Voynich Theories

If you have ever found yourself asking “Where can I found out about XYZ’s moderately-loopy-but-eerily-hard-to-disprove Voynich Manuscript theory?“, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s very probably the longest list of such theories on the Internet…

And finally, Voynich theorists who wish to remain (at least partially) anonymous…


  1. avatar Shiam September 18, 2012 2:21 pm

    Upon viewing the Voynich Book page by page, IMMEDIATLY
    understood the language, and why no one in the past times have not deciphered.
    This language is ” The Heavenly Language”.
    No one has before has understood this language, It is a gift given. Man did not write this, it was penned by man, but the language was given from our heavens.
    Know that these plants were in the Garden, Long past.
    For Healing and Knowledge purpose. Look and see, understand.

  2. avatar Joachim Dathe October 13, 2012 3:10 pm

    I am missing my development here:


  3. avatar Mary October 26, 2012 5:05 pm

    This is indeed a difficult book to break down, I have taken a look at it thoroughly, perhaps because it seems like it is a copy of another book and hence why it is scribed without fault in penmanship, with the exception of a repeated word here and there (which is often the case when someone is copying text from another book). Things that add more to my suspicion that this is a copy are the crude drawings, from someone with no drawing ability trying to re-draw a depiction by someone else as well as some of the drawings appearing somewhat similar to the botanical pharmaceutical portion of the Harleian Manuscripts. Perhaps both had access to the original and decided to “re-write” them by their own conclusions and perceptions. I don’t quite agree with the Manchu suggestion and many others as I had tried those languages. Problem with it lays in that it’s in the stylized writing of the era, almost as a Latin cursiva but with variations of what seem to be some sort of ancient language combination which meant the original writer was adept in linguistics as well as ancient languages. There’s a colophon, and there might be indeed the phonetic form of writing which adds even more difficulty in translation. If indeed some of the researchers suggesting that the writing is ancient Hebrew, because then there seems to be some mix match of Aramaic along with a few ancient Greek letters then that would mean that either it’s a copy of something from somewhere slightly before (or around) 300 BCE Mesopotamia or someone with a good knowledge base of the languages of the era. I don’t agree that this was something someone wrote to make a book seem to have more value, since I myself had made in the past some private journals written in a mix match of ancient languages or made up runes (like Tolkien’s Uruk) so no one could read my journals. But for the invented runs I do have a puzzle (a table or legend) to help break down the alphabet of those fictional runes if I were to give the journal to someone else. Meaning this was something secretive of the time in which only a selected few were meant to read it (ie apprentice). This is just my opinion from a mere observer, nonetheless despite everything it is a beautiful “journal” of sorts.

  4. avatar thomas spande December 12, 2012 9:52 pm

    Mary, I think you are right on many points, or at least they tend to agree with my prejudices. I believe it is in Latin cursive, maybe of the Czech flavor (no Q. W and the incorporation of what I think are “ch”s. I think the language overlaid is not Hebrew but Armenian which has a number of glyphs used in the VM: the 4, the 8 and 9, the mirrored “&”, the tipped “?” the “o” sometimes appearing as “a” and the backward swirly “S”.The key to a decrypt is the 8 and 9 which use letters (Roman e and t respectively) so that 89 becomes et (and). The 4, “mirrored &”, tipped ? are “c”. “f” and “ch” respectively. The herbs are deliberately fanciful and have medical uses embedded in them. They are reasonably well drawn but very poorly tinted and retinted. Orignal ink can be found in every one by careful inspection.I think the substituted ciphers (the c-c combinations and the gallows glyphs) were designed to resemble Arabic. Nick pelling on his pages points out the use of Latin scribal abbreviations for omitted letters and truncations. These abound in the VM. We may never know the purpose of this thing and the extreme care used in copying from some coded plaintext, likely in Latin but with a lot of English, German and Italian may as you indicate be intended for initiates or intimates of the scribes. I don’t think there is a “colophon” or if there were one, it was scraped off. The sentences on the last page were not by either of the scribal hands involved in the creation of the VM. Any normal colophon is in the hand of the vellum maker and scribe, not a sloppy thing like we see in the VM. Best wishes. Tom Spande

  5. avatar Ruby December 13, 2012 2:35 pm

    Hello! I started to publish my first attempts at translation of the Voynich manuscript on my blog. I would be honored to your review at the work. Best regards


  6. avatar thomas spande December 18, 2012 7:54 pm

    Dear all, I think most Voynichers will agree to the following:

    1) the end product is Latin but likely a Latin style, loaded with scribal abbreviations, that is older than the early 15C vellum date of the VM.

    2)Most think it is a cipher substitution code

    3)I doubt personally that many, maybe none, of the plants depicted in the herbal section are accurate depictions of real plants but have been altered to feature likely medicinal uses. Some are totally fanciful with mouse- or beetle- shaped leaves. Leaves are often joined and indicate, I think, the plant’s use for healing breaks in the skin. If green, then fresh leaves are used. If brown, dried leaves can be used. If plant stems join, the leaves or roots can be used as an aid in healing bone breaks. If the roots are untinted, they are not used. Hidden writing is in some roots.

    3) Certain glyphs resemble those used in Armenian but have other meanings (my idea, not generally accepted).

    4)Two scribes are at work but both seem to use the same abbreviations and cipher substitutions so are likely working from an enciphered plain text. The VM is definitely a copy as has been shown by codicology studies of Nick Pelling and others.

    5)the tinting or coloration is of two types: original, very faint in most drawings or done later and perhaps several times by tinters of varying skills. Some water color is used, some crayon and apparently some goache is used. The original was evidently colored ink.

    5) The vellum has been fairly precisely dated by C-14/C-12 isotope ratios but the date at which the ink was applied remains uncertain. It likely also originates from the early 15C.

    Cheers, Tom

  7. avatar thomas spande December 18, 2012 11:17 pm

    Dear all, a “ps” to my last post. One very important point, recognized by most, is that the word lengths in the VM are arbitary but made to resemble real word lengths. Words have been taken apart and put back together in odd ways. There seem no really reliable markers for word endings although my view is that the tipped “?” which is “ch” in Armenian may serve often as the end of a word. The ampersand, “&” occurs here and there but often at the start of a word, sometimes isolated and sometimes at the end of a word. It can mean just the letters “et” but also Latin for “and” or part of “etc”. Its use in Latin, either medieval or renaissance, is a puzzle at the moment.

    There are many Tironian notes (Nick first pointed this out) and other scribal abbreviations which complicate life as often the usual indicators like the “overbar” are missing. Cheers, Tom

  8. avatar Michael Kyle January 6, 2013 6:47 pm

    After a brief study of the VMs, I came to a possibly insignificant conclusion to describe the plant drawings with no real life counterpart. Someone who would go to such great lengths to hide the meaning of the text would also find a way to hide the identity of the botanical plants referenced in the text.

    I believe the VM to be nothing more than an early 15th century physician or herbalist going to great depths to hide the secrets of his practice. After all, there was a lot of money to be made by reputable physicians from the noble class during this age. This author in the process just also happened to create an indecipherable text, probably due to his own paranoia of the subject matter becoming public, thus rendering his knowledge unprofitable.

  9. avatar nickpelling January 6, 2013 8:44 pm

    Michael: all fair enough deductions… but the big question is how. Specifically, how that person managed to achieve that before anything as complex as polyalphabetic ciphers were invented. :-)


  10. avatar Michael Kyle January 6, 2013 9:30 pm

    nickpelling: I guess that is where my knowledge on the subject of ciphers and cryptology ends. I know very little.

    Now I could be very wrong, but would it be so hard to make up your own script and ways of transcoding that would be impossible for anyone to mathematically deduce based on the sheer randomness of the encoding methods?

    Say every letter has more than one character, actual spaces are random, deciphered spaces are indicated using a number of encrypted characters. Encoded character order shifts on a set order with the introduction of new sentences on a given page. Letter order for any given word could shift based on position in a sentence. etc. etc. etc.

    Could something that complex and thought out really be decoded by a person who knows nothing of the encoding methods? This subject is starting to fascinate me, I think I’m going to read more on it.

  11. avatar nickpelling January 6, 2013 9:42 pm

    Michael: it is indeed possible to tie very complicated (and random-looking) cryptographic knots with a relatively small amount of creative effort. Yet that’s [k]not what we see in the Voynich Manuscript: there, we see a strong patterning system, with even tighter letter-to-letter binding than in English or Latin. There are even strong statistical patterns in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like the first letter of a paragraph, two-thirds of the way along the top line of a paragraph, the end of a line, the start of a word, etc.

    So, the challenge here isn’t explaining away too much randomness, it’s explaining away too little randomness. Hope this is a help! :-)


  12. avatar thomas spande January 8, 2013 6:39 pm

    Dear all, In my opinion, the cipher substitution is consistent and constant, i.e. a “backward swirly S” is an S throughout the VM. An important proviso however is that not all those swirly S’s are created equal. For example, some represent embedded scribal abbreviations, a right paren “)” atop a “c” null, at first glance looks like that backward swirly S but is made with two strokes of the pen and indicates truncation follows. Here is the nux of why the decoding of the VM is problematic. I think a consistent system of cipher substitution can be achieved but then another layer of the onion is met and that is the use of invented scribal abbreviations as well as incorporation of known abbreviations, such as the Tironian notation that Nick has commented on. We have layered atop a cipher substitution, the use of deletions and truncations that are indicated by what appear at first glance, simple scribal flourishes but are, I think, embedded macrons. Cheers, Tom S.

  13. avatar Rolando (@fisicoteorico) January 13, 2013 1:25 am

    I let them know that the code, is based on u8n code used by the kings of the world to communicate secretly, but the bigger problem is that this code behind, I met since I was 7a, there are other codes, that could only be decode, if someone had the table where there are over 784 simulated codes, right, 784 codes, to the left, 784 down codes, and 784 codes up, meaning that there are more than 3136 combinations, but I think just used the code 9, these tables may still be in the hands of some other king, he is satisfied of their ancestors, was the most common form of communication of their reigns and the decisions they had to do, I have a notion , some of the symbols, but these are artificial, and to decode them, must be obtained in order such as decoding, the plants are similar to each other, that we still have, but mostly, these plants seem familiar, are seen in Guatemala, Ecuador. I’m working on artificial remember those codes, I doubt that the words of 2, 3, and more letters, may be giving other codes, indicating that only the codes are fake or artificial, any communication, may do so by writing to rolandohernandezrivero @ gmail.com.

    quiero hacerles saber, que el código, está basado en u8n código que usaban los reyes del mundo para comunicarse secretamente, pero el problema mayor, es que detrás de este código, que conocí desde que tenía 7a, hay otros códigos, que solo se podrían decodificar, si alguien tuviera la tabla en donde hay más de 784 códigos simulados, hacia la derecha, 784 códigos, hacia la izquierda, 784 códigos hacia abajo, y 784 códigos hacia arriba, ósea que hay más de 3136 combinaciones, pero, creo que solo usaba el código 9, estas tablas, podrían estar aun, en manos de algún otro rey, que tenga constancia de sus ancestros, era la forma más común de la comunicación de sus reinados y las decisiones que tenían que hacer, creo tener, noción, de algunos de los símbolos, pero estos son artificiales, y para decodificarlos, hay que obtener en su orden dicha forma de decodificarlo, las plantas, tienen parecidos a otras, que aun tenemos, pero mayormente, estas plantas aparentemente familiares, son vistas en Guatemala, Ecuador.
    Estoy trabajando en recordar dichos códigos artificiales, dudo, que las palabras, de 2, 3, y más letras, puedan estar dando otros códigos, esto solamente están indicando a los códigos falsos, o artificiales, cualquier comunicación, pueden hacerlo escribiendo a rolandohernandezrivero@gmail.com.

  14. avatar Diane O’Donovan April 23, 2013 2:46 pm

    I would have liked to read Ackerson’s ideas, but the link seems long gone.

  15. avatar Tricia May 21, 2013 3:47 pm

    Landmann says
    They believe (through a wrong letter assignment) to read the word “oladabas.” Then they put to the level of the word “olazabel” and deem the VMS to be catalane. “Olazabel” is Basque.

    I wonder if that was ever tested more?

  16. avatar TB June 22, 2013 1:47 pm


    Was just looking through comments, and you mentioned that no polyalphabetic ciphers had been invented.
    This is untrue, Leon Battista Alberti invented a known polyalphabetic cipher, the Alberti cipher, and was alive in the early half of the 15th century, so it is possible that his ideas had spread among a select few including VM’s author.

  17. avatar nickpelling June 22, 2013 2:31 pm

    TB: Alberti’s work on ciphers is well-known, but if you read his 1467 book De Componendis Cyfris, his invention of a cipher disk was specifically triggered by a conversation he had with his friend Leonardo Dati in Rome in 1465.

    There is, to the very best of my knowledge, no flicker of a mention of polyalphabetic ciphers before this date (though, as always, I’d be delighted to hear about any information or evidence to the contrary).


  18. avatar Diane June 22, 2013 5:10 pm

    Don’t know about ciphers, but I read recently that Arabic was sometimes written with Hebrew letters, though with numerals written in Coptic style (not Indian).
    and so

  19. avatar DC July 29, 2013 12:59 am

    Has it ever been considered that what is thought of as a character is actually a whole word? 200 pages is not much space to write a detailed medical book. Compressing words into characters would allow a lot of space saving. This insight offered to me when attempting to decipher Korean code in a programming problem.

    In chemistry there would be perhaps the twenty most common words like boil, concentration, titrate, pH, dissolve, temperature, etc along with a method for constructing odd terms. These would correspond to a letter. There needs to be numbers also. If I were a student or teacher of chemistry I would and have made my own shorthand. Try keeping up with university physics lectures and making notes in prose. It is not practical, it’s onerous and wastes precious lab time also.

    So when these frequency analyses are done, they seem to be cross-correlated with languages in general, why not specific science books of the time written in deciphered languages?

    Why not start by taking a science book often time, finding the most common words like boil and dry and dissolve and make the shorthand. Write out the book in shorthand, do a frequency analysis and then cross correlate that with the manuscript?

    You can email me comments to enrol@DivinIT.com

  20. avatar Adriana September 23, 2013 5:17 pm

    This author suggest that it might have been written by a young Leonardo Da Vinci when he was around 10 years old. That might explain the poor drawings (thet are very childish, and is not hard to thing he invented some of the plants, like any child will do) here ‘s the link : http://www.edithsherwood.com/index.php


  21. avatar Menno Knul September 23, 2013 8:52 pm

    Adriana, I don’t think that the drawings of the plants in the VMS are childish, even if difficult to identify. I would not know about a child of 10 years old, who would be able to invent plants, know about astrology and astronomy in detail, would depict nude women in baths and invent a script that no one could read. Not even Leonardo da Vinci.

