Voynich Manuscript

The infuriating Voynich Manuscript (A.K.A. “Beinecke MS 408”, or “the VMs”) contains about 240 pages of curious drawings, incomprehensible diagrams and undecipherable handwriting from five centuries ago. Whether a work of cipher genius or loopy madness, it is hard to deny it is one of those rare cases where the truth is many times stranger than fiction.

Its last four hundred years of history can be squeezed into eight bullet points (though there’s much more detail here if you’re interested):-

  • Circa 1600-1610, it was (very probably) owned by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II
  • Circa 1610-1620, it was (very probably) owned by Rudolf II’s “Imperial Distiller” Jacobus z Tepenecz
  • Circa 1630-1645, it was owned by (otherwise unknown) German Bohemian alchemist Georg Baresch
  • Circa 1645-1665, it was owned by Johannes Marcus Marci of Cronland, who gave it to Athanasius Kircher
  • For the next few centuries, it was (almost certainly) owned by Jesuits & moved around Europe
  • In 1912, it was bought (probably for peanuts) by dodgy antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid Voynich
  • He bequeathed it to his wife Ethel, who bequeathed it to Anne Nill, who sold it to H. P. Kraus in 1961
  • In 1969, Kraus donated it to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

However, before 1600 things quickly get murky, to the point that the list of “very probably true” things we can say about the Voynich Manuscript’s early art history is embarrassingly short:-

  • Radiocarbon tests carried out in 2009 date itsvellum to between 1404 and 1438 with 95% certainty, though as yet there is no cast-iron proof that the text and drawings were added straight away
  • The clear, upright handwriting is most often described as being reminiscent of either Carolingian minuscule (800-1200) or its Italian Quattrocento revival form, the “humanist hand” (circa 1400-1500) – the radiocarbon dating points to the latter
  • Several of its drawings have parallel hatching (similar to Leonardo da Vinci’s); so it was probably made after 1410 if from Germany, after 1440 if from Florence, or after 1450 if from elsewhere
  • Two owners have added writing in [what appear to be] fifteenth century hands; so it was probably made before 1500
  • Some marginalia (in the zodiac section) appear to be in Occitan, where the spelling most resembles that known to be from Toulon; so it is probable that the manuscript spent some time in South West France
  • There is strong codicological evidence that the current page order and binding order differ from the original i.e. that both the folio (leaf) numbers and quire (group) numbers were added at a later date
  • A small number of the manuscript’s plant drawings do seem to depict actual plants (f2v has a water lily, for example), though most do not

It should be pretty clear that we have two quite separate types of historical data here – pre-1500 (codicological) and post-1600 (archival) – with no obvious way of crossing the roughly century-long gap between them.

My opinion (which you can take or leave) is that if we put more palaeographic effort into reading the VMs’ marginalia, we would very probably improve on this unsatisfactory situation. For example, I believe that the top line of f116v says [something like]por le bon simon s(int)…“, and that this was possibly even written by the original author. Furthermore, I suspect taht some of the ‘chicken scratch’ marginalia may be ink blots saying “Simon”, and that these were added in the middle of the 15th century, near the start of the VMs’ life. But who was this “Simon”?

Putting all the wobbly factuality to one side, this VMs account would be woefully incomplete if it failed to mention the sheer intellectual romance of such a mystery-filled mega-object, the tragi-comedy of all the mad theories surrounding it, let alone the blood-spattered trail of ruined reputations and wasted lives dripping behind this inscrutable “Sphinx”. For centuries, it has acted as a blank screen for numerous people to project their (often somewhat demented) historical / cryptological / novelistic fantasies onto, or if not that then an academic cliff to throw their hard-earned reputation over: yet recently there are signs that a few people are (at long last) starting to look at the VMs with (relatively) clear eyes. (Better late than never, I suppose!)

Arguably the biggest question to face up to is this: when people try to understand the VMs, why does it all go so wrong? I suspect that the confusion arises from the central paradox of the Voynich Manuscript – the way that its text resembles some unknown (perhaps lost, secret, or private) simple language while simultaneously exhibiting many of the properties you might expect to see of a complex ciphertext (i.e. an enciphered text). Any proposed explanation should therefore not only bridge the century-long historical gap, but also demonstrate why the VMs appears both ‘language-y’ and ‘cipher-y’ at the same time.

To illustrate this, here are some practical examples of the way Voynichese letters ‘dance’ to a tricky set of structural rules. Individual letter-shapes frequently occur…

  • …as the first letter of a page (e.g. the ornate “gallows” letters, EVA “t”, “k”, “p”, “f”)
  • …as the first letter of a paragraph (e.g. EVA “t”, “k”, “p”, “f”)
  • …as the first letter of a line (e.g. EVA “s”)
  • …as the last letter of a line (e.g. EVA “m” or “am”)
  • …as the first letter of a word (e.g. EVA “qo”)
  • …as the last letter of a word (e.g. EVA “y” or “dy”)
  • …as separated pairs on the top line of a page (e.g. EVA “p” or “f”)
  • …as a paired letter (e.g. EVA “ol”, “or”, “al”, “ar”)
  • …unrepeated, except in EVA “ee” / “eee” / “ii” / “iii” sets.

…and so on. From a code-breaker’s point of view, this basically rules out Renaissance polyalphabetic ciphers, because they use multiple alphabets (or offsets into alphabets) to destroy the outward signs of internal structure – and what we see here has even more signs of internal structure than normal languages. Yet just to be confusing, some of the letter-shapes resemble shorthand both in their shape and their apparent positioning within words.

So… is ‘Voynichese’ a language, a shorthand, a cipher, or perhaps some carefully-orchestrated jumble of all three? Right now, nobody can say – but perhaps it is this ‘hard-to-pin-down-ness’ that has managed to keep the Voynich’s mystery alive for all this time. Once you can appreciate that Voynichese is almost the opposite of chaotic – that its absence of randomness is possibly its most remarkable aspect – but yet none of the many visible patterns seem to help us decrypt it, you’ll perhaps begin your own journey into its mystery. Enjoy!

206 Thoughts on “Voynich Manuscript

  1. Pingback: Six Questions with Nick Pelling: Author of The Curse of the Voynich » Mysterious Writings

  2. Nick,
    Do you recall who gave the opinion that the script was like “Carolingian minuscule or its Quattrocento revival”?

  3. Diane: Barbara Barrett argued for this most forcefully, but many others have pointed out the same thing many times.

  4. OK – thanks – I’ll see if I can find a citation.

    It’s very kind of you to answer these questions on posts four years old (and still solid gold). I should name you as technical advisor, I think.


  5. Witchcraft?.

    A “how to” instruction book. A form of ciphered communication in times of persecution. Fixation on herbs, the female body and astronomy.

  6. avatar Diane O'Donovan on May 7, 2013 at 11:36 am said:

    Nick – all the facts (and deafening absence of evidence) considered, it is time that the solitary second-hand allegation that Rudolf had ever owned the book really ought to be dropped.

    The known provenance of ms Beinecke 408 begins with Tepenec and passes through Baresch-and-Marci to Kircher.

    That’s it.

    I’ve just enquired of Rene Zandbergen, as the person most likely to be au fait with the latest information, if we had any more evidence for that reported assertion by Mnishovsky thanfor the other two – vis. Bacon’s authorship and the 600 ducats.

    Rene seemed to find the question distressing, but from his responses, I gather than the answer is the same for all three of those assertions.

    They are things which Marci says Mnishovsky alleged.

    No proof of, or supporting evidence for, *any* of the three has ever been found.

    The Baconian authorship has generally been discarded, I think it’s fair to say.

    Rene Z. himself has argued in various ways to minimise the “600 ducats” – no record of any such amount has ever turned up in any relevant account, just as the manuscript has never been found in any Habsburg inventory.

    So – logically – all three are equally unsupported ideas which if maintained may serve only to misdirect research.

    I’ll post the same on my blog.

  7. avatar Amit Gupta on June 16, 2013 at 8:05 am said:

    I have solved the mystery of Voynich manuscript.
    The cipher code’s are with me.

  8. Amit: why are you so sure that your decryption is the correct decryption?

    It is relatively easy to devise a plausible decryption for a few words of the Voynich, extraordinarily hard to sustain one for a whole page, excruciatingly hard to do the same for the entire manuscript.

  9. avatar Joao on July 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm said:

    First of all let me thank you for your wonderful blog. I am no code-breaker and never had the “brains” to even try once to decypher any text or manuscript whatosever. I’ve “landed” into your world because of McCormick notes (Which I think if they’re actually encrypted code messages it wasn’t wrote by him) but it’s not because of those weird notes I am about to comment but about the absolutely remarkable and everestian top cypher called The Voynich Manuscript. I already read dozens of texts and material about it and I still don’t understand how contemporary people still say (even if they say he was not the one) that friar Roger Bacon wrote the manuscript. For God sake’s, the University of Arizona technicians already examined it in 2009 thru RadioCarbon and dated it with 95% probability to the 15th century. Roger Bacon died in 1294… that’s the 13th Century!

  10. Joao: it’s only a few centuries, too small a period to get really upset over… the Voynich theories involving aliens and time travel are the ones that you really have to watch out for. 🙂

  11. avatar Joao on July 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm said:

    Well Nick, those theories I can handle it very well… if I start to read ufos or something similar, I just click that useful X bottom on my upper right corner of my webbrowser. eheheh

  12. Joao: if I did that for every rubbish Voynich theory I see on the Internet, I’d probably wear my browser’s [X] button out. 😉

  13. avatar Joao on July 29, 2013 at 9:27 am said:

    @Nick: Lol. Well Nick, there is an absolute certainty about the images: They were drawn on the manuscript before the enigmatic writtings. Although, many say the drawings about the flowers doesn’t resemble anything seen in our world, we can suppose the creator of them was very childish while illustrating them. The illustrations are so bad delineated that the author could be picturing a poppy, but the thing seems to go awfully wrong.

  14. avatar Joao on July 30, 2013 at 9:51 am said:

    Nick can you point out the best non-fiction book about the Voynich? I don’t know if this is correct, but your book at Amazon UK is being sold for a staggering $1,177.83????? (http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0955316006/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new). A mistake? What do you think about Gerry Kenedy’s book about it? Thanks

  15. Joao: ah, that is because you are looking at the Amazon US site (.com), whereas I sell it new for £9.95 on the Amazon UK site (.co.uk). Sorry, but that’s just the way that Amazon Marketplace works.

    Of course, when I stop selling it, the price will shoot up to silly levels… but for now it’s still affordable. 🙂

    PS: if you order direct from Compelling Press instead, I’ll sign your copy & add your name anagrammed at the front: http://www.compellingpress.com/voynich/

  16. @Nick: Thank you for the info. About the high price, it was a typo in the UK ackronym. I meant US. Ok, I am in doubt about buying or your book or Gerry Kenedy’s. I made a bit of research and you two seem to hold the best info about the Manuscript even if both of you go in different directions. Maybe I buy both. You publisher is based in the UK? I usually use Amazon UK because the delivery to Portugal is much cheaper rather than acquire something from the US. Have you read “The Voynich Manuscript: The Unsolved Riddle of an Extraordinary Book Which has Defied Interpretation for Centuries” by gerry Kennedy? If so, it’s any good? Thanks again.

  17. Joao: Kennedy & Churchill’s book is readable and a good all-round reference, but Curse contains fairly cutting-edge research – I’d advise getting both, they are completely different beasts.

    Incidentally, the postage to Portugal is lower from Compelling Press than from Amazon Marketplace – I should have increased the postage charge last year but never got round to. Buy it before I change my mind! 😉

  18. avatar Joao on July 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm said:

    Nick: Thanks for wasting your time replying to my questions. Unfortunately you make business with PayPal, an e-commerce payment company I had a grave issue back in 2005. If I am to buy your book will be thru Amazon UK regardless of shipment costs. No autograph for me I guess. 🙁 Anyway, I went to René Zandbergen’s website as you had pointed and after reading some pages I feel I am becoming more and more addicted to know about this, as you say correctly, infuriating manuscript. For me the major key before talking about cyphers or cryptos is the ultimate question: What the purpose of the manuscript? Why coding it? Secret remedies using botanics? If it was written in subsequent years by other persons, there surely have to be some sort of keys to allow the coding to continue. As everybody says… an altogether baffling, enigmatic and perplexing mystery.

  19. Joao: I’ll have a word with Compelling Press’s shipping department (i.e. me) and will see what I can do about adding a dedication. 😉

    My Voynich “old-timer” perspective is that anything to do with motives or reasons are best left for discussion over a beer or two. Though fun, such talk is only ever a distraction from the gritty business of working out what actually happened. 🙂

  20. avatar WL Holland on September 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm said:

    Hi I dont know Latin, but just take a look at the Trotula and compare it with the VMS? I think it must be that, if text relates to drawings… There should be enough keys to start. You can see for example a white lily. They were mixed with honey. So the word honey must be on that page. Etc. Also the Viola Tricolor is clearly visible. What was it used for? Skin, cold, cough, high bloodpressure, indigestion etc. So you can expect these words to be present in some language. Please check trotula connection, I am not smart enough!

  21. avatar mindy dunn on October 7, 2013 at 9:55 am said:

    Just wanted to post an update. Last night I finished a page on Elizabeth, Mary, their as yet unborn children, john, and jesus, and zachariah. Note: Zachariah, Mary, and John were mentioned by name. Elizabeth and Jesus were derived because of the story. Oh, Herod and his tax was also mentioned by name. Fairly similar to the biblical version, except it named a place of refuge, which I have likely identified.

    In addition, I figured out how to read one of the pages that has a column of letters separate from the text. I am super excited about this find and have just begun translation of the page.

    Also, I want to let people know, thus far, all the stories seem to be historic, and so far, even the myths have provided data which makes them seem more historic than mythological. Also, although some of the stories I have shared are religious, not all stories I have translated are. Further, not all religious stories are christian. Thus far at least one page is muslim, and at least one more may also be (the translated page is about a famous imam). Further, ancient myths are also present. And finally, there are likely pre christian jewish stories in the book. Currently, one page I have partially completed may reference a fairly famous Jewish king. Only because that page is not complete, I hesitate to state for certain the page is about the Jewish king i believe it references. I shall update on that later.

  22. avatar Jeff Haley on October 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm said:

    Hi Nick

    Long time since we talked last. Hope you are well. Did you see the report of the analysis by Marcelo Montemurro?

  23. avatar Jeff Haley on October 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm said:

    Simon in the margins? Remember Dee saying he say in Prague a book with strange symbols. Well….

    Could Simon Baccalaureus Pragensis have written it already in Prague and this had been passed to Baresch?

  24. avatar Patrick David on October 21, 2013 at 1:31 am said:


    Just got my reproduction Voynich manuscript at the link above. great for researching the manuscript. it handmade and got the full foldout and everything.

  25. Wow, I really want that reproduction book (I’m a graphic designer and love things like that).
    Unfortunately I can’t afford it, but I can afford Nicks book, so I shall be buying one from your website soon. Sounds like a good read, I’m interested in reading more about the manuscript.

  26. Pingback: Episode 65: Voynich Manuscript

  27. I think, author of the ”voynich manuscript” knew the prime numbers

  28. hakan: errrm… why?

  29. Because, a prime number has no positive divisors. And he (she) also did so.

  30. hakan: ok, but what in the Voynich Manuscript are you looking at that displays things with no positive divisors?

  31. Mr. Pelling, i am working on. I believe, i have found a small clue. But i need more positive evidence. Whichever is most convenient to work in the first alphabet? Currier, EVA, Bennett or even? This is a big problem. Sorry, My English is not enough. Hopefully you can understand what I mean. Thank you.

  32. hakan: I’m most comfortable in EVA, as are most of my Voynich world readers. 🙂

  33. OK, many thanks

  34. Emergency! Brain error! This is a full dependency. What to expect in the final stages of Voynich Dependency Disease?

  35. hakan: apparently there are some online support groups for the untreatably Voyniched. 🙂

  36. This is a challenge to human intelligence.

  37. Anyone previously been formed relationships with prime numbers? But, this relationship does not work

  38. Hi, anyone translate to first line of folio 17v with EVA? Many thanks.

  39. avatar Daniela on January 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm said:

    Hi everyone, i just looked at the manuscript in PDF .Find some interesting things .At page 94(book page) is a plant ,actually is coloured so ,that when you scroll up and down fast ,is generated a optic ilussion.Check this out ,and give a feed back please .Sorry for my english:( not really good

  40. avatar Daniela on January 26, 2014 at 4:36 pm said:

    Taking a better look on the drawings today ,saw some pics with plants am root drawings ,and actually i think it`s explains there how you can Combine some plants and make new species of plants and trees .And again later in the drawings ,i supose that there are some calender with the right time to plant them .Is just a Theorie ,please give me some Feedback

  41. 29 Feb. 1420. Is it meaningful ?

  42. why, i can not sent a message?

  43. avatar kbnz on March 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm said:

    Being a member of the SCA, the first thing I noticed was the archer wearing a chaperon and houppelande or waffenfrock (sp). I agree with the carbon dating and disagree with anyone who says the vm was illustrated before the 14th century. Unless the illustrator time travelled to 15th c europe.

  44. avatar Walrus Annsrul on April 14, 2014 at 3:31 pm said:

    From the Bible in English:
    Lucifer is Satan
    firSt cLue is ana

    Read/Listen “The Heavens Open”, available on youtube

    She has talked to me from two different wombs/moms (reincarnated) in last couple years, the little girl Anna who dons the shoes with no soles, but yes she has a SOUL.
    It’s some kind of inside joke between her and the CREATOR I think I’m just starting to understand.

    All the kids now wear the new suits that have shoes without soles.

    And I don’t mean the author of the book Anne has talked to me, but the little girl who is a very old soul. No reason to be afraid of any spirits or even demons just tell them to go away out loud & they will. They have to if you tell them.

    M can be nn or w
    t can be f
    p can be b or d
    etc etc etc

    We are all eternal and have had multiple incarnations.

    Once you can learn to forgive everybody else it becomes easy to forgive yourself!

