The Voynich Manuscript

January 28, 2013

voynich1Since its re-discovery 1912, the early 15th century ‘Voynich Manuscript’ has defied the best efforts of cryptographers, linguists, anthropologists, mathematicians and code-breakers…Nobody knows what any of it means. Or even if it means anything at all.

Filled with botanical, anatomical, scientific and astronomical illustrations – most of which have no known matches – the book is written in a language that has yet to be deciphered or identified.

In 1912, antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid Voynich acquired the 234 page manuscript from an unnamed source. Believing it to be the work of 13th century monk and scientist Roger Bacon, Wilfrid took it home with him to America, where a series of high-profile attempts to decipher it began.

voynich2Over the years, theories on the book’s meaning/origins have included claims that it contains concealed microdots, is the work of Roger Bacon/Leonardo da Vinci /renaissance architect Francesco Fileflo, that it’s a phonetically-rendered Asian language…Or that it’s simply an elaborate hoax, perhaps between rival 17th century scholars.  Carbon-dating has placed the manuscript in the first half of the 15th century –  ruling out the suggestion that Voynich created it himself.

The manuscript has a fairly well-tracked line of ownership – from the Court of Rudolph II of Bohemia, through Voynich and on to current owners, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

You can browse its pages here:




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