    By the way, the origin of the VMS seems to me much older than is indicated by carbon dating. Probably 12th-13th century, when various towns and regions in Italy had yet their own scripts. The carbon dating pertains to the present VMS binding, not to its predecessor(s), so called libellae with various contents.


  22. avatar Patrick David October 21, 2013 1:33 am


    The link above is the Voynich Manuscript reproduction for sale. handmade and full size including the fold-outs.

  23. avatar nickpelling October 21, 2013 7:42 am

    Patrick David: thanks for leaving three basically identical comments linking to what is presumably your own printing company. But… are you aware of the other Voynich Manuscript reproductions already out there? I know of at least three (French, Russian, Czech), all selling for roughly a fifth of what you’re charging for yours.


  24. avatar Patrick David October 28, 2013 3:59 am

    Nick, I’m curious to know where you can find those book. I have really looked everywhere for reproduction and couldn’t find any? I just figured since I wanted a real authentic reproduction others would too. The price I know is a lot, but since I sold a few i should be Cutting that in half soon.

  25. avatar kbnz November 15, 2013 4:55 am

    I would buy one if the price was halved Patrick.

  26. avatar mark stahley December 22, 2013 10:38 pm

    I had some luck relating the peripheral words to numbers.relating to the calculation of pi. (22/7)
    I used g= “=”
    v= “-”
    a= “+”
    e= “x”
    & or 8=2
    double loop=10
    3(+)(x) 2×2=total
    6 + 5 x2 =22

  27. avatar Young collegestudent February 27, 2014 3:02 am

    Has anyone pondered the possibility of it originating from another dimension? We cannot identify the pigments used in the ink, the plants used in the drawings, or the language. What if this text is from another dimension in the sense that someone actually somehow traveled to this alternate dimension and brought this text back or composed this text during his travels in said alternate dimension?
    Just a thought.

  28. avatar David C. Rea May 7, 2014 4:35 pm

    This manuscript is of Martian origin, the strange astrological interpretations, the plants which don’t seem to exist on this planet. And last and finally a language that cannot be deciphered by humanity, or any “earthling” because the language and the writing system did not originate on our planet. Considering an advanced language beyond our own may be impossible to decipher even given thousands of years without access to this language in any other form. This book which seems to be drawn on parchments from earth, by an earthlings hand, may in fact shed light on the fact that advanced beings from Mars have “abducted” Earths inhabitants and given them tours of their own home planet. I had even heard some theories that suggest Leonardo Da Vinci could have written the book as a child. Perhaps he was the “abducted” taken and taught about another planet and it’s biology with sensitivity to the beings that inhabit the said planet. Could this be why Da Vinci was often interested by flying machines, and designs, if you flew once in a machine you would know it was possible and perhaps even dedicate your own time towards this modern marvel.

    The renaissance, an evolution of humanity. I don’t find it hard to believe that an advanced race would attempt to make some kind of contact with people that could be trusted. I believe this book to be a renaissance humans field book from their visitation to Mars, fostered by Martians. Thus the book was required to be written in their language and writing which was also taught to our renaissance human.

    “In school do I not learn how to read, and write in our language, and then learn about our planet, the things that inhabit it, and our history using this language?”

    I am merely basing this off of what I have researched about mars currently. There is writing on the planet surface that matches the symbolism of the writing found in the manuscript. And almost all of Google Mars is blotched out in red swaths and the only bits of high definition released look like mountains fields, trees, and bushes. So what is NASA really keeping under the covers. I can see my neighbor on Google Earth but they’ve had satellites circling mars for years, and all we get is a little questionable swath of visible land? Think about it.

  29. avatar Diane May 13, 2014 3:25 pm

    Dear all, pick up a piece of Indian woodblock-printed fabric, or a Persian tile, or look at some old (i.e. pre-Roman) wall-paintings or even some medieval church wood-carving. The plants are not meant to reproduce botanical specimens whether or not meant to evoke a well-known plant.

    What we have in MS Beinecke 408 are not “plants unknown on this planet” but images… and ones that may well evoke a known plant in its more important aspects without conforming to our idea that plant drawings should be specimen drawings. Such does not appear to have been their purpose at all.

  30. avatar Mirgry May 19, 2014 1:40 am

    Greetings, All,

    I have been studying herbs for myself recently. I know that sometimes leaves, stems and roots of a plant are used together, and sometimes singly, due to one part being poisonous and the other parts not. Is it possible that the plants do not represent actual plants, but rather a pictorial combination of a concoction? For example, the leaves of Plant A, the stems of Plant B, and the root of Plant C? There are many remedies that use multiple plants to achieve the desired effect. Perhaps if a non-reader were to use the manuscript as a guide, that person would still know what plants were used in which combination. This was my first thought upon learning of the ‘mixed’ plant pictures and I only offer this possibility as a reasoning for the possible mix and match. This is my first introduction to the VM. Regards.

  31. avatar Mirgry May 19, 2014 1:43 am

    I have read that there are over 170,000 glyphs in the VM. Having just recently stumbled upon this mystery, I was wondering if anyone has put together a list of the glyphs? It would certainly save time from me going through and creating my own list. Regards.

  32. avatar hakan June 6, 2014 7:22 am

    In f68r2, The diagram contains 59 stars. Ptolemy (Batlamyus) calculated the distance to the moon as 59 times earth’s radius. This diagram may indicate distance between Earth and the Moon???

  33. avatar hakan June 6, 2014 7:29 am

    Perhaps this 59 stars referring to lunar calendar. The average length of the lunar month is 29.5 days.
    29.5 x 2: 59 days
    Who knows

  34. avatar hakan June 6, 2014 7:31 am

    continue to work…

  35. avatar hakan June 11, 2014 7:22 am

    Have you noticed, the stars drawn different. Some of whom six-pointed, some of seven pointed, some of eigth pointed. I even saw nine cornered. Why not drawn all the same ? Normally, draws everyone the same way. This should be troublesome. Perhaps, this is key the cipher. What do you think about this?

  36. avatar hakan June 11, 2014 8:08 am
  37. avatar Micah L Dean June 13, 2014 7:37 pm

    In respect to everyone’s opinion they are wrong. The voynich manuscript is actual a medicine research book. And it can be proven

  38. avatar nickpelling June 14, 2014 8:39 am

    Micah: the mechanics of such a proof would be the interesting thing – right now, it’s very difficult to prove even the most basic assertions about the Voynich Manuscript. :-|


  39. avatar mary June 19, 2014 6:24 am

    I will always maintain that the ‘best’ solution/explanation for the Voynic lies in the area of outsider art. The book was the product of someone with skill s and access to materials but had gone to some other reality in their head. Possibly after being a skilled illuminator in a scriptorium somewhere. If the text is ever deciphered it will be meaningless -other than to the author. Those intrigued by it should visit two galleries in Europe. One on the edge of Lille and the other in Paris. Both are wonderful and crammed with art made by people whose field of reference is way beyond the ‘normal’….

  40. avatar nickpelling June 19, 2014 10:53 am

    Mary: thanks for dropping by. Outsider art has long been a popular Voynich meta-theory: but as time has gone by, we (Voynich researchers) have come to understand that the Voynich Manuscript was the product both of an ordered mind and (as it has ended up over time) of a disordered page evolution. In those places where we have been able to reconstruct its original (pre-quiration) gathering and bifolio nesting order, we have discovered additional layers of orderliness.

    All of which is not sufficient to completely rule out outsider art, but I think they are strong indications that the ‘outsiderness’ of the manuscript is only one of several truths that hold simultaneously.


  41. avatar hakan July 17, 2014 12:04 pm

    I have a strange theory, but nobody cares anyway

  42. avatar M. Sox July 17, 2014 11:54 pm

    I am very curious,hakan

  43. avatar B Deveson July 18, 2014 10:24 pm

    Hakan, I take it from what you said that there are no five pointed stars?
    If there are no five pointed stars in the VM, but plenty of six, seven, eight and nine pointed stars, then this could be a clue to the provenance of the VM. A lack of five pointed stars would seem to imply a prohibition on their use. I have conducted some searches but I can find no clear evidence of such a prohibition at any time or place. But, the five pointed star has religious meaning, particularly in Christianity and in Islam. I wonder if Islam had a prohibition against five pointed stars in the fifteenth Century?

  44. avatar M. Sox July 20, 2014 8:04 pm

    It happens rare that a author considers his own theory strange.
    When you will publish your theory,hakan ?

  45. avatar B Deveson July 21, 2014 8:58 am

    If five pointed stars are not present in the VM, then, to me at least, this implies a prohibition of some sort. I have not been able to confirm that five pointed stars do not occur in the VM because of a) eye trouble, and b) I am out in the mulga and only have access to an old computer with a poor screen. I did discover that in the fifteenth century the Star of David (Seal or Shield of Solomon) was a five pointed star, not six pointed.
    So, maybe the VM has a Jewish provenance?

  46. avatar Kaytie July 31, 2014 6:32 pm

    David C. Rea, you crack me up.

  47. avatar Jenn O August 1, 2014 3:26 pm

    I looked through the online archived version, and I couldn’t find any five pointed stars. I wonder if there aren’t more clues in the illustrations being accidentally ignored by cryptographers?

  48. avatar hakan August 19, 2014 10:44 am

    Hi M. Sox. Firstly, I do not claim to break cipher, even a single word. And my theory is not related all of book. Just a single page concerns me. I could not find but may be someone mentions it was previously. Still do not have any evidence to support my theory. How can I publish my theory under these conditions?…

  49. avatar xplor September 9, 2014 4:46 pm

    The Voynich behaves like no known non-fiction book. There does not seem to be any Front Matter., Introduction, Chapters, Back Matter; Appendix or Index. Has anyone found anything to suggest this is not just a part of a large work? Like finding volume G of the Encyclopedia Britannica .

  50. avatar Menno Knul September 10, 2014 6:57 am


    On the contrary, the VMS looks to me a mid 16th c. compilation of different documents (libellae) on different topics, but written in the same script, probably bound together to prevent them of getting lost. Internal relations between the ‘chapters’ have not yet been established, not even in the case of the herbal and apothecary pages nor between the register at the end of the book and the preceding ‘chapters’.



  51. avatar xplor September 10, 2014 9:37 pm

    Lost is what I was thinking. The VM could be a copy of a lost or damaged manuscript written in the Tyrsenian family of languages.

  52. avatar 1Houghtaling October 11, 2014 11:25 pm

    I’m not a linguist but, to me, the images on pages 77-78, if that is the right numbers on the pages, seem to me about making wine. The harvesting and pressing of wine. The depiction of nude women, maybe the author had a dirty mind. Other sections seem to look like a planting and harvesting chart page 86. Out of the 9 sections, the top one is the summer equinox, right one fall equinox, bottom winter and left spring. Bottom left is the early spring thaw, upper left is the first harvest of grapes (dry wines), upper right second harvest (semisweet), bottom right final harvest after the first frost (sweet wines). But then again I might be wrong. Its just my opinion. It looks like a gardening book where the author spoke one language and tried to write in another by using just the phonics.

  53. avatar Diane October 13, 2014 12:39 pm

    1 Houghtaling. Without agreeing – or disagreeing – with specifics, I agree that the calendar section (often termed the ‘zodiac’ section) shows close connection to the sort of calendar known as the ‘Works and Days’ where it occurs in the medieval western world. Oddly enough, the closest which I found within a specifically Latin medieval context had been made between the 10th and 12thC AD. Overall, however, their origins lay in the pre-Latin east, and so I’d tend to attribute the ‘calendar’ section’s origin to the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean and to a period considerably earlier than usually supposed. I cannot see how the Voynich manuscript can reasonably be considered the original creation of any fifteenth century Latin ‘artist-author’ – not even of two or three. By that time, and in that culture, several of the ideas and items pictured in the Vms were unknown. imo

  54. avatar Menno Knul October 13, 2014 7:08 pm

    Dear Diane,

    It is nice to read, that you call the zodiac section a sort of calender known as ‘Works and Days’. Maybe you remember, that I have called it a calendarium as well and so I identified the two crowned figures as the souls of St. Justina of Padua and St. Parasceva of Rome, both with a martyr’s crown.


  55. avatar Diane October 14, 2014 12:19 am

    I didn’t know that, Menno – the link to your web-page doesn’t seem to work for me and I’m sorry to say I can’t recall seeing it last year.

    The examples I used (as I recall) came mostly from early mss now in England, but also various stone-carved sequences, and one especially good one that is a mosaic from Norman Sicily. Also known as ‘Labours of the Months’ they show only the month’s visible constellation with whatever rural or agricultural task was performed in that month.

    Saints names routinely appear on the civil-and-religious calendar, since the observances of a day named the day for western Christendom, but this isn’t the type of calendar I mean even if we have some versions in which all this information is combined.

  56. avatar Menno Knul October 14, 2014 11:51 am

    Dear Diane,

    Certainly, it is a different type of calendar. You may be aware that f71r/v has been misplaced. It should be f74r/v, (which is now lacking) to get the normal month’s order. So be careful with your interpretation.

    Greetings, Menno


  57. avatar Menno Knul October 14, 2014 11:59 am


    The www has been mistaken for ww. You find the article (in Dutch) under H. Justina of Padua.

    Greetings, Menno


  58. avatar Diane October 15, 2014 10:24 am

    Dear Menno
    I realise that the present form of that section does not offer unequivocal support for the instinctive notion of its representing a latin zodiac. However, I should prefer to question that notion and seek to understand the ms as it is, because the errors may lie in our own expectations rather than in the maker(s)’.

    However, there may be clear codicological evidence for the re-ordering you propose, as for the excision of a folio which many believe contained two more figures in the series.

  59. avatar Diane October 15, 2014 10:47 am

    As a matter of interest – I had the impression (back in 2009 or so) that when I first mentioned the importance of Isidore’s Etymologies on the Voynich mailing list that I was the first to do so. No doubt this is not so, and just an impression gained from the sort of responses received at the time. If anyone knows about an earlier discussion of his work in this connection, do please give a reference so I can follow it back. Thanks.