  45. avatar Carmen on April 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm said:

    Hi Nick.
    I have a question that keeps going round my head and you or Rene Zandberger or any other scholar may know for sure.
    Two years ago or so I was reading “Fuentes para Paleografía Latina” written by Professor Juan Jose Marcos Garcia guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/palefuen.html
    I asked him if he had heard about the Voynich MS but he had not. And he also said he recognized a humanist hand behind the MS. However, when I read his work on Paleographic Latin Fonts again (just few days ago)and I saw something related to the humanist handwriting. This new style did really start being used at the end of the fourteenth century and/or at the beginning of the fifteenth cent. But what is really interesting here is its use. What was it used for? According to Prof. Marcos Garcia, this humanist style was kept just for exquisite bibliophiles (sic). Therefore manuscripts in humanist handwriting were only transcriptions from classic works. Neither doctors nor lawyers would have used humanist writing if they were to publish their findings. The Gothic was still being used by that time. I mean humanist writing did not re-place the Gothic from its birth, a Caroline revival.
    So If the VMS is in humanist handwriting, does this not mean that the document was made on purpose for someone? A bibliophile? If so, for whom?
    As I often say, it is just an idea, not a theory.
    Thanks. 🙂

  46. Carmen: the issue of Voynichese’s palaeographic hand isn’t quite as clear-cut as is often thought. Humanist handwriting was itself a revival of an earlier hand – Carolingian minuscule (IIRC), from several centuries earlier – and before the vellum radiocarbon dating this was sometimes held up as being evidence consistent with a much earlier date for the Voynich Manuscript. This implies:-
    * The VMs might be an intentional humanist hand (i.e. it’s deliberately supposed to look like that)
    * The VMs might be an unintentional humanist hand (i.e. the scribe had been trained to write with a humanist hand, and that’s just how it came out)
    * The VMs might be intended to resemble a much older (Carolingian minuscule) document

    It is easy to adduce evidence to support all three positions… but much harder to eliminate any of them. What do you think?

  47. avatar Carmen on April 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm said:

    I don’t have an answer for that question. The more I read the less I know. And sorry to say I have more questions than suggestions. But If someone asks me what my hypothesis is, well, I think the answer is there, in front of us and the author must be laughing at our blindness. We are too near the picture to see the whole portrait.
    Now what I think about the three main points you have mentioned :
    * The VMs might be an intentional humanist hand (i.e. it’s deliberately supposed to look like that)
    1.- Why was the scribe going to use a completely new style, not even used by Dante, Petrarch or G. Boccaccio? These three humanist writers were aware of this revival. They loathed the baroque Gothic style and defended (as a part of this coming back to the classic world ) a renewal inside culture.
    And what’s more, they died before the Voynich was written. Do you see what I mean? If these three authors did not even use it, why was the scribe going to use it? Did he think he was a genius? 🙂

    * The VMs might be an unintentional humanist hand (i.e. the scribe had been trained to write with a humanist hand, and that’s just how it came out)

    Unintentional… hhmm… I guess there is much more intention than what we really think of. The VMs is intentional on every page and behind most ducti there is an intentional mind writing an intentional text.=-O

    * The VMs might be intended to resemble a much older (Carolingian minuscule) document.
    (Carolingian, and not Caroline as I said. Sorry, my native language fault).
    That’s a very interesting idea because it agrees with the use of humanist handwriting at that time. He may want to resemble an expert scholar, what does he do then? He designs a very complicated manuscript in humanist writing devised to…whatever. If using the humanist style was seen as an exclusive fashion for wise men, he might have made of the manuscript his way of gaining popularity.
    En fin…(sighing in Spanish)
    Words, words, words… as Hamlet would say.
    Thanks for reading. Gracias.

  48. avatar Anton Alipov on April 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm said:

    You may find my note about abomasum in f116v to be of interest.


    Thank you for your continuous VM research and popularization effort. Regards!

  49. Anton: interesting! Though I have to say that I’m far less confident than you are that we can read those three letters reliably from the scan – there seems to be a fold in the vellum running through, and the first letter looks (to my eye) closer to an interrupted ‘P’ character than to an ‘L’. But it’s definitely something that should be examined closer – it might be that Rene Zandbergen has access to better scans of that section from the Austrian documentary, I’ll ask him, see what he says. 🙂

  50. avatar Sukhwant Singh on April 29, 2014 at 8:51 pm said:

    I have already submitted my research to Beinecke’s library.

    My name is Sukhwant Singh and for the past 2 months I have extensively researched in depth on MS-408 better known as the Voynich manuscript.
    I hope, my explanation will lead to resolving the Voynich manuscript once and for all.
    The origins of the VM ( Voynich Manuscript ) lies in 6000 miles east from its current location. The place is in North Eastern Sindh region which is a part of Pakistan right now. The explanation in the VM is copied from an even older original book written in “Brahmi” language about ( 300-400 B.C ). The knowledge and editions of the books were passed through generations of merchants( Known as Mahajan’s with Vedic knowledge ) in ancient Indus valley civilization which also gave the name “Sindhustan”, the Sindh region in particular which was divided into India and Pakistan in 1947.
    The book is divided into 4 parts as mentioned by the author( details below ) written in early 15th century as that’s the time period when Khojki was more prominent.
    The book was taken by the “Holy” man from town to town and based on the knowledge he had( He was the go to guy and first person to approach in case of issues, either injury or some depression, bad dreams, marriage and business, Hex etc. ) , and the facts he collected from the inhabitants/customer. This man would then recommend to-do things. The book also deals with what kind of women she is based on the type of hair she has, what type of clothes she wears, what to expect from the second wife of the husband etc. What to do if someone has Hex on you and how to figure it out and recommendations for getting rid of the Hex.
    The book is not written for others to read and is usually passed within the family from Father to Son or someone more capable whom the Mahajan has taught and guided himself.
    Some background…..
    When the Arab conquered the Sindh region in about early 700 ADs and moved more towards the east they started eliminating learned Sindhi scholars and Holy men, who enjoyed rich merchant heritage and were established in the region. With passage of time, “Urdu” language was forced in the region and subsequently became an official language and in current times known as Sindhi language (Descendent language of Landa script) which is currently written in Urdu script.
    In early 15th century Khojki language was used by many to write prayer hyms and guidance songs. The extended use of this script and the underlining Landa script also indicate that the author didn’t revise his book into the periods urdu language but made it’s knowledge more hidden by superimposing Khwaja Khoji Vowel marks on top of Brahmi languages ( K, Ki, Ku, Kuu, Kay, Kaay, Ku, Kho, KHU, KHUU Gutturals ( Guttural).
    Brahmi language is considered as the main language based on which current northern India languages are based on. It itself is part of Indo-European set of language whose base is Sanskrit in general. This timeline spans 1000’s of years from the period of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
    This VM manuscript is a very important book and will be another key to bind “Roma” people in Europe with their Sindh region ancestry. Most likely this book was taken along with the movement of Sindh’s migrant population 100’s of years ago( as slaves by Arab rulers ) and was preserved in good condition because the knowledge it would provide and likely the person owning it wanted to one day use it to establish the same respect the merchants of the Sindh region held. “Roma” migration from Sindh region resulted in scores of people being moved as slaves into Turkey and then current Europe.
    There has been plenty of scientific tests conducted on the origins of Roma people. The book landed from a Roma person into the hands of Italian rulers as the poor Roma people faced many atrocities in Europe and many times were eliminated by the countries in which they tried to make their settlements.
    The main issue to decipher the VM had to do with the place where it ended first and then later in America. Considering the “Nasal” phonetic words particular to “Landa” language (Ancestor language of Khudabadi, Mahajani, Gurmukhi, Khojki, Sindhi languages) are not spoken in Europe and for that matter in America.
    English does not have these sounds at all. So for that matter it becomes next to impossible to decipher it and all the false theories it has generated, including its origins.
    In America, it being predominantly English speaking world it adds to the problem where from ages researchers started emphasizing that the VM is some sort of miniscule Roman language or some false code system( It is not ).
    That miscategorization has hindered the deciphering of the language for such a long time.
    I have deciphered the alphabet to what I think it is( As I originally belong to Punjab region and I am aware of the cursive writings from the region as well as phonetics ).
    The alphabet contains 4 different character set from languages spoken in same way but written in different form. There was no consistency of a set language in the region.
    The merchants/judicial holy Sindhu men started using 3,4 languages mix in order to hide the contents( depending on the knowledge of the person and area he travelled ). This was done to protect business knowhow and maintain superiority at that time. The languages used by the merchants of North western Multan and Sindh were “Multani” and “Landa/Khudabadi/Mahajani” apart from other regional dialects and written words. It was what the Sindhu Mahajan’s( Merchants ) used to do. This kind of book and knowledge was in demand as people relied on auspicious moon cycles and it was part of daily life and it is still in many parts of the world.
    Day and night are divided into 15 “Mahurats” or auspicious times, Year is divided in 12 months based on astrological signs ( Not January February etc.. ) The day and night each were divided into 8 parts each based on Sanskrit astrology ( pages 67v and 69v clearly depicts the division of 8 parts segments around the sun and moon )
    The times, days, years were not depicted as in Roman date forms, nor did they had the same timeline of 24 hours. This book is thus written with calculating moon cycles and the positions of 9 planets and the Vedic astrological knowledge is gathered from the original Brahmi book ( 300-400 BC or even earlier ).
    Some details of which are recorded in India’s archeological preservations.
    The characters are also intermingled from dialects in the region but they sound and mean the same example
    CH, TA, JJH, K, KH are written in mixed scripts, which makes it difficult.
    The Brahmi scipts usage from which the MS 408 book was copied adds to more complexity, but the words used are common short 2-3 characters found in recent Devanagari language. This book probably had 1-2 readers( at that time, Mahajan himself and probably his son or someone else he took along on his business in various towns There were other people who had similar books but probably not as detailed as this one. Holy men were killed by Arab rulers and their books were burned so that Arab rule could be established in force and almost everyone follow one language, which was Urdu ( like Persian script ). This book most likely was hidden by the author and usually people like him belonged to higher castes who had good people connections as they were respected for their knowledge and guidance. The so called lower caste people were made slave labor and soldiers to fight in wars. It is likely that this book’s author was killed and as this book was hidden was later picked by someone else and taken along as an important document to be used later. The problem occurred to decipher it at that time too, so the Roma person kept for generations hidden in the belongings until it ended in front of some Italian king’s subject.

    The languages used in MS 408 are ( Yes, there are multiple languages, but their pronunciations are almost same ).
    Landa, Khojki and Brahmi are used throughout the book.
    1. Landa ( Which later became Sindhi, Khudabadi, Khojki )
    2. Brahmi ( 300- 400 B.C ) Which gives a reason to believe that MS-408 is copied from an original book
    3. Multani
    4. Mahajani
    5. Khojki
    6. Gurmukhi which is also a descendent of Landa script ( Words which cuts at the end and sounds individual standing separately ). Gurmukhi usage is very minimal, which tells that the book was written prior to the era in which the Gurmukhi was main stream in Punjab region around 1430 AD.

    The last page 116V is written by someone else other than the original writer as it contains characters from Sarada and JaunSari scripts from mountainous region of Southwestern Kashmir as those few lines are similar to later on what became Kashmiri Dialect and scripted language.

    First paragraph from 1r goes like this.

    “Many 100’s of years desire tradition and as requested by the cultivator from his pouring knowledge in under increasing guidance
    To accomplish it this promise of the interrogation of field subjects and about those manner for eating about their power learning from oneself condition about
    under ongoing sufferings about stuck in those conditions which has already affected them learning from them in self-help either called for taking care during taking care or
    When called by the messenger one about trees provided information in parts and about desire….”
    you tube 17x7epchEQY

  51. avatar hakan on May 7, 2014 at 6:20 am said:

    One old blank pages may have been written in the modern era? Vellum pages are old, ok, but ink may be new ? E. L. Voynich was a writer. It is a suspected case. Perhaps the key in her books. The Gadfly?
    If this book is real, the author took into account the possibility that the cipher never be solved? The disappearance of truth. Who takes this risk?

  52. avatar Diane on May 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm said:

    Dear Hakan
    Though I don’t have my copy of the ‘Nabatean Agriculture’ by me, as I recall them, Ibn Wahshiyya’s introductory remarks are very like the text you offer for folio 1r’s first paragraph.

    Links between MS Beinecke 408 and that book, or Nabateans more generally, has been suggested by various people over the years.

    Perhaps you might find it useful to obtain a copy of that work.

    What everyone hopes for, I think, is a consistent and comprehensible parallel text. Good luck.

  53. Nick, here’s something interesting.

    It’s well known that there aren’t many repeated sequences of three or more words in the VM. On the other hand there are quite a few repeated two-word sequences.

    The following plots show all word pairs and triplets that occur more than once in the text:

    What i find surprising is not the apparently high number of recurring word pairs, but the comparatively low recurrence of word triplets. As a matter of probability alone, it would be justified to see more triplets in some of the folios.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? I’ve not performed a comparative analysis with other languages yet, but this seems off.

  54. avatar hakan on May 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm said:

    A lot of Voynich investigator says those are ”The Pleiades (süreyya) for stars at page f68r3. I think they might be anything else

  55. avatar Ruby Novacna on June 6, 2014 at 11:53 am said:

    Hello Nick!
    I need your help. You closely follow everything said about VM. Someone has already made statistics EVA letter “f”? I once saw a list of all the words (I think) the manuscript made ​​by someone, unfortunately I do not remember by whom. Help me, please.
    Best regards

  56. Ruby: what do you want to find out? There are quite a few interesting websites that let you search for Voynichese word-patterns, most recently (and arguably most prettily) http://www.voynichese.com/

    If you create a new query there and click on EVA f, it will graphically show you where all the 499 instances of it are (click on the “exact match” icon to see the 8 places where “f” is a complete word), etc.

  57. avatar Ruby Novacna on June 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm said:

    I watched the first 20 botanical pages and I saw that the words with “f” are always at the first line of a paragraph, rarely repeat. Someone has already offered an explanation? Thank you for your link, I hope it will go faster.
    Best regards

  58. Has anyone tried producing a data transcript of the text replacing each char for a digital symbol and number?

    It looks to me to be an alchemist cook book or remedies with Astrological charts. A cross between Latin.French and Cyrillic. But That is just from a glancing view. The drawings certainly look French to me in style. They remind me of an early Tarot deck I once saw.

  59. avatar John Nelson on August 1, 2014 at 10:23 pm said:

    If you had more experience in linguistics, Medieval Studies and ancient writing systems, you could see, like me, that the Voynich Manuscript and the Rohonc Codex are asemic writing hoaxes, like BS MS 73525. The key to all of them are the statistics on the signs and their sequences. Natural languages and asemic speech and writing work in certain ways which is perceptible to computers as well as trained linguists. And then the illustrations are give-aways, if you know medieval studies. It’s not surprising that so many people take these two seriously because linguistics is very poorly understood outside of its Academic discipline. The popular concept that Voynich’s symbols are a code is out of touch with what we have from antiquity regarding the creation of texts, encoded or otherwise.

    I have a BA in Linguistics and am an independent scholar of the linguistics of logographic writing systems, though I study other topics as well.

  60. avatar John Nelson on August 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm said:

    I still hope to use a font I invented to approximate all the symbols in the codex. Or maybe just a few pages or so. There also needs to be an online machine-readable version of the Voynich. But that would just take a month or two worth of solid work hours, and is not very promising in my eyes.

    There is currently no machine-readable free online Indus Valley Corpus, and it is much smaller than the Voynich corpus.

  61. avatar xplor on August 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm said:

    machine transcriptions of the Voynich are available if you look.

  62. From what I have read of the VM it makes me think of a (possibly apprentice) physician’s almanac. In the middle ages I believe astronomy played an important roll in medicine, with there being a ‘right time’ to perform particular procedures.

  63. avatar , Rick A. Roberts on August 19, 2014 at 9:07 am said:

    To hakan; There was a Lunar Eclipse on February 20, 1420.

  64. John, you really should try to meet Mr.Santacoloma. You’d get on like twin brothers, I expect.

  65. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) on November 28, 2014 at 11:04 am said:

    Hi Rick. Thanks for your answer. it is interesting, but I interest 29 febr. 1420 not 20 febr. if it was 29 febr 1420, It would be meaningfulI for me. Thanks…

  66. I just found out about the Voynich Manuscript yesterday, and as a mystery buff, downloaded the pdf version, I quickly glanced through it and found from page 69 onwards with the little lady circles were in fact a resemblance of the Zodiac symbols, I also recognise grafting when I see it, any ways like I said I have only glanced through it and one weekend I will sit down and glance through it properly have fun ppl

  67. avatar mark on May 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm said:

    The precision of the writing in circles is really accurate, at least I couldn’t duplicate it. I just looked up who invented the compass and found that Galileo happened to invent a modern one in 1597 (?)

  68. avatar mark on May 9, 2015 at 8:39 pm said:

    I forgot to say Miriam Green was the source on Ask.

  69. Of the month name forms which seem to be shown (this list shows my best guesses) in the Voynich Manuscript, the following are what seem to be the closest examples of matches from continental Europe and Britain I have yet found, mostly from Books of Hours calendars of the Fifteenth Century (and before)(dates & locations of authorship/construction are approximate – furnished by present owners)(Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan entries show dates) and are in italics:

    Mars – many examples in different Books of Hours – (Mars) – workshop of Rohan Master (Paris) 1415-1420; workshop of Baucicaut Master (Paris) 1483-1515; (Mars) – Book of Hours of Carlos V, workshop of Jean Poyer(?)(Paris) 1483-1515); (Mars) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300. The name Mars is still used today.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Mars) -1393, 1395, circa 1500

    Abril/Aberil/Avril/Averil(?) (not sure of spelling of this one) – (Abril) – many early Catalan or Spanish examples – still used today. (Apuril) –Book of Hours, Use of Orleans, unknown author, circa 1490; (Apuril) – Book of Hours, use of Rouen, unknown painter (France) 1475 – 1500; (Auril/Avril) – common forms during the Fifteenth Century.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Aperil) – circa 1425; (Aueril) – circa 1400

    May – many French examples, some with a mark over the y, some without – just a few are: – (May) – Rohan Master (Paris) circa 1415 -1425; workshop of Bedford Master (Paris) 1440-1450; follower of Eggerton Master (Paris) 1405-1420; Book of Hours of Carlos V, workshop of Jean Poyer(?) (Paris) 1483-1515; shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (May) – circa 1325, 1375, 1385 – 1425?, 1393, circa 1400, circa 1500

    Jong/Joing/Yong/Yoing (?) – (Jong/Joing?) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300; (Juing) – was a common French form in the Fifteenth Century).
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Juny) – circa 1400?, 1420; (Iuny) – 1400 – 1440?, 1440; (Ione) – 1400 -1540?; also (Jone) – no quotation. The MED also gives Old French month names (Juing), (Joing) and (Jon). None of these are very close matches.

    Jollet (??)(very hard to read – not sure of what it says) – (Jullet) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300; (Jullet) – Book of hours, use of Rouen, Master François (France) 1475 -1500; (Jullet) – Book of Hours, use of Paris, unknown painter, (France – Tours?) circa 1500; (Juillet) – Rohan Master (Paris) 1420 -1425 – this form rather common. No actual use of Jollet spelling found yet. Might the VMS word read (Julius) –which is a common Latin and OF form found in many books of hours (– doubtful)?
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Juille) & (Julius) – no quotation for either. MED give OF forms Julie and Julius.

    Augst – Book of Hours in Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University, unknown author (Flanders & Amiens (?)) 1450-1460.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Augst) – circa 1393.

