Voynich

The solution to the Voynich manuscript.

Alas, it's prosaic quackery, not even interesting quackery.

By now, it was more or less clear what the Voynich manuscript is: a reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period, an instruction manual for the health and wellbeing of the more well to do women in society, which was quite possibly tailored to a single individual.

The script had hitherto proved resistant to interpretation and presented several hurdles. Medieval lettering is notoriously fickle: individual letter variations, styles and combinations are confusing at the best of times. I recognized at least two of the characters in the Voynich manuscript text as Latin ligatures, Eius and Etiam. Ligatures were developed as scriptorial short-cuts. They are composed of selected letters of a word, which together represent the whole word, not unlike like a monogram. An ampersand is just such an example. [...] Systematic study of every single character in the Lexicon identified further ligatures and abbreviations in the Voynich manuscript and set a precedent. It became obvious that each character in the Voynich manuscript represented an abbreviated word and not a letter. [...]

One other noticeable difference from the Herbarium Apuleius Platonicus is that not a single plant name or malady is to be found in the Voynich manuscript. This was problematic until I realized that not only had the folios of the manuscript been cropped (the images of flowers and roots have been severed and the tops of folios hacked) but, more importantly, the indexes that should have been there were now absent. Indexes are present in many other similar books: a system of cross-reference for illness, complaints, names of plants and page numbers. For the sake of brevity, the name of both plant and malaise were superfluous in the text so long as they could be found in the indexes matched with a page number. Recipes require an index to function in a reference book. The same recipe format is replicated throughout the manuscript: recipes for bathing solutions, tonics, tinctures, ointments, unguents, purgatives and fragrant fumigations -- and not a name in sight. Not only is the manuscript incomplete, but its folios are in the wrong order -- and all for the want of an index.


Update: Ok, apparently that's likely bullshit. Though probably the real answer is prosaic and boring anyway.

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9 Responses:

  1. jer says:

    "guilty of exactly the same plagiarism"
    "shamelessly plagiarized, word for word"

    Until very recently, copying was considered a virtue, particularly until shortly after the paperback was invented. Without efficient means of copying and distributing texts, there was no "guilt" or "shame" in copying, and indeed there was no copyright.

    • Nick L says:

      Plagiarism pre-dates copyright, just as the law of "passing off" pre-dates trademark law.

      If you sell me your "wholly new" treatise on ailments of the foot and I discover afterwards it's simply a thin rewrite of an ancient Greek text on the same topic with your name at the top, I don't need to wait for the invention of moveable type to know I was scanned.

  2. Cat Mara says:

    I swear, if the Voynich Manuscript turns out to be 15th Century GOOP, I will build an orbiting death-ray platform so I can rain fire down on this stinking world...

  3. tfb says:

    So, the pages have been cropped so all the plant names are missing, and the index is also missing and no-one ever repeats terms from the index in the text so all those terms are missing, too. How terribly convenient.

    I'm sure it's a lot more mundane than people often think: I'm also sure that this person has not solved it.

  4. Zippington T. Whatsit says:

    Now do the Codex Seraphinianus!

  5. Elusis says:

    Now there is speculation that it's turtles science fiction all the way down. https://twitter.com/EdmundGriffiths/status/906181851236229122

  6. nikita says:

    Decipherments like this pop up every few years, always only to be debunked soon. This one http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/306853/voynich-manuscript-written-in-two-languages is more interesting.

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