  60. avatar Menno Knul October 15, 2014 11:15 am

    Dear Diana, I joined this forum some two years ago, so I don’t know about your earlier contributions. Unfortunately this forum is not indexed, which makes it hard to retrieve older posts.

    Greetings, Menno


  61. avatar Diane October 15, 2014 1:49 pm

    Nick, Menno and all,

    One of my Voynich day-dreams is that some wise persons will host an essay competition, the entrants required to offer (each 48 hours, say) their commentary on each folio in turn from ms Beinecke 408.
    In these essays, only comment on the primary evidence is required, the points being given for comprehensiveness and quality:- in observation, commentary, references and presentation of the writer’s discussion of the primary evidence.
    – for example: including reference to the codicology, a discussion of pigments and inks on *that* folio, description of the imagery with documented historical comparisons; reference to the observations of other and earlier Voynich researchers.

    Footnotes required; wiki articles not to be referenced; quoting any wiki article written by oneself or one’s personal acquaintances to be grounds for disqualification.

    Points positively deducted for failure to seek the original source for cited comments on e.g. gallows as Neal keys, or Comegys as proponent of a Nahuatl origin.

    Once each folio of the primary document has been analysed and commented upon, only then will the surviving contestants be offered the opportunity to propound a single theory to explain all the observed phenomena.

    That’s what a theory does; it explains – or tries to offer an explanation for – all the observed phenomena within the field to which it applies.

    Should one wish to propose a theory of Martian authorship and manufacture, then the theory must demonstrate that a Martian would have the knowledge and capacity to prepare parchment in this manner, and wield a pen, stylus or brush. If one wished the theory to include the manuscript’s botanical section, you would also have to show proofs for (a) photosynthesis on Mars or (b) the argument that none of the green-leaved plants in the Voynich are actually photosynthetic.

    I think a competition like that would be as likely as cats voluntarily running in flocks… but one can daydream, surely. :)

  62. avatar Menno Knul October 15, 2014 3:16 pm

    Dear Diane,

    In fact a lot of the job you prpose has been done by VIB already, but this needs an update with new observations, ideas, suggestions and such. I don’t know, if VIB is willing to organize this.

    Greetings, Menno


  63. avatar xplor October 16, 2014 2:50 am

    What number system was used in the Voynich?
    Was it Unary .duodecimal or Babylonian ?

  64. avatar Menno Knul October 16, 2014 3:54 pm


    I haven’t found a number system as such. Just compare with the quire numbers on the herbal pages.

    Greetings, Menno


  65. avatar xplor October 16, 2014 7:59 pm

    Hindu–Arabic numerals were not in use in Italy untill Fibonacci wrote Liber Abaci and then it took the printing press before they caught on.

  66. avatar Diane October 17, 2014 6:43 am

    Dear Menno,
    Not sure who or what you mean by “VIB” – must say I’ve never seen any invitation of that sort, where people begin by setting out their analysis of each folio, and only then presuming to explain every aspect of the manuscript in terms of a single coherent historically-viable theory.

    Which is not to say such an invitation has never been published, only that I haven’t seen one. I am keen to know more.

  67. avatar Diane October 17, 2014 7:55 am

    Have now found VIB. Not quite the open and comparative treatment my imagined essay-competition would include, but a jolly useful companion to the older writers’ efforts.

    Whoever set up the site deserves many kudos!

  68. avatar Menno Knul October 17, 2014 8:43 am

    Dear Diane, Nick

    VIB stands for Voynich Information Browser, a German web site in English. One of the persons working on VIB is Rene Zandbergen, well known on this forum. The information of VIB could be extended to cover your historically-valiable theory or theories. I am curious about Nick’s opinion.

    Greetings, Menno


  69. avatar Menno Knul October 17, 2014 9:35 am


    I don’t understand your comment. Fibonacci lived in the 12th century, the Voynich MS is early 15th century. So the Arabic numerals were in use for some centuries.

    Greetings, Menno


  70. avatar xplor October 17, 2014 4:40 pm

    Liber Abaci was first published in 1202, That would be the 13th century. Books at that time were wtitten by hand. Only 12 copies of Liber Abaci the from the 13th through the 15th centuries are known to be existence, many in the Vatican. If the Voynich has a ten base number system then it would be a copy of a Hindu or Arabic work. The Eva shows it as a 10 baded decinal system. I am not sure of others like Voynich 101. Do you think the education systems at the time the Voynich was written welcomed inovation or did they stick with the tried and true ?

  71. avatar xplor October 18, 2014 1:31 am

    and:In this work the numerals are explained and are used in the usual computations of business. Such a treatise was not destined to be popular, however, because it was too advanced for the mercantile class, and too novel for the conservative university circles.

  72. avatar Menno Knul October 18, 2014 8:35 am


    I don”t see your conclusion, that the VMS has been copied from Hindu or Arabic work, because it uses the modified Arabic numerals. These modified numerals were used for a long time already in Spain and Italy as far as England. You may find the chronolgy on my website under Voynich.

    An other question is, why EVA transcribed numerals into letters, which clearly show the shape of the modified Arabic numerals.

    Greetings, Menno


  73. avatar Diane October 18, 2014 9:37 am

    and the ‘mercantile classes’ seem to have been pretty good at arithmetic, as the navigators were at what is effectively geometry and trig.
    For the first class of people, you might read that book I’ve been pointing people to for several years – not least for its routine use of ‘Ghibelline merlons’ in practical diagrams.

    Zibaldone da Canal is its title, and since I first referred Voynicheros to it (in 2009/10 I think), the number of internet sources for it have multiplied – so no need to dig up a hard copy as I did.

  74. avatar xplor October 18, 2014 7:48 pm

    The quire and pages numbers could have been added at any time and may not be original. The same with the washes. In fact I think the whole book shows signs of adulteration.

  75. avatar Menno Knul October 19, 2014 7:23 am


    The quire numbers in the herbal section are in the same hand and ink as the herbal text (early 15th c.), the folio numbers have been added mid 16th c. in different ink and hand.
    The present VMS may have been copied from original libellae (c. 1250-1350) as is characterized by designs and washes.

    Greetings, Menno


  76. avatar Diane October 20, 2014 11:38 am

    Dear Menno,
    You are fortunate in working on the ms in 2014. I assure you that when I gave my opinion in 2009 or so that the manuscript was obviously a compendium, with extracts taken from a number of sources and none original to the fifteenth century … well, the reaction was far from positive, especially among members of the Voynich mailing list of that time. Luckily, Voynich studies does move its Alexandrine length along (despite appearances) and today your expressing the same view will scarcely raise an eyebrow. Congrats all round. :)

  77. avatar Diane October 20, 2014 11:46 am

    I see that even the dates you give agree with those I offered on my first ‘exploratory’ blog for a critical stage in the manuscript’s evolution. Sorry I won’t be in town long enough to read in detail the narrative of your own research and conclusions, but (naturally enough) you seem to me to be on the right track. :D

  78. avatar Thing October 20, 2014 2:19 pm

    Hello Nick, I wonder if you would allow a link to an article I’ve written about an aspect of the Voynich script, or even review it yourself?

    I promise I’m not a kook (though sometimes I worry).

    Link: https://medium.com/@thingsnorthern/the-equivalence-of-a-and-y-in-the-voynich-script-91886d6cd827

  79. avatar Menno Knul October 20, 2014 4:59 pm

    Dear Diane,

    Thanks ! I have just now read your blog about f67v2 (your f67v1). I absolutely agree with you that the down left picture does not represent a T-O map. In fact the whole page deals with the phases of the moon, represented by odd faces. The down left picture shows the dark side of the moon taken as a globe like earth with an equator.

    Greetings, Menno


  80. avatar xplor October 20, 2014 5:30 pm

    Thank you Menno,
    Do any of you see the voynich as syllabic writing ? Has anyone used the Kober/Ventris Approach ?

  81. avatar Menno Knul October 20, 2014 9:05 pm


    I have read your article on the equivalence of a and y. I think you missed the point, that many of the a-sequencies are misreadings of the o-sequences, e.g. in te prefixes al- ol-. You will hardly find a- prefixes, but hundreds of o- and qo- prefixes. You will find -aiin suffixes next to -oiin suffixes, so the equivalence is rather -a- with -o- than -a- with -y-.

    A more promising approach would be to take the special signs K, T, P, F and cKh, cTh, cPh and cFh into account and see, which sign precedes these special signs like aK, oK, lK, yK etc.

    Greetings, Menno


  82. avatar Menno Knul October 20, 2014 9:11 pm


    As far I know there is no syllabic writing involved, but I must admit that I have no idea yet about double ‘vowels’ of the type oe, oo, ee, eo and such.

    Greetings, Menno


  83. avatar nickpelling October 20, 2014 10:18 pm

    Menno: when I analyzed a/o letters a fair few years back, my conclusion was that though there was some miscopying at play, there was a strong underlying logic to the direction of that miscopying.

    For example (in EVA): though (qa / ak / at / af / ap) pairs were almost certainly miscopied from (qo / ok / ot / of / op) pairs, and (oin / oir / om / etc) clusters were almost certainly miscopied from (ain / air / am / etc) clusters, al / ol / ar / or were genuinely independent digraph pairs that were not simply duplicates of each other.

    But I need to read Thing’s paper (so far I’ve only skimmed it briefly, which isn’t nearly good enough) before answering this more substantively.


  84. avatar Menno Knul October 20, 2014 10:48 pm

    Hello Nick,

    Thanks for your comment. Miscopies do not just pertain to a / o, but also to e / o. These a, o, e and the double vowels have so much similarity, that they can be misread.easily. Similarly I doubt, if iK- should not be read as lK. I am still puzzling the question, what may be the reason that non-prefixed special signs mainly occurr as first words of a paragraph and prefixed special signs mainly occurr within paragraphs and sentences. Do you have an idea about that ?

    Greetings, Menno


  85. avatar nickpelling October 20, 2014 11:03 pm

    Menno: as I wrote in Curse, I suspect “qo-” is a free-standing prefix (so “qokedy” should be parsed “qo-k-e-d-y”: I now suspect that “qo-” probably enciphers “lo” = “the”), while “ok-” is a completely different verbose pair (so “okedy” should be parsed “ok-e-d-y”). Similarly, I suspect that “ykedy” should be parsed “yk-e-d-y”, i.e. a [y + gallows] pair is a completely different cipher token to an unpaired gallows token.


  86. avatar Menno Knul October 21, 2014 2:24 pm

    Nick, if you combine oK and yK to a new cipher token, other prefixes deserve the same, e.g.

    Kal (1x) prefix a; Kal (13x) prefix ch; Kal (1x) prefix solch; Kal (1x) prefix qe; Kal (12x) prefix che; Kal (1x) prefix shee; Kal (4x) prefix she; Kal (1x) prefix dl; Kal (4x) prefix sho; Kal (1x) prefix do; Kal (1x) prefix yo; Kal (138x) prefix o; Kal (191x) prefix qo; Kal (1x) prefix so; Kal (2x) prefix cheo; Kal (9x) prefix cho; Kal (1x) prefix olcho; Kal (1x) prefix r; Kal (1x) prefix dair; Kal (1x) prefix sh; Kal (1x) prefix s; Kal (16x) prefix y; Kal (1x) prefix shey; Kal (23x) prefix -; Kal (3x) prefix chol; Kal (1x) prefix qool; Kal (1x) prefix al; Kal (5x) prefix l; Kal (11x) prefix ol; Kal (1x) prefix shol


    Kaly (18x) prefix qo; Kaly (1x) prefix cheo; Kaly (1x) prefix ched; Kaly (1x) prefix che; Kaly (1x) prefix dy; Kaly (1x) prefix ol; Kaly (1x) prefix qoe; Kaly (1x) prefix she; Kaly (1x) prefix yqo; Kaly (24x) prefix o; Kaly (2x) prefix ; Kaly (2x) prefix ch; Kaly (2x) prefix cho ; Kaly (6x) prefix y

    I wonder, if o should be interpreted as a full stop (.) or slash (/).

    Greetings, Menno


  87. avatar Thing October 21, 2014 3:50 pm

    Thanks to both of you for taking time to read my article.

    Menno, the occurrence of “aiin” sequences and “oiin” sequences suggests that “a” and “o” are the same class of character but not the same character. They occur in the same environments but contrast in meaning, like vowels do, for example. Indeed, “y/a” and “o” are contrastive over almost their whole range, though with quite different frequencies.

    As for whether “a” or “o” are errors in any given word, I don’t know how we would be able to judge that at this stage.

  88. avatar xplor October 21, 2014 6:03 pm

    Is the Thing seeing  inflection in a and y ? Didn’t John Tiltman find the same thing in 1968. Only he used a and o.

  89. avatar Thing October 21, 2014 8:21 pm

    Hello xplor, I don’t believe there is inflection between “a” and “y”, but rather that they are the same character (or variants of the same character) which alternate depending on context. Specifically, “a” occurs before “i, l, m, n, r”, and “y” everywhere else, though some exceptions seem to occur.

    The main example I give in the article is that “oky” and “okaiin” are the same word but with different endings. Tiltman said the same thing, but believed that they were made up out of “ok-” plus either “-y” or “-aiin”. I believe that “oky” is the root word and “-iin” is a suffix which joins directly to it. Rather than the final “y” being removed, it transforms to “a” due to the influence of the “i” at the beginning of “-iin”.

    I hope that makes it clearer.

  90. avatar xplor October 22, 2014 8:12 pm

    Thing does your approach lead you to a language ?

    Has anyone read “Key to Aggas” by John Matthews Manly ? Is it available online?

  91. avatar Thing October 23, 2014 1:15 pm

    Hello xplor, my approach hasn’t yet led me to any specific language. I don’t expect that anything will pop out til a lot more work is done.

    I believe that, if my finding is true, it will be useful to most people studying the text of the Voynich manuscript. However, I think that it nudges the possible solution slightly toward being a language rather than a cipher. Only slightly though, and the range of solutions is still pretty wide, both language and cipher.

  92. avatar xplor October 24, 2014 5:36 pm

    Thing : We are still waiting for others to confirm or challenge your finings. My focus at this time is on the Bacon cipher in America. That is a search of what MI-8 knew an why they did not persue it. For Herbert Osborn Yardley it offered little reward and he distrusted W. M. Voynich. John Matthews Manly and Edith Rickert did retained some intrest but their main work was with Geoffrey Chaucer.
    Nick was already covered this. The Voynich could still be a copy of a Roger Bacon work. Who knows?
    “Neither the voice of authority nor the weight of reason and argument are as significant as experiments from which come peace to the mind.” Keep up the good work.