    Septeb- – (w/line over 2nd e and dash (?) at the end) – (Septeb’) – w/line over 2nd e and squiggle or apostrophe above the b – Maastricht Book of Hours, unknown painter (Liege?) 1300 – 1325; (Septemb’) – w/apostrophe at end – Case Book of Hours, Kelvin Smith Library Case Western Reserve University, unknown author (Flanders & Amiens) 1450-1460; (Septebre) – w/line over 2nd e – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300, (Septebre) – w/line over second e – Book of Hours, Eggerton Master & others (Paris) 1405 -1410; (Septebrie) – w/line over 2nd e – Murthly Book of Hours, unknown author (Paris) 1280; (Septebre) – w/line over 2nd e – Book of Hours of Carlos V, workshop of Jean Poyer (?)(Paris) 1483-1515; (Septembre) – Petit Heures of Jean de France, Duc du Berry (Jean Le Noir from 1372, Jacquemart de Hesdin 1385-1390, Limbourg brothers (Herman, Jean Paul) 1412-1416; (Septembre) -– Rohan Master (Paris) circa 1415 -1425; (Septebre) – w/line over 2nd e – Book of Hours, use of Rouen, Master François (France) 1475 -1500; (Septebre) – w/line over second e – Heures de Notre Dame, use of Troyes & Sens, unknown painter, (France) circa1470.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Septembre) – circa 1121, circa 1126, circa 1300, circa 1300 – 1325, circa 1393, circa 1398, circa 1400, 1460, circa 1500; (Septenbre) – circa 1400; (Septembr) – circa 1465 – 1466? MED also gives OE and OF forms of (Septembre) and (Septenbre).

    Octebre (w/line over 1st e) – (Octembre) – Petit Heures of Jean de France, Duc du Berry, 5 painters – Jean Le Noir from 1372, Jacquemart de Hesdin 1385-1390 and Limbourg brothers (Herman, Jean Paul) 1412-1416; (Octembre) – Book of Hours, Eggerton Master & others (Paris) 1405 -1410; (Octembre) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – none found close to VMS word except (Octobre) which isn’t too close.

    Nouebre/Noueb(r)us(?)(not clearly written) w/line over 1st e – (Nouebre) – w/line over first e – Book of Hours, Eggerton Master,& others (Paris) 1405 -1410; (Nouebre) – w/line over 1st e – Book of Hours, use of Rouen, Master François (France) 1475 -1500; (Nouebre) – w/line over 1st e – Heures de Notre Dame, use of Troyes & Sens, unknown painter, (France) circa1470. (Nouembre) – workshop of Bedford Master (Paris) 1440-1450; unknown author (Paris) 1415-1420; Petit Heures of Jean de France, Duc du Berry (Jean Le Noir from 1372, Jacquemart de Hesdin 1385-1390, Limbourg brothers (Herman, Jean Paul) 1412-1416; Book of Hours of Carlos V, workshop of Jean Poyer(?)(Paris) 1483-1515; (Nouembre) – – Rohan Master (Paris) circa 1415 -1425; (Nouembre) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300; (Noueb’) – w/line over 1st e and squiggle or apostrophe above the b – Maastricht Book of Hours, unknown painter (Liege?) 1300 – 1325’
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Novembre) – commonly found.

    Decembre(??) (not clearly written, at all)– (Decembre) – Rohan Master (Paris) circa 1415 -1425; (Decembre) -follower of Eggerton Master (Paris) 1410; Petit Heures of Jean de France, Duc du Berry (5 people – Jean Le Noir from 1372, Jacquemart de Hesdin 1385-1390, Limbourg brothers (Herman, Jean Paul) 1412-1416; (Decembre) – Book of Hours of Carlos V, unknown author (Paris) 1483-1515; (Decembre) – Book of Hours of Carlos V, workshop of Jean Poyer(?)(Paris) 1483-1515; (Decembre) – shown on a ring of the Geared Astrolabe in the Science Museum, London, probably made in Picardy around 1300; (Decemb’) – w/line over 2nd e and squiggle or apostrophe above the b – Maastricht Book of Hours, unknown painter (Liege?) 1300 – 1325; Decebre) – w/line over 2nd e – Book of Hours, use of Rouen, Master François (France) 1475 -1500; (Decembre) – w/line over second e – Heures de Notre Dame, use of Troyes & Sens, unknown painter, (France) circa1470.
    Middle English Dictionary, U of Michigan – (Decembre) – commonly found.

    *Note – The various Books of Hours calendar pages can be found on the internet & a really nice image of the Geared Astrolabe can be seen at:


    Also, I think the drawings with nebuly (wavy and bulbed) lines found on many pages of the VMS match in pattern with ones found on several pages found in the Harley MS 4431, Cité des Dames, written by Christine de Pizan (or Pisan) (b. Venice 1364 – d. Paris c. 1430) and decorated by the Master of the Cité des Dames, active in Paris in the period 1400-1415 and the Bedford Master (perhaps “Haincelin of Hagenau” in Alsace) who was recorded in Paris between 1403 and 1424. Christine de Pizan lived most of her life in Paris. Of the pair of painters, the Master of the Cité des Dames seems to be the one who used the distinctive pattern in other works. I wonder if it is a datable or regionally identifiable pattern/motif used by other artists of the time? I could find no other Book of Hours artists who seem to have used it.

    I added the corresponding possibly matching Middle English month names shown in the University of Michigan’s wonderful online Middle English Dictionary. I will add more as I find or receive them.

    You may use any of this in any way you wish. I’d like to hear about any pertinent items others may discover.

  70. avatar Diane on June 9, 2015 at 12:50 pm said:

    Don, just btw, the term ‘nebuly’ – cloud-like, is only used in heraldry. The same meaning, exactly, is in the term which came to be used in European art history books, though they adopted the German version: ‘wolkenband’, in much the same way they adopted the Italian ‘chiaroscuro’ – just to denote a technique. In fact the motif comes into western art very early, and from the east where it remained conventional. Another nice example is in the Rohan hours, but there are literally thousands of examples and at least a dozen distinct varieties of the “cloud-band” line, even just in the Latin works. It doesn’t date our manuscript’s use of the wiggly line, unfortunately. For that we have to go rather deeper. What you have done – and very well – is show how popular the motif was in French manuscript art of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Very true.


  71. avatar Anton Alipov on June 10, 2015 at 10:28 am said:

    Don’t know what’s meant by nebuly above, but if you mean the pattern representing heavens, I wrote a post on that a week ago: http://athenaea.net/index.php?id=59

  72. avatar Diane on June 10, 2015 at 1:24 pm said:

    The pattern was inherited by the fifteenth-century artists who used it, and they use it to mean the same as it always had: the limit of the human domain. As a rule it means that between the heavens of men, and that of the divine, but not invariably. I’ve treated it before in my blogs, but the main point is that it isn’t a peculiarly fifteenth-century motif, and most certainly not one either native to Europe or exclusive to it. It’s very well known in the history of art.

  73. avatar Anton Alipov on June 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm said:


    Thanks for the explanation! I replied to your comment in my blog.

  74. avatar Out*of*the*Blue on June 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm said:

    The example of a nebuly line can be seen in Wikipedia under lines of division as part of heraldry.

    The possible origination of it’s discussion dates from Ellie Velinska’s comparison of VMs f68v3 with the Oresme illustration know as BNF Francais 565. Her description of the inner sphere, “surrounded by stars on blue background in a space with air/clouds pattern on the edge.”

    With my prior investigations into heraldry, I saw this as a boundary as a nebuly line. And it would seem that the specific use of a nebuly line in both illustrations is a significant factor in the comparison Even though a wavy line or some other substitution could have been used in its place, that would, in my opinion, significantly weaken the comparison.

    So, besides f68v3, the VMs shows the clear use of regular nebuly lines repeatedly in the illustrations of Quire 13: f75r, f75v, f79r, f79v, f80v and f82r. And also relating to certain plant leaves in f35v, f41v and f50r. And in the Rosettes. The question then becomes which medival artists show a preference for the use of nebuly lines. Who drew BNF Francais 565 and when, exactly? Christine de Pizan in Harley 4431 used some rather similar nebuly lines, but in Bodmer 49 has used wavy lines in comparative illustrations. Other artists present divine manifestation in other ways.

    The present inquiry, which Don and I support, is to gather data and follow the nebuly line as far as possible.

  75. avatar Diane on June 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm said:

    Thank you.

  76. Carmen: it’s a widely repeated ‘Internet fact’ that the Voynich Manuscript is in humanist handwriting, but the reality is much subtler and harder to parse, let alone to digest. 🙁

    As I understand it, the right way to phrase it is something like this: that the formation of Voynichese letters is consistent with their having been written by a scribe trained to write in a formal humanist hand. As such, its set of letter shapes is not itself the kind of beautiful humanist font that was (not long after) immortalised in Italic print shapes: but, rather, the internal structure of its letter formation is consistent with the internal structure of humanist handwriting of that generation.

    If you accept this as a starting point, then the logical follow-on inference is that the Voynich Manuscript was almost certainly written by a professional scribe on behalf of someone else. And because humanist writing was primarily an urban, high-culture affair, it is also probable that the Voynich Manuscript was made in a city with an affluent urban elite, because that is where the overwhelming majority of formal humanist writing was done. It is also likely, I think, that the Voynich Manuscript’s scribe(s) was/were young (and hence affordable for this kind of work), rather than older and expensive.

    However, I’m sorry to say that this still doesn’t tell us much about why the document was made, or for what purpose.

  77. avatar Diane on June 15, 2015 at 11:45 pm said:

    Nick, this comment on the handwriting is fascinating. Is there a formal report somewhere?

  78. Diane: it’s a summary of a larger post I’ve been writing for a while, but which is proving somewhat tricky to rein in. 😮

  79. avatar Diane on June 16, 2015 at 9:57 am said:

    You know, speaking of editing and such. I’ve always thought that if one had the time etc., it would be marvellous to have a published anthology in 3 vols (vol 2 re pictorial text; vol 3 for written part and cipher efforts; the first couldn’t make a volume yet – it would be the one on materials.)
    Then I could read that article by Barbara Barrett, and a few from Cryptologia which are now of historic interest, though not enough to be worth my taking out a subscription so far.

  80. Diane: I think Vol 4 (the decryption) would be the one most people would want to spend any actual money on. 😉

  81. avatar Diane on June 16, 2015 at 3:38 pm said:


    you know, about the script. I think it has been artificially “humanised” – made to fit into one narrow band, as the best humanist round bookhand did, but I reckon it didn’t look like that originally. In fact, I would like to see what happened if the “gamma” looking one were sat up on the line, and the vertical “8” dropped a bit. That sort of thing.

  82. avatar Thomas on June 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm said:

    My problem is that I cannot easily find a machine readable Voynich text with original Voynich characters. I would like to scan its pages with my eyes as well as search for strings, if only I could have it in, say, a zoomable black and white MSWord document. It’s a pity that the transcribed texts cannot convey to me what I expect to see, nor can the high resolution photographic images of the pages of the manuscript. So, why do we not go back to basics and try figuring out the meaning of the script as it is written? Why should we try learning Russian using various transcriptions instead of the authentic Cyrillic alphabet of that language?

  83. Thomas: you can just download all the scans from the Beinecke website.

    With the Voynich Manuscript, a good way to go back to basics is to try to write the letters yourself, trying hard to match the specific directional flow of each stroke in the original. Using a fountain pen with a narrow italic nib should give you a reasonable sense of the difficulty involved in writing Voynichese fast and reliably with a quill. Or you can teach yourself to use a quill and make your own ink, if you want to be properly authentic. 😉

  84. Diane: I’m really not so sure. I have little doubt that what we see is not so much “Voynichese 1.0” as “Voynichese 6.1 SP2”. Even something as simple as the “4”-shape stands apart from the rest of the letters: while the gallows family seem to have its own physical logic, also quite apart from the rest of the Voynich alphabet. And so forth. 🙂

  85. avatar Anton Alipov on June 17, 2015 at 7:43 pm said:

    Yes, the gallows clearly suggest sequential logic: two “legs” + two “ears” (t), two legs + one ear (k), two ears + one leg (p), one ear + one leg (f). As if the script inventor was in need of four additional characters and designed them thus.

  86. Anton: you could add the ar/or/al/ol family, and the aiv/aiiv/aiiiv/air/aiir/aiiir family, and the dual-use 9- / -9 shape… and before long you’ve got yourself pretty much an entire alphabet. 🙂

  87. avatar Diane on June 18, 2015 at 4:38 am said:

    ‘gamma’ lifted up the line (stave?) becomes a ‘d’.

  88. avatar Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 8:22 am said:

    Nick: the scans are not machine readable unless one OCR-s them with suitable program. Is there somewhere such an OCR? What I have in mind is viewing, machine searching or manipulating by highlighting, ordering, replacing etc. the content of, the Voynich script in a clean, black and white true Voynich font document format. I know that such font versions exist and are available.
    I accept the historical need for the early transcriptions of the Voynich script into various symbols other than Voynich characters. But I don’t see why we should use such transcriptions in our computer age. I am unskilled in creating the proposed form. The people who are skilled in this apparently did not make it available so far. The Voynich researchers tend to use a funnily encoded Voynich script of kokedy-okedy-dot-dot form. This is even funnier when we think about weather the original Voynich is an encoded text or natural language. Well, amusingly, the okedy-kokedy version of it is certainly an encoded version. But why? Why encoding something before decoding it straight from its plain form?
    I see laziness, as an answer. There is no easily or readily available proper SI symbol for microfarad or ohm on most PC-s, which is why people started arbitrarily corrupt these to UF or R, even in academic fields.
    One disadvantage of the Latin character transcriptions for the Voynich script is that reading them, they straightaway bias the mind. The mind need not be made to make unnecessary loopy rounds in its workings. A music learner who is told to beat the steady rhythm with his foot in order to adjust his playing to that rhythm, is precisely doing just this loopy thing. First, his mind tells his foot to beat, and then his foot tells his mind that it has beaten OK, and only then the mind tells him to play? What nonsense. The mind should tell straight to him to play in rhythm, omitting the totally unnecessary foot thing.
    If there was a Voynich with proper Voynich characters in electronic format, and a reasonably sophisticated at that, then wonderful new opportunities could open. Here, in sophistication I mean adjustable text blocks that mirror the original to the best possible degree. Or, moveable text blocks for matching, comparison, or merging for trying to gain insight in every inventive or fanciful manner. Even with variations for individual characters could be incorporated, to visualise vertical rivers of spaces. Another possibility is to create an equally spaced set of the proper Voynich characters, to view and scan vertical patterns in hope of any new and meaningful revelation.
    My ideas may come across as odd or naive but we may be surprised if one day somebody, even an autistic person, notices something significant this way.

  89. Thomas: you seem to have misunderstood the history, purpose and scope of the various EVA interlinear transcriptions. They are essentially stroke transcriptions, that are designed to copy what is on the page in a reasonably consistent manner such that it can be transformed by the theorizing researcher into the specific glyph transcription they are testing. So, you might reasonably transform the EVA ‘ch’ into a single token, or even EVA ‘ckh’ into a single token: the important thing is that EVA does not tell you which glyph transcription is right (because it doesn’t know).

    Having said that, EVA does have a few shortcomings, but that’s another story entirely. =:-o

  90. avatar Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 10:29 am said:

    Nick: You are right. I know little of these details. I only know that a finite number of Voynich characters had been identified, which comprise the Voynich alphabet. These are now in the available electronic fonts.

    I did not know of the nuances or the implied ambiguities. Still, these could be handled with suitable markings or differentiation on my planned format.

    My simple plan is to have an electronic Voynich Manuscript at my hand, and seemingly I will have to work for it. Either I will have to type it for myself, copying from the scans or transforming the transcripts back to Voynich-looking text. No one will shell for me the sacks of peanuts that I need to gorge on for my fancy. 🙂

  91. Thomas: there is also Glen Claston’s glyph-based Voynich transcription, which may be more useful for you than EVA, but which suffers from a quite different set of problems.

  92. avatar Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 11:30 am said:

    Nick: thank you for this helpful guidance. I will definitely try it.

    Just yesterday I came across this term, “glyph-based Voynich”, on the Google, and tried to see one. Several download came up on Torrent, which I heard is a grey legal area, or dodgy. My terminal is also outdated and limited browser-wise, so I managed to see nothing of those files so far.

    Incidentally, I realise I have made a mistake in my previous note, in misspelling “whether”. I typed “weather”. Allegedly, there is no mistake committed by the scribe or scribes in the Voynich Manuscript. But how do we know? The weather could be important in a discourse of plant life, and the word could be confusable with other similar ones in other languages, too. 😀

  93. avatar Thomas on June 19, 2015 at 9:09 pm said:

    I am wondering about how likely it is that the herbal pages contain descriptive elements. I am not familiar with the general herbals of the era. If it is expected that there are plant descriptions on the pages, then, in my view, words for leaf, stem, root etc could be found.

    Also, say, a leaf with six round lobes may be described with the appropriate words. For a page like that, I just intuitively feel that it may be worth wile to search on it for a word that may mean six, having the number six in various ancient languages at our disposal.

    On similar lines, as pregnancy is a possible assumed subject of some parts of the MS, this word’s ancient forms could be tried to fit some recurring ones in the relevant parts.

    Arabic, Latin, etc words and forms similar to these could be tried for both herbal and “pregnancy” chapters.

  94. Thomas: feel free to try what you like, I ain’t the Voynich thought police. (I know, I’ve already had them knocking on my door a few times).

    The problem you’ll find is that Voynichese isn’t language-y enough for proper linguists to be interested in, and it’s also too language-y for proper cryptanalysts to be interested in. Meanwhile, the herbals aren’t herbal enough for proper herbal historians to be interested in, while… I think I’ve made my point. 🙂

  95. avatar Anton Alipov on June 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm said:

    As for cryptanalysts. Sorry for the amateurish question, but is there any possibility of the VMS “words” being just references to some “vocabulary”? “Page X, column Y, line Z”, like in “The Valley of Fear”, you know.

  96. avatar Thomas on June 19, 2015 at 11:18 pm said:

    Nick: Then it looks like these proper experts in their fields leave the whole thing to us, proper cranks.

    By the way, please don’t think I am not looking at this book in other manner than trying to read its presumedly just medium language-y text. I try deciphering its encoded content as well. And of course I try seeing machinery and bees in the depicted images, too. 😉

  97. avatar Thomas on June 20, 2015 at 7:04 pm said:

    I wondered about the astrology diagrams or the others where seemingly perfect concentric circles are shown.

    Is it conceivable that the artist drew them freehand, or did he use a pair of compasses, or maybe circular templates? If compasses were used, what early kinds of it are known? Were those always similar to today’s instruments with a sharp point to dig lightly into the sheet? Or did the usage of sharp pinpoint enter at some known time in the history of the development of the drawing compasses?

