Anomymous - (EN) The Voynitch Manuscript

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Anomymous - (EN) The Voynitch Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript

    The Most Mysterious Manuscript in the World


    The Voynich Manuscript, which has been dubbed The Most Mysterious Manuscript

    in the World, is named after its discoverer, the American antique book dealer and collector, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who discovered it in 1912, amongst a collection of ancient manuscripts kept in villa Mondragone in Frascati, near Rome, which had been by then turned into a Jesuit College (closed in 1953). - Jacques Guy

    From a piece of paper which was once attached to the Voynich manuscript, and which is now stored in one of the boxes belonging with the Voynich manuscript holdings of the Beinecke library, it is known that the manuscript once formed part ndof the private library of Petrus Beckx S.J., 22 general of the Society of Jesus. - R.

    Zandbergen, G. Landini, Some new information about the later history of the

    Voynich Manuscript .

    thWilfrid Voynich judged it [the Voynich Manuscript] to date from the late 13

    century, on the evidence of the calligraphy, the drawings, the vellum, and the pigments. It is some 200 pages long, written in an unknown script of which there is no known other instance in the world. It is abundantly illustrated with awkward coloured drawings. Drawings of unidentified plants; of what seems to be herbal recipes; of tiny naked women frolicking in bathtubs connected by intricate plumbing looking more like anatomical parts than hydraulic contraptions; of mysterious charts in which some have seem astronomical objects seen through a telescope, some live cells seen through a microscope; of charts into which you may see a strange calendar of zodiacal signs, populated by tiny naked people in rubbish bins.

    - Jacques Guy

    Dating at least to 1586, the manuscript is written in a language of which no other example is known to exist. It is an alphabetic script, but of an alphabet variously reckoned to have from nineteen to twenty-eight letters, none of which bear any relationship to any English or European letter system. The manuscript is small, seven by ten inches, but thick, nearly 170 pages. It is closely written in a free-running hand and copiously illustrated with bizarre line drawings that have been water-colored: drawings of plants, drawings of little naked ladies appearing to take showers in a strange system of plumbing (variously identified as organs of the body or a primitive set of fountains), and astrological drawings - or what have been interpreted as astrological drawings. Since the Voynich Manuscript is at the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale [catalogue number MS 408], it is accessible to any serious scholar. - Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival

    Nobody knows, but the many illustrations suggest some kind of alchemy book, that somebody may have wanted to keep secret. The manuscript has several parts identified from the illustrations (although there is no guarantee that these are the subject matter of the sections): a Herbal section (mostly unidentified and fantastic

    plants), an Astronomical section (with most zodiac symbols), a Biological section

    (with some anatomical drawings and human figures), a Cosmological section

    (with circles, stars and celestial spheres), a Pharmaceutical section (with vases and

    parts of plants) and a Recipes section (with many short paragraphs). In addition there are: pagination and gathering (signature) numbers, several key-like

    sequences throughout the book, some old German writing (most probably added later), names of the months in the astronomical section (probably added later) a few instances of extraneous writing (different from the rest of the manuscript) text not in Voynich script in the last folio reading something like michiton oladabas...

    suggesting a key to decryption... - G. Landini and R. Zandbergen, The European Voynich Manuscript

(2) Ruldophs Collection

    Historically, it first appears in 1586 at the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia, who was one of the most eccentric European monarchs of that or any other period. Rudolph collected dwarfs and had a regiment of giants in his army. He was surrounded by astrologers, and he was fascinated by games and codes and music. He was typical of the occult-oriented, Protestant noblemen of this period and epitomized the liberated northern European prince. he was a patron of alchemy and supported the printing of alchemical literature. The Rosicrucian conspiracy was being quietly fomented during this same period.

    To Rudolphs court came an unknown person who sold this manuscript to the king for three hundred gold ducats, which, translated into modern monetary units, is about fourteen thousand dollars. This is an astonishing amount of money to have paid for a manuscript at that time, which indicated that the Emperor must have been highly impressed by it. Accompanying the manuscript was a letter that stated that it was the work of the Englishman Roger Bacon, who flourished in the thirteenth century and who was a noted pre-Copernican astronomer.

