The Voynich Manuscript - Decoded?

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The Most Misunderstood Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript is quite possibly the most famous book that has never been read . No one knows who authored the manuscript, who the illustrator was, nor do they understand the language it's written in. Not one word of it has ever been agreed upon.

This particular book of secrets is composed of an intricate text that appears to mimic a language. To date, no one has discovered another example of it's kind. The illustrations are of plants and roots painted in blues, yellows, reds, greens and brown.

The Voynich Manuscript is believed to have been written in the 15th or 16th century. The antiquated, vellum pages have been radiocarbon dated. The results yielded that the paper was made of a type of animal skin that lived during that period of time. The paintings were done in pigments that could have been the traditional type used in medieval times. Scientists were careful to point out that they tested the age of the materials used in the paper so the text and illustrations could have obviously been added much later.

The Voynich Manuscript has been examined by linguistic experts, forensic experts, professional cryptographers and thousands of amateur sleuths. The cryptic text has been analyzed in syntax and grammar by millions of eyes and many computer programs. Still, not one person has been able to answer the questions unequivocally, if at all.

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Has the Code Been Cracked?

Edith Sherwood, Ph.D., has been trying to decipher the meaning of the Voynich Manuscipt for over a decade. Her belief was that it was written in an Italian dialect and composed in anagrams. Dr. Sherwood thought it possible that earlier attempts to decode the manuscript were unsuccessful because the process to decode it was more complicated than it needed to be.

Dr. Sherwood's findings are very compelling. In her abstract, "The Voynich Manuscript Decoded?" She has several examples of text that she deciphered based on her analysis and beliefs. Dr. Sherwood is convinced that Leonardo Da Vinci is the author of the Voynich Manuscript. She has illustrated examples of many areas she believes she sees Da Vinci's signature hidden within the text to back up her claims.

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"All our knowledge has it's origins in our perceptions." ~Leonardo Da Vinci

What is Known about the Voynich Manuscript?

This fantastic mystery persists due to the unknown origin and meaning of the content. The modern history of the Voynich Manuscript was revived by rare book dealer, Wilfried Voynich, in 1912. He purchased the famous book from an Italian Jesuit College. It's ownership is debated and not well documented for over a century of time prior to his acquisition.

  • No other known document exists in it's language.
  • It is not clearly divided into chapters
  • Has no subtitles
  • Has no subheadings
  • It has no visible corrections
  • It doesn't appear to have any words that are more than 10 characters
  • Each page seems to begin with a "capital" letter
  • Appears to be no punctuation used throughout
  • Has six "sections" of material thought to be: Biology, Herbal, Pharmacology, Astrology, Cosmology and Recipes.

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Da Vinci: Self Portrait

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Well documented is that the manuscript was owned by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II of Hapsburg. It is thought that he purchased the book and kept it in his vast library. Rudolph had an impressive collection of books for that time period. A large portion of the library contained books about alchemy and the occult. Rudolph hoped to be able to prove the book was written by an English Monk named Roger Beacon. He never did.

I think it's interesting to note that there was no actual standardized language or pronunciation in Bohemia during the renaissance period. The Czech Language didn't come into existence until the 15th and 16th century. Perhaps this is why there was so much secrecy involved in the manuscript.

The modern day mystery was picked up again in 1912 when Wilfred Voynich rediscovered the manuscript from a Jesuit college at Frascati near Rome. Voynich became fascinated with the manuscript and trying to decode the mysteries of the book. He too, was unsuccessful.

The famous manuscript was then purchased from the estate of the widow of Wilfred Voynich by J. P. Kraus who then donated it to the Beineke Library where it remains today. It still baffles and frustrates those who dare to crack the code.

"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." ~Leonardo Da Vinci

Did Leonardo Da Vinci Write the Voynich Manuscript?

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519) was known as a genius of many talents and interests. He painted, sculpted, fancied himself an inventor. Da Vinci was interested in science, biology and anatomy and physiology. Some historians claim he had a reputation for being a prankster while others will deny there is any evidence of that at all.

Da Vinci had a history of hiding his signature within his paintings as it wasn't common during that period of time to sign them. His painting were of many dimensions and would often render a new surprise when viewed in front of a mirror. Also widely known is that Da Vinci's notebooks were written backwards. A mirror had to be held in front of it to read the entries. It was believed he did this so that only a person intelligent enough to figure this out would be permitted to read it.

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A markerVilla Mondragone -
Via Mondragone, 00179 Rome, Italy
[get directions]

Enthusiastic researchers gathered in the Villa Mondragone near Frascati, May, 2012. It is believed Voynich bought the manuscript there in 1912. Interested people across the world gathered to present their opinions and newest discoveries about the Voynich Manuscript.

Is is a hoax? Is it a language that has never been recorded on any other document in the world due to the fact that is isn't of this world? One school of thought is that it comes from another world and that's why we can't decipher the hieroglyphics.

Does it contain recipes for spells? Magic? Medicine? Or is the the worlds longest reigning and most elegant forgery in history?