    If microscopic examination revealed pin holes or pits in the vellum in the centres of the drawn circles, then even this tiny information may help a little in the determining of the time of these drawings’ creation.

  98. avatar Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm said:

    The circular zodiac figures gave me the idea that they may depict a single lady or nymph in every day in a month. If pregnancy or the female cycle is implied, then signs could be searched for these. I am just picking up codicology in my amateurish way! 😉

    If we could place these discs into a phenakistoscope and rotate them, we may see a gradually growing belly!

    Seriously, I cursorily looked for this and for possible depiction of menstrual discharge, but did not note anything.

    It is only an idea and I thought I put it here into the think tank.

  99. avatar Thomas on June 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm said:

    It looks like Patrick Feaster already considered this sort of animation in his writing, “Primeval Animations and the Voynich Manuscript”

  100. avatar Thomas on July 2, 2015 at 11:46 am said:

    More of my musings…

    Why not each of the persons in the zodiac pages have a star? I have noticed one without. Why some stars are filled with colour while others are not? Why some stars have no outline at all and only drawn with a fill colour? Why it is that the fill colour is red in at least one case and not yellow? Why some stars have one dot in the middle, some more than one, and some none? Why some stars have strings and others not?

  101. avatar Thomas on July 2, 2015 at 5:11 pm said:

    The left roundel on f69v has twentyeight, while the middle one has nine divisions, whereas other roundels elsewhere usually have four, eight or sixteen. The numbers twentyeight and nine may allude to the female cycle and the nine months of pregnancy. Moreover, the central image is sort of organic or human cell-y, like zygote…?

  102. avatar Anton Alipov on July 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm said:


    The notion of cell was not yet known in that time.

  103. avatar Thomas on July 3, 2015 at 7:57 am said:

    Anton: It is probably true that the notion of cell was not widely known in that time. But we cannot know for sure what knowledge was held secretly or kept unpublished by advanced individuals. This however is not an argument on my part that the depiction is that of a cell.

    We tend to use this reasoning that this or that discovery or advancement was not known at the time, therefore we must discount its possibility. For example the statement, “No such advanced encryption methods as of today’s were known in that time”. How do we know? Does not the VMS itself appear to be a very strong and thus just such an advanced encryption?

  104. avatar bdid1dr on September 2, 2015 at 7:44 pm said:

    Nick, gentlemen:

    In addition to the DOC ID I referenced several weeks/months ago, you might like to see another document which was released from the National Security Agency (30 April 1959) as declassified by Paul S. Wiilard (Colonel) AGC, Adjutant General: “REF ID:A58472

    You’ll know you’re on the ‘right’ page if an Aztec pictograph appears with alternating Nahuatl words and italicized English translation.
    The header for this item reads: Umol-huum tah-ciyal
    William Frederick jetel Elizebeth Smith Friedman
    This document is the last proof that the so-called “Voynich” manuscript is written in Nahuatl — and that the same Nahuatl language-speaking scribes translated Fray Sahagun’s Spanish/Latin discussions of botanical interest, the balnealogical section, the dialogues of the various circles/diagrams, and the earliest mention of the European invaders who enslaved much of the native populations of the country we now call Mexico.
    I recently found my quetzquemetl (some 50 years old, now) on a discussion page I can no longer recall. I’ll be 72 y/o next week.
    beady-eyed wonder

  105. avatar Jerenie on September 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm said:

    Dear Nick (or to whoever else may help),
    I read in a paper about the VMs that you had a good quality photo of the rosette map (f86v) posted on your website. Now, i’m not sure if you still have this photograph or if you’ve taken it down or if you’ve just never posted it, but if you do have such a photograph or if anyone else knows where I can get one, I would greatly appreciate it. It would be great to have a hard copy of this page, and I don’t really want to spend $300 on the whole manuscript from ambush printing.

  106. avatar Jerenie on September 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm said:

    As a ps on my last comment, I’d like to add that I’m very interested in getting into applied linguistics and cryptology. I was just wondering if you can help at all with that and give me advice (what are good schools, are there jobs, etc.) Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  107. Jerenie: you can download excellent quality images of the Voynich Manuscript from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s website:-

    Everything is there, including the nine-rosette page. 🙂

  108. avatar Rick A. Roberts on November 10, 2015 at 10:12 pm said:

    To hakan; I made an error back on 19 August, 2014 when I replied to your query about 29 February, 1420. There was indeed a Partial Lunar Eclipse on 29 February, 1420. It start at 13:16 UT (OLD STYLE) Time. The Partial Lunar Eclipse lasted for one hour and thirty minutes.

  109. avatar D.N. O'Donovan on November 11, 2015 at 11:13 am said:

    about your comment of July 2, 2015 11:46 am

    If we accept for the moment that Don of Tallahassee has rightly zoned in on the region of France from which the month-names have come, and that each of the star-holders are holding stars or even mini cornucopii of heavenly goods as stars, then why not test the possibility that the red-dot stars mark red-letter days on one of the many regional calendars – those from 13th-15thC Picardy perhaps?

  110. So if I look at the VM the way they say u should its a jumbled mess but if u look at it upside down I at least see a bunch of numbers manly 6 and 8 anyone else?

  111. Misty: the Voynich alphabet is similar to many cipher alphabets of the early-to-mid-fifteenth century, which used a number of shapes before they became used as number shapes. ‘9’, for example, was used as a shorthand sign at the end of words to mean “-um” or “-us” before it was used as a digit. 🙂

  112. Dear Nick and colleagues,

    I am pleased to let you know that finally we managed to launch the Voynich discussion forum, which initiative was brought forward by Gert somewhere in comments here back in summer.

    We aimed to make it not only a discussion tool (which a message board naturally is), but also a research- and task-oriented one. We expect it to be a place for quality and fruitful discussions, enriched by the functionality of a modern message board engine and some custom tools and features that we already have in place.

    The forum is located at http://voynich.ninja

    Please be welcome to participate!

  113. Anton Alipov: it all seems very admirable and straightforward. If only solving the mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript were as simple!

  114. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm said:

    Nick, et al. I have been out of the loop for a bit as I closed up a lab (that smallpox scare hit me hard as I worked with frog toxins but hey, skated free of the FBI!). My daughter Helen, an art conservator has put forward to me in private conversations over the years that the gallows glyphs are pilcrows. Pilcrows for those of you not conversant with these, amount to start/stop symbols in renaissance manuscripts. Our paragraph symbol is the most commonly used one at this time but others existed. Anyway, no real role for those gallows has been widely accepted and I adopt my daughter’s idea that the four gallows serve the function of pilcrows. The pilcrow was adopted from the French in 1440 (Wiki). It had nothing to do with a printer’s mark as some assumed. The two most common, in fact dominant ones are the two that have two ascenders and one loop (I will refer to this as 1) and the one with two ascenders as 2. Glyphs 1 and 2 abound in the herbal section but vary according to whether the loose or tight scribe is at work. Often 2>1 for the loose scribe and 1>2 for the tighter. Doing simple stats on the occurrence of repeats, one sees a pattern emerge. Often (>>50%) one gallows is followed by another of the same: not random at all. I have noted that some “rubbish” text like “898989” (etetet in Armenian) does not appear between the same gallows. I am going to toss a cat among the pigeons and guess that this will prove true of other Voynich gibberish. This leads me to postulate that only the text between the same gallows will be meaningful; the rest are nulls. Well that is a lot of nulls and I think others have proposed that a template or grill has to be placed on the text to get at the reality of the Voynich. The idea above may indicate that the grill is already in place and it is provided by the gallows which are being used in the manner of pilcrows, start and stop instructions. Cheers, Tom

  115. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 5, 2016 at 5:04 pm said:

    Nick, et al. Expatiating on the above, I would make the following points:
    1) Until recently, I bought into the idea Nick has expressed above, that the gallows
    glyphs are consonants and had some in common with Nick’s assignments,
    assignments based mainly on appearance. Now on closer examination, I doubt
    that any of the gallows represent any letter, consonants or not. Using the simple nomenclature above where 1=double ascenders, one loop; 2=double ascenders, two loops; 1’=single ascender, single loop and 2’=single ascender, two loops, it can be observed by inspection, that the looser scribe on 29v uses gallows glyph 1 a total of 13 times while 2 is used 30 times. Neither 1′ or 2′ appears at all.
    If one provides a statistical answer to the pilcrowesque question, “how often is 1
    followed by 1, and 2 by 2 ?”, we get 5 and 19, respectively by inspection, or 38% and 63%. The theoretical, if no scribal preference is in effect would be 13/30 or
    43% for 1. Examination of 29v, one of the herbal pages line by line gives a range of
    one glyph (line 6) to 7 glyphs (line 4, where we see 5 examples of 2 vs two of 1. Three repeats of 2 are seen. I think on an explication of 29v or any other herbal page will reveal that the gallows glyphs are not letters but markers of some kind.
    Note also that no examples of a gallows glyph followed immediately by any other gallows glyph is not seen, or anyway, I have not seen any. This could be a linguistic characteristic or it could support the view that the gallows are markers of some kind, like a pilcrow. My daughter has told me that looking at a renaissance ms, one will see it peppered with pilcrows and they might just set off an “amen” in some plain song text. In discussing the VM, I have used the word “pilcrow” in what must be an approximation. One line, 4, for example, what is one to make of five glyphs of type 2 following one another? Still no clue yet on what many of the letter glyphs represent although I think 8, 9 and the ampersand like glyph stand for e, t, and f. “eaf” is all over the place and I think is a truncated form of “leaf”. All for now. I will also discuss soon an example of the tight scribe’s work, page 33v,, where 1 appears 25 times (19 repeats) and 2 appears 13 times (3 repeats). All for now from “Somewhere Land”. Cheers, Tom

  116. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm said:

    Nick, Do you recall a few years back, someone (julian rings a bell?) had an optical character recognition software/hardware package that he used to scan the ENTIRE VM? I have lost my copy of the results but as I recall it went no further than just detecting gallows, since his main interest (as I recall, don’t hold my hand over a candle on this!) was in looking at possible differences among the herbals, bathing, astronomy and horascope sections. If you agree that the gallows could use a new examination, could this person be approached? Perhaps the four gallows can be distinguished? Maybe this has already come to pass in my absence from Voyniching? If so, could you direct me to the citation among your blog entries?
    Ultimately I would like to see connectivity between like gallows but if the gallows
    are identified as 1,2,1′, and 2′ then I am a happy camper. I can fill in the connectivity myself. If you disagree and think I am passing over more than just “markers” I will understand and just plug along on this myself. I think my idea of “pilcrowesque” markers throws out about a third of the text and one wonders about the wasted scribal effort here? But then again, on the herbs, how much info do we really need. Some bone setting, puncture wound healing, fever reducing, laxative properties, etc. and that will be it. Cheers, Tom

  117. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm said:

    Nick and Rick Roberts, If a partial lunar eclipse is mentioned in the VM, (Ricks post of Nov 10, 2015), could this not be useful in locating the venue of the VM? Maybe this is already known to Rick? Cheers, Tom

  118. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm said:

    Nick, et al., First off, I really hope I am wrong, wrong, wrong in postulating that the
    gallows glyphs are not consonants or even letters. We needed those in our decrypt attempts!

    The tight scribe produced folio 33v with its 11 lines. Gallows glyph 1 occurs 31 times; 2 occurs 13 times. 1′ occurs once; 2′ is not used. The glyphs range from twice (line 11) to seven times (line 5). The number of repeats for 1 is 19 times; with 4 times for 2. A total of 23 repeats out of a total of 45 gallows glyphs.

    If the gallows are “markers” and not letters, then “Houston, we have a problem!”
    There remained at one time in my digging into the Pilcrow issue, that the pair of identical glyphs might be included in the text. Does not seem likely at the moment, mainly because of the jamming together of gallows in, for example, lines 2, 3,,4, 5. 7, and 8 but few in lines 1, 6, 9, 10 and 11. When a gallows is superimposed on a two conjoined letter glyphs, and another glyph identical but without imposition on a letter pair, I have taken the letter that follows the leading glyph and incorporated it into the line of “valid” text.

    Now why did the scribes add this additional level of complexity to our decrypt stuggles (if I should prove to be correct). I think the gallows are meant to distract
    the casual reader and look somewhat like Urdu or Hindi glyphs. None are identical that I have found but they do resemble writing of the far East. Just smoke and mirrors here, BUT they do put one into the mindset of the scribes. Note
    that the scribes seem to have liberty in picking their favorite gallows. I have one example of an herbal page where the numbers of 1 and 2 are essentially the same. Will continue on this melancholy task but I fear it is going to complicate life for VM decrypters. A bit like VP Harry Truman’s reaction to becoming president after the death of FDR. “A haystack just fell on me!”. Cheers, Tom

  119. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 6, 2016 at 7:18 pm said:

    Nick, Incidentally, I did look at the possibility that the prs of the same gallows glyphs might be used to indicate punctuation, like prs of commas, parentheses, semis etc., but the occurrence of gallows with only one character in between made this a difficult idea to support and I gave up on this. It is worth reiterating that nowhere in the VM, do we find any example of punctuation or even diacritical marks. I am ignoring the little curlicue (B’s lingo) above the joined c’s. I think it is a phonetic language (the tipped question mark like glyph, I think is the Armenian glyph for “ch” so that “8a?” is “each”. We still have a mountain to climb! Cheers, Tom

  120. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 7, 2016 at 4:37 am said:

    Nick, et al., If the gallow glyphs are out of play, then consonants will have to be located in the non-gallows glyphs. I think the “h” is incorporated in the tipped “?” which in Armenian is the phenome “ch”. I think the reverse “S” which is made in two
    strokes using a “c” underlaying a reverse “C” could be an “st”. But this is the end of
    guesswork at the moment. Cheers, Tom

  121. Thomas: indeed, my working hypothesis about the gallows is that they somehow function as consonants – however, I don’t currently see any way at all that they can be mapped one-to-one with a single consonant each, in the kind of way that simple language mappings for Voynichese necessarily require. Rene Zandbergen makes precisely the same point about single-leg gallows, so (for once) it’s not just me. 😉

    You mentioned the pilcrow here before: but even though I can see the resemblance between the way modern pilcrows are rendered and at least one of the four gallows characters, I’m far from convinced that pilcrows circa 1400-1450 looked like that at all.

    Incidentally, one online source on pilcrows asserts that very early printed books often left space at the start of paragraphs for pilcrows to be added by hand after printing, but that people usually never got round to adding them in: which is supposedly why we leave indented spaces at the start of paragraphs – fossilized lacunae where hand-decorated pilcrows once (briefly) used to go. Which would, if true, seem to make the pilcrow the most unprinted printing character in history, for what it’s worth. 🙂

  122. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 8, 2016 at 7:28 pm said:

    Nick, Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I still think that the gallows are some kind of markers and not consonants or any other letter. I am aware of their involvement in printing (also the pointing finger) and was surprised that the French evidently used the pilcrow for handwritten ms to indicate parargraphing. The double ascender, single loop sort of looks like the classic paragraph indicator but is written backward. Occasionally the double ascenders get closer, and more closely resemble the original pilcrow even more.

    I wondered if text separated by the same gallows would extend across the paragraphing we see in the VM or the paragraphing (like word lengths) might be just deception. It does appear that the same gallows in the last line of what we might call a paragraph is NOT followed by the same
    gallows in the first line of the next “paragraph”. Exceptions exist but are rare.

    Following is the gallows analysis in f20r, the tighter scribe. Note that he uses gallows 2 way more than 1 so I either have misidentified this scribe as “tight” or the observation the the tighter scribe preferred 1 to 2 (my post of 2-6) is incorrect.

    Folio 20r has a total of 38 gallows in three paragraphs with only 6 examples of 1; 26 examples of 2; one only of 1′ and five of 2′. There are 19 repeats of 2, i.e. 2 is followed by another 2, 19 times. No repeats at all of 1 or 1′ and just one repeat of 2′. The occurrence of gallows ranges from 0 (line 8) to 5 (line 9).

    The positive side, the the pilcrow idea (if correct) and that only text between the same gallows is valid, is that the VM might be European after all. I think the gallows are there to resemble some of the far East languages (even Brahmic as Sinh alleges above) but the text that counts is mainly Latin. I still think though that Eastern ideas are in the VM drawings, mainly the blue/brown(red) [females, closer to the earth are referred to in brown or red, the male dreamers are sky blue] coloration for plant blossoms and leaf or petal shapes and directionality that whisper yin/yang to me. The concept of yin/yang is at the heart of far Eastern folk medicine. The classical Chinese Materia Medica is built around yin/yang.

    “I will continue along the present line if it takes me all summer” (quote from US civil war general, US Grant). Cheers, Tom

  123. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 9, 2016 at 2:52 am said:

    Nick, To resolve any doubts about which scribe did f20v, I have analyzed a pretty
    obvious example of the tight scribe’s work, f34r and found a real surprise. The top section of 10 lines had 18 examples of gallows 1, 24 of glyph 2, and two each of 1′ and 2′. Eight repeats are seen with glyph 1; eleven repeats are seen with glyph 2; one repeat with 2′ and none with glyph 1′.

    Now the surprise is seen with the bottom section of six lines, done I am certain by the scribe with the same tight writing style as appeared in the top lines. Here we find 22 examples of 1, Eight of glyph 2, one of glyph 1′ and none of glyph 2′. There are 17 repeats of glyph 1 but none with the other two glyphs.

    So we have 2>1, (but not by much) in the top section (maybe in fact a paragraph?) but 1>>2 in the bottom section. Furthermore ALL the pilcrowesque markers in the bottom section are seen only with glyph 1.

