In the news · Language

The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript
wikimedia.org

For the linguists and theoretical code geeks (are there such people?) around here, the mysterious Voynich Manuscript has always baffled language experts and code breakers since it came to light a century ago. Dating to the middle ages, it is a bizarre compilation of strange language, what appears to be herbal medicine recipes, illustrations of plants that nobody can identify and a strange code that nobody can identify a cipher for.

It has been radiocarbon dated to the first half of the 15th century. The first mention of the text is in a letter from 1666 where it is said to have belonged to Emperor Rudolf II. There are so many conflicting theories about its age, origin and nature and a recent paper attempts to examine some of the wider questions (Here it is and it is Open Access).

Interestingly, some of the pages fold out to create a larger image:

foldout pages
wikimedia.org

There have been so many papers published, especially in the last forty years as it continues to baffle experts in every field. Is it a hoax? Is it gibberish? Is it coded? We’re no closer now than when it reappeared over a century ago.

There is an interesting documentary here.

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