Amid the me-too Voynich blog repost deluge of recent days comes – at long last – some genuinely new information courtesy of the Yale Daily News. From talking with the Beinecke’s Assistant Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts Kathryn James, we now learn that:-
- Andreas Sulzer (the film maker) was originally utterly convinced that the VMs was 17th century, and so had to completely rewrite the documentary script when the 15th century radiocarbon dating came through.
- Similarly, Kathryn James had to drop her own (16th century Paracelsian) Voynich theory for the same basic reason.
- Kevin Repp suggests that a DNA test on the vellum might help locate the where the cow (assuming it is neither a goat nor a gnu, etc) came from, while Kathryn James “anticipates [that Andreas] Sulzer will offer to finance [this] testing sooner or later”.
Actually, until such time as a Quattrocento animal DNA database gets constructed (and I’m personally not holding my breath for that), I suspect a far better test would simply be analyzing a minute scraping of ink from every folio. The documentary mentioned in passing that ink variations between batches were detectable - so, follow that simple idea through to the end, and you should end up peering back through time to the original bifolio nesting, ordering, and the construction methodology. This is such a simple process to execute, but I’m certain it would yield a fascinating high-level codicological picture, quite independent of (for example) contact transfer evidence or other art history evidence.
Would any Yale History students care to step forward for an interesting afternoon’s project?