    I really find it hard to imagine a distribution of consonants, if the gallows are indeed letters, that would fit the pattern we observe with f34r. Baffled even more than ever. It appears a totally arbitrary decision of a single scribe as to whether to concentrate on 1 or 2. Just a coin toss. Cheers, Tom

  124. avatar bdid1dr on February 9, 2016 at 5:47 am said:

    Oh my! When the cat’s away, the mice will play. Helllllooo Thomas! Lately, I’ve had to leave y-all to yourselves. I’ve been translating B-408 contents one folio or sets of folios as they become intelligible to me. My favorite is the single mulberry fruit which, so far, everyone wants to call it a pineapple. The discussion which accompanies that fruit is about food (mulberry leaves) until she spins herself into a silk cocoon. She is not allowed to eat her way out of the cocoon (after having transformed into silkworm moth). If she were not prevented from eating through the silk cocoon, the silk thread would be unusable for making silk cloth. (Sericine is the word to look for in that folio.)
    Still be de eyed

  125. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 10, 2016 at 10:21 pm said:

    Hi B, I was out of the loop, mainly closing up a lab under extremis conditions (that small pox scare which expanded into any toxic chemicals and caught me in the net). Anyway back to Voyniching and picking away at the gallows glyphs. Oddnesses galore there. BTW, you have occasionally mentioned vision problems. I was diagnosed with a dry eye (just one) and have tinkered around with about 8 over the counter drops. Rohto (a Japanese company markets drops for severe dryness and two a day work fine for me). In addition I bought for little money a visor magnifier (Optivisor DA7 model, 2.5 magification, focal length ca. 7 inches) that makes peering at Voynichese tolerable. Up close one notices a lot of scribal corrections and reinking, often of those mysterious gallows glyphs. Thanks for the insights on making silk. Cheers, Tom

  126. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 10, 2016 at 10:40 pm said:

    Nick et al., I looked for an extreme case of gallows preference by the tight scribe and for the moment, f23r will serve as an example. We see 31 examples of glyph 1 (25 repeats); nine examples of glyph 2 (double-legged, double looped) (2 repeats); five of glyph 1′ (2 repeats) and two of glyph 2′ (1 repeat). It is seen that solely the double legged-single loop gallows (1) appears in lines 7-11 and occurs a total of 18 times with 17 repeats. I cannot imagine any circumstance where one consonant only is used eighteen times to the exclusion of the other three in ca. 40% of the text, but that is what we see! I will take a look at what glyph PRECEDES OR FOLLOWS that glyph to examine the possibility that the gallows glyphs are operators of some kind and might change the preceding or following glyph in some way? I kind of doubt this survey will go anywhere but deeper into the weeds!

    I will also try and find an extreme case of the looser writing scribe. Cheers, Tom

  127. Thomas: you’re really not too far away from what I conclude – which is that even though the gallows largely seem to function as if they are consonants, you can’t ever get close to tying them down to any single consonant… they’re far too slippery. “qokedy qokedy dal qokedy qokedy” etc! 🙂

  128. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 11, 2016 at 5:03 am said:

    Nick, Fine that we’re on the same page so far as those gallows go. At the moment, they pose a really annoying puzzlement. An example of a folio done by the looser scribe is provided by f49r. Here in 21 well-spaced and separated lines and maybe two paragraphs (breaking at line 11 to 12), we have 10 gallows of type 1, 22 of type 2 and five of type 2′ and none of type 1′. The double legged single loop glyph has only 4 repeats while the gallows of type 2 has 13 repeats. There are three lines (3, 10 and 15) that have no gallows at all, even though complete lines so far as the drawing permits. Lines 16-18 have one, one and two of type 2 gallows. Line 19 has three of type 1 only. Lines 20 and 21 have only one each of type 2 gallows. Just a game of darts so far as I can tell at this moment. The tentative conclusion so far though is that each scribe has his own preference so far as the number of gallows he picks and which style predominates. On inspection, it does seem the looser scribe prefers glyph 2 and the tighter scribe, type 1 but this assumption needs a more rigorous testing. Using the scribal gallows glyph preferences would be a tedious way of distinguishing the scribes but I think it could be done.
    Generally inspection suffices. Cheers, Tom

    ps. I think it might be worthwhile to try and locate a language that might have close facsimiles of the gallows glyphs when written in cursive. This might be where the smoke and mirrors originates. I lean to the idea that they are markers, or bullets as my daughter prefers when multiple pilcrows are seen in medieval manuscripts. Sometimes there are multiple glyphs per line and they might even be in different colors. If they do not serve the purpose of bullets, then maybe they have no textual function at all but are just for deception?

  129. Thomas: if they’re nulls, they’re highly structured nulls, which isn’t normally how nulls are used (i.e. nulls normally disrupt the patterns in text, rather than add to them).

  130. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 11, 2016 at 3:51 pm said:

    Nick, I guess I mentioned nulls in passing in a fit of exasperation. My best guess is that they serve some function akin to pilcrows and that text outside the markers might be null, but not the gallows themselves. I agree totally that what makes it difficult to discard them totally is that the single-legged double-looped gallows glyph often starts an herbal folio and may have an embedded macron by virtue of extending the upper part of the glyph over an entire “word”. Scribal flourishes abound also on that first glyph. So your point about the gallows being structured, as for example starting a paragraph or sentence is one I would agree with. The single-legged gallows are comparatively rare; sometimes one type is not present at all. Sometimes they appear to be re-inked or inserted into text as an afterthought and are really skinny.

    I’ll search for an even better example of an herbal folio by the looser scribe. Until then, in my opinion, the gallows mystery deepens. I have not gone into that bathing, astronomy or horoscope sections yet. I prefer staying with the herbals for the time being as we have on each folio, drawn and tinted images, that may assist us. Cheers, Tom

  131. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 11, 2016 at 9:59 pm said:

    Nick, I decided for grins to do a gallows glyph analysis of f49v, i.e. the flip side of f49r which was done above; same loose scribe. A total of 26 lines with 70 gallows glyphs, The lines tend to have just a few gallows per line although lines 1,3, 14, 15, 16 and 25 have four or more; most are 1-3 gallows. None are devoid. There are 39 cases of the double legged single loop gallows (type 1) and 28 double legged double loop gallows (type 2). The single legged glyphs are one only of type 1′ and two of type 2′. There are 21 repeats for type 1; 11 repeats for type 2; no repeats for either of the single ascender glyphs. The repeats for 1 are 54% or if corrected for dilution by 2, amount to 21/39×39/28 or ca. 70%. There seems a definite tendency to repeat a gallows glyph. Now in this case the loose enscriber of the flip side of f49r uses type 1 20% more than type 2, reversing his use of 2 more than 1 on f49r. Looks again like a coin toss and the gallows glyphs cannot directly be used for consonants. Same scribe, doing recto and verso sides of a folio with greatly differing ratios of the two simplest gallows glyphs, type 1 and 2.

    The top five numbers running down the left side of f49v are entered by the same hand as numbered the folios, but I think this point has been made before. The numeral 1 appears to be a palimpsest. Some of the other column running down the left side, like 0 (or o?), the dot, 9, might be Eastern arabic numerals. Cheers, Tom

  132. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 13, 2016 at 2:50 am said:

    Nick et al., As promised (threatened?) here are the recto and verso sides of f39, written by the scribe with the tight style: f39r: The double-legged single loop gallows glyph (type 1) occurs 43 times with 30 repeats; the gallows glyph with two ascenders, two loops (type 2) occurs 10 times with 2 repeats; The single ascender, single loop glyph of type 1′ is used 7 times with 1 repeat; Type 2′ occurs 5 times with no repeats.

    For the verso side, f39v, we see type 1 gallows glyph used 51 times with 36 repeats’ gallows 2 is used 8 times with no repeats; glyph type 1′, six times with no repeats and gallows 2′ appears 4 times with no repeats.

    So of of a total of 65 gallows used on f39r, we see 43 appearances of glyph 1; with 70% being followed by another glyph of the same type; With f39v, we see a total of 69 gallows with 51 of type 1 having 38 repeats or, again, this glyph is followed by another of type 1, 70% of the time.

    I find this rather extraordinary. The repeats seem not to be random at all but follow a pretty strict plan. But what is this plan telling us? The tightly writing scribe is way more consistent in gallows usage than the looser enscriber. Type 1, just type 1, hugely predominates.

    By the way, as an aside relative to the plant shown on f49v above, note the inserts on the plant with blue and brown arcs on several of the leaves. I think this indicates the plant leaves are used for eye problems affecting both brown and blue eyed folks. I did some brief research on blue-eyed Armenians and they do exist. All for the moment. Cheers, Tom

  133. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 13, 2016 at 10:28 pm said:

    Nick, You have been patient in accepting my posts on the gallows glyphs. This one will be the last on frequency analysis of these four unusual glyphs. I have looked again at recto and verso sides of a folio clearly done by the tighter writing scribe, in particular, folio 40. For 40r the following pertain: A total of 55 gallows that break down to: 47 of the double legged single loop glyphs (type 1) with 41 of these following another of the same kind for a repeat frequency of 77%. There are only 4 of the double legged, double loop gallows with no repeats; two each of the single legged glyph with one repeat for 1′, none for 2′. What seems to me worth commenting upon is that 8 of the gallows have been partially or totally reinked. Some other glyphs are also reinked but they tend to be in the vicinity of the gallows. It seems that the scribe may want these to “stick out” either to deceive or remind?

    The verso of 40, i.e. f40v shows a total of 61 gallows with the following gallows frequencies: One sees 42 occurrences of the double-legged single loop gallows (type 1) with 28 repeats or 67% of the type 1 glyph followed by another of the same type; Ten glyphs of type 2 (no repeats), five of type 1′ (no repeats) and four of type 2′ with one repeat. There seem to be roughly 7 gallows that have been reinked.

    Again there is a huge propensity of the tighter writing scribe to choose the double-legged single loop gallows for some purpose. I think it would be hard to argue that these glyphs function somehow directly as consonants, when one type is so predominant among this scribe or another appears much more commonly used by the looser writing scribe.

    Next I will turn my attention to the appearance in the VM of total nonsense repeating text and check reinking by both scribes in greater detail.

    Cheers, Tom

  134. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 27, 2016 at 6:34 am said:

    Dear Nick, et al., I have looked at those single-legged gallows. The mystery of their function deepens. I have concentrated on the herbal section and find: four folios (f15r (loose scribe); f29v (loose scribe); f38r (tight writer) and f56v (tight scribe) that have no single-stemmed gallows at all. In the vast majority of the herbal folios, there is a huge preponderance for the single-stemmed gallows 1′ and 2′ to appear in the first line of text with 2′ comprising most of the glyphs. In some cases ALL the single stemmed gallows appear in the first line (e.g f14r; f27v; f46v; f48r), often supplying the first glyph. Sort of like a pilcrow. The single stemmed double looped gallows (i.e. 2′ ) greatly predominates over 1′. At the moment, I cannot even guess at the function of these two gallows glyphs; I doubt they can be letters. I will prepare a proper statistical study (for those who care about this sort of thing!) and report in good time.

    Some additional oddnesses: In a couple of folios (f55r, see line 8 for two instances) and f94r (line 7), an unusual glyph appears that looks like an inverted v underneath an attached overbar. This appears. interestingly, in Tibetan “Square” scripts (used at one time by Chinese Buddhists but longer used) where it serves as the vowel “o”. Am digging a bit more into Bengali and Uyghur Mongolian scripts as some tend to resemble the gallows.

    Possibly pertinent to far Eastern glyphs, one is reminded of Marco Polo’s trip to China. He was under the sod at the time the VM was likely composed, dying in 1299. He had an interest in Chinese herbs but I find no evidence that he ever compiled any herbal. He did suggest using turmeric as a substitute for saffron in dying cloth, in fact he refers to it as “Indian saffron” Related to this are several herbs that I think I have a pretty good ID for herbs found mainly in China. Will report on these anon.

    Some punctillios: At several places in the VM herbal, we find “898989” which I thought originally was just static but if one accepts an Armenian derivation for 89 as “et”, the expression “etetet” curiously is still used in modern Hungarian often in place of “etc”. The expression “etc” or “&c” is more recent than one might guess according to “dictionary.com” originating in 1375-1425. It does appear that “&” does appear in the VM but unfortunately the Armenian glyph for “f” closely resembles it in cursive. Even Michael Stone, the world’s expert on Armenian paleography, I think, mistakenly considered it represented in his mighty tome (personal email).

    Nick, I’m sure you have doubled the number of Voynichers by your talk today! We need all the help you can generate. Cheers, Tom

  135. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 28, 2016 at 4:44 am said:

    Dear Nick, et al., I propose the following ID for the herb on folio 20v. In my identifications of herbs or plants, I shall use mainly the “Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica” (MM) by Jing-Nuan Wu, Oxford, 2005. I believe the herb shown is found on page 148 and is Flos Buddleiae (Buddleia officinalis Maxim (family Loganiaceae)). The buds and flowers are dried and eaten for complaints involving the eye such as cataracts, dry eyes, corneal abrasions, redness, and light sensitivity. Note what appears to be sunglasses on each bloom. Smoked glasses were known in the 1300s in China by judges who wished to hide their eyes from the accused. Italians made and sold them in the 1400s. The thistle-like blooms are faithfully reproduced in f20v but the leaves are a rough approximation only. The fine illustration in MM 149 shows ovoid leaves non-alternating but the VM shows lanceolate opposite leaves. The leaves and roots were not used in eye complaints. I think this depiction in the VM stresses by some pretty overt clues, the use of the herb. I have several more IDs from MM and will unload them one by one. Cheers, Tom

  136. avatar Thomas F.Spande on February 29, 2016 at 12:30 am said:

    Dear Nick, et al., Following up on my post of 2-22-16, I have copied and pasted a portion of Andrew West’s blog site on those curious square Tibetan/Mongolian/Chinese glyphs created by a liguistic genius around the end of the 13thC: “The Phags-pa script is a Brahmic script based on Tibetan that was used for writing Mongolian, Chinese and other languages during the Mongolian Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Although it is no longer used for Mongolian and Chinese, it is still used to a limited extent as a decorative script for writing Tibetan. Unlike other Brahmic scripts, Phags-pa was written vertically from left to right after the manner of the Uighur-derived Mongolian script.

    The script was devised by the Tibetan lama Blo-gros rGyal-mtshan བློ་གྲོས་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ (lodoi ǰaltsan ᠯᠣᠳᠣᠢ ᠵᠠᠯᠼᠠᠨ in Mongolian), better known by the title ‘Phags-pa Lama (འཕགས་པ་བླ་མ་) “Reverend Lama” (transliterated as Bāsībā 八思巴, 巴思八 or 拔思巴 in Chinese), at the behest of Kublai Khan in about 1269 for use as the “national script” of the Mongol empire. The script was originally simply called “Mongolian new letters” 蒙古新字 in Chinese, and is still known by this name in Tibetan (hor-yig gsar-pa ཧོར་ཡིག་གསར་པ་), but is now referred to as dörbelǰin üsüg ᠳᠥᠷᠪᠡᠯᠵᠢᠨ ᠦᠰᠦᠭ “square script” in Mongolian and as bāsībā zì 八思巴字 “Phags-pa letters” in Chinese. In English the script is sometimes referred to as the “Mongolian Quadratic Script”, but is more commonly called ‘Phags-pa (or variants such as ḥP’ags-pa, hPhags-pa, vPhags-pa, Phags-pa etc.). On this site the script is referred to as Phags-pa for conformity with the Unicode name for the script.”

    The blog (Babelstone) of West has a very useful entry of Nov. of 2007 showing a table of the 43 glyphs with an observation that many appear in the frescoes of Giotto (finished ca. 1305) in the Arena chapel of Padua and also in Assisi. Giotto in the Arena chapel had 40 coworkers over a period of 3 yrs but it has been noted by West and others that some square Tibetan glyphs appear in the hems of garments worn by the Wise Men, Mary and others, along with Arabic. There is some speculation that Giotto or a coworker may have seen official passes given to Marco Polo in his travels through Mongolia where Phags-pa was still being used in official documents. See Wiki on “Mongol Elements in Western Medieval Art” that covers the period 13-15C. Some of West’s blog amounts to a polemic with Lawrence Bergreen (writer of “Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu”) over his referring to Phags-pa as a “constructed language”. West argues that it amounts to a cipher used to replace some Mongolian glyphs. By the time the linguist inventor died, the invented script began to fade from use.

    Now one wonders what appears to be a vowel (“o”) from Phags-pa shows up in the VM. I have only noted a few in the herbal section and have not searched the VM for any other Phags-pa glyphs. One might argue that we may have another traveler to the Far East “In the Steps of Marco Polo”?? Cheers, Tom

  137. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm said:

    Nick, et al., A tentative ID for the herb shown on f30v is found on page 592 of the Chinese Mareria Medica, where it is identified at Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae (in English, glabrous greenbrier rhizome). Only the dark brown lumpy rhizome is used, mainly for joint disorders or “mobility of joints”. I think the embedded clue in the VM are in those little berries that are uncolored (not used) and are 20 in number, five on each side of the upper two twigs and five on each of the lower two twigs. Each has a single spot and I think these are the nails of fingers (upper twigs) and toes (lower twigs). The leaves are colored and only roughly the shape of the plant leaves of page 593 of MM, where they are green lancelate shaped and alternate (not brownish ovoid as depicted in f30v). The rhizome can be used throughout the year and maybe this is implied in the brownish atumnal (?) leaves?
    Why are not the herbal drawings of f30v and the VM in general, a more accurate
    depiction of reality. One possibility is that they were done by non-experts and for non-experts, where only the parts that count were emphasized and clues as to use were provided? So non-herbalists were keepers of the VM herbal part? Maybe just purveyors of herbal extracts or sliced rhizomes as a business venture? Cheers, Tom

  138. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 2, 2016 at 8:36 pm said:

    Nick, et al., Another VM herb ID, that, I think, is close to certain and that is the one on f11v. I seem to recall other Voynichers putting forward turmeric (aka tumeric) for this herb. It is officially Rhizoma curcumae longa. Only the rhizome is used and is an ingredient in curries throughout the far East and in place of saffron for imparting a flavor and color to food in general, particularly rice and mustard, I has been used also for dying cloth. I think the embedded clue for the use (see MM231) is to relieve arm pain, among other bodily aches and pains. Note the little elbow-like hook on come of the other rootlets of the rhizome. Cheers, Tom

  139. avatar bdid1dr on March 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm said:

    Dear Nick, Thomas, Diane,
    I am begging you (and your followers) to take a good look (and compare) the figure eight/figure-nine combination is SAYING aes geus. The smaller figure nine is “X’: It is used throughout the botanical section of the so-called “Voynich Manuscript”.
    I give up!
    May you eventually arrive at a valid translation of the so-called Voynich. I have translated some thirty folios of the so-called Voynich manuscript. Since no one seems to be interested in my translations (any more than they are willing to compare the “Voynich’ manuscript with the Florentine Codex).

    If what you are discussing as ‘gallows’ happens to be the elaborate figure “P”, you are discussing PRE-LIM-I-NAR-Y or PRE-FER-A-TOR-Y or new PAR-A-GRAPH…..PER-TI-NENT
    PAL-ACE ——-BE-lief —BE-tl (better). Endless combinations, of which you will not find PH-O-NE-TI-CAL — but rather PH-o-n-tl-tl
    Apparently, the history/translation of B-408 (so-called “Voynich ) willNEVER catch up with Fray Sahagun’s final draft: The So-Called “Florentine Codex” .


  140. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 3, 2016 at 8:50 pm said:

    Nick, et al., Some miscellaneous ideas on the gallows glyphs. They are too idiosyncratic, too random (like the bulk being in the first line of text) that I find it hard to accept that they serve as consonants or any letter at all. My latest idea is that they serve as markers but of a special sort. They amount, not to simple nulls, but as a null placeholder. They hide a blank that, sort of like a cross-wood puzzle square,, has to be filled in, with a letter, likely a consonant but not the same one as designated by a certain gallows type, So in short an individual glyph of one kind of gallows might represent several or even many consonants. Random consonants that have to be worked out by trial and error.