    Only two years before the appearance of the Voynich Manuscript, John Dee, the

    great English navigator, astrologer, magician, intelligence agent, and occultist had lectured in Prague on Bacon. - Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival

    The manuscript somehow passed to Jacobus de Tepenecz, the director of Rudolphs

    botanical gardens (his signature is present in folio 1r) and it is speculated that this must have happened after 1608, when Jacobus Horcicki received his title de

    Tepenecz. Thus 1608 is the earliest definite date for the Manuscript. - Dennis

    Stallings ,

Codes from the early sixteenth century onward in Europe were all derived from The

    Stenographica of Johannes Trethemius, Bishop of Sponheim, an alchemist who wrote on the encripherment of secret messages. He had a limited number of methods, and no military, alchemical, religious, or political code was composed by any other means throughout a period that lasted well into the seventeenth century. Yet the Voynich Manuscript does not appear to have any relationship to the codes derivative of Johannes Trethemius, Bishop of Sponheim. - Terence McKenna, The

    Archaic Revival

(3) Attempts at Decipherment

    There have been many more attempts [at decipherment] that did not result in publication because the would-be solvers honestly admitted to defeat...In 1944, from among specialists in languages, documents, mathematics, botany, and astronomy then doing war work in Washington, William F. Friedman organized a group to work on the problem. Unfortunately, by the time they had, working after hours, completed the task of transcribing the text into symbols that tabulating machines could process, the war was over and the group disbanded.... - David

    Kahn, The Codebreakers

    In 1976 Captain Prescott Currier gave a paper in which he showed that, judging from the handwriting, the Voynich Manuscript must have been written by at least

    two different people, and that the two texts differed markedly in the frequency distribution of their letters and combinations. - Jacques Guy,


    The discovery of the two languages in the Herbal Section was the principal reason for transcribing and indexing this material. It was hoped that by application of comparative techniques to the Herbal A and B texts, ostensibly dealing with identical subject matter, some clue to the nature of the two systems of writing

    might be forthcoming. The results were completely negative; there was no sign of parallel constructions or any other evidence that was useful in this regard. It was impossible not to conclude that:

    (a) we were not dealing with a linguistic recording of data and

    (b) the illustrations had little to do with the accompanying text. Study of other

    sections of the Manuscript where A and B texts are found has produced

    nothing to alter this conclusion. Further, it has so far proved impossible to

    categorize or to classify grammatically any series of words or to discern any

    use patterns that that would suggest any recognizable syntactic arrangement of

    the underlying text. Perhaps even more important, I have been unable to

    identify words or individual symbols in either language to which I could assign

    even tentative numerical values. It seems quite incredible to me that any

    systems of writing (or a simple substitution thereof) would not betray one or

    both of the above features. - Captain Prescott H. Currier (USN Ret.)

    Captain Currier received an A.B. in Romance Languages at George Washington University, and a Diploma in Comparative Philology at the University of London. He began his cryptologic career in 1935, and was called to active duty with the Navy in 1940. He has served in many distinguished capacities in the field, and from 1948 to 1950, was Director of Research, Naval Security Group. Since his retirement in 1962, he has continued to serve as a consultant. His interest in the Voynich manuscript has been of very long standing, and he has devoted an impressive amount of rigorously scientific analytic effort to the problem in recent years. - New Research

    on the Voynich Manuscript: Proceedings of a Seminar

    There have been several purported breaks, including one rather recent one, but none has been widely accepted....Mary DImperio, author of The Voynich Manuscript:

    An Elegant Enigma (1978), [is] the most detailed and scholarly study to date of this document (reprint available from Aegean Park Press). It uses Prescott Curriers

    notation, which is described in her monograph. - Jim Gillogly (

(4) A Cathar Manuscript?

...Dr. Leo Levitov, author of Solution of the Voynich Manuscript, presents the

    thesis that the Voynich is nothing less then the only surviving primary document of the Great Heresy that arose in Italy and flourished in Languedoc until ruthlessly exterminated by the Albigensian Crusade in the 1230s.

    The little women in the baths who puzzled so many are for Levitov a Cathar sacrament, the Endura, or death by venesection [cutting a vein] in order to bleed to death in a warm bath. The plant drawings that refused to resolve themselves into botanically identifiable species are no problem for Levitov: Actually, there is

    not a single so-called botanical illustration that does not contain some Cathari symbol or Isis symbol. The astrological drawings are likewise easy to deal with: The innumerable stars are representative of the stars in Isis mantle.