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"One should not desire the impossible." ~Leonardo Da Vinci

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Comments 27 comments

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

realhousewife,

nice hub that you have here

i never heard of the voynich manuscript until i came across your article

voted up


Isaac White profile image

Isaac White 3 years ago from Welcome to my beautiful world, where magic is no longer a myth.

wow, truly fascinating. never heard of this manuscript. it was fascinating to read though, thanks for sharing with us.

I. White


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

You really put a lot of good work in this. Thank you for your effort.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Incredible information and new to me, interesting facts and well researched too. Voted up and interesting


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Another great mystery to add to the pile. Maybe it was someone from the future who forgot and left it behind.

Maybe is was someone raised by wolves.

hahahaha


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks everybody:). I was so interested in this book...I hoped that it was new info for some people. I'd love for one of you guys to go ahead and crack it for me!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Personally Lela, I think it was a mom who maybe had about 10 kids and she was sick of repeating herself! Haha. One day she said to her kids, "you're ALL gonna learn this! this is how you cook tapioca! " lol


bizna profile image

bizna 3 years ago from NAIROBI - KENYA

This is my first time to hear about this voynich manuscript. Very unique and interesting.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

Interesting. You know, I have always been suspicious of those who are said to - or claim to - speak "In Tongues." The comment about their being no alterations in the MS in your article makes me think that it may have been written "In Tongues," so to speak.

Er...was tapioca discovered back then!?

Bob x


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

That sounds fascinating. I'd never heard of it before, but I'll be watching to see if anyone does manage to crack the code. Thank you for telling us about it.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks bizna! I was so glad to find that many people had not heard of these documents. So interesting isn't it? I would just love to know what the darn thing says!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

OHHH! Bob that's a great point! Maybe it was written in some sort of religious text? I was also wondering about how they would effectively "copy" a manuscript back then. I suppose if they wrote forward and pressed a dry page up next to a wet one - it might form a copy but not if the text was backward. Maybe there's something to the backward mirroring? Maybe it was a language that didn't stick? Maybe it was a bored kid who liked to draw and it says stuff like, "my dad can beat your dads ass!" Haha


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks BlossomSB, I was sucked in by this mystery as soon as I heard about it. Have been following a few different blogs for a while:). I do wish we could understand it!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Although Roger Bacon is believed by many historians to have been the author of the Voynich MSS, there is little substantiation that I know of for that claim. Regardless, Kelly, you have exposed your readers to an interesting conundrum in the form of this fascinating manuscript that no one knows exactly what it says. Like some of the hubs - definitely not yours, m'dear - that I have read. :)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks Drbj - it's a pretty interesting case isn't it? I love unsolved mysteries and maybe that is why it's awesome that it's goes unsolved. If we found out that it was written by a kid who made up his own language just for fun? Think of all those people dedicating their lives to figuring that out! Wow!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I really enjoyed reading about this fascinating manuscript. You did an excellent job explaining all the problems with the identification of the author, the message and identifying the language. The manuscript looks beautiful Voted up and awesome.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi Pamela! Isn't the artwork gorgeous? It's just so fascinating...I can't help feeling if we did solve this riddle...it probably would lose its allure:) thank you so much!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I think you may be right about losing mystique of if this mystery is solved.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

I do think some mysteries should just remain mysteries. Everyone wants to know everybody else's secret!


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Interesting stuff, it makes you wonder which will be solved first? The Voynich manuscript or Krytpos? I vaguely recall reading somewhere recently that new computer techniques had been developed that might be useful in solving this. Any word on that?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Hi FitnezzJim - So far - no one has broken the code for the Voynich...on Kryptos - they have solved three of the four (I believe it's four) codes. The fourth has not yet been broken!


AudraLeigh 3 years ago

I have ot heard of suncha book either. But, I am fascinated by the illustration in the books! You found great photographs! Whether or not this book was a hoax, I am curious to find out about pharmacology. Maybe scientists could learn something from that time. This was an excellent piece! I read it three times through! Great job!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

Wow! I've never heard of this. Too cool! And we humans like a good mystery. But yeah...it would be so hard to decipher if it's the only example of its kind. Even decoding the hieroglyphics of the Mayans was easier because there were different examples in different contexts that would provide clues. Awesome hub!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thank you so much Audra! I did a ton of research for this one because there were so many contradictions. (You just can't believe everything you read on the internet:) hahaha

I really would love to know what it says after all the decades of searching, you know?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thanks Cyndi - I have found myself wondering if it was just written by some bored kid. Maybe he doesn't do terrific copies so his plants don't really look close to anything in reality? lol


veronicasullivan profile image

veronicasullivan 3 years ago from Toronto

So interesting! It seems very plausible that it would be written in not only a rare dialect, but also anagrammed (is that a word?) The author was probably trying to protect his work/discoveries/research from plagerists or thieves.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

That's a great theory veronicasullivan! Maybe it was a language only known to one or a few people? The King really thought it contained magic spells or recipes for potions. I love wondering about it! Thank you!

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