Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Voynich Manuscript

(source)

Who wrote the Voynich manuscript? It is a cipher manuscript codex, possibly originating from Northern Italy, which has not yet been decoded.

Particularly fascinating: the illustrations:
Except for the last section, which contains only text, almost every page contains at least one illustration. Following are the sections and their conventional names:

Herbal

Each page displays one plant (sometimes two) and a few paragraphs of text—a format typical of European herbals of the time. Some parts of these drawings are larger and cleaner copies of sketches seen in the "pharmaceutical" section. None of the plants depicted are unambiguously identifiable.

(source)

Astronomical

Contains circular diagrams, some of them with suns, moons, and stars, suggestive of astronomy or astrology. One series of 12 diagrams depicts conventional symbols for the zodiacal constellations (two fish for Pisces, a bull for Taurus, a hunter with crossbow for Sagittarius, etc.)...

Biological

A dense continuous text interspersed with figures...some wearing crowns, bathing in pools or tubs connected by an elaborate network of pipes, some of them strongly reminiscent of body organs.

Cosmological

More circular diagrams, but of an obscure nature. This section also has foldouts; one of them spans six pages and contains a map or diagram, with nine "islands" or "rosettes" connected by "causeways" and containing castles, as well as what may possibly be a volcano.

Pharmaceutical

Many labeled drawings of isolated plant parts (roots, leaves, etc.); objects resembling apothecary jars, ranging in style from the mundane to the fantastical; and a few text paragraphs
(source)

Various theories about the script in which it is written:

...

Steganography

This theory holds that the text of the Voynich manuscript is mostly meaningless, but contains meaningful information hidden in inconspicuous details—e.g. the second letter of every word, or the number of letters in each line...

Exotic natural language

The linguist Jacques Guy once suggested that the Voynich manuscript text could be some exotic natural language, written in the plain with an invented alphabet. The word structure is similar to that of many language families of East and Central Asia, mainly Sino-Tibetan (Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese), Austroasiatic (Vietnamese, Khmer, etc.) and possibly Tai (Thai, Lao, etc.). In many of these languages, the "words" have only one syllable; and syllables have a rather rich structure, including tonal patterns...

Glossolalia

In their 2004 book, Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill hint to the possibility that the Voynich manuscript may be a case of glossolalia [fluid vocalization of meaningless syllables], channeling or outsider art...
(source)

This is eminently usable story material.

2 comments:

  1. At least 30 novelists agree with you. :-) Here's my list of their Voynich-themed novels:- http://www.ciphermysteries.com/the-voynich-manuscript/big-fat-list-of-voynich-novels

    ReplyDelete
  2. My suggestion to decode the Voynich Manuscript is in the fact that each of its individual pages encodes some other information . Encryption is not just a written form. Voynich manuscript - it is not my task, classic cipher written, only symbolic rebus - ideogram. http://gloriaolivae.pl/

    ReplyDelete