    Levitovs strong hand is translation. He asserts that the reason it has been so difficult to decipher the Voynich Manuscript is that it is not encrypted at all, but merely written in a special script, and is an adaptation of a polyglot oral tongue

    into a literary language which would be understandable to people who did not understand Latin and to whom this language could be read. Specifically, a highly

    polyglot form of medieval Flemish with a large number of Old French and Old High German loan words. - Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival

    The person who is knowledgeable about aid, knows there is only one way to treat agonizing pain. He treats each one by putting them through the Endura . It is the

    one way that helps Death. Not everyone knows how to assist the one with pain. The one who is with death, and does not die will have pain. But those who have such pain of death, need his help. He understands the need. He is also aware that the person who needs help does not know that he needs it. We all know that everyone of them needs help and each of us will be available to help. - Voynich Manuscript

    (as translated by Levitov)

    There is fortunately one fragmentary record of Albigensian belief which has survived....I refer to the Cathar Ritual of Lyons which is now well know having been

    published in 1898 by Mr. F. C. Conybeare. - A. E. Waite, Holy Grail

    The excerpt is the ritual of consolamentum , which is...the baptism with the Holy

    Spirit by laying on of hands that made one a full Cathar. - Dennis Stallings (private


(5) Criticism of Levitovs Translation

    Dennis Stallings pointed out to me that there are other reliable records of Catharism. Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

    (translated by Barbara Bray), 1978, George Braziller, Inc., New York tells about the testimony of peasants meticulously recorded in the Inquisition Register of Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers in Ariège. In it the Endura is described as a suicidal fast. There is no resemblance here to Levitovs claim that Catharism was the antique

    cult of Isis - and certainly no truth to the picture of the Voynich nymphs opening

    their veins to bleed to death in the hot tubs! - Dennis Stallings (private


Waite goes on to mention that part of the Lyons Codex contains certain prayers for

    the dying. The codex is in the langue doc. Does it resemble the Voynich material?

    We are not told. - Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival

    I could never secure a copy of Levitovs book, and had to rely entirely on pp.21-31, of which Michael Barlow, who had reviewed Levitovs book in Cryptologia, had sent

    me photocopies. Levitovs understanding of the Cathar religion and its rites, from what I could piece together from the review in Cryptologia, and which are central to

    his decipherment of the Voynich manuscript which he claims is a Cathar prayer book, is, to say the least, rather at odds with what Fernand Niel wrote in his Albigeois et Cathares (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1955). - Jacques

    B.M. Guy, On Levitovs Decipherment of the Voynich Manuscript

    The language was very much standardized. It was an application of a polyglot oral tongue into a literary language which would be understandable to people who did not understand Latin and to whom this language could be read. - Dr. Leo Levitov,

    Solution of the Voynich Manuscript

    At first reading, I would be tempted to dismiss it all as nonsense: polyglot oral

    tongue is meaningless babble to the linguist in me. But Levitov is a medical doctor, so allowances must be made. The best meaning I can read into polyglot oral

    tongue is a language that had never been written before and which had taken words from many different languages. That is perfectly reasonable: English for one, has done that. Half its vocabulary is Norman French, and some of the commonest words have non-Anglo-Saxon origins. Sky, for instance, is a Danish word. So far, so good.

    ...There are only twelve consonant sounds. That is unheard of for a European language. No European language has so few consonant sounds. Spanish, which has very few sounds (only five vowels), has seventeen distinct consonants sounds, plus two semi-consonants. Dutch has from18 to 20 consonants (depending on speakers, and how you analyze the sounds.) What is also extraordinary in Levitovs language

    is that it lacks a g, and BOTH b and p. I cannot think of one single language in the world that lacks both b and p. Levitov also says that m occurs only word-finally,

    never at the beginning, nor in the middle of a word. That is correct: the letter he says is m is always word-final in the reproductions I have seen of the Voynich MS. But no language I know of behaves like that. All have an m (except one American

    Indian language, which is very famous for that, and the name of which I cannot recall). In some languages, there is a position where m never appears, and that is

    word-finally, exactly the reverse of Levitovs language.

    No European language I know fails to distinguish between singular and plural in its first and third person pronouns (i.e. I vs we, he/she/it vs they).

