Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Ongoing Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript is a detailed 240-page book written in a language or script that is completely unknown. It is named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller Wilfrid M. Voynich. He acquired it in 1912.
The pages are filled with colorful drawings of strange diagrams, odd events and plants that do not seem to match any known species. The appeal of the manuscript is impossibility to decipher it.
The original author of the manuscript remains unknown. Carbon dating has revealed that the pages were made sometime between 1404 and 1438 in Western Europe. Needless to say, it has been dubbed “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.”
There are legions of theories about the origin and nature of the manuscript. Some believe it was meant to be a pharmacopoeia with the purpose to display topics in medieval or early modern medicine. This is founded on the illustrations and descriptions of herbs and plants.
It has also been implied that it is some kind of alchemist textbook. This theory is based on the fact that many diagrams appear to be of astronomical origin, as well as the unidentifiable biological drawings.
Needless to say, it has also been stated that the book might have an alien origin. The book is quite likely not a hoax. It would involve too much time, money and effort to produce it, since every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character. Each page is drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red.The content of the manuscript falls into six sections:
  1. Botanicals containing drawings of 113 unidentified plant species;
  2. Astronomical and astrological drawings including astral charts with radiating circles, suns and moons, Zodiac symbols such as fish (Pisces), a bull (Taurus), and an archer (Sagittarius), nude females emerging from pipes or chimneys, and courtly figures;
  3. A biological section containing a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules;
  4. An elaborate array of nine cosmological medallions, many drawn across several folded folios and depicting possible geographical forms;
  5. Pharmaceutical drawings of over 100 different species of medicinal herbs and roots portrayed with jars or vessels in red, blue, or green, and
  6. Continuous pages of text, possibly recipes, with star-like flowers marking each entry in the margins.
Will anyone ever be able to decipher it? In the mean time, it remains one of the unsolved mysteries of our time.
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