    A simple stat on gallows glyphs and being the first glyph of a lead paragraph. In 121 herbal folios, I find only 47% are of the single stemmed type; none are double stemmed. Here they may serve as pilcrows of a sort. I will sort out lead glyphs of additional paragraphs where more than one paragraph appears on an herbal folio, but will have to examine this more carefully as it is sometimes difficult to tell the paragraph breaks. More on that anon.

    A plant ID: I think the herb on f2v is not a water lily as many maintain but is a specimen of the Manchurian wild ginger (see MM 113). The whole dried plant is used (one leaf has been harvested as will be noted), The root has been pruned drastically as all those little face-like root residues indicate. The MM indicates wild ginger is used for commonplace runny noses and coughs. The wild ginger has a single blossom as this depiction indicates but it originates from the rootlet and is brown or red and has three petals and is not white with four petals. There are some 85 species of Asarum and this may be one of them or is incorrectly recalled by the herbalist.

    More Phags-pa glyphs are found on the inner circles of f57v, in particular the inverted “v” with an overbar (several examples), a “T” with a short ascender that is perpendicular to this stroke and a “7” . Some others appear to be distortions of Phags-pa glyphs or perhaps come from some other source?

    I have ordered a copy of the voyages of Marco Polo to check whether this includes
    a Mongolian travel pass that might have influenced Giotto, Lorenzetti and others in introducing Phags-pa glyphs into their art work. Cheers, Tom,

  141. Thomas: as far as the gallows being a consonant placeholder of some sort, that was one of the specific cipher avenues I explored in “Curse” back in 2006. I have some more recent ideas that might help explain the strikethrough gallows (e.g. ckh etc) and that might also tighten the range of consonants in play there, but that will have to wait for a more detailed post… 🙂

  142. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 4, 2016 at 7:08 pm said:

    Nick, Sorry I missed that post of yours. At that time I assumed, I think as did many (like Bax), that the gallows stood for “constant, immutable” consonants. On closer study of the gallows glyphs, prompted by my daughter’s suggestion of their function as pilcrows, I noted that the two scribes, “tight” and “loose”, differed in their choice of the gallows and their frequency of occurrence and this seemed difficult to rationalize in terms of the gallows representing the same consonant (or any glyph) between the two scribes.

    The gallows as a null replacement for variable consonants would certainly be an easy code maker. Copying an unencoded (presumed) original text (that regrettably no longer exists or was deliberately destroyed) would be an easy job. The scribe while copying and encountering a consonant would replace some with a gallows glyph in a random manner. I think some consonants do appear in the VM such as 9 (equals “t”, in Armenian) and “s” , for example. The variability of the choice of gallows between the two scribes argues that the plaintext being copied was likely not coded and their own idiosyncratic choices were made in their copy work. In short, coding for consonants would be arbitrary and variable. I am glad that we seem to have arrived at the same point on this subject.

    I plan to return to herbal identifications with the aid of a work, I consider of likely importance, the Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica. Interestingly, I picked up a likely unused copy with dust jacket (>500 pages alternating text based on yin-yang ideas with really very fine fully colored prints for $50 at abebooks. com (American book exchange but actually operating out of Canada). Abebooks also sold me a copy of the English translation of Marco Polo’s voyage (Penguin books) for $2.32 and free shipping from the UK. Cannot be any kind of moneymaker! Another remaindered book? Cheers, Tom

  143. Thomas: it was actually a chapter of my book rather than a post. 🙂 But the mountain to climb is more about the mechanism behind the gallows. That is, if the cipher system is in any way reversible, then the gallows character must somehow tell the decipherer to bring in a letter from elsewhere… but where exactly is that elsewhere?

  144. avatar bdid1dr on March 5, 2016 at 11:45 pm said:

    I give up on you all : I’m so sorry, Thomas, you are taking the well-worn path to a dead end as far as TRANSLATING the Spanish and Nahauatl texts which appear in the so-called “Voynich” manuscript. The “Voynich” manuscript was Fray Sahagun’s diary — until he landed on the shores of Mexico. He immediately began instructing students at the School in Tl-a[tl-o-co: Two of his students were Juan Badiano and Martin De la Cruz. Both of whom went on to write their own manuscripts.

    You will find full translation (online) of every word in the so-called “Voynich” manuscript ; by using “Adobe Reader” when reading Fray Sahagun’s beautiful “FlorentineCodex” – General History of the Things of New Spain” . Especiallly
    helpful is ” Book Eleven – Earthly Things. “

  145. avatar bdid1dr on March 5, 2016 at 11:59 pm said:

    ps: Please forgive my ‘iffy’ punctuation — I am so upset that ‘everyone’ can still not ‘decode’ a document which was NOT a coded document. The so-called “Voynich Manuscript” was Fray Sahagun’s diary (begun in Spain) which also recorded his interviews with various village elders, as well as his efforts to teach his Nahuatl students how to write in their language as well as Sahagun’s Spanish.
    Currently, we call the “Voynich Manuscript B-408.

  146. avatar bdid1dr on March 6, 2016 at 12:05 am said:

    BTW: Apparently the Boenicke’Benicke Library is still undergoing renovations and improvements. If any of you happen to get queasy at great heights, remember you are viewing the new improvements from the ground floor……

  147. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 7, 2016 at 6:37 pm said:

    Dear “B” et al., I find Stephen Bax’s “Voynichese” much handier in viewing the entire VM than the Yale site. My only quibble with Bax is that he tends to cut off the roots/rhizomes of the herbal depictions, that I think are often key to the use of the plant.

    You are looking westward for help in deciphering the VM, I am looking eastward. You have a mountain to climb to convince Voynichers that this thing came from any part of the New World. I remain skeptical. Cheers, Tom

  148. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm said:

    Nick, et al., A herbal ID for 18v. I think it is Panax notoginseng (Burk), (Family Areliacecae) that has a rhizome rather than the root of the common Ginseng plant. It is depicted in MM on page 462/3. It is found in China and Japan and used for stanching bleeding. The more common Ginseng plant has 5 leaves but the herbalist who drew the plant on 18v was correct in indicating seven leaves although many appear to be lobes. The rhizome is indicated in the literature as being in three parts ; f 18v looks sort of like three with many nodules and rootlets as the natural plant (see Wiki). Cheers, Tom

  149. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 7, 2016 at 10:49 pm said:

    Nick, Oops, I meant six leaves. Some varieties have seven but I think six is meant by the VM herbalist. Sorry for the error. Cheers, Tom

  150. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 8, 2016 at 4:29 am said:

    Dear “B”, The grand work of Fray Bernadino Sahagun in 3 volumes and 2400pp was not started until 1545 and finished in 1590. Two thousand copies existed at one time. It was written in two columns with Nahuati on the right and Spanish on the left. I find the 6 ethnobotanical drawings included in the Wiki piece, of a completely different style (no roots or rhizomes for example; a workman included in one) to believe it compares at all to the VM herbal section.

    Are we to think that the precious velum of the VM sat unused for approximately one hundred years before pen was put to it?

    I think it is you who have a mountain to climb before convincing me that the VM came mainly out of the Aztec culture of Mexico, I may be embarked on a path leading to a dead end in thinking that the VM embodies plants and some glyphs of the Far East and maybe it is just an n+1 hypothesis BUT the time line of Marco Polo’s voyage fits the VM better than does the magnum opus of Sahugun. I do remain open,however, to argument. Cheers and Best wishes, Tom

  151. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 8, 2016 at 5:08 pm said:

    Dear “B” and others, Sorry I missed “B”s post of March 3rd.

    I would respond that many older languages (Hebrew is an example), that used an alphabet, employed letters for numbers. India, incidentally, is responsible for western numbers. We do not use Arabic numbers, although a few do resemble Indian numbering. The Indian numbering system, used the concept of “0” which was not introduced into Europe until the Italian mathematician Fibonacci came along in the 1400s. For awhile, the vowel “o” was used until a special digit for zero was created. Anyway I have picked Armenian since the eighth and ninth glyphs when Romanized are “e” for 8 and “t” for 9.

    So the many occurrences in the VM of “89” are simply “et” and can mean “and” or parts of a word like “set”. I was working backward while analyzing the VM and assumed that the frequent occurrence of “89” was some kind of conjunction like “and”. I think, in short, that eight and nine represent single letters and not syllables as you propose.

    Armenian also fit the bill for being a strictly phonetic language that used no diacritical marks and had some VM “look alike” glyphs such as the tipped “2” (Armenian for “ch”), the backward “S”, the “4” and the ampersand-like glyph for “f”
    Cheers, Tom

  152. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 9, 2016 at 1:23 am said:

    B. I spent a bit of time with my E-copy of “An Aztec Herbal: The Classic Codex of 1555”, Dover Books, Wm. Gates. It does have 185 water colors (finished in 1933) and the majority have rootballs surrounding the roots but some show the roots clearly. The E-book is b/w unfortunately. The herbs are laid out by medical complaints, some of which we might consider beyond herbal help, like being hit by lightning or a tornado. Pretty much all of human maladies are covered by some herbal preparation. The Aztec drawings are stylistic only, just blobs of greenery and what seems to count is environment. An interesting one has a man’s body half-obscured by plant to indicate it is one half the size of another species. The watercolor artist was Marie Therese Vuillemin, niece of Cardinal Eugene Tisserant keeper of the Vatican Library. They were done at the request of Gates. Some sort of look akin to the depictions of the VM herbals but were done 500 yrs later.

    If my ID of Panax notoginseng holds up, it will be the first depiction of the herb in any European herbal until a German herbal of the 17th C. This is despite the fact that Marco Polo brought back a substantial amount (the weight of a Venetian goat) from the mountains of Manchuria. Cheers, Tom

  153. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 13, 2016 at 6:15 pm said:

    Dear Nick, et al., I have examined in some detail the herbal pages for leading glyphs of the paragraphs when the folios have paragraphing. I find no major tendency of using the same lead paragraph glyph(s) as for the folio itself. I realize I made a major mistake in my post of March 3rd, indicating that when the lead folio glyph is a single stemmed type (either one loop (1′) or two loops (2′) that NO double stemmed glyphs appear as lead glyphs. This is totally false and I apologize for this error. The lead glyphs, when not single stemmed and (with the exception of f38v) are ALL double stemmed and mainly of the double stemmed, double looped type (27 of 122 herbal folios) with the remainder being double stemmed, single looped type (19 of 122 folios).
    Turning to lead glyphs for the various paragraphs found in the herbal folios. I find that 79 (65%) of the 122 folios have one or more paragraphs. Of these 42 (35%) are of the double stemmed, double loop type; 13 (11%) are of the double stemmed, single loop type; 32 (26%) are of the single stemmed, double loop type; and only 6 (5%) are single stemmed single loopers. Another 5% are just “Voynichese”. Conclusion of this little exercise is that the gallows definitely serve as lead glyphs in the manner of pilcrows for the VM herbal section.

    Incidentally, another odd glyph of the inverted “v” with overbar occurs on f55r (two examples in this folio). All three folios of the VM herbal section having this glyph are done by the “tighter” scribe. Close by in the VM (f57v) are other examples of this glyph and others such as an inverted “y” with overbar (4 examples), tipped “Ts”, a recumbent “7” an “X thickened at one end as well as some that are still cryptic to me. I think some of these are glyphs exist in a constructed language most commonly called Hangul, that was used in the southern Chinese province of Jilin and adjoining Korea. A problem arises is that this created language was not completed until 1444/1445 and has begun to fade from current use, being replaced by Chinese ideograms. Hangul was created to bring illiterates along more quickly to literacy as the ideograms were designed to be constructed logically from combinations of from two to six simple glyphs such as appear in the VM in those inner circles of f57v. The timeline for Hangul is a problem in view of the VM vellum dating being just too late to be reasonably considered. It is possible that some time elapsed between the completion of the vellum book and the VM being written? Another idea that I am investigating is whether some of those “square” Tibetan glyphs might have been used and reported back by travelers such as the Polos. Always darkest before dawn. Cheers, Tom

  154. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 13, 2016 at 10:36 pm said:

    Nick, I seem to recall from years back, a submitted cipher that had a lot of angular glyphs, like the corners of a square, a triangle etc. that I think were a submission in Hangul? Do you or anyone else recall this?
    Cheers, Tom

  155. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 15, 2016 at 3:38 am said:

    Nick, et al., Well my brand new copy of Marco Polo’s travels arrived in today’s mail; however instead of being the complete voyages, it was merely a chapter “Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls” Penguin classics, 2015. translated by Nigel Cliff. As my son remarked, “more of a day trip!” Anyway I read a bit about his travels through India and found a few pages (26-28) that got my attention. These deal with obtaining diamonds. The heavy monsoon rains wash diamonds off the mountain sides and into deep snake infested ravines. The locals toss fresh meat into the ravines to which the diamonds stick and “white eagles” that normally feed on snakes, take the fresh meat back to their nests, eat same and leave the diamonds in their feces. The enterprising locals climb up to the nests and retrieve the stones, some of which they are allowed to keep. The bulk go to the king and his cronies. I am inclined to think that the weirdnesses of f86v3 might depict this. Rain, birds and their nests, lurking men and maybe showers of diamonds. Awaiting the full annotated Travels in two volumes (Dover). I cannot say that I did not get my money’s worth on this tiny paperback but I expected a better description of this book from Penguin. Cheers, Tom

  156. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm said:

    Nick, Here’s a totally unhappy thought. The clues to what consonants/vowels are coded by the gallows glyphs lie in “hidden writing” seen in leaves and roots in the herbal section (at least) but have been re-tinted, re-crayoned, re-goached to the point where they are no longer visible! Techniques for reading palimpsests have been improved and were recently applied to an ancient Mt. Sinai codex thought to be beyond comprehension. Perhaps this hidden writing since it would leave impressions on the VM vellum could be applied in this quest? Perhaps in the case of any hidden writing (since it would leave impressions on the VM vellum) such techniques could be applied in this quest?

    In terms of what we don’t know about the VM. it seems to me a key question that has not been answered with certainty is when the vellum of the VM was written upon? I think most assume it was shortly after the vellum was prepared. This makes a pretty logical assumption but it may not stand up to rigorous scrutiny? When I argued with “B” that it likely was written on before the mid 16C. I may have employed faulty logic? Have we ANY evidence for when the VM was actually created? Cheers, Tom

  157. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm said:

    Nick et al., A reference to the work on palimpsests found in the library of the monastery of St. Catherines (in a valley below Mt. Sinai) is to be found in the March/April 2016 issue of Archaeology. We find in an article by Eric A. Powell, pp 38-43 that their collection of 3300 titles (second only to the Vatican library) is being digitized and the underlying originals of the palimpsests (ca. 130) are being read using a multipectral (largely UV) technique. Some of the originals are in dead languages (like Caucasian Albanian and, Christian Palestinian Aramaic). See also the site: sinaipalimpsests.org.

    Turning to Marco Polo: We find in his discussion on the city of Kinsay (modern Hangchow in central China} the following interesting entry on baths: “You must know also that the city of Kinsay has some 3000 baths, the water of which is supplied by springs. They are hot baths, and the people take great delight in them, frequenting them several times a month, for they are very cleanly in their persons. They are the finest and largest baths in the world; large enough for 1oo persons to bathe together.” Cheers, Tom

  158. avatar dawit on March 18, 2016 at 6:49 am said:

    i can solv this mistries book .

  159. dawit: yuo r teh solvr

  160. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 19, 2016 at 3:54 am said:

    Nick, Some loose ends. Has anyone proposed an explanation for the odd roundel for Novermbre of f73r? I doubt it is European. I think it comes from the Hindu tradition where it represents a man-eating alligator. The constellation on which this is based is Draco (the eighth largest constellation) which lies between Ursa major and minor near the pole star, so it is visible anywhere north of the equator. The gator of f73r is crunching down on a luckless child but is I think drawn by hearsay since the legs are too long. The Hindu word is “shi shu mara”. It could possibly be Persian for a serpent (Azhdeha) which is another interpretation of Draco. Originally Draco meant Dragon in Greek. Marco Polo actually never set foot in India but sailed near it and knew a lot of its mercantile and religious history. Like most of the lands he visits or passes by, he kisses off the inhabitants as “idolators”.

    On the origin of Hangul: (see Wiki for its origin”. Some of the characters were influenced by Phags-pa but the origin is more complex than just incorporating them. This is for linguists to continue hashing out. For Voynichers it means for all practical purposes that some Hangul-like glyphs were likely available to the VM compositors. Such as those seen in f57v. Note of f86v3 that the light pen scratching includes the inverted v with an overbar but the glyph is on its side. Two Armenian ampersand like “fs” are also seen, one large, one smaller.

    I withdraw my idea that the gallows glyphs can be decoded by hidden letters in the herbal plants. The simple reason being that other parts of the VM, such as the horoscope section abound with gallows glyphs. I then tried with one herbal folio, taking the gallows and the following letter thinking that since many of the following ones are vowels (all those “c c” combos, “o” ) that maybe the consonant just ahead of those is what has to be put in play. Problem here is that a gallows is sometimes followed by “a” so unless we look on the alphabet as a loop, where this could code for “z”, I think this idea hits a brick wall. Likewise if the character preceding the gallows be taken as the code, this becomes even more difficult as most are either “9” [“t” in Armenian] or “o”; Just too many to be useful. The clue as to the use of the gallows must be embedded somehow within the environment of the gallows.

    To sum up this unfocused post: If someone else has posted an explanation for the depiction of the “Novembre” roundel, I missed it and would be grateful for your point of view. This is something that Diane O. D. (sorry I missed wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s day-Mar 17 in the US of A.) has tackled? I seem to recall some discussion on that scratching seen on f86v3 where you and she presented opposing views? I would just add that it could both be pen trials AND Voynichese. I don’t see that one rules out the other. Cheers, Tom

    ps. OK, dawit, the floor is yours. Go for it!

  161. avatar Suzanne Redalia on March 19, 2016 at 5:17 pm said:

    Would anyone like to give some feedback on my Voynich script sign list posted at Quora under the blog ‘Fun With Jiroft Script’? I arrived at the sound values by comparing Voynich script with Linear B and Byblos script, both syllabary writing systems. The language encoded has many cognates or borrowings from Greek, French, German and Italian, but the grammar and basic words are Italo-Celtic, possibly Venetic.
    Common words and phrases that have come up are a-me (friend), bi-ra (bring, beer), bi-ra-de (bread), biwe (life), bo-a (bag), bo-ka (taste), bo-ku (plenty) bo-li (bowl, bull), bomo (produce), bo-ra (food), bou (cattle), bou-ku (veal), bou-ra (butter), de-li (pleasant), de-a me (my goddess), de-ra (clamor), fo-ra (plants), fo-ra-ka (pork), ii (deictic particle), ka (and, also), ka-bo (cabbage). ka-ku (chickpeas), ka-ra (dear one), mo (I, me), mo-ra (great), ra (give) ra-ma (cream), we (good), we-ra (rain).