    ...We are here in the presence of a Germanic language which behaves very, very strangely in the way of the meanings of its compound words. For instance, viden (to be with death) is made up of the words for with, die and the infinitive suffix. I am

    sure that Levitov here was thinking of a construction like German mitkommen which means to come along (to with-come). I suppose I could say Bitte, sterben

    Sie mit on the same model as Bitte, kommen Sie mit (Come with me/us, please),

    thereby making up a verb mitsterben, but that would mean to die together with

    someone else, not to be with death . Next, the word order in many apostrophized

    groups of words (but note that a word often consists of just one single letter), is the reverse of that of Germanic. For instance VIAN one way literally way one is the

    reverse of Dutch een weg, German ein Weg, and of course, of English one way.

    Ditto for WIA one who, VA one will, KER she understands etc. Admittedly the

inversion of the subject is quite common in German (Ploetzlish dacht ich: Suddenly

    thought I) but it is governed by strict, clear-cut grammatical rules, conspicuously absent in the two sentences translated on p.31 of the except from his book upon which I am drawing for these comments. Applying Levitovs rules for translation:

    thanvieth = the one way (th = the (?), an = one, vi = way, eth = it) faditeth =

    doing for help (f = for, ad = aid, i = -ing, t = do, eth = it) wan = person (wi/wa =

    who, an = one) athviteth = one that one knows (a = one, th = that, vit = know, eth

    = it.) (Here, Levitov adds one extra letter, A, which is not in the text, getting his ATHAVITEH, which provides the second one of his translation) anthviteth= one

    that knows (an =one, th = that, vit = know, eth = it) atwiteth = one treats one

    who does it (a = one, t = do, wi = who, t = do, eth = it. . (Literally: one does [one]

    who does it. The first do is translated as treat, the second one is again added

    by Levitov: he inserts an A, which gives him ATAWITETH) aneth = ones (an = one, -eth = the plural ending) Levitovs translation of the above is: the one way for

    helping a person who needs it, is to know one of the ones who do treat one. -

    Jacques B.M. Guy, On Levitovs Decipherment of the Voynich Manuscript

    A complete translation of the more than 200 pages waits in the wings - a long, arduous and possibly unrewarding task. - Dr. Leo Levitov, Solution of the Voynich


    Computer analysis of the Voynich Manuscript has only deepened the mystery. One finding has been that there are two languages or dialects of Voynichese, which

    are called Voynich A and Voynich B. The repetitiousness of the text is obvious to casual inspection. Entropy is a numerical measure of the randomness of text. The lower the entropy, the less random and the more repetitious it is. The entropy of samples of Voynich text is lower than that of most human languages; only some Polynesian languages are as low.

    Tests show that Voynich text does not have its low h2 [second order entropy] measures solely because of a repetitious underlying text, that is, one that often repeats the same words and phrases. Tests also show that the low h2 measures are probably not due to an underlying low-entropy natural language. A verbose cipher, one which substitutes several ciphertext characters for one plaintext character [i.e., fuf for the letter f], can produce the entropy profile of Voynich text. - Dennis

    Stallings ,

    One could devise many character substitutions with dummy spacing, apply it to a text, and obtain a new texts that reasonably fits the statistics of the VMS, but that alone is not a proof of decipherment. At least we now know that it is possible to simply code a plaintext and explain a reduction of h2 as observed in the Voynich Manuscript. - G. Landini, The dain daiin hypothesis. , 9 July 1998

    For example, taking a Latin phrase (from the Vulgate Bible): in principio creavit

    Deus caelum et terram then substituting dain for the letter n and daiin

     for m, the phrase becomes: i dain pri dain cipio creavit deiis caelii daiin et terra daiin A comparison of the amount of information contained in each word of

    the Stars section of the Voynich MS (using the Curva alphabet) with the words in Genesis chapters 1-25 (Vulgate) and De Bello Gallico (Latin) revealed: The apparent words in the Voynich Ms appear to be really words. They are as varied as the words in Latin texts of a similar length.

    The first and second character of Voynich words (using the Curva alphabet) have lower entropy than in Latin. The Voynich words contain more information from the third character onwards (in the conditional sense). The word-initial statistics of

    Voynichese are matched by one example of an artificial language (which postdates

    the VMs by at least one and a half centuries). The statistics of Voynichese and a Mandarin text written in the Pinyin script (using a trailing numerical character to indicate tone) are very different.

    A word game to translate Latin to Voynichese must: Increase predictability of word starts Make words shorter Maintain the length of the vocabulary. - R.

    Zandbergen , Entropy in the Voynich Manuscript not low after all

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