Monday, 11 May 2015

What is the Voynich Manuscript?

The Voynich manuscript, named so after the Polish book dealer, Wilfred Voynich, who acquired it in 1912, has baffled the world for centuries.

The hand illustrated book is a one of kind codex, constructed of calf skin and carbon-dated back to 15th Century Italy. It has a total 240 pages, although it is incomplete, as some of the pages appear to be missing. This could be due to rebinding, as the covers of the Voynich are not original.
It is filled it illustrations of plants and herbs, astronomy, biology diagrams and recipes and pullouts, however nobody knows exactly what any of it means, as the text is written in an unknown script. 
There is said to be some phrases or lines written in Latin, however they text seems to be unrelated to the images.  Some of the translated Latin is said to be derived from medieval languages of France or Italy, and a German note found next to one of the illustrations is unknown to be original in origin or that or a note later added.  

There is no punctuation present in themanuscript, although the script flows naturally, which is not characteristic of encoded lettering. There does seem to be some kind of structure of language in the text, though, for example some characters are present twice in some words, as with vowels in English. Common words do seem to repeat, and none of the bulk text is repeated in throughout the otherwise large book. There are no words consisting of more than ten or less than 2 letters.
Despite being studied by both American and British code breakers and professional and amateur cryptographers alike, none have succeeded in figuring out what the book is actually about.
Frustratingly for cryptographers, there are repeats of words that seem to be repeats of previously written words that do change only one letter, which worrying portray the writings as potential gibberish.

Since the script is undecipherable, the drawings are relied on to split the Voynich into chapters:
Herbal, Astronomical, Biological, Cosmological, Pharmaceutical and Recipes.
Strangely none of the plants or Herbs in the Herbal chapter cannot be identified. In the Pharmaceutical section the plants seem to be hybrids of different species; the roots of one, and heads and flowers of others connected together.

There are many theories out there of what the Voynich manuscript could be.

What’s your theory?

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