    The text of the herbal section appears to be children’s primer-like, repetitive, full of internal rhymes and simple concepts about food, cooking, gardening and edible plants.

  162. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm said:

    Nick, et al., Marco Polo’s chapter on India, “Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls”, has the following interesting passage regarding Brahmins, “They have very healthy teeth thanks to a herb they chew with their meals.” I find this little teaser abridgment of his Travels, very entertaining although it does rely on a lot of “hand waving” as page turners. I think the herb referred to by Polo could be Radix Achyranehis Bidentatae (family Amaranthaceae) where according to Materia Medica (p39), the root is chewed for toothache. It is depicted in the VM by the looser writing scribe on f47v where the root stem is shown with two teeth protruding and flowers that indicate its use by males (blue petals on flowers (yang)) and females (red cnters (yin)). The leaves are ovoid and opposite as also indicated in the MM.

    In my opinion, from what I have read (and inferred from embedded clues as to use), I doubt the herbs shown in the VM are potherbs but are for various medical complaints.

    Turning again to those mysterious gallows glyphs: If they serve as “placeholders” for an intended letter, why do the two VM compositors use FOUR, when one would seem to fit the need? In increasing complexity we have the two single stemmed ones (1′, 2′) and two double stemmed (1, 2) or the order would be: 1′, 2′,1, 2. If an alphabet were used, abjada or abugida, might not the four gallows be used to select an even number of glyphs divisible by 4? Coincidentally arabic with a 28 glyph “alphabet” would fit. Some are single characters, some are graphemes. So, in short, a specific gallows would indicate the following glyphs are from part A of whatever letter set is being used; a different gallows could indicate part B, or e.g. the next seven glyphs are in play. etc? I think some arabic does appear in the VM and soon I will repeat my guess as to what “rot” actually represented.

    A quick response to Suzanne: I think most Voynichers have ruled out a language for the VM based on syllables. If you prepare a convincing case for “Jiroft” symbols taken from an ancient dead language (>3K yrs old) and being used in the VM as syllables, better linguists than me, may well take this up again. That is my “feedback”. Cheers, Tom

  163. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 21, 2016 at 1:23 am said:

    Nick, et al., To reiterate on the reason for FOUR gallows as placeholders: The simplest one, I would consider to be the single-stemmed-single looped gallows (1′) , that I propose draws a consonant from the FIRST quarter of some alphabet; the slightly more complex single-stemmed glyph (2′),, draws a consonant from the SECOND quarter of the same alphabet (likely); the double-stemmed single looper (1) picks a gallows from the THIRD quarter and the double-stemmed double looped gallows (2) from the last quarter of the alphabet. The exact consonant choices are trickier: Depending upon the alphabet, e.g. Latin or Armenian (39 glyphs or 40 if 9 is counted although it would be redundant for “t”) (this ignores 8 which is a vowel). This is tonight’s little Eureka. Next approach is to go to Frequency tables for glyphs for various common languages and make some tentative assignments. Would the VM scribes had a feel for the commonness of consonants in whatever language(s) they were working with? Maybe? Cheers, Tom

  164. avatar Thomas F.Spande on March 22, 2016 at 10:08 pm said:

    Nick et al., One last commentary on the gallows glyphs and the possibility that the four form some kind of a ordered sequence that would amount to a consonant “filter”. If one takes English as an example and subtracts the six vowels, one is left with 20 letters that would give four groups of five each. I propose that group A would include letters b-g with the two greatest letter frequencies of d=4.3 and c=2.8; this sequence is represented by the single stemmed, single loop gallows (1′). The next group (B) of five letters, h-m, would include frequencies of h=6.1 and l=4.0 and might be covered by the single stemmed, double looped gallows glyph (2′); the next group (C) of five would cover letters n-s, with the three letters of greatest frequency being n=6.8, s=6.3 and r-6.0. This group would be covered under the double-stemmed single looped gallows (1). The final group (D) would encompass letters t-z, with the two characters of greatest frequency in texts of t=9.1 and w=2.4. It would be covered under the double-stemmed double looped gallows (type 2). What if anything can we squeeze out of this proposition?

    I have looked at examples of folios from the VM herbal section and find for the tighter writing scribe that seven of the eight examples I picked, have gallows 1>>2; one folio (f34r) has 1=2. The five examples I picked of the looser writing scribe have the opposite but not as extreme with the occurrence of 2 slightly greater than 1 for three cases and use of 2 roughly twice that of 1 (f20v; f21v). There are two interesting pages where on one folio, the tighter writing scribe adopts the gallows ratio of the looser writer (f20r, f20v) and the looser writer on f18r adopts the gallows pattern of the tighter scribe (f18r). It seems a consult occurred between the two scribes that the gallows patterns should be the same for the page?!. For 1>2, one can propose as an example that gallows 1=n; 2=w for the tighter scribe and in the case of 2>1, for the looser writer, we have 2=t; 1=r. This is total guesswork but might stimulate some decrypt attempts? The single stemmed gallows occur infrequently (typically ca. 5 times in an herbal folio for either scribe or either 1′ or 2′,

    Why pick English? This language has well worked out letter frequencies and is fairly close to Latin. I plan to examine Latin in more detail but the same general idea of the four gallows glyphs each taking on a discrete block of letters in a consecutive manner. The take home on this exercise is that the two scribes differ in their gallows preferences UNLESS they are involved in each composing a folio on the same page, where for some reason, uniformity is desired. The hefty two volumes of Marco Polo’s voyages with way more many pages devoted to commentary by modern authors, arrived in today’s mail. This epic work gives new meaning to “fussnotes”! Cheers, Tom

  165. avatar Nikolaj on March 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm said:

    Good day!
    My name is Nikolai.
    To a question about the key to the Voynich manuscript.
    Today, I have to add on this matter following.
    The manuscript was written no letters, and signs for the letters of the alphabet of one of the ancient languages. Moreover, in the text there are 2 more levels of encryption to virtually eliminate the possibility of computer-assisted translation, even after replacing the signs letters.
    I pick up the key by which the first section I was able to read the following words: hemp, hemp clothing; food, food (sheet of 20 numbering on the Internet); cleaned (intestines), knowledge may wish to drink a sugary drink (nectar), maturation (maturity), to consider, to think (sheet 107); drink; six; flourishing; growing; rich; peas; sweet drink nectar and others. It is only a short word, mark 2-3. To translate words consisting of more than 2.3 characters is necessary to know this ancient language.
    If you are interested, I am ready to send more detailed information, including scans of pages indicating the translated words.
    Sincerely, Nicholas.

  166. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 1, 2016 at 5:20 pm said:

    Dear all, “On the road with Messer Mark, aka Marco Polo” [incidentally Marco is at variance with common English usage in that one should not refer to oneself with the honorific “Mr.”; let others refer to you that way]. He writes in book 1, page 108 (in the Dover book), as the area around Hormuz (now southern Iraq) as being so “intolerably hot that it would kill everybody, were it not that ….they plunge into water up to the neck and so abide…” A foot note (these can be useful but abide also, many pages of footnotes per page of text). One indicates that the locals stand it until March with everyone leaving by April. The VM “zodiac” has 30 tubs in Pisces (Feb 19-Mar 20); 30 tubs in Aries (March 21 to April 19) and 5 in Taurus (April 20-May 20). Note the counting of days probably starts from the inner circle and goes outward. This seems to fit with real honest to God tubs and not some kind of symbolic dating device. The portions of Marco’s text that I have deleted deal with hot winds from deserts to the south.

    I think Nicolai, above, is likely correct since even the “gallows glyphs” appear to be encoded. I think they represent consonants that vary according to the whims of the scribe and differ between the two scribes.

    Back to Marco’s strange and unusual voyage where he seems to do things the hard way. It just might be however, one of the keys to understanding the VM. Incidentally, most scholars agree that it was written originally in French while Marco was cooling his heels in a Genoese prison, having been greeted on his triumphal return to Venice by being clapped into irons and transported to Pisa for two years imprisonment. Well, likely we would not have the adventures of Marco Polo in manuscript form had this not happened and had he not had a prison companion who was a writer of note. Cheers, Tom

  167. avatar D.N. O'Donovan on April 2, 2016 at 8:05 am said:

    Dear Tom,
    Do I understand your argument correctly. You seem to be saying that if the manuscript were a record of Marco Polo’s travels, and if the figures in the ‘bathy-‘ section were meant for images of Omani people cooling off, then the figures set around in their tiers in the calendar would also represent people of Oman cooling off, and thus that the ‘barils’ represented tubs of a sort made and used in Oman in Marco Polo’s day. Have I understood the line of argument correctly? And have we any images of personal bathing tubs as made in fourteenth-century Oman?

    I might add that I have no objection at all to the idea of the manuscript relating in some way to 13thC Oman, and have already written on the relevance of that region and time – though in relation to matters such as the Genoese presence, the maritime culture, the region’s history and so on.

  168. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm said:

    Diane, At the moment, I am of the opinion that the compositors of the VM were merely aware of Marco Polo’s voyages and for reasons not yet clear, incorporated some of his observations into their corpus. I slowly adopted this position by determining that some of the strange glyphs in the circles of f57v likely came from the square Tibetan script (Phags-pa) used briefly for official documents and that overlapped Marco Polo’s visit to Manchuria and Northern China. Some glyphs were also picked up by another short-lived script used in Southern China and Korea called Hangul and a few of these also appear on f57v. Since some art historians speculate that the “oriental decorations” in clothing borders used by Giotto in Padua and Assisi and Lorenzetti and others (a topic dealt with in an entry in “Wiki” on Mongol elements in Western medieval Art in the 13-15th C.) and might have been influenced by the travel pass (in Phags-pa) issued to Polo by Kublai Khan, I began searching that work for a description in his own words. Later drawings appear in the Dover ed. of the Voyages but I have yet to find a description of the pass in the text.

    Let me say that reading the Voyages in the Dover ed. is taxing to a fare thee well. Not a page goes by without extensive footnoting that can go on for three or four pages. Much is useful but it does create detours. I have noted some factoids above in Nick’s blog site, where Polo comments about something that I perceive as relevant to the VM, such as: that roundel for “Novembre” that appears to have a crock-like beast and was used in Hindu India; the baths you noted, and lately those tubs used to cool off in southern Iraq. At the moment, I think the inclusions of these indirectly in the VM were included to add an air of mystery to the whole thing. It is possible (since more than 100 yrs elapsed between Polo’s voyages and the alleged composition and copying of the VM plaintext), that the VM draws on observations of other travelers and perhaps even some first hand experience but that is totally speculative. Incidentally, the nymphs populating the zodiac, I doubt are bathers but rather each represents a day, sort of mother-earth like. The star on a leash is a representation of the sun. I think many have commented on this before.

    I think what drew me “East of Suez” was the “yin/yang” symbiology in the VM herbal section and the likelihood that many of the herbs are found in India or China and are not likely English potherbs.

    If I have ignored various posts of yours on Genoese excursions into Asia, I apologize. I have been out of the loop for about two years, because of clearing out a laboratory and winding up a life’s work as an organic chemist. I suspect you might have an idea, maybe the same as Polo’s, on that November roundel? That was so out of the European tradition, that I speculated years ago on its origin likely in the middle East, maybe a Nhang river monster from the Euphrates? Cheers, Tom

  169. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 3, 2016 at 6:19 pm said:

    Dear Nick, et al. I put forward a different interpretation of the strange writing on the stem of that plant of f4r, discussed briefly by Nick in “Curse” on page 98. You have, from an understandable Eurocentric predilection, interpreted the three glyphs as running from bottom to top and spelling “TOA” when viewed from the right. If viewed from the LEFT, however, I think the case can be made that these glyphs are Arabic and the glyphs are from bottom to top, “d”, “m” and “h” as represented by the upside down “T”, the lower case “o” with a dot on the lower left side and the tipped “s” like glyph with a dish like accent mark. Problem here is that these do not match with a close examination of the Arabic letters where the inverted “T” should have the downward arm longer than the upper arm, the dot is on the wrong side of the “o” and the complex glyph opens to the upfolio side. These do not match the “initial, medial and final positions in Arabic and certainly not the “stand alone” forms. I propose a radical operation and that is the three glyphs be lifted from the bottom edge and FLIPPED so that the sequence is reversed. This makes the downward cross arm of the “T” shorter, puts the dot on the “o” on its other side and runs the complex end glyph in the other direction. Everything fits except the center “o” is initial and should probably be medial. The inverted “T” fits for “final d” and the complex glyph for “an initial h”. It was not clear even from the helpful enlargement in Nick’s ‘Curse” whether the inverted T has a little dot atop the long arm but that would just be a phonetic “dh” rather than “d”. The operation is essentially looking at this as a mirror image but still reading from bottom to top. So, in biblical terms, “the last shall be first!”

    I have hesitated to put this forward but I will throw it out for argument’s sake. I still am not sure what the significance of these three Arabic letters are but I suspect it has something to do with the date at which those letters were put down, since Arabic used letters to represent numbers.

    If this exercise is correct, then it gives one an additional headache as if we needed that! Are there other parts of the VM hidden writing. or God forbid, the text itself that are in mirror image form. It is true that engravers worked with mirrors routinely as the end product of their craft was a mirror image of the original. But scribes? Dunno about that. Cheers, Tom

  170. Thomas: it’s possible that the genesis of these three letter-like things was as you suggest. But it would be a small rock to build a cathedral upon, all the same. 😐

  171. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 3, 2016 at 7:34 pm said:

    Nick, No cathedral. Just an observation, if true, that the scribes were familiar with Arabic or even writing from an area where Arabic was used. I think there may be a few more examples and I’ll try and provide these anon. Still it doesn’t bring us much closer to a decrypt of the VM, just another excursion into the weeds. Cheers, Tom

  172. avatar SirHubert on April 3, 2016 at 8:33 pm said:


    I’m afraid it’s not Arabic. I’m pretty sure it’s just ‘rot’, a German-language instruction to an illuminator to paint that bit red. There’s another instance in the left-hand part of the root on f7r, where it’s written horizontally, and another probable one elsewhere.

    This has been discussed previously here:


    and is on Rene’s site too.

    I’ve worked with mediaeval Arabic script pretty much every day for the past twenty-odd years, hence I’m pretty confident on that point at least (although that in itself doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right, of course).

    To answer your other question, yes – there is plenty of hidden writing in the VMs. Most is written in Latin script, but there is a bit of Voynichese in there too. Have a look for Reuben Ogburn’s site on the Wayback Machine if you’re interested, although his list is far from complete.

    Diane has claimed to see what she considers some kind of Semitic micro-writing and has discussed this at her blog and elsewhere. My personal view is that this is unintentional and just ‘chatter’ – a consequence of how the paint has been applied and dried – but do by all means read what she thinks and form your own conclusions.

  173. avatar D.N. O'Donovan on April 3, 2016 at 9:26 pm said:

    I’ve mentioned what I see as allusions to Mongol practice and Giotto etc.
    If you’re interested, one of posts is “Chronological strata, Avignon 1300s” – others on the topic are linked there, with some references which might not be in the wiki article.

    It is kind of SirHubert to mention that line of micrography. The specialist doesn’t wish to be named – for obvious reasons – but would be considered one of the world’s top three in studies of Semitic and Aramaic scripts (palaeography and epigraphy). That person gave their opinion that that the letters were writing, and a semitic script, and read them off, while at the same time saying that the scribe was ‘drawing’ rather than writing them, and that the paint was too thick to be quite sure of finer distinctions such as whether e.g. vav or zayin were intended by one letter. Unless they form the cipher key, though, I don’t suppose it is of any great moment.

  174. avatar SirHubert on April 3, 2016 at 11:02 pm said:

    Diane: did this specialist actually manage to read anything specific, or suggest which particular Semitic script he/she thought was involved?

  175. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm said:

    Sir Hubert, To deal with your point concerning the writing on the stem of f4v, I was aware of that argument, whoever first proposed it. It has one huge advantage and that is it does provide an explanation for those three glyphs that neither of the provisional interpretations of mine nor Nick’s does My main problem is that red plant stems are very unusual in the VM herbal section. In my slightly incomplete collection of home-printed VM herbal folios, I find only three (f13v, 35r and 38v) that have reddish plant stems and, in these, only traces remain. I assume that the “rot” would have been tinted over and then join the ranks of “hidden writing”? We know red is often used for leaves and blossom centers and have evidently been freshened up by retinting’; why not f4v? I like red personally as it fits into yin/yang ideology, red representing the female (yin) principle. I have relied on Nick’s fine enlargement (“Curse”, p 98) and found that little dot on “o” to be hard to explain without an amateur’s dive into Arabic. Then things sort of fell into place. Everything except an explanation for their occurrence. I certainly have no expertise in medieval Arabic or Arabic in general (in its many flavors). On this I defer to Sir Hubert. My queries to Sir Hubert before I go with his interpretation is 1) why German?; 2) why bottom to top? and 3) what’s with the “dot”? Is this a tip to orient the colorist? Finally that is a very strange lower case “t”. Curious in Maryland, Cheers, Tom

  176. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 4, 2016 at 7:57 pm said:

    Sir Hubert, Regarding the left-hand rootlet of f7r. I can make out the “o” with no problem but, even with a hand lens I can detect only some fuzziness where the “r” and “t” might be. I take your word for it though that it too spells out the German “rot” for red but this, to me, raises a problem. Why are the roots now, at least, clearly brown? The pigment analysis of McCrone Assoc., Inc. indicates the red-brown pigment (they refer to it on f47r as red-ochre) used in the VM was based on the oxide (hematite) and sulfide of iron mainly. Why refer to this pigment as red when it is only “reddish”? Then every root we might now call brown and that has faded to a lighter brown, started life as more like red? I have a problem with that. Cheers, Tom

  177. avatar Marethyu Death on April 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm said:

    Something interesting:
    Many people have tried the Voynich, but none have solved it. Could it be, perhaps, sort of glossolalia? Although admittedly that doesn’t make sense for even the glossolalia can be deciphered. One thing I wanted to know, however, was whether anyone had identified the components and region of the ink used, for ink was likely, during those times, unique, but corresponding to the country it was created in. Also, because you mentioned that more than one person was likely to have written in it, it is very likely that a sort of society could have written it, because the cipher is singular throughout the entire manuscript, but the ink may-or may not-be different, showing different people with different pens, ink, or quills.

