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!

119 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

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