Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

There are of course millions of manuscripts in existence, but most of them come and go with barely a notice. The famous Voynich Manuscript is definitely not in that category. This manuscript is one of the most well known, and one of the most mysterious, in the history of the world.

This fascinating document is believed to have originated in Central Europe, and those who have studied it believe it dates back to the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century. Recently the manuscript was carbon dated in order to rule out the possibility of a modern hoax. The Voynich Manuscript dated to the late 14th century or early 15th century.

The Voynich Manuscript was named after an antique bookseller by the name of Wilfrid M. Voynich, a Polish-American who acquired the document in 1912. Of course Voynich probably did not realize what he had at first, but it quickly became apparent that this was no ordinary document. It is telling that this book, acquired nearly a century ago, is still being translated, and argued about, by the best minds in the worlds of literature, religion and science.

The Voynich Manuscript is sometimes described as a scientific document. Others describe it as a religious or magical text, and this famous book contains sections on botany and science, along with meticulously crafted illustrations in vibrant shades of green, yellow, blue, red and brown.

The amazing thing about the Voynich Manuscript is that even after a century of careful research and study, nearly every page still contains text and drawings that have yet to yield their secrets. These undeciphered sections are the subject of much speculation, and the drawings and just as puzzling and just as fascinating to everyone from scientists and theologians to the general public.

Although the Voynich Manuscript as a whole defies description, the book can be broken down into six main sections. Those sections include:

Botanicals – the book includes detailed drawings of some 113 yet to be identified species of plants.

Astronomical and Astrological Charts – this section includes astral charts with mysterious radiating circles, symbols of the Zodiac and detailed descriptions of the sun and moon.

Biological Information – this section of the Voynich Manuscript includes detailed drawings of miniature female nudes, most featuring distinctive swelled abdomens. What makes this section so fascinating are the strangely tubes and capsules attached to those figures. Those drawings remain the subject of much debate, nearly a century after this mysterious book was first discovered.

Cosmological Medallions – This section features an elaborate array of medallions, many of which are drawn across several folios. These drawings are widely believed to depict geographical formations.

Pharmaceuticals – this part of the manuscript includes detailed drawings of more than 100 different medicinal roots and herbs. These medicinal plants are depicted in vessels and jars in various shades of red, green and blue.

Recipes – the final section of the Voynich Manuscript includes what appear to be recipes, complete with star-like flowers which are used to mark each separate entry in the margins along the continuous text on each page.

The history of the Voynich Manuscript prior to 1912 is hard to pin down, and there are many theories regarding how this book first came into existence. The codex traces back to Emperor Rudolph II from Germany, who served as Holy Roman Emperor from 1576 through 1612. Emperor Rudolph purchased the manuscript for 600 gold ducats, most likely from the famous astrologer John Dee.

It is believed that the emperor eventually gifted the manuscript to Jacobus Horcicky de Tepeneez. This information was gleaned from a faint inscription on the folio, so faint that it is now visible only under ultraviolet light. The path from there to Voynich is still the subject of some debate, as is the meaning of all those mysterious drawings and sections of text.

In a recent development, Professor Stephen Bax, Professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire, has taken a crack at decoding the Voynich Manuscript utilizing the methodology which eventually translated ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. After examining the Voynich Manuscript, Professor Bax took and interest in decoding it because he felt the script within the manuscript was a language and the book did indeed contain detailed information on many topics, mostly the understanding of plants, herbs and the possible use of herbs.

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