  93. avatar Thing October 24, 2014 6:30 pm

    xplor: My findings definitely do need confirmation! I thought people would be more interested ruling them in or out. I would love to hear what Nick thinks. I’m already looking to build on the theory and find out some even deeper rules about how “y” works.

    As for Roger Bacon, I was dimissive of ideas that the Voynich manuscript could be a copy of his work, but I recently read some observations by Philip Neal. I now think there is some evidence that the manuscript is a copy, but whether from a draft or from an original, who knows.

  94. avatar xplor October 25, 2014 6:45 pm

    We celebrate the centennial of the Voynich in America,
    “If the manuscript is undecipherable it may be worth all the owners expect to get for it. If the ciphering were known, and I certainly did decipher it, the manuscript would only be another in the history of medicine. It is my firm conviction that some of the material in the manuscript could not be published now, it could even be called a Kinsey report from the 17th century.” “Leonell Strong to David Kahn June 21, 1962” So what would it be worth to the Beineke Library if it were solved ? Maybe the idea is not to solve it. That would explain why William F. Friedman’s work in the first study group was hidden for 5o years until Jim Reeds found it.

  95. avatar Menno Knul October 25, 2014 11:05 pm


    I am pretty sure, that public and scientific interest in the VMS will disappear as soon as the text and illustrations are fully understood, but this should not be a reason to stop investigations and leave the VMS as it is. By studying the VMS we learn a lot which may be of help for other projects as well.

    Greetings, Menno


  96. avatar xplor October 28, 2014 8:12 pm


    We all take Pleasure in Finding Things Out. What have we learned so far? We can date the time time the animals died. Thing has found a relationship between some letters. That would lead us to a language. What do you think is the most important we now know about the Voynich MS ? Has it been solved and the NSA and GCHQ are keeping it a secret from us ?

  97. avatar Menno Knul October 29, 2014 8:48 am


    Good question. I think every researcher will make his or her own list of findings, even without a proper identification of the yet unknown script, language, illustrations or code system of the VMS. Most imortant is, that we know now that de VMS as such is dated in the beginning of the 15th c. When looking at the herbal section we know that the original herbarium contained some 300p, counting the quires, the first part consistent, the second part scatttered around. So what we regard as the herbal section in fact is a first binding of incomplete older material, which can be dated 1250-1350 as compared to other herbaria, the second binding together with other texts (libellae) dates mid 16th c.
    I think no one will doubt the northern Italian or alpine origin because of the swallowtail merlons, dating from the same time. Both the date of the original exts and the geography are clean indicators to look for similar material.

    Greetings, Menno


  98. avatar xplor October 31, 2014 4:00 pm

    What was the status of women in the 15th century under the Ghibelline’ s  ? Are they normally depicted with clothes or was it more like the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder ?

    How have computers solved the Voynich?
    NSA has used Impossible differential cryptanalysis or was it an Infinite Improbability Drive to solve it ?

  99. avatar Menno Knul November 1, 2014 8:26 pm


    Please have a look at the Virgo and the Sagittarius to find the answer. Cranach the Elder has nothing to do with the VMS.

    The Voynich texts have not been solved by computers. I am afraid this will not happen either.

    Greetings, Menno


  100. avatar xplor November 2, 2014 4:44 pm

    It would help to know what Calendar is being used. Can we tell what hemisphere the star drawings came from ? It is too early to use the Gregorian Calendar.

  101. avatar Menno Knul November 2, 2014 8:27 pm


    Certainly it is the Julian calendar, according to me a Saints-calendar, because the months do not always show 30 days in a row. As far as I can see the calendar reflects the northern hemisphere.

    Greetings, Menno


  102. avatar xplor November 4, 2014 1:53 am

    I havn’t found any proof of a rule based calendar. Where is January and February [f75v] ?
    When is the winter solstice in the Voynich? If Tycho discovered Cassiopeia how did it get in the Voynich?

  103. avatar Menno Knul November 5, 2014 8:35 am


    The VMS order is wrong: 71r/v should be 75r/v.

    Gretings, Menno


  104. avatar xplor November 5, 2014 9:11 pm

    If that was possible it still would not explain what happened to January and February.

  105. avatar Menno Knul November 6, 2014 11:09 am


    Nothing happened to January and February. If you put the months in the right order you find the zodiac as we know it today.

    Greetings, Menno


  106. avatar Diane November 8, 2014 9:53 am

    I agree with Menno to the extent that there is no way that the present order of those folios represents a zodiac, and it is only by forcing a re-ordering and identifying some of the more dubious as e.g. sheep rather than goat, and vice versa, that the series can be said ever to have been intended as a ‘zodiac’.

    On the other hand, some activities do not occur all year, so a partial calendar may have had more practical relevance to the user(s) needs.

    In this case, and as textual critics had to learn by experience – it is not always the wisest course to reorder a text to suit a pattern with which one happens to be more familiar.
    Better to consider the object as-it-is and seek to understand it.

  107. avatar xplor November 8, 2014 5:35 pm

    How can we prove that is not a Coligny calendar ?

  108. avatar Menno Knul November 8, 2014 5:49 pm

    Diane, Xplor,

    Certainly, it would not be right to adapt a certain text order to a known order and instead to understand the order as it is. I fully agree with that, but in the case of the VMS there is a different situation, because the last part of the VMS is a mess as you can see at the last part of the herbal section obviously scattered around. Similarly the zodiac, which ends with two lost pages (75r/v), whereas the light aries and the light taurus do not suit the months indicated and look like duplicates with the dark aries (or capricorn) and the dark taurus. It is so obvious, that a reconstruction in this particular case is feasible.

    Greetings, Menno


  109. avatar Diane November 8, 2014 7:12 pm

    Is there some need to show that the Voynich manuscript can’t possibly be Gallo-Roman Celtic?

    Or is the notion about a link to the old Coligny calendar in stone tied in some obscure way to Kircher’s documented connections with Avignon and Lyons – and presumably that notable pharmacist of Lyons who first introduced the scented rush to England etc.?

    – sorry if these references seem enigmatic to anyone. All treated in my blog at one stage or another -

  110. avatar Diane November 8, 2014 7:45 pm

    Menno – re your suggestion that the ‘German website in English’ could be ‘extended’ to include my own work – frankly, I think my conclusions run so counter to the usual ones that their inclusion on that site would be inappropriate – beyond, perhaps, a link to my own sites.

    My work can fairly be called marginal (if not marginalised) because it never had much to do with the written part of the text. Indeed, if you look through Nick’s post, all the theories relate to Voynichese – and no mention of my name among such as Stokjo, Rugg, Sherwood, and Herschel. They offered ideas about the language and/or script and/or imagined ‘author’ but my investigation was of the imagery and the materials used for the fifteenth-century manuscript.

  111. avatar Menno Knul November 8, 2014 11:08 pm

    Dear Diane,

    I understand your position, but the main problem might be, that the comments on your blog are on the topic level, mainly art. I have not found yet an outline of your theory about the VMS as an umbrella for your topics, including language and script.

    Greetings, Menno


  112. avatar Diane November 9, 2014 7:44 am

    Menno – each to his last.

    I have not the qualifications, practical experience nor (to be honest) level of interest to involve myself in discussions of Voynichese, so there would be little point in my commenting on that portion of the manuscript.

    While I accept that it is a common fashion to first plot out some preferred historical storyline, and then try to fit the primary evidence into that mould, reading the efforts of others who follow that method cause me much the same pain as reading of Cinderella’s sisters to wear her shoe.

    What I’ve done is more traditional and somewhat more scientific in approach, namely to research the evidence offered by the primary document, locate its historical and cultural context (or, more exactly, strata), and then see how this ties in with evidence provided by such scientific analyses as we have to date.

    Only then, sitting back and considering the implications of those findings, was I able to form an idea of the whole which approached the level of a theory. It must be incomplete, of course, until the written bits are better understood, but as far as the other elements go: inks, parchment, imagery, meaning/content and so on… it seems pretty solid by now. After about 5 years work or so!

    My conclusions – or my evolved ‘theory’ – has been enunciated here at least once, and in my own blogs: both the one which documents the process of research, and the other which sets out the results in a more orderly way.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘thematic'; I worked my way through the manuscript, folio by folio, section by section before addressing more particular themes such as the possible sense of that phrase used by Barsch: ‘thesauros Artis medicae Egyptiacos, or whether an inscription which Nick Pelling thought might read ‘Simon S..’ might also refer to that Simon who wrote a pharmaceutical thesaurus which is cited by Roger Bacon.

    Evidence first, theory (if any) absolutely last is my own preferred method.

  113. avatar xplor November 9, 2014 5:57 pm

    Light and dark was the year of a Celt. Samhain was the holiday that separated the change between light days and winter dark days. We call it Halloween. Does this holiday show up in the Voynich? Many of the Celtic holidays were taken up by the Christians. What we call ground hog day was the change from dark days to light days that section is missing from the V.M.

  114. avatar Thing November 10, 2014 9:58 pm

    If I can intrude on your kindness again, Nick, may I post a link to my latest article? It’s about the possibility that final <y> is expressed as a null when in a middle position. In short, <okey> is to <okedy> as <okeo> is to <okeody&gt

    Link: https://medium.com/@thingsnorthern/the-existence-of-y-deletion-in-the-voynich-manuscript-6fb511d6e497

  115. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) November 28, 2014 9:12 am

    in page 68r3, the figure contains 59 star in 4 sections. (16 stars, 18 stars, 14 stars and 11 stars)(16+18+14+11=59). in page 68r2, also contains 59 stars. 59 is a prime number. if, someone was tried to make fragmentation to prime number 59. but 16, 18, 14, 11 numbers are not coralation. anything, i ltried, but i do not found.

  116. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) November 28, 2014 9:31 am

    and in page 68r3, contains 59 stars and 7 stars. 7 stars are generally thought to be pleiades. is it could, seven sorrows of mother Mary? So, some source says, rosary of the seven pains of the Virgin Mary has 59 grains.(7 and 59 like picture). 59 grains are something standart, fixed? i do not know. because i do not know more about Christianty. in page 68r3, at the center there is a face. so,this may be mother of Iesus Christi’ s face?(mother Mary, Meryem).
    p.s: i am so sorry, if i make a religious error.

  117. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) November 28, 2014 12:43 pm

    page 68r1 contain 29 stars (mansions of luna, like pleiades). 29 is a prime number. if add sun? and moon? in this diagram; 29+2 = 31 also prime.
    page 68r2 contains 59 stars. 59 is a prime number too. if add sun? and moon? in this diagram; 59+2 = 61 again prime
    and this two diagram (p68r1 and p68r2) are not divided any section.
    for example; page 67v1 contain 39 stars and this diagram divided 17 section by rays. because 39 is not prime.
    heavily prime, is not it?

  118. avatar Anton Alipov November 28, 2014 1:19 pm

    Virgin Mary? I’d think it’s Moon rather…

    The VMS, if one considers it as a part of European tradition (which is not proved, but it is likely), is strange in the respect that it does not appear to contain any explicit visual reference to Christianity. No Cross, no Jesus, no martyrs, no eschatology there. Although some argue that there are Popes there, but again those painted persons are not manifesting themselves as Popes.

    This suggests that it’s perhaps not an “opus” but rather one’s “notes” to oneself, some portions like this “astro” section perhaps having been just reproduced from other MS’s that the author happened to read. In that case one would not bother himself with allusions to Christianity, given, of course, that those were not required from the practical point of view – but we don’t know what the author’s “profession” was.

  119. avatar Thing November 28, 2014 1:52 pm

    There is one cross. A woman at the top of 79v is holding one. Though otherwise you are quite right.

  120. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) November 28, 2014 2:02 pm

    ” it does not appear to contain any explicit visual reference to Christianity”. Yes, Anton, it is true, because it is a cipher text.
    i do not claim my idea is true. it is only an idea. I’m just saying my one of opinion. yes, it is true, i have no evidence. do have anyone? Why do you think it is Moon?

  121. avatar Anton Alipov November 28, 2014 6:22 pm


    Yes, indeed, I’ve been missing that, thanks! I wonder what’s the ring that the woman below is holding?!..


    Surely, from the cipher text we have yet recognized nothing; I meant specifically visual reference – drawings, markings, illustrations…
    Regarding the “Moon”, the consideration is straightforward. I note that the drawings which are placed on f68r and adjacent pages contain Sun – its rays leave no room for another hypothesis in its respect, I think. Then, on each page Sun is depicted either dominating the field, or accompanied by another object of a similar shape and “rank”, but without rays. By way of association, which is most probable if not the Moon?! In many (if not in any) traditions the Moon is surely “second most important” luminary after the Sun, so it’s natural to suppose Moon in the object of this rank and position in the drawings. The crescent which some of the “Moons” have onto them is also suggestive.

  122. avatar Thing November 28, 2014 8:51 pm

    Anton: I don’t know about the ring, though other similar items appear on other pages. Indeed, a study of what the men and women in the book are holding might be interesting.

  123. avatar Diane November 29, 2014 1:32 am

    The ‘cross’ is simply an object that has a similar (but *not* identical) form to the Christians’ cross. Lack of Christian forms, Latin Christian worldview and so forth is so obvious a feature of the manuscript’s imagery, that only a very set determination on some contrary theory can explain the continued (and continuing) refusal to recognise the fact.

    I wrote on the topic of that approximately cross-shaped form some time ago, and since it is a current item, I’ll try to find and repost the offering from ‘Findings’ if you like.

  124. avatar Diane November 29, 2014 1:48 am

    - done.
    The post from ‘Findings’ – in 2010 – reposted now on the voynichimagery wordpress blog. Cheers.

  125. avatar Brian Cham November 29, 2014 9:16 am

    Thing and Anton:

    You got me thinking of this section. How does the usage of the Christian cross in f79v even fit in context (whatever it is)?

    As to objects. The only one I’m sure about is with the figure on the left of f80r, in the vertical middle of the page. That’s a pair of forceps. Hints at surgery but not sure if that reading is historically accurate. Note that one on left is striking forcep guy in the eye (I had more observations but I’ll leave them for now).

    Bottom left of f79r is maybe a section of pipe that this figure is constructing?

    A lot are just vague plant parts, e.g. f76v left, f80r bottom left, f80v right middle. Figure at right of middle pool in f84r is pulling whole plant out of red bucket. Maybe explains other objects like f80v top left? Maybe relates to entries in herbal section?

