Oh the need for everyone to be Sherlock Holmes is on an all time high because its been centuries and no one has been able to decipher this book. Would you like to know what makes this book so mysterious? We're going to tell you about it and you can see for yourself.
Yale Has A Puzzle For You!
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale has a mysterious book in its library named the Voynich Manuscript. So many cryptologists, researchers, philosophers, scientists, etc, have tried to read this book but all have failed. Of course, there were people that claimed that they have deciphered it but none have a concrete explanation. What is so mysterious about the Voynich Manuscript? Let’s get right to it.
The first thing we know about the book is that it belongs to the early 15th Century. It is written on sheets of vellum, which is prepared by animal skin or membrane. After the handwriting was carbon-dated, it was proved that the manuscript came from the early 15th century. The text may have even composed in Italy during the Italian Renaissance.
The Vivid Images
The book is a little over 20cm by 16cm and has 240 richly illustrated pages. The reason for the mystery is the vivid, dream-like images in the book as well as the unknown language in which the text is written. The book has images of floating castles, flowers bearing no relation to anything that can be found on Earth, disembodied heads, strange creatures that look like jellyfish, and a lot of naked women that appear to be bathing in water.
The manuscript’s unique text is made up of handwritten Latin letters, Arabic numbers, and many unknown characters. No one has been able to decipher it properly. Due to the mysterious nature of this book, it has been featured in Tv shows, books, music, and even video games. Some of the alphabets appear nowhere else other than this manuscript.
Where Did The Name Voynich Come From?
The book got its name from a Polish- Lithuanian book dealer who had revolutionary tendencies and many famous friends called Wilfrid Voynich. He was born in what is now called Lithuania in 1865. He was arrested for his socialist activities and was imprisoned in Siberia. He, however, managed to escape the jail and made his way to London. After escaping, he established a small second-hand book shop. For his business, he would travel to go on a book-buying expedition. On one such expedition which was held in Jesuit, outside Rome in 1912, he came across this manuscript. He then gave the book his name and soon realized that he had stumbled upon a treasure.
The manuscript also had a letter written in 1665 by physician Johannes Marcus Marci. He claimed that the manuscript belonged to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. The next owner according to the apparent letter was an alchemist based in Prague called George Baresch. After that, the manuscript was sent back to Marci who then sent it to a Jesuit scholar called Athanasius Kircher hoping that at least he would be able to decipher the manuscript.
Queen Elizabeth I
Marci’s letter stated that the manuscript could have been the work of the 13th-century philosopher and alchemist Roger Bacon. A lot of people have been considered to be the authors of the book but none ever stuck. The curator at the Beinecke Library, Ray Clemens told BBC News in 2014. Voynichologists (yes, they have a name now) have argued that the roots of the text lie in languages ranging from Old Cornish and Old Turkish to the Aztech language of Nahuatl.
Some have even believed that John Dee, the astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I along with the alchemist Edward Kelley made the text as an elaborate Tudor hoax. But science came into the picture and threw the theory out the window. When the text was carbon dated, it was found that the text belonged from the 15th century right? Then how come Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer and alchemist, who weren’t even born then, made a hoax?
In 2017, Nicholas Gibbs, a historical researcher, said that he thinks that the manuscript was a women’s health guide and received some backlash. He said that “A reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period, an instruction manual for the health and wellbeing of the more well to do women in society.” This argument was based on the women bathing and the repeated signs of the Zodiac which were both employed in medical treatises in medieval Europe.
Lisa Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America said that “Frankly, I’m surprised the Times Literary Supplement published it. If they have sent it to the Beinecke Library, they would have rebutted it in a heartbeat.”
Dr. Gerard Cheshire
After centuries of FBI operatives, mathematics and scientific scholars’, medievalists, etc., an honorary research associate at the University of Bristol, called Dr. Gerard Cheshire declared in May 2019, he declared that he had a series of “Eureka” moments that helped him decipher the code.
According to him, the manuscript was a “compendium of information on herbal remedies, therapeutic bathing and astrological reading” which was compiled by the Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile. Maria was the Queen of Aragon and great aunt to Catherine of Aragon. But Cheshire’s claim was faced with a rebuttal and was said to be “just more aspiration, circular, self-fulfilling nonsense.”
No Truth Found
Scholars have used the illustrations from the book which include, floating heads, zodiac signs, fantastic creatures like dragons, and even astronomical, to organize the manuscript’s context into six major sections. These sections are botanical, astronomical and astrological, biological, cosmological, pharmaceutical, and recipes. However, since there is no firm proof that any of the people claimed to have deciphered the text, it is difficult to know if anything is true.
So many explanations out and about in the world, but none so strong that it can be said that the Voynich Manuscript mystery is solved. Since no one has been able to prove their theory right, we can guess that a lot of people are still working on it, and soon we might have even some more absurd theories. Let’s wait and see. Maybe it has all the answers to the questions about our world, maybe it’s just some well-written gibberish.