  178. avatar SirHubert on April 5, 2016 at 3:14 pm said:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m afraid that I’m not able to give full answers to your thoroughly sensible questions, but I hope this might help:

    i) Why German? I presume the answer is because the instructions were designed for someone who either spoke German or understood it. That might be because the native tongue either of the person giving or receiving the instruction (or both) was German, or because German was the main vernacular language in that area (not necessarily the same thing). Or it might be that German abbreviations were routinely used for these things just as Italian abbreviations are used in sheet music (so a child learning the violin learns that ‘f’ means ‘loud’ without necessarily understanding it’s an abbreviation for ‘forte’). I honestly don’t know. But it *doesn’t* necessarily mean that the language, if any, of the VMs is German.

    ii) Why bottom to top? No idea 🙂

    iii) The dot, I think, is not connected to the rest of the writing, as far as I can tell. It’s just a dot.

    iv) The letter ‘t’ is a standard fifteenth-century form as far as I know.

    Two further points, if you can bear it.

    v) The reading ‘rot’ receives further confirmation from the existence of another colour indicator, ‘pur’, found in f32r (among others) and apparently an abbreviation for ‘purpur’.

    vi) The whole question of when the VMs was coloured, in how many phases and by whom, is one I don’t pretend to understand. But I think there are good arguments for at least two phases, of which at least one took place *after* the folios had become disordered. Independently of that, I also think that there are *at least three* different types of colour indication used in the VMs. What is not at all clear to me is which (if any) of these colour indicators were added by people who actually understood what the illustrations were meant to represent, or whether some of them are later attempts to beautify an otherwise plain manuscript. That, I think, is why some of the colour indicators were not in fact followed. But it’s very confusing and I may be wide of the mark.

    Finally, I simply don’t know whether ‘rot’ was a generic term for any red/red brown colour, or whether there was one term at this period for cinnabar-red and another for ochre. Beyond my knowledge, I’m afraid 🙂

    I’m sorry not to have anything more definitive, but hope this is food for thought at least!

  179. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm said:

    Sir Hubert, Thanks for the prompt response to some sort of elementary questions. I agree that the herbal section of the VM has been colored over and over and with different mediums: inks, watercolor, a gouache, and likely even crayon. I have a major problem in that the pigment analysis by McCrone Assoc.., Inc. was done on samples of later paint and may not always have represented the original coloration. I think on close examination, one can spot original coloration on nearly every folio. If you can spot “rot” in f7r, then, for you, I don’t need to dwell on this at all!

    I have not found any reference to cinnabar being in the pigment samples analyzed by McCrone but that doesn’t mean it could not have been originally used. There are smaller amounts of a lead containing mineral used on that red-ochre sample of f42r taken for analysis, but I have no idea what these minor components, minerals containing lead, would have looked like on parchment. Maybe reddish? There was another pigment sample (f26r) taken that was lead oxide and iron oxide, where the later alone is called by them red-ochre. As I recall, the oxide (Fe2O3) referred to as hematite is more of a rust color without much red in it. The red in this case could be a mixture of lead oxides, known as “red lead”; a mixture with Pb3O4 likely predominating. I think that since all of the pigments in the VM are minerals, that fading of the original pigments would be minor. At least the McCrone analysis did not pick up any more modern azo or phthalocyanine dyes that are definitely not light fast.

    Well I think most will agree that the plants depicted in the herbal are often strange departures from reality; some are fairly accurate, like mulberry and turmeric, but many are distorted by clues embedded for their medicinal use.

    Cheers, Tom

  180. avatar D.N. O'Donovan on April 6, 2016 at 1:21 am said:


  181. avatar SirHubert on April 6, 2016 at 8:44 am said:

    Diane: that’s nice.

  182. avatar SirHubert on April 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm said:

    Diane: ah, I see! You’d lost me for a minute 🙂

  183. Could it be that the plants are the symbols of what cipher to use?

  184. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm said:

    Sir Hubert, I have stared at f32r with some effort and all the magnification available to me, but fail to see any hidden writing at all and certainly nothing resembling a “pur”. Incidentally what would “purpur” signify? Can you provide directions for spotting that writing?

    That herb which has rootlets colored green which seems to me an unlikely natural occurrence, has them all facing to the right suggesting a “yang” (male) use for the plant or at least this part. , I presume on your charity that you will permit me to inject yin/yang philosophy into our exchange! I think the VM herbal section embodies it and furthermore suggests that the blue petals on the flowers are also for male use.

    The leaves in two cases are fused together, an embedded clue that I think indicates the leaves are used for wound healing. This essentially, warts and all, is how I approach the oddities and weirdnesses of the VM herbal section. I will add a
    proviso and that is it is not clear after hundreds of years of debate (yoga vs. traditional Chinese medicine) whether yang is to the right or left and yin, the reverse. I think the VM herbalists, since the blue in the flowers marks a yang use (no debate there), intends those green right-facing rootlets also to be of yang (male) use. Cheers, Tom

  185. avatar SirHubert on April 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm said:

    Diane: just to point out that the Latin readings of the letters on this folio are ‘pur’ or ‘por’, not ‘rot’. Which explains why the applied colour is blueish rather than red. If memory serves this confusion goes back some years, possibly to a typo on Ogburn’s site, which I can’t check from here.

    It would be helpful, if you’re in a position to do this, if you could upload exactly what yo sent to your specialist. I’m slightly confused as to whether they were looking at the pur/por or the edge of the heavy painting in the left of the top petal, which was my recollection from your previous posts on this topic.

    Diane has posted a fairly lengthy discussion at her own website (I’d not originally noticed this), which I mention for those interested rather than rehashing it here.

  186. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 8, 2016 at 7:06 pm said:

    Diane, I apologize for being so tardy in responding to your offer to share your scholarship on Mongol influences in Western Art, I will just reiterate that this topic is interesting, but for the moment, peripheral to my main line of effort-trying to figure out a bit of what is going on in the VM. Until the code is cracked, I think we have to follow your focus of concentrating on the visual aspects of the VM; what can we glean from the way things appear–the styles of things, what content was considered important by the VM scribes. You are not alone here but have undoubtedly logged more hours in this area than anyone else. Incidentally I found a post (Nov 2007) on a blog site of Andrew West (Marco Polo and the Universal Script) that has some full colored images of the borders of clothing worn by the three Wise Men, Mary and a Roman soldier at the tomb, as displayed in the Giotto frescoes of the Arena chapel in Padua. Giotto worked on this after the return of Marco Polo and some have speculated that Polo’s manuscript might have included some of the Phags-pa (square Tibetan) script but I have yet to find it. The Dover ed I have has some foreign scripts in Messr Polo’s hand but not Phags-pa. Illustrations are provided but appeared in editions in the mid 19C. Giotto also had forty coworkers in the fresco work so one or more of these might have been aware of Phags-pa or learned of it by word of mouth, addenda to the original ms, (now lost) or other travelers. So far, for me, a dead end on tying Marco Polo to the Mongol influence on Western medieval art. If you know anything on the source, I hope you will share this in this blog site of Nick’s. Cheers, Tom

  187. avatar SirHubert on April 8, 2016 at 7:14 pm said:

    Tom: there are two on that page in fact. The easiest to find is in the lower right flower, just above the stalks with the topmost leaves. P and U are written vertically with R to the right of the P.

    You really need something like Jason Davies’s Voynich Voyager, set on highest magnification, to see these things properly. If you’re looking at an inkjet printout or something, you’ll struggle.

  188. avatar Diane on April 9, 2016 at 3:31 am said:

    Sir Hubert,
    Thanks for the information about the ‘pur’ rather than ‘rot’. I thought the ‘pur’ a fairly recent revision of the original reading, but see I’ll have to check that.

    In one of my own posts I also mentioned the Arena chapel, but I was working from other sources, and in my post I mentioned the seminal essay on the subject of Phags-pa in Latin works of the time. The article is:
    Hidemichi Tanaka, ‘The Mongolian script in Giotto’s paintings at the Scrovegni Chapel at Padova’, Akten des XXV. Internationalen Kongresses fur Kunstgeschichte Pt.6 (1986) pp.167-74.

    The post in which I mentioned these things, was part of a longer discussion about my reasons for attributing one strand (and chronological stratum) to the ‘Mongol century’. That post is dated Feb.6th., 2015 (voynichimagery).

    Personally, I see no reason to believe Marco Polo had any personal involvement. There were, as I’ve explained for my readers, literally hundreds of people who passed between the eastern and western sphere during the ‘Mongol century’ – not to mention those who had known and travelled those routes, or a considerable length of them, from before the days of Alexander.

    For me, MS Beinecke 408 is an interesting problem in provenancing: that is, provenancing the content up until c.1427 when I think our present manuscript was manufactured (to use the most neutral term I can) and probably in the Veneto.

    Usually, we can assign a manuscript to its proper period and culture, and describe the content of any imagery, within about a week. Regardless of any written matter. That the Vms remains problematic is due, not least, to the unusual nature and dynamic of public discourse about it, but I daresay that could change, one day.

  189. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm said:

    Sir Hubert, I had f32r printed with an HP laser printer but spotting “pur” proved for my eyes and magnifiers, “mission impossible”. I will take your word that this coloring instruction is in there somewhere. Thanks for the coaching but I’m afraid I’ll have to admit defeat. I think, however, that this hidden writing amounts to a punctillio of sorts and maybe illustrates that a lot of the hidden writing in the VM are just coloration instructions? It does raise one question and that is how the color “purple” was achieved. I assume that “pur” means purple? Also, why it seems now to be a dark blue. McCrone analyzed only two samples, referred to as “blue” and found both to be azurite with minor amounts of cuprite (an oxide of copper). One of the VM samples studied, a flower like f32r, are the blooms of f26r, and here to my eye, the color does resemble purple. Maybe the gum used in coloration plays some role in the final color now observed.

    Instructions on coloration does imply that the colorist was not working closely with the herb delineator and that the drawing and even original coloration were done as separate steps by different workers. The later re-coloration often seems totally haphazard and in many cases, little attempt is made to “keep within lines”.

    Well, again thanks for following up on this query of mine. Cheers, Tom

  190. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm said:

    Diane, Thanks for the information on Marco Polo, Phags pa and Giotto, etc. I think, along with you, that Marco Polo is a “red herring”. I do think that his voyages might have influenced portions of the VM and maybe topics selected by those scribes, like that “Novembre” roundel. But I think the occurrence of Phags pa and Hangul glyphs come to the circles of f57v from a source other than Polo. One Phags pa glyph (the inverted “v” with an overbar) appears at several places in the herbal text, but used by one scribe only.

    As to the passes issued by Kublai Khan, the examples shown in the Dover ed. of his voyages came from a discovery in Siberia of all places. So your point of these being used by many, other than Polo is well taken. I will just return to reading about the voyages for pleasure as his prison companion-prominent author has even after n+1 translations, created a compelling read. Cheers, Tom

    ps. There is so much footnoting and commentary in the Dover ed of Polo’s voyages, it amounts to a crash course in Medieval travel history. The Yule-Cordier edition that Dover has republished is about 75% footnotes. I have never before seen a work invested with such totally relevant commentary. Cheers, Tom

  191. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 9, 2016 at 8:47 pm said:

    Dear Nick, Sir Hubert, et al., Having invested a bit of time with the idea that the writing on the stem of the herb on f4r is arabic and could be involved in formulating a date, (being three digits). I make out the rearranged letters ( see my post of April 2) as “hmd” (reading from the bottom). Assigning the usual numbers to these that were used by Arabs to indicate some numbers, we have h=800; m=40; d=5 or 845. Adding to this the date of the first hajj (629
    AD (totally un-PC not to use C.E. but blame Trump for that!), we come up with the date 1474 A.D.; not far from one of the permutations (1475) of Nick’s of the really tiny numbers at the center of the herb on f28v (“Curse” p173). Now I brace myself for a riposte from Sir Hubert who argued for those glyphs spelling the German word “rot” on f4r. He may well be correct but I have two problems still with that: the little dot by “o” is dismissed; the lower case German “t” is weird. Cheers, Tom

  192. avatar Diane on April 10, 2016 at 1:49 pm said:

    If you look at Wallis’ Budge’s translation of Mar (or Bar) Sawma’s journey narrative, the paiza (spellings differ) was also illustrated there. Not all those we know came from Siberia, I believe.

    and Tom

    ” I have never before seen a work invested with such totally relevant commentary”

    really? 😀

  193. avatar SirHubert on April 10, 2016 at 6:35 pm said:

    Hi Tom,

    I don’t really have much to add, I’m afraid.

    The Hijra took place in 622m, not 629m. I believe you’re right that Arabic letters have associated numbers, although I myself have never come across a date written in this way. Is this more to do with numerology and gematria? By the 800s Hijri, the numerals we now associate with Arabic script were certainly in use for dates.

    Otherwise, I can only repeat myself: please have a look at Reuben Ogburn’s site, and you really will need to look at an enlarged, on-screen image to find these things comfortably.

    I can see how you might think there is a resemblance to Arabic, but can only – with all respect to the most courteous of posters here – beg to differ. I don’t have a problem with the letter shape of the ‘t’, and if the dot is close to the ‘o’ (which, incidentally, is wrongly written for an isolated Arabic ‘m’, there is no way to associate the two meaningfully.

    But your comments on how the colour has been applied, and your questioning of the relationship between draughtsman and colourist are, in my opinion, absolutely spot on.

  194. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 10, 2016 at 6:54 pm said:

    Diane, Yep! Tom

  195. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 11, 2016 at 4:08 am said:

    Sir Hubert, There is more wrong with my calculation based on the perceived Arabic glyphs seen in f4r than getting the start of the Arabic calendar (the Hajira) wrong. You are correct it is 622 CE; islamic calendar conversion tables for the resulting date of 845+622=1467 does not fit at all but should be 871 not 845, a discrepancy of some 26 yrs., a not inconsiderable error. Back to the drawing boards or maybe this whole operation is just fatally flawed and is just illusory. You are right in that the dotted “o” did not fit for a medial form, but rather an initial form. I noted that but plowed ahead thinking maybe the scribe was in error. Either original or rearranged we have the same problem with that glyph. The other two glyphs after rearrangement did fit. So Arabic is out and I guess we will have to accept “rot”. Thanks for letting me down easy! Cheers, Tom

  196. I suspect the site of Reuben Ogburn may have been a page at GC’s voynichcentral, now lost. This is the one place I remember where an overview of many of these previously barely noticed “letters in plants” was presented, very shortly after the appearance of the first set of digital scans at the Beinecke. I don’t remember the name of the poster threre.
    If anyone knows for certain it would be appreciated.

  197. avatar SirHubert on April 11, 2016 at 7:18 am said:

    Hi Rene,

    I’ve got a PDF of Ogburn’s pages, taken from the Wayback Machine a couple of years ago, if that’s of any help? It’s not the last word on the subject but is useful until anyone produces anything better.

    Possibly something for the cipher foundation page, even?

    I think the list of these things produced or hosted by Glen Claston was something else, although I’ve not seen it and am only going by something Brian Cham mentioned here.

  198. Rene and SirHubert: as I recall, there used to be at least three collections of letters-in-Voynich-plants on the web (Sander Manche had one). I have an archive of all the voynichcentral.com files at home, and I’ll try to reconstitute a best-of-breed set as a Cipher Foundation page over the next few days, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. 🙂

    There are also at least a couple of pages here covering this stuff:
    And a false alarm: http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2008/05/18/hidden-writing-on-f1v

  199. avatar bdid1dr on April 11, 2016 at 4:42 pm said:

    Oh dear me ! Talk about a well-worn path — to nowhere. You can find any item in B-408 being illustrated and discussed (in two languages) in Fray Sahagun’s Florentine Codex. Especially the botanical items and their qualities and uses. I once again refer you to Book eleven, in particular.

  200. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 12, 2016 at 2:52 am said:

    bd, I fail to see that we ( i.e.. all Voynichers except yourself), on any kind of well-worn path. It looks to me like a maze of paths, some occasionally intersecting, some not at all. But not on the same path at all. Don’t cry for us, Argentina! Cheers, Tom

  201. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 12, 2016 at 3:11 am said:

    Dear Nick, et al. One last shot at the glyphs on f4r. If I stick with 843 as a Hijiri date and simply plug it into one of the many tables or calendar converters, we obtain a Gregorian date of 1439-1440 AD. One of my many mistakes was not recognizing that the Islamic calendar is lunar and shorter (354-355 days) than a Christian year (then actually Julian although converted to Gregorian). These add up. The 843 date included the Hijrah of 622 AH (Anno Hijiri). The “o” with a dot is still wrong for a medial position BUT if a dot be also added to the other side, all is well. I could be wrong but why leave a tinting instruction (“rot”) sticking out like a sore thumb when the rest of that herb, including red areas is tinted? I plan to give this topic a rest for the moment but it does supply a purpose for those three letters. Cheers, Tom

  202. avatar SirHubert on April 12, 2016 at 9:02 am said:


    I’m sorry if you think we’re wasting our time.

    But if we end up being able to prove that the manuscript includes colour indicators added by a German speaker in the fifteenth century, that would be a major step forward.

    It would, for example, mean that a sixteenth century figure – such as Sahagun – could not have written the Voynich Manuscript.

  203. avatar Diane on April 12, 2016 at 9:21 am said:

    Forgive my genuine ignorance, but if one wanted to disprove the Nahuatl translation, wouldn’t it be simpler to test the translation rather than relying on theoretical disproof based on an interpretation of these letters? After all, do we know that Fray Sahagun knew no German, or that no German Jesuits were involved in the copying or production of his manuscripts? I’ve made it plain enough that while I see very well the conguencies of layout and so forth, and some stylistic similarities even in some of the botanical imagery in both, that overall I’d ascribe those similarities to the influence of the Europeans not the native peoples. Still, I would love to see someone who is able to do it write us an evaluation. I know that Beady isn’t the only person in the world who is convinced of a new world origin for the manuscript, and that this idea has been around for many years. Witness the otherwise inexplicable use of a rare south American gum in the rests which McCrone ran. Is there anyone able and willing to take the time to read and evaluate Beady’s claimed translation?

  204. avatar Koen Gheuens on April 12, 2016 at 10:28 am said:

    Dear Nick

    I have been writing on my blog for a while about how I think the f89 foldout (both sides) contains numerous references to Greco-Roman myth. While writing up my most recent post, an overview of a number of stories referenced in the plants, I was surprised to find out that all of them appeared to have been taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I thought you might be interested, and would be very happy to know your opinion on this matter.

    Here is a link to my post. Don’t mind the title – it’s mostly sensationalism. I’m not crazy 🙂


  205. avatar SirHubert on April 12, 2016 at 11:49 am said:

    Diane: studying of these letters might be informative in all sorts of ways. I only mentioned Sahagun in an attempt to persuade BD that they might not be as pointless as she thinks 🙂

  206. avatar Thomas F.Spande on April 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm said:

    Diane, In your post of April 12, you indicate a rare South American gum showed up in the VM botanicals. Can you provide more information on that? Thanks in advance, Cheers, Tom

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