    The rest (e.g. 75r top pool stake thing) appear to be tools of some sort.

    On f83r for a change the figures are directly holding up the shafts of the pipes; on the left one holds a star on a string like in zodiac section.

    Excluding pipes I think the only recurring held objects are the star (lots of times), the ring (three times) and whatever’s at top right of f80v (two times).

  126. avatar Diane November 29, 2014 10:15 am

    Brian, I think the important thing is to discover a context within which all these curious emblems occur and within (say) a couple of centuries of each other. I admit it wasn’t easy, even for someone with some years spent in that sort of work. As it happened, I was fortunate that we have enough examples extant to make a fairly reasonable argument for the Hellenistic era (which continues, in cultural terms, to the early centuries AD in the eastern sphere where Roman armies never ventured). The thing you see as forceps appears at that time as a ritual object, the same time that we see the former situla devolved into a kind of bezel/ring. Both appear in these ‘bathy-‘ folios and are (imo) allusions to certain asterisms, marking the wayfinder’s routes. But the evidence from which I came to that view, and the reasoning behind it, took some years to present online so I shan’t attempt to persuade anyone in a blog-post. :)

  127. avatar Menno Knul November 29, 2014 2:40 pm

    Dear Diane,

    Did you ever consider the idea, that the balneological pages may form a description of ‘how to get pregnant’ ?
    I happen to know, that in the middleages such baths were used for this purpose rather than for beauty or health reasons.



  128. avatar Anton Alipov November 29, 2014 7:55 pm


    Thank you for the reference to your post about that cross. The “lump” is a good observation, and to me this seems the only consideration against this object being the “crux ordinaria”. A budded cross would be fine, but a “partially budded” cross is something strange indeed. Of course we could attribute that for the slip of the pen, but as some other pages (e.g. f2r or f28v) show, micro-scale sometimes definitively matters in the VM, so we should be careful in here.

    However, I can not agree with the main message of your article (if I understood this message correctly). Yes, it’s rather obvious that this picture was not intended to depict “a woman holding a Latin cross”, at least within the framework of the Christian tradition. But that would not mean that the VM is something not of the Christian world.

    First, I think we should be very careful in considering these figures as “women”, and, generally “people”, these “vessels” – as “baths” or “pools”, et cetera. These well may be some “spirits” or, generally, allegories. Suppose this is an allegory of some spirit commanding a certain aspect of vitality, and the cross stands for the protection from evil influences. Or suppose this figure does not hold the cross, but it rather estranges from the cross, declines the cross, which is meant to underscore some grave consequences of that.

    Second, I think that the fact that there is no Christian imagery in the VM can in no way disprove its European origin. The subject(s) of the VM and/or the nature thereof may simply have not required incorporation of any specific allusions to Christianity. The VM may be just a handbook of some specific professional knowledge.

    Please excuse me if I did not understand your point correctly, but If your argumentation is that the VM is something not European, then the major weak point of it is that why then would its author write at least some of his marginalia specifically in German language.

  129. avatar nickpelling November 29, 2014 8:00 pm

    Anton: “at least some of his marginalia in German language”… I suspect that you are mistaken here, or perhaps relying on an assertion that is far weaker than you believe. Is this your opinion, or someone else’s claim?


  130. avatar hakan (efeler1971@yahoo.com) November 29, 2014 8:47 pm

    Dear all, what do you think about my prime number theory

  131. avatar Anton Alipov November 29, 2014 8:55 pm


    Yes this is my opinion, but it is not unfounded or based on my own “findings” solely. Each assertion taken by itself may be not that persuasive and/or may be ambiguous, but taken together they do form a non-contradictory picture.

    First there are color codes which have long been discussed.

    Second there is the “lab” thing corroborated by the adjacent imagery.

    Third, there is the “mel” thing – this is the weak point though, it’s a) emendated and b) being a short word, is not clearly corroborated by the adjacent imagery. This may or may not be German.

    Fourth, besides “lab”, there is some stuff in f116v which has previously been interpreted as possibly German. I think that it fits the context of f116v, but I’ve been busy (or lazy) to blogpost it, and yet need to previously check this guess with some German speaker.

    Maybe I put it in a bit assertive way, so one is quite welcome to call it an “opinion”, but yes personally I think that the above points are suggestive – unless and until, of course, some more adequate interpretation is introduced (which would be more than welcome).

  132. avatar Brian Cham November 29, 2014 9:06 pm

    Diane: Historical/cultural context is all fine but I have a feeling that a lot of the meaning is very personal. How do you interpret the violence against forcep guy? I’ve got your blog bookmarked but haven’t had the time to read it. Maybe some day.

    Menno: Could be anything really. As for historical baths, note that a few figures look like they are showering. Is there any interesting history for that?

    Anton: Maybe the “knob” is related to the one on the ring? I thought it was a clear gem but that’s probably my modern eyes being reminded of a wedding ring.

    Allegory was my thought. The Hygromanteia explains the medicinal properties of plants with star-spirits that imbue their powers into moisture. This struck me as being thematically similar to the Voynich Manuscript’s illustrations. Maybe the “balneo” section is showing the zodiac spirits in the water of the plant parts? Diane you may be pleased to know that the Hygromanteia is Byzantine in origin :)

    Nick: I think he is referring to the rennet bag thing he found tucked away on the last page. btw did you see my e-mail about David Jackson’s word analysis? (I have collected some large natural language text samples if you want to do your own comparisons)

  133. avatar Diane November 29, 2014 11:16 pm

    Menno and Anton,
    Thank you so much for the reply – it’s nice to have people say they’ve paused to consider my observations.

    Menno – I try not to form opinions until after investigating the primary evidence/document in depth. I like the forensic approach, rather than playing ‘chase my hypothesis’ :)

    In comparing the VMS imagery with the forms of Latin (Christian) Europe, and more importantly with its world-view as expressed in manuscripts made there before the mid-fifteenth century, I was at first puzzled, and then enlightened, by the Voynich manuscript’s resounding lack of reference to the most ingrained and reflexive western Latin ideas about the world, its social structures and so forth.

    Compare with any medieval illuminated manuscript, and you too may notice that unlike them, the Vms contains little of war ( perhaps one small vignette, if that); there is nothing of hunts, of kings, of the male hierarchy, of objects as sign of social weight, of Christian proverbs and allusions and so forth… and so forth.
    It is a perfectly consistent and resounding silence.

    About the manuscript as an object – yes, I do expect that one day we’ll be sure about where it was manufactured, and that place will prove to be in England or the western Mediterranean, northern Italy etc. Even Germany’s not entirely impossible, I suppose.

    However, it is hardly remarkable to point out that the place or time where a manuscript is manufactured is no necessary indication of where and when the manuscript’s content was first enunciated. If it were otherwise, one might argue that manufacture of a Psalter in thirteenth century France proved that the Psalms were first composed by a thirteenth-century Frenchman!

    I have always found it curious that those who are interested in the Voynich manuscript have so very rarely paused to distinguish between the thing as made object, and the matter in it as content.

    But investigating the imagery to determine when and where it might first have been enunciated, I did in fact find that nexus for the bathy- images: the ‘cross with lump’ has its equivalent in close proximity – in both time and place – tp representation of the situla-as-ring, to use of the aegis/parasol imagery, and an object which appears to modern western eyes as resembling a pair of surgeon’s forceps.

    I’d date the origin of the ‘bathy-‘ section’s imagery pretty confidently to not later than the 1stC AD.

    Other sections yield different results, as one might expect given their clear distinctions in matter and style.

    I believe that Voynich research has circled endlessly for a century not least because it began with two premises which were never thought through: 1) that assumption of coeval construction and first enunciation of content; 2) an assumption that both object and content would be a product of western Latin Christian culture.

    A number of informed voices have said otherwise, over the past century, but the passion of amateurs devoted to their personal hypotheses has fairly regularly drowned out those voices, distorted their message, or simply marginalised the person speaking.

    In the end, it’s just one manuscript of many, and the world offers more important and more pressing problems for the attention of rational persons. I have no desire to win the cardboard cup for ‘most plausible’ and I doubt there is any more tangible reward for simply understanding and appreciating this rare and rather marvellous work.

    I might add that the imagery is so perfectly done, and so complete, that I should think it perfectly possible that the pictorial and the written text(s) are wholly independent.

  134. avatar Brian Cham November 30, 2014 1:14 am

    hakan: Unfortunately numerological[sp] analyses are very prone to biases and are rarely taken seriously. For example you’d be amazed at the sheer number of people that have ever been linked to the number 666 (symbol of the Antichrist in Christian eschatology) through some mental gymnastics. If you could find prime numbers everywhere in the manuscript it would be interesting though. While you’re at it, maybe the coefficients of Pascal’s Triangle? ;)

  135. avatar SirHubert November 30, 2014 9:35 am


    I’ve been spending some time looking at the colour annotations, and indeed the other “letters hidden in plants” (as opposed to what is normally classified as “marginalia”).

    Some of them are written in German, especially “rot” “pur/por” and the “g” for “grun”, and there is the parallel of MS Vicenza 362 for these.

    There is another set of single Latin letters, written in a different hand, and these make absolutely no sense as German colour instructions.

    Whether the German colour instructions are contemporary with the production of the manuscript’s text and/or images is another matter entirely. The history of the illumination of the manuscript is also pretty complex.

    So yes, there is plenty of evidence that the manuscript spent some of its early life either in a place where German was spoken, or at least that it belonged to someone whose mother tongue was German. But the rest of the marginalia are fairly polyglot – Occitan/Catalan month names? – and I would be careful in making any assumptions about the text or production of the manuscript on this basis.

  136. avatar Diane November 30, 2014 10:23 am


    Am I correct in thinking that the theory these letters are German, and that the separate glyphs should be interpreted as ‘rot’ that look like a “t”, an “o” and then a “v” or “r” is a theory first offered by Rene Zandbergen? I remain doubtful about the assumptions here, but as a matter of form would like to ensure proper credit given if I mention it.

    PS If anyone else is sure about whose idea it was – do please chip in!

  137. avatar Anton Alipov November 30, 2014 12:43 pm

    Sir Hubert:

    As I wrote above, taken individually, the colour codes perhaps would not be a strong point of evidence towards the “German” assumption – not because we are not certain that those are colour codes indeed, but because we are not certain that they are in German language, due to their “abbreviated” appearance.

    However, there are other marginalia that suggest German language – there is the “lab” (rennet-bag) strongly supported by the adjacent imagery. There are also less-developed things, like some hints in f66r (although I don’t believe in “mussdel”), and the very ending of the VM (although I don’t believe in “goat’s milk” neither).

    Taken together, this begins to form a more substantiated picture, and what’s important – it’s a positive one (“this is something that fits into German language”) versus the negative approach (“we don’t know what it is, let’s neglect this”).

    You are right that there are marginalia that don’t fit into German language – like “mallior allor” or “michiton oladabas”. But why would all marginalia be necessarily in the same language? They need not be.

    The point is that one should either reject the idea that some of the marginalia are German, or accept it. In the former case, the researcher should provide some solid arguments – and ideally an alternative reading which fits better than the German one. In the latter case (i.e. if we admit that some of the marginalia ARE German), the question arises why would the author use the German language – especially for the purely “auxiliary” marks which the colour codes are.

    I would note though that the language of the author and the origin of the VM are not necessarily the same thing. E.g., suppose German was the mother tongue of the author – but this does not mean that the VM was written in Germany. The author may have been a missionary, a traveller, a refugee, a vagrant etc.

    Neither does the language of the marginalia tell us much of the language hidden behind the script. E.g., the script may well be enciphered Latin (or whatever you like).

    The only point of the German marginalia is that it links the author and the German language together. But that’s an important point in itself. One can not simply ignore this.

    As to the months’ names (“Aberil” etc.), I believe they are agreed to be a later addition and I don’t consider them. I consider only marginalia introduced by the author himself. The colour codes are in some cases painted over, so I think there is little doubt in their being “contemporary”.

  138. avatar nickpelling November 30, 2014 1:22 pm

    Anton: your ‘lab’ = rennet and bulbous drawing = stomach (?) identification claim is certainly intriguing, but it’s a long way from a pure demonstration of fact, and a very long way from a proof that any of the marginalia are systematically in German. The problem with f116v is that we don’t yet have any systematic language claim that makes proper sense, without hugely optimistic polyglot leaps of faith: while my own viewpoint (that there seems to be evidence of emendation to all the marginalia) is more of a commentary on the limits of trying to read f116v than a ‘reading’ of it as such.


  139. avatar SirHubert November 30, 2014 1:53 pm


    Actually, you shouldn’t be looking for a single European author here.

    Reuben Ogburn used to have a website which listed those letters of which he was aware, but you now need to use the Wayback Machine to find it. He names Philip Neal as an authority for suggesting ‘the identifications of ‘g’ / green and ‘rot’ / red, and Gabriel Landini as the first to read another instance of ‘rot’ in the red-coloured root of f7r. Ogburn does also identify ‘pur’ / purple in f9v and f32r without mentioning who, if anyone, had previously found these letters or suggested the interpretations. The version of Ogburn’s site I found was from 2004.

    Rene Zandbergen, as far as I know, was the first to find the parallel with MS Vicenza 362, in (I think) 2010. If you look up “letters hidden in plants” on Nick’s site this is discussed in some detail.


    I think your post is eminently sensible. I myself am not sufficiently confident that one can tell which, if any, of the marginalia or hidden letters can be securely attributed to the people who wrote the text and images. But I think it’s difficult to argue away the ‘g’ and ‘rot’ as being German colour indications given that we have an almost direct fifteenth-century parallel for these terms being used in this manner. I would just point out that a hypothetical manuscript written in Constantinople in 1440 and brought to southern Germany/northern Italy for illumination might well have the same marks.

  140. avatar nickpelling November 30, 2014 2:05 pm

    SirHubert: the two Cipher Mysteries pages I can remember writing on “letters hidden in voynich plants” are –
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2010/02/27/letters-hidden-in-voynich-plants
    * http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2011/11/10/letters-hidden-in-voynich-plants-yet-again
    I concluded at the time that the two specific letter-groups Rene suspected might be “rot” probably weren’t: but that because there seemed to be a fairly consistent use of the same “open-top p” letter shape, these were probably added by the same person etc.


  141. avatar SirHubert November 30, 2014 2:14 pm

    Nick: yes, those are the two threads.

