of Nahuatl, the botanists claim they can find the name of the plants in the manuscript and may be able to use these to form a basic code from which to crack the rest of the text. For instance, a Voynich illustration of a cactus pad or fruit is shown near the name ‘nashtli’, which Tucker and Talbert claim is a variant of the word ‘nochtil’ – the Nahuatl name for the fruit of the prickly pear.
Comments From Our Readers:
After looking at this for roughly 20 minutes I think this could be a plant distillation reverse engineering formula…Greg
This looks like strange mathematics or the manuscript could be the biggest joke I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen these symbols in any spoken language…Dave
The illustrations may be reflective of musical chords. From my viewpoint of the first 15 or so pages there appears to be a pattern of the symbols indicating three “states” per symbol: these would be minor, mean and major. In English there are two symbols for each letter in the alphabet. Lets assume three things: there are letters, capitol letters and bold font letters indicating the importance of each letter. Each symbol has two characters. Every “word”, indicated by spaces, is a musical chord. For the first 15 pages I can see rhythmic patterns. In my point of view, that would suggest either poetry, music or some other format displaying structure. Thus more symbols are added one or two at a time every so often. There are certain examples of similar format in modern languages such as vocabulary books for children and music. Anyways, just my 2 cents…William
Let’s be honest here, the carbon dating was for the vellum only, not the paints. The paints were not dated using this or any similar method. There are scholars who believe the paints were typical of this period of history. In my opinion, it could have been written after 1492. My educated guess is that this was a hoax created by a scholar of that time who wanted to make a name for himself by appearing to possess information that no one else could claim to have access to…Luke
Strange, I don’t recall ever learning that Aztecs (or any other Native Americans before Christopher Columbus’ arrival) having books made of parchment. As I remember, the few tribes that actually had written languages were inscribed in stone…Josh
Hmmm…Columbus arrived in the Americas in 1492. This means someone was there before Columbus…Jana
The book looks like recipes for medicinal purposes…Scott
I’m not so sure this is Nahuatl. For example, the drawing of the 3 spherical wheels resembles the Milky Way Galaxy and the photo of the women in the womb was possibly a cloning device. Other drawings show a strong knowledge of the human biological and anatomical structure. ET’s perhaps? Emily
I noticed this word “qotte8g” appears again and again on one page. If the manuscript were a hoax, why would someone put in so much effort? Jeff
It appears the botanists have overlooked significant historical evidence that consistently points to a European 15th century origin – such as the quire numbering, the castle, the hairstyles, the clothes, the crossbow, the parallel hatching. They also managed to overlook the fact that a number of other Voynich researchers had looked at Nahuatl before them: and it’s hardly a big surprise that their claimed way of reading a few scant words as Nahuatl fails to make any obvious sense of the rest of the text… that’s how bad Voynich theories usually work. Basically, their whole way of approaching the Voynich Manuscript is superficial, overoptimistic and narrow, when it’s a far more complex (and multi-faceted) historical and cryptographic problem than they imagine it to be…Andrew
I don’t believe this. The people illustrated in the manuscript appear to be in European Garb, the sun has a face like in European Art of the time, and there is a goat and a crossbow, neither of which are associated with the Aztecs…Explain that. Sharon
This manuscript is a fake! Just look at the evidence; Found in 1912 by an antique book-dealer… Oh how convenient! Amy
It amazes me that it never occurred to these professors to check with archeologists from Mexico or Latin America? And they are Nahua people still in Mexico? Why not just ask them? To me, this book shows a very detailed sophisticated mind to paint and go to the extreme to study those plants and properties. It’s a botanical study. Oh, and by the way 1404 was before the European conquest! Ronald