    With respect, I don’t agree with you on the issue of ‘rot’ which I think is pretty clear in at least two places. It’s unfortunate that Ogburn gives the colour-word in the blue-painted flower in f9v as ‘rot’ when it’s clearly ‘pur’, which makes far more sense. I’m not sure if this Ogburn’s slip or whether Gabriel Landini, whom Ogburn cites here, misread it originally.

    And of course you yourself read the very clear ‘rot’ on f4r as part of an elaborate cryptogram giving Averlino’s name. I will respectfully disagree with that also, although the rest of your Averlino hypothesis certainly doesn’t stand or fall by that detail. (And, actually, you do have an F and L in that folio if you want to make ‘Filarete…’ but I think that’s coincidence!)

  142. avatar SirHubert November 30, 2014 2:16 pm

    Sorry – when I say “very clear ‘rot'” I mean that the word is very clearly legible on scans of that folio – it’s not in any way meant as a criticism of anyone who wishes to read it differently.

  143. avatar nickpelling November 30, 2014 2:22 pm

    SirHubert: re-reading Reuben Ogburn’s page just now, it’s clear that I did miss one instance, so this is probably an issue to which I should return before very long. =:-o


  144. avatar Anton Alipov November 30, 2014 2:56 pm

    Regarding f9v and f32r, my idea is that those indeed are marked for purple, but that’s represented not by “pur”, but by “p v” = “purper-var” (MHD for “purpurfarbig”).

    The three-letter word in f9v is surely not “rot”, but it neither looks like “pur”. I’d say it’s rather “por”, which in the context of colour-coding is enigmatic.

  145. avatar SirHubert November 30, 2014 4:21 pm

    Anton: I agree that the three-letter word in f9v does look like ‘por’ in some versions. The colour is caked so thickly that it’s difficult to tell. If you enhance the image by removing the colour, it looks more like ‘por’. But if you enhance it by strengthening the colour of the ink itself, in my opinion it looks more like ‘pur’.

  146. avatar hakan November 30, 2014 4:42 pm


    yes, there is no statistical significance of the few datas
    Well, let disregard the prime numbers.
    i said page 68r2 contain 59 stars. and page 68r3 contain 59 stars in 4 sections
    *(1): 16
    **(2): 18
    ***(3): 14
    ****(4): 11
    sum of those: 59 as page 68r2
    author, have divided the number of stars on the first page (68r2) to four sections on the page68r3.there must be a meaning. but what? calendar, time, number of stars in a constellation, a biblical verse, coordinates or even

  147. avatar Helmut Winkler November 30, 2014 5:46 pm

    I read por too, and it is not as enigmatic as you think, it should stand for mhd. porfir, porphyr-, purpurfarben

  148. avatar Brian Cham November 30, 2014 8:15 pm

    SirHubert: Are you referring to the uppercase color codes (as opposed to lowercase for German) F,J,B? i.e. French fauve, jaune, blanc – Latin color names don’t match here.

  149. avatar Diane November 30, 2014 10:37 pm

    Sir Hubert,
    Thanks for the background. Also, your saying one shouldn’t look for a ‘single European author’ makes me positively nostalgic.

  150. avatar Diane December 1, 2014 3:19 am

    Menno –

    Belated thanks for your comment of October 20th, which I failed to see. I prefer for the sake of a general readership always to use the pagination published by the holding library – and since scans are reasonably expected to read left to right, I use that system – hence 67v-1, not the mailing list custom of calling it 67v-2.

    I have seen no other analysis of that folio, and your announcement that the corner motif is being taken “as a matter of fact” to represent the moon must be based on some pretty interesting work. Whose?

  151. avatar Diane December 1, 2014 4:15 am

    Speaking of folio 9v – apart from those larger glyphs that are mentioned above, what have others made (if anything) of a line of much smaller glyphs appearing on the second flower from the top, on the left, the left-hand petal? Heavily overpainted, it shows itself on enlargement to be classic ‘micrography’ of the medieval sort. But in what alphabet or abjad do people think it written?

  152. avatar Brian Cham December 1, 2014 4:31 am

    hakan: Intuitively the star maps are just star maps relating to astrology. If that’s just a cover and the numbers encode something, well it could be anything.

    Division into four is to be expected (four seasons, four ages of man, cardinal directions, etc. in European tradition) and appears quite often in the manuscript.

    Your idea of linking f68r2 and f68r3 reminds me of something I thought while looking at the “balneo” section. The elements on different pages may be the exact same thing, but at different stages in a narrative, or shown from a different perspective. For example instead of thinking of the balneo section as containing a large number of “nymphs”, it may be the same set drawn (assuming their identities matter) over and over in an ordered story. No I don’t have a story in mind, it’s just another way of looking at it, and seeing the stars as being redrawn into new categories is an interesting example of that sort of interpretation.

    However I’m not sure what to think of the folios you propose. The figure of 59 stars for f68r2 seems to include the slightly smaller ones on the outside. These go in a circle with no informative arrangement or labels, which suggests to me that they are only for decoration. Then again, not many stars are arranged or labelled informatively anyway. Any other correlations?

    What did strike me when I saw f68r3 was how well constructed it was compared to other folios. The circles are done with a compass, the lines are done with a ruler and the angles of the sectors are (almost) geometrically perfect. The author certainly spent special effort on this particular content.

  153. avatar SirHubert December 1, 2014 7:07 am

    Helmut: I thought of ‘porphyr’ too, but my German isn’t good enough to know whether that could be used as a colour.

    Brian: yes, and you can add a capital L to that too. Are those your own suggestions? I’ve not seen them discussed anywhere else on a Voynich site. But are there instances, as with ‘rot’, of these letters being used in this way? I can’t help noting that all the places in the VMS where these letters are used are still uncoloured (although that’s not a fatal objection) in the circumstances.

    Diane: cheer up, and have another read of Death of the Author :-)

  154. avatar Diane December 1, 2014 8:13 am


    Thank you. :)

    It has been pouring with rain in this part of the desert, so I’ve had too much spare time this past few days. I expect we’ll be back to it soon, though.

  155. avatar SirHubert December 1, 2014 8:27 am


    “it shows itself on enlargement to be classic ‘micrography’ of the medieval sort.”

    If we’re looking at the same flower – the one with ‘pur/por’ in the top petal, then I’d say that’s just how the colour has dried. If you look at the lower right petal of the same flower you get more or less the same pattern at the edge of the patch of blue.

    And as a general point, if you’ll forgive my mentioning it, the term ‘alphabet’ is fine to include consonental alphabets as well as those with vowels. The term ‘abjad’ is actually confusing, and I’ve hardly ever seen it used as a general linguistic term.

  156. avatar Brian Cham December 1, 2014 8:53 am

    Diane: When that small writing is digitally enhanced it appears to be the “pur” we are talking about. The larger glyphs just repeat that.

    SirHubert: Where is the L? Yes those are my own suggestions. Not sure what you’re asking. I don’t know of any other manuscripts with those labels, if that’s what you mean. The J isn’t uncoloured. I figured the F went with the (fauve coloured) bulb next to it which is too small to write a label in. Lastly blanc for uncoloured would make sense (sort of :P)

    I have also seen “sil” for silber and “b” for braun but these are highly uncertain so don’t quote me on that.

  157. avatar Helmut Winkler December 1, 2014 10:57 am

    sir hubert – pophyr can be used as a term for the colour as well as for the the stone itself

  158. avatar Diane December 1, 2014 11:08 am

    Sorry to refer to my own blog, but there’s a convenient enlargement there with the micrographic string highlighted.
    Post is dated 23rd June 2013 at http://voynichimagery.wordpress.com

  159. avatar Diane December 1, 2014 11:10 am

    sorry: ‘micrographic string’ is more or less slang. I should have said ‘string of micrographic characters’.

  160. avatar Anton Alipov December 1, 2014 1:47 pm

    I agree with SirHubert that there’s nothing in the “middle” petal, it’s just structural.


    “Porphyr” is not found in Lexer, although it’s there in e.g. DWB by the brothers Grimm. Is that OK? Perhaps it is, because XV century is technically not MHD, it’s rather FNHD?!

    More strange is what’s the point to encode the colour twice in the same flower but in two different ways – “por” and “p v”? A natural assumption is that one of these is NOT a colour code. But “p v” is met in other places, while “por” is not. I previously thought that this is “pol” (which could make some sense), but with new scans it’s evident that the last letter is not an “l”.

    BTW, if we are discussing micro-writings, I wonder if the “get” thing in f1r has been previously discussed in any way? I wrote about that some time ago: http://athenaea.net/index.php?id=56

    (Since then the library issued better scans, so some considerations in my post are now invalid, but this “get”-shaped something is still there).

  161. avatar Anton Alipov December 1, 2014 2:09 pm

    Also, in f67r there seems to be a sign behind the blue at 2 o’clock – like Pisces without a cross strike, or perhaps it was meant to be Aquarius. I was lazy to write about that, just recalled this in connection with the above discussion.

  162. avatar Brian Cham December 1, 2014 7:03 pm

    Anton: The repetition of color codes is indeed strange. Even stranger is the tiny Voynichese phrase inside a leaf (forgot the folio).
    I’m afraid I can’t see your “get” on f1r or the thing on f67r (even after enhancing). On the topic of hidden things, what do you think of the stuff at the top of f1r? Like that big “diagonal line and hook” thing or “eagle”. Or the erased plant part at the top right of f17r that has been colored in already.

    Back to f9v, around the flower in question, does anybody else see Voynichese “l” between the large petal and the one to its right?

  163. avatar Anton Alipov December 1, 2014 9:48 pm


    The green arrow here points straight to the letter “g” of the supposed “get” (or whatever it is): http://athenaea.net/images/12.jpg

    For f67r, here I marked with the red circle the place where you should look for it: http://athenaea.net/images/13.jpg

    If you play with color filtering, you’ll see that it’s hardly structural, it’s rather in the same ink as in which the lines are drawn. As I look at it know in the new scan, it even appears like letters “ge” (Gemini?) If we treat twelve o’clock as Aries, then 2 o’clock is the proper place for Gemini, and 11 o’clock would be Pisces then – it’s exactly where the arrow is drawn, which may stand for the beginning of the circle (vernal equinox). Although it’s all quite indecisive. Why mark specifically Gemini?

    Regarding f1r, I’ve no idea on those elements. I can make only a general note that the 1st page of anything (especially if that anything is not covered yet) is a common place to accumulate (re)marks that are not initially intended to be there – blots, accidental notes, lazy drawings etc. The “get” thing (if it’s really there) is surely of this nature. The “de Tepenecz” stuff also falls to this category, by the way :-)

    The partly erased plant in f17r is notable, cause it necessarily attracts the attention of one who is pondering over “mallior allor”, but I think there’s nothing uncommon in that – the author began to draw, but then dropped the idea in favor of another flower.

    In f9v I think this is not a Voynichese “l”, but just an accidental element of the flower, if I’m looking at the right place (to the right of “por”). There’s a Voynichese “y” (or a Latin “g”) to the right of the rightmost flower though.

  164. avatar Brian Cham December 1, 2014 11:16 pm

    f1r – If you follow your green guide further right, you see the end of the formation more clearly, it’s a bendy rectangle. I think the “g” you see is the other end which is curved and has a little flick. Looks just like the bendy rectangles in the diagonal-and-hook thing at the top.

    f67r – I see there might be something but it’s so small and indistinct that I can’t read it as “ge” or anything you propose. If I stare at it for long enough, I can see either a mustache or a Space Invader. With the amount of heavy paint over the top it’s ultimately an exercise in pareidolia.

    The top-left circle marker reminds me of a thought I once had; excuse the detour. Nick, you said the word next to the circle marker on f57v was an overflowing word. But (I think) the author has not made an overflow mistake anywhere else. This is the first appearance of the circle marker in the manuscript, so I think it more likely that the word is a deliberate “start” label to introduce the idea that these markers stand for the start of a circular sequence.

    Back to f67r – 12 (like 7 and 4) could be so many things in this context.

    f17r – The strange thing to me is how it has already been colored. Are bits painted as they are drawn? Did a separate painter try to color this in?

    f9v – Yes that “y” is why I looked for other letters around the other flowers.

  165. avatar nickpelling December 1, 2014 11:33 pm

    Brian: a magic circle reproduced by Richard Kieckhefer has an almost identical overflow word by a circle of text. It’s nice, you’d like it. :-)


  166. avatar Brian Cham December 3, 2014 2:15 am

    Nick: Not sure how to take that comment, but I’m looking at that circle. Interesting parallel, are you suggesting a direct connection? Could be a precedent but I don’t think it discounts a “start” label completely; the Voynich Manuscript author is so careful with layouts everywhere.

  167. avatar SirHubert December 3, 2014 10:04 am

    Brian: to answer your earlier question: basically, yes. There is one set of letters and abbreviations written in a distinctive “lower-case” hand, including the “rot” and “pur” (and I do think “por” is meant to be “pur”), and another written in a very different “capital letters” hand. The lower-case abbreviations seem to me to be very plausibly interpreted as German colour abbreviations, given that Rene has found another contemporary manuscript which uses the same colour codes. The capital letters I’m not sure about. Your suggestion that they’re French colour abbreviations is not impossible, but would be much stronger if we had a parallel.

    There are also several other letters and abbreviations which are different again. At least some of those may be copied over from an original, and at least some of those may possibly be written in a non-European script. Which would be quite interesting, wouldn’t it?

  168. avatar SirHubert December 3, 2014 10:08 am

    Brian: oh, and I love your comment “If I stare at it for long enough, I can see either a mustache or a Space Invader.” If only we knew a games designer…maybe they could combine the two?

  169. avatar Brian Cham December 3, 2014 7:50 pm

    SirHubert: Unfortunately I’m not in a position to find other manuscripts to act as a parallel. Nor would I be able to explain why color codes would be in two languages. Where is the “L” you mentioned?

    Any pointers to the other letters and abbreviations? I know of the “ij”, the “a,b,c…” sequence in the corners of the cosmo/astro section and whatever’s in the middle of the flower in f28v, but can’t recall any others off the top of my head.

  170. avatar Anton Alipov December 3, 2014 7:54 pm

    The problem with all those might-be-somethings is that we are judging by scans only, and surely with vain effort in half of the cases. Direct visual examination would quickly decide upon those, because you can look at different angles and with good light. But, of course, if everyone goes there to resolve his own guesses, the book will soon deteriorate, they won’t allow that.

    Maybe the community should work out a reasonable list of things to check, and then some major researcher experienced in dealing with ancient manuscripts goes there to run this checklist.

  171. avatar Brian Cham December 3, 2014 10:46 pm

    Anton: Not that I know anything about the subject, but fancy scientific X-ray scan stuff would be good. I recall some high-tech technique used to “see” a draft Mona Lisa under the current one.
    Hmm “the community”. Reminds me of that Kickstarter idea a few years back. You could try but there are fundamental flaws in the communication structure of the online community (same goes for a lot of things, but that’s a story for another day).

  172. avatar Diane December 3, 2014 11:28 pm

    Talking of folio 57v, I rather think that directly (nor nearly directly) behind each of the figures is inscribed a symbol for “cardinal point” or something of that nature. In the second-from-outer ring, behind the crop-haired – or dreadlocked – head, you see a glyph formed as it were a bent arm with hand upraised and a small ‘9’ above the ‘forearm’. However, around the same band, behind each of the other three, there is what I take to be a more rapidly written version of the same. Hence my suggestion of it meaning ‘cardinal point’ rather than anything more specific.

    The sign is certainly an unusual glyph, but I believe I have seen something like the less cursive version in another textual source.

    If this of any interest for the linguists or cryptographers, I’ll try to dig out more information.

  173. avatar Brian Cham December 4, 2014 8:11 pm

    Diane: Interesting but the one at the West position doesn’t align with the figure like the others do. Still, I would love to see what you have found.

    On the general note of hidden colour codes and the like, I think we are asymptotically approaching the limit of things we can usefully notice and discuss in the manuscript’s content as it is. It has been my belief that the only way real progress can continue is with an expansion to the information base we have to work with. For example further scientific testing/imaging, finding missing pages, finding other manuscripts with unambiguous parallels, finding other historical mentions and so on. Otherwise it’ll just be tiny increments of observations (most of which are duplications of previous efforts) that will finally peter out in the 2020’s at the latest.
    Possible exception is statistical studies, but it’s ultimately a gamble whether one will find a genuinely useful pattern.

  174. avatar SirHubert December 4, 2014 10:25 pm

    Brian: it’s a question of knowing where to focus your efforts. There isn’t a publicly available list of these ‘hidden letters’, for example. I don’t have the expertise to interpret them, but thanks to two insomniac daughters I do have the time to look at the manuscript carefully and list what I see. And then, hopefully, someone better qualified can build on that.

    And lots of people are currently working on the other areas you mention, and others too. Lots of interesting things have emerged in the last twenty or thirty years. Nil desperandum, and all that.

  175. avatar Brian Cham December 5, 2014 3:25 am

    SirHubert: Such a list does exist. Two of them in fact. Well, they did exist but disappeared like so many other webpages. For the building and working I assume you’re referring to the mailing list?
    I don’t dispute the talents and efforts of the community. But with the loose connections between sites and many of them eventually going offline, I find that so many are unaware of previous work (e.g. you and the hidden letter list, not that I’m blaming you) and end up duplicating it. That has to be considered.
    Don’t think I’m despairing, giving up or blaming anyone. I’m just making the (subjective) observation that the rate of (real) discovery has been slowing down and pondering about the ultimate cause of that.

  176. avatar SirHubert December 5, 2014 11:46 am

    Brian: you presumably mean Reuben Ogburn’s for one. Which is the other?

  177. avatar Brian Cham December 5, 2014 7:21 pm

    SirHubert: Yes. The other was by Glen Claston.

  178. avatar Anton Alipov December 5, 2014 9:41 pm


    I think that for the “real progress” we just need greater involvement of academia. E,g. please have a look at the article “VM408 folio86v ‘The Rosette Map’: Elements of a Mappa mundi and a map of the Elements” by Wastl and Feger (if you haven’t yet). Excellent article, that.

    Although f86v almost manifests itself as the awkward map of the world with Jerusalem in its center, there turn to be so many features – like Nile, antipodes or elements – which amateur enthusiasts (e.g. like me) would never be able to interpret (however long we painfully google), just because it’s specifically professional knowledge and specifically professional research.

    So I think that in the absence of great funding, only greater interest on the part of academic researchers will move this stone.

  179. avatar nickpelling December 5, 2014 10:39 pm

    Anton: unfortunately, I suspect you’re completely wrong about academic researchers. Academics seem to fare no better (and often a lot worse) than amateur Voynich researchers, simply because there are so many different pits for them to fall into. The Voynich Manuscript offers a tempting swamp for PhDs and the superbright to leap into, from which they can use their power of rhetoric to convince themselves (and sometimes others) that they’ve made a sound judgment call: but they almost never have.

    The real lacuna in the study of the Voynich Manuscript is a convincing conceptual framework to collaboratively work within that stands some chance of getting results. It’s something that I’ve been working on all year: I plan to post about it soon, so please don’t abandon all hope just yet. :-)


  180. avatar Anton Alipov December 5, 2014 11:26 pm


    I spent some time amongst academic researchers in the past, so I’ll assume I’m not *completely* wrong about them. :-) What I mean is not “we urgently need a guy with a degree” (I hold one, but sadly it’s not in relative studies), but we need wider academic input (from multiple disciplines, of course) and more systematic effort.

    I think I guess whom you are hinting at, but I need to say it was the boom raised by him that even actually introduced the VM to many people – (me included, previously I only heard of it once or twice without much interest). And the absence of result or the wrong way taken in a particular case does not mean that we don’t need the activity.

  181. avatar Brian Cham December 6, 2014 1:49 am

    Anton and Nick: It’s all of those problems and more. Anton, from my blog you’ve probably seen my rant about the transcription. I’ve got plenty more where that came from…
    I partially agree with Nick about academics. They have more potential skill but they’re not an automatic benefit, they need collaboration and direction. Academics blindly entering the field and running in circles are no better than amateurs doing the same thing, especially if they let their egos get the better of them.
    Nick I’m not sure what you’re talking about there but I look forward to seeing it.

  182. avatar Diane December 6, 2014 3:38 am

    Dear Anton,
    I’m naturally curious about these persons who see folio 86v as a map of the world, since it was never thought so until I explained it in detail, with cross-references to appropriate documents and imagery.

    Indeed, for all the many visitors who’ve read those posts – covering the map stage by stage and setting the unusual form in its geographical and historical context etc. etc., I don’t think one has expressed themselves convinced. On the contrary, Rene Zandbergen, Rich Santacoloma, and all that mailing list crowd were quite determined that nothing in it suggested a worldmap at all, let alone a western style moralised schematic east-facing ‘mappamundi’ of the Latin sort.

    So this is wonderful indeed. I shall see whether or not a copy is to be had over here. It will be fun to compare our interpretations.

  183. avatar Diane December 6, 2014 4:09 am

    I’ve had a look at the paper, Anton.


  184. avatar Anton Alipov December 6, 2014 1:02 pm


    Regarding the map. What I expressed reflected my own trail of thought (once more I should excuse that I sometimes put it in a bit assertive way – because what seems evident to one may not seem the same to others).

    To make it clear, the chain was approximately thus.

    There are drawings identified as the T-O map in the VM -> The T-O map is also present in one of the corners of f86v -> from the “European” segment of the T-O map the adjacent circle does emerge which thus is likely to represent Europe -> thus is it is likely that the whole f86v is a “zoomed view” of the “T-O world” – > hence one of the two folio corners adjacent to “Europe” should be Africa -> a tower to the right resembling the lighthouse suggests Alexandria, and thus Africa is probably this one. Next, it has long been suggested that the central element of the map with all those temples represents Jerusalem, and indeed Wikipedia says that it was common to place Jerusalem to the center of such maps. This strengthened my view of the whole f86v as the map of the world. Without specific knowledge, though, this was my stopping point – e.g. I had no idea of Constantinople, antipodes (I thought that both other corners stand for Asia together), elements (I thought that those intermediate circles were some kinds of “connectors” like seas) etc. When shortly afterwards I read that article, it approved my general view, while providing those additional considerations.

    I was never subscribed to the VM mailing list and thus I am not aware of those previous discussions and if there are solid arguments towards this NOT being a map of the world, but again, ceteris paribus the map is I think the first that would come to one’s mind looking at f86v. If you say that it was by no means so for the past research, then perhaps this illustrates the effect of a “clean start”.

    I won’t stand for *all* suggestions of that article as a matter of fact (for example there is a wall in f86v leading to that supposed “antipodes” continent – why should a wall lead to a continent? On the contrary, there is a famous great wall in China). But again, notwithstanding the details, the general picture looks to me natural, reasonable, and consistent.

  185. avatar SirHubert December 6, 2014 1:53 pm

    Professional academics, like professional anythings, are normally better at what they do than amateurs. It doesn’t automatically follow – the difference is simply that professional academics do what they do for a living while amateurs don’t (and therefore normally do something else instead).

    The problem here is that there is no single academic discipline into which the Voynich manuscript fits. So in this case, it may well be that an amateur who’s studied it for years will know more about this particular object.

    To exemplify this, I’m afraid I’m going to invoke Stephen Bax, who simply stated that he was using Edith Sherwood’s plant identifications, without any further explanation. You can get away with that, sort-of, if you’re quoting a well-known and generally accepted standard reference, but Edith Sherwood’s blog does not fall into that category. Her article starts “It would normally be regarded as a distinct handicap when viewing the botanical drawings in the VM, never to have seen a medieval herbal or botanical manuscript…” and in my opinion that’s a pretty shaky foundation for Bax to use. If Bax thinks that Sherwood’s identifications are right, that’s fine, but I’d like to have that confirmed by an expert in mediaeval herbals or botanical manuscripts, please.

  186. avatar Thing December 6, 2014 2:07 pm

    Hi Anton, I liked Wastl and Feger’s paper too, but similarly found some shortcomings. I’ve written my thoughts about it, which you may find interesting:


  187. avatar Anton Alipov December 6, 2014 3:30 pm


    Thanks for the link to your post. I haven’t heard about that volcano idea of SantaColoma and Tattrie before. I find this likely to be a volcano indeed. It’s slightly strange why it’s so big compared to the supposed Europe as a whole, but maybe it’s been personally significant to the author or something. If it be a volcano, then its internal structure gives us a hint of how would author depict mountains in general.

    I don’t think your idea to swap Africa and “antipodes” is good – not because the “Nile” is not uncertain (it is), but because this idea contradicts the T-O picture. If the author did not believe in the T-O picture of the world, he would not have included T-O diagrams into the VM. On the other hand, if he believed in the T-O, then why would his large map contradict that worldview?

  188. avatar Thing December 6, 2014 4:56 pm


    I think the mountain is big because–like the other three attachments to the circles–it is designed to depict the elements rather than be part of the map.

    Also, the presence of T-O maps elsewhere in the manuscript should not stop the Rosettes being seen as a different kind of map. The T-O tradition was coming to an end by this time, and the creator was clearly innovating here. We must bear in mind that the possible T-O maps elsewhere in the Voyncih manuscript have only three parts, not four. Simply by adding a fourth–whether the anitpodes or some western continent–the writer was moving beyond them.

  189. avatar Anton Alipov December 6, 2014 6:51 pm

    But the T-O is not only somewhere, it’s directly in that folio as well!

    I don’t have a feel that the VM author was innovating in any way in his MS. Who were innovating at the time were Gutenberg and Ulugh Beg, not he. (This is just a subjective feeling which of course can not be checked until the script is understood).

  190. avatar Brian Cham December 6, 2014 9:06 pm

    Thing: Your proposal agrees more with the idea of the suns being East and West. The original paper take those to mean the equator but I’m not really sure where they got that from.
    Their Lighthouse of Alexandria idea is strange as they take the yellow top to mean “fire”, but all the towers have yellow tops. Equating the “bridges” to isthmuses is also strange since there are vaguely architectural connections between all of the circles, though some old maps did have Africa and Asia connected to Terra Australis.
    Your identification of the drawings from the circles to the centre being elements is pretty convincing. But here you say that they are not directly part of the map, and on your site suggest they could be Mount Ararat and Nile. What’s to stop the volcano from being something in particular?
    As for WestVinIceAntilAtlanEtcLand being associated with air, a brief check of world wind current maps shows that the Atlantic coast of Europe has West-to-East winds (i.e. towards Jerusalem).
    But how do you interpret what they call the Lighthouse and Constantinople in your layout? Note the lack of anything like the Pillars of Hercules.
    The mention of Atlantis being “swallowed up” and the teeth made me laugh. Would this pun work with the original Greek text?

    Anton: If we take the map as a four-way world map then it would necessarily contradict the T/O map.

  191. avatar Diane December 7, 2014 12:13 am

    The idea of the manuscript’s having an “author” is no more than an idea, and not exactly a fair assumption for a manuscript produced in the first decades of the fifteenth century. Content that has evolved over time, but is brought together in a copy – in this case presumably one produced around 1438-40 or so – will show the effect of that transition. So in this case, the basis of the worldmap (as I explained) refers to a much earlier period, with two phases of addition most evident, these being dated (as I see it) to about the twelfth century, and then the latest additions to about the end of the fourteenth.

    So there’s no difficulty in seeing allusion to the old idea of the tripartite earth being added to an earlier, and very different habit in representing the world.

    What is more difficult to simply explain away is the fact that the attitude to representing the world, and the particular stylistics are absolutely incompatible with the “all-European” theory. I defy anyone to produce a Latin work made earlier than 1440 in which coastlines’ characters are depicted according to a systematic patternation.

    In addition, to depict the world as a square, and locate its quarters at the diagonals, and then represent each of the four regions (not continents) using its own culture’s visual “shorthand” is a thing I’ve never seen in medieval European art.

    The bottom line, of course, is that the folio is a *picture* and pictures have to be considered by reference to their technical aspects too.

    Apart from the objects depicted, one has to be able to

  192. avatar Brian Cham December 7, 2014 3:55 am

    Diane: Does this feature in any culture? I’m aware that the Chinese viewed the world as a square, but that’s it.
    If it is what we think it is, I wouldn’t call it a map per se. Maybe more like an abstract diagram that mainly represents something esoteric and metaphysical, and just happens to also feature places shoehorned into the conventions of the outer diagram.

    Also Diane do you agree with the depiction of Constantinople? If so does it suggest pre- or post-conquest?

    In any case I’m reminded of the thingy at the bottom left of f67v2 (four circles in the T/O). That could be a reproduction of the four corner circles in the rosettes superimposed over the T/O, which suggests the layout proposed in the original paper but with two corners in Asia (as was usual) instead of Asia and Terra Incognita Australis.
    Now for more baseless speculation, the pipes in top-left could be Sirocco from Africa, the fountain in the bottom-left could be the Indian Ocean and the “teeth” in top-left could be crescents (you can see some separated).

  193. avatar Thing December 8, 2014 2:27 pm

    Hi Brian, I think that the “elemntal” depictions may well belong to the continents in question, but their position and size should not be indicative of anything. Whether they all represent named examples, I don’t know.

    As for the “swallowed up” pun. I admit that it doesn’t work in Greek. Really the Atlantis suggestions was thrown in for fun. If that circle does depict a western continent I expect Antillia to be the likeliest candidate.

  194. avatar Diane December 9, 2014 12:48 am

    When I began the analysis of this folio, it was considered almost as unreadable as the written sections. No-one had suggested it a world-map, but I reached that conclusion after some initial study.

    I have never thought it reasonable to merely “imagine” or freely associate ideas in order to explain the meaning of pictures – no more than it would be to rely on imagination to interpret for a third person the meaning of another’s spoken words when the language was unknown to that third person.

    Learning a new visual language and vocabulary requires quite a bit of work, as learning a spoken language does.

    Something of that sequential process, with a selection from the mass of comparative imagery I investigated, are offered along with my conclusions in posts I made to voynichimagery dot wordpress dot com.

    Referring others to that blog is more efficient, I think, than trying to recap the whole thing here, which (apart from anything else) uses up Nick’s bandwidth.

    If you read the posts, I hope you will comment, too.

  195. avatar Brian Cham December 9, 2014 12:58 am

    Thing: If it’s a western continent I think it’s not Antillia or it would have a clear reference to the seven cities. Found this about Vinland on Wikipedia: “The name was explained in both texts as referring to the savage inhabitants’ ability to tie the wind up in knotted cords, which they sold to sailors who could then undo a knot whenever they needed a good wind”. Could that be the link you’re looking for?

    Though with the ball-and-stick connection I mentioned in a previous comment, I’m inclined to think of the suns as equator, top-left as Africa, top-right as Europe, bottom-left as Asia below equator and bottom-right as Asia above equator. Although we now know that the vast majority of Asia is in the Northern Hemisphere, look at the 1475 Rudimentum Novitiorum (https://commons dot wikimedia dot org slash wiki slash File:1475_Rudimentum_Novitorum_Lucas_brandis dot jpg ) to see how they could be divided. The author balances the two Asian sectors equally, for example with Persia and some of the Holy Land in the “south”. Note the mashing up of times (Biblical places mixed with contemporary), the Garden of Eden in the east, and imprecise locations (Vinland in Europe? Cyprus/Cipr9 north of Rome?), where the most important thing is which places belong to which quadrant.

    Antipodes just doesn’t fit with an expanded T/O map; in that model antipodes would be the other side of the map and not represented.

  196. avatar SirHubert December 9, 2014 6:30 pm

    Brian: to pick you up on your earlier point, you are of course right that the wheel gets invented fairly frequently in Voynich research and with varying degrees of success. (“You’re so clever, you tell us what colour it should be!”). But there’s nothing wrong with people repeating work done by others to improve their own familiarity with the manuscript, both contents and as a physical object. It’s a bit like a student being translating Homer – of course others have done it before and doubtless better, but it’s a great way to learn. And, personally speaking, that’s why I’ve been looking page by page for “hidden letters” – it’s a reason to look carefully at every part of every page. I’m not expecting to find anything new or exciting, although for what it’s worth Ogburn’s list is incomplete, but I’ve learned a lot by doing so.

    The biggest problem, in my opinion, remains peer review, so that those of us working outside our fields of expertise can have some confidence that the work of others is generally considered sound. Nick does a pretty good job of being a one-man de facto peer review here, but it’s asking a lot for one person to do this to everyone’s satisfaction while also maintaining an open and tolerant blog.

  197. avatar Brian Cham December 10, 2014 12:00 am

    SirHubert: I’m sure it’s good as a learning/stimulation/communication experience, that’s why I was discussing it too. But there’s a difference between this and the problematic “reinventing of the wheel” I was talking about. We are well aware of what we’re doing and why, and of other/previous efforts. We have the information so we have the genuine choice.
    But others don’t have the luxury of that knowledge and repeat efforts fully expecting an innovation. That in itself isn’t too bad (hey, they learned something too) but if it was more accessible they could read it and perhaps choose to use their skills more efficiently in something not looked at before. When you multiply that many times you have a systematic problem.

    As for peer review, that’s another problem, yes. Among many…

  198. avatar Diane December 10, 2014 9:08 am

    Could you elaborate on the “we” here?

    “We are well aware of what we’re doing and why, and of other/previous efforts”.

    If you are aware of previous work that is directly relevant to the sort of ideas you are floating, could others also be made aware of these, so that they too can compare your ideas with those.

    As example, one might consider Nick’s posts about “hidden letters” which allows a reader to follow in sequence from the first person’s notice of them, through various speculations about them, to the present state of opinion(s).

    Have you considered a similarly objective approach to the position you and your collaborators occupy?

  199. avatar Brian Cham December 10, 2014 7:42 pm

    Diane: By “we” I meant the commenters on this blog participating in discussion. Clever folk. Not “me and my crack team” if that’s what you were thinking.

    Unfortunately I don’t remember exact sources for the info, it’s just in my memory. I’ll think about that.

    Considered, yes, but no time yet for those sorts of posts, and a lot of my musings here are on the side. My main focus right now is on a different aspect which will be on my website. Though “objective” is not a term that sits well with the study of this manuscript haha.

  200. avatar Juergen December 10, 2014 9:03 pm

    Anton, Thing: Thanks for your kind remarks and view on our manuscript. First of all, we are not the Voynich academics you think we are. I can claim an academic background in Molecular Biology, one of the areas clearly not in multisdisciplinary Voynich-land. We are doing our research in our spare time like many others – this paper of ours took some considerable time to get together and we welcomed your positive feedback. For the manuscript ( which we wanted to put to proper peer-review and a journal) we finally decided against it and made it open access so everyone can find & read it (lots of things happening right now in that area: Open Access & Citizen Scholars, but I digress).

    Thing et al: I had not much time to read through your blog – very interesting. I will respond thoroughly after this weekend, however, I believe our theories do not contradict at all! I haven’t seen a comment by you about the climate resulting of the positioning of elements and continents. Would be interesting to have your view on it. As I said, I will respond soon – lots of time constraints right now.

  201. avatar Diane December 11, 2014 10:35 am

    Dear Brian,
    Interesting your saying that “objective” is not a term that sits well with this manuscript. It is true, and the reason for its being true is something that puzzles me more than the manuscript itself – or to be more exact, the manuscript’s imagery.

    When you think that we have so many thousands of manuscripts on parchment and other media, all made before 1438, and that about those items there are written perfectly lucid and objective comments – altogether I daresay commentaries occupy more shelf-space than the manuscripts – then why on earth do people constantly behave as if the only way to provenance and describe this manuscript was by consultation with airy sprites and wistful imaginings.

    I sometimes imagine the scene if a ‘Voynichero’ were to walk into the hallowed halls of some other rare books collection and engage in the same sort of ‘hypothesis-making’ about any of those manuscripts. Raised eyebrows, and offers of an escort to the door would be the least of it – or so I imagine. :)

  202. avatar Brian Cham December 12, 2014 1:03 am

    Diane: To answer the question, the mystery of the manuscript makes it easier and more fun to make wild and imaginative speculations rather than do the research. Good inspiration for writing a story but of course not so useful for actual investigation. As for the nationalist “theories”, well their motivation is obvious.

    I’m imagining the scene now. Ecstatic screams of “Eureka! Da Vinci was an Atlantean!” followed by chuckles and facepalms. :D

  203. avatar Diane December 12, 2014 9:23 am


    thanks for that, Brian

  204. avatar SirHubert December 14, 2014 6:15 pm

    “The codex belonged to Emperor Rudolph II of Germany (Holy Roman Emperor, 1576-1612), who purchased it for 600 gold ducats and believed that it was the work of Roger Bacon. It is very likely that Emperor Rudolph acquired the manuscript from the English astrologer John Dee (1527-1608). Dee apparently owned the manuscript along with a number of other Roger Bacon manuscripts. In addition, Dee stated that he had 630 ducats in October 1586, and his son noted that Dee, while in Bohemia, owned “a booke…containing nothing butt Hieroglyphicks, which booke his father bestowed much time upon: but I could not heare that hee could make it out.” Emperor Rudolph seems to have given the manuscript to Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz (d. 1622), an exchange based on the inscription visible only with ultraviolet light on folio 1r which reads: “Jacobi de Tepenecz.” Johannes Marcus Marci of Cronland presented the book to Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) in 1666.”

    Looks like Yale employ airy sprites in the Beinecke Library.

  205. avatar Juergen December 14, 2014 8:29 pm

    TH Ing: I really enjoyed your blogpost with the review of my previously published manuscript concerning the Rosette map and the depiction of continents, classical elements and their interaction (climate). I now had time to look at it in more detail – very interesting details and if we could agree on distinguishing classical ( c-Elements as I call them) from earthly visible ones (e-Elements) then our theories agree in many instances.
    I copy here the the link followed by the final paragraph ( I don’t want to annoy others here and waste time)

    For those interested in my response, here the paper/link: Wastl, Juergen (2014): Elements matter: The context and perception of classical and cosmological elements versus earthly and physical matter in the Rosette Map. figshare.

    here the summary:
    ‘TH Ings theory improves and develops further the existing theory, if one agrees and accepts the distinction between classical Elements and earthly Elements (physical matter) as proposed in this manuscript. TH Ing provides further proof and visual identification for physical Elements (e-Earth in Asia and independent confirmation of e-Fire for Europe) fitting into the climate model as previously postulated. TH Ing’s theory on its own can’t be combined though with the climate and classical Elements theory of Wastl and Feger, partly due to a lack of meaning for the cardinal circles and different geographical allocations.
    Furthermore, even without the topics addressed in this response ( in particular the positioning of Africa and the Antipodes and the positioning and identification of the River Nile) both have much common ground. It will be interesting to follow up on these in further discussions.

  206. avatar Diane December 14, 2014 9:24 pm

    Cor – brings back memories.

  207. avatar nickpelling December 14, 2014 10:16 pm

    Juergen: you’ve obviously put a lot of effort into this project, and the link you make between the specific representation of Paradise on the 1203 map and the similar shape on the Voynich rosette page is definitely the high point of your original paper.

    My ‘takeaway’ is rather different, though: if the shape is a representation of Paradise in the manner of the Beatus map, then it is one to which extra (curved internal) lines have been added apparently to obscure the overall visual meaning. Which points to at least two stages of construction (i.e. writing, and then obfuscation), which matches what we see elsewhere (e.g. on the reverse side of the same hexfolio). But this also suggests that we should be suspicious of everything we see on the page: that the original alpha state of the rosettes may well have been far simpler, but that the way they all ended up was far more distracting to the eye.

    All of which is to say that I now distrust the overall impression this page gives, and will therefore be treating it far more warily than before. Thanks! ;-)


  208. avatar Juergen December 15, 2014 7:53 pm

    Nick: Thanks for your feedback and your point of view (sic). Until now I didn’t see it that way. Keeping an open mind (once someone is deeply immersed in the matter) is something one shouldn’t ignore or forget.
    You clearly provide some food for thought – questions that immediately come to my mind;
    – What was the first propose? (if the second or last was to mislead the viewer/reader)
    – Where is the border between the two (or more) stages?

    Re your comment on the effort I spent: It took some time and effort (whatever somebody is willing to spend on a topic like this – I guess there are many hooked Voynichistas).
    The ‘paradise’ connection was actually the first one that brought me to that folio (2012, after reading your book). Thereafter in chronological order followed the Nile (5 branches – I blame my Latin teacher) and Heavenly Jerusalem leading to the elements via Ether. I thoroughly enjoyed the voyage (so far) and actually learned a lot about medieval philosophy and classical elements in that process. If I can contribute either positively or negatively (by exclusion) a small step to advance the understanding then even better.

  209. avatar Diane December 16, 2014 12:07 am

    Just for interest’s sake: I see that in 2010, Julian Bunn included a post on roughly this sort of topic – makes a good read.
    His blog is called ‘Computational Attacks on the Voynich Manuscript'; the post entitled ‘T-O’ maps and the moon (27/03/2010).


  210. avatar Janine December 16, 2014 9:04 am

    Joris Hoefnagel was a painter of plants and was in Rudolf’s court before the time that name was written on the manuscript. If it was Rudolf’s, it would be natural for him to see it, and maybe re-make the pictures for the emperor’s taste. Hoefnagel had also been in France and Spain and England, so maybe even met John Dee some time?

  211. avatar xplor January 20, 2015 3:34 am

    Dr. Diego Amancio  bigger computers.

  212. avatar Sukhwant Singh February 9, 2015 5:45 pm

    My name is Sukhwant Singh and for the past couple of 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 (Descendant 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 minuscule 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 traveled ). This was done to protect business know-how 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 archaeological 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….”
    Voynich Manuscript belonged to a Roma Sindh person and is in Landa Khojki scripts


  213. avatar Xenon February 25, 2015 1:43 pm

    New kid to the VM here. I saw a comment in this thread from a couple of years ago from Thomas Spande who thought the text was loaded with scribal abbreviations. I think it’s more than just loaded with them. Rather than the language being a cipher, I think all the characters may be scribal abbreviation characters. I have matched around 15 of the simpler characters so far, all of which were in use in Europe/UK in the 1400’s, using online paleography texts and examples. Some of the more complex characters are compound characters made up of two or three abbreviations.
    oh…. how do I post a picture to show examples?
    Is anyone else aware of any work along the same lines?

  214. avatar xenon March 4, 2015 12:49 pm

    OK… so, using abbreviation symbols, and vowels, for the spiral writing at the top right of 86v…. it’s a bit rough… but I get .. [word] appears [bright?] shining to the [word] equator and ecliptic[word] the sun constant [hours?] is constant to [or against] Aries.
    … the transliteration was… [word] apares [?]lla coruscar(es) el [word] ecuador en eclipticas estar o sol constantes orar o sol estar ares contrares [or perhaps constances].

  215. avatar D.N.O’Donovan March 4, 2015 3:18 pm

    xenon -the proprietor here has first take; otherwise do leave a comment on my blog. I’ll be happy to carry a post there for you.
    voynichimagery dot wordpress dot com

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