It’s been an interesting day: Edith Sherwood’s Voynich website got Slashdotted – given that Cipher Mysteries picked up 4900 visitors from that tsunami of geeky clicks, itself must have had (say) 30000 or more.

And then (just now), ORF released a teaser press release for next week’s “DAS VOYNICH-RÄTSEL” documentary to their (German-language) website. So, the real big news of the day is that the Austrian film-makers are certain that the VMS is even older than previously thought (though they don’t say by how much, or in comparison to which theory). The page says that they also took a number of ink and paint samples for analysis, and examined a number of key sections under UV light for erasures / emendations (all of which is good, exactly the kind of thing I hoped they’d do).

And here’s a site which is even more specific as to the date range and place revealed by the documentary: that it was made between 1404 and 1438 (in the “flat” part of the radiocarbon dating curve, hence the tight range), and in Northern Italy (probably or certainly?). Prepare yourself for the massed onslaught of Voynich doubters to disagree…

So, might the VMs actually turn out to be by Cicco Simonetta in his early days in the Sforza roving Chancellery? Marcello Simonetta would be pleased, but it’s still early days (I thought I’d be the first to mention it)…

PS: is it just me, or can anyone else still hear Steve Ekwall saying “It’S oLdEr ThAn YoU tHiNk“?

UPDATE: see the follow-up post “Voynich Manuscript – the state of play” for more on the Austrian documentary

11 thoughts on “First Voynich clues from Austria…

  1. Actually, the teaser says that the VM is found to be older than all “bisherige”, “hitherto existing” theories, which should place it well before Roger Bacon (considering Roger was the very first suspect in the modern era).

    We stand with bated breath…

  2. I really wasn’t sure how subtly to interpret this, given that Roger Bacon hasn’t really been a proper suspect for decades. On balance, I decided that it was safer to push the date back to 1400, but flag Bacon-era crypto as a possibility. Either way, we’ll see soon enough…

  3. Hi, Nick:

    “…was made between 1404 and 1438″… which you found out and added after Elmar posted his response… which I point out because we can now note (as he would have) that it is not “older than all existing theories”… as it is not before Roger Bacon. So that is a little confusing.

    But maybe they meant to exclude Bacon from all existing theories, as he has been pretty much eliminated as a contender.

    At any rate, this dating fits pretty well with the “early herbal” group of ideas, such as Sergio Torresella (sp?), who I think believed about 1420 to 1460. If the documentary dating is correct… and correctly reported, then this is basically an unusual herbal or pharma of some kind, from this time, which seemed to be the bulk of the opinion.

    Wow. Rich.

  4. Ah, now we see… The spectacular news is that the VM is… Two or three decades older than mainstream previously guessed.

    Oh well, 21st century journalism. Anyway, at least now we have something more solid to work upon than the last onehundred years had.

  5. It’s easy to call mid-Quattrocento dating “mainstream” in retrospect. 🙂

    Actually, I’d say that (thanks to Gordon Rugg) late 16th century hoax dating has been more “mainstream” (culturally) than anything I’ve ever written. Thank goodness that particular nightmare seems to be over, at least. :-/

  6. rene zandbergen on December 4, 2009 at 8:01 am said:

    Ah, I see that my post from yesterday evening here is definitely lost.
    Anyway, I put essentially the same post at Elmar’s site this morning.
    So, the centre of the date range is 1421, which is 40-50 years below
    the earliest mainstream group of theories.

    A little bit of hype may be forgiven, I think 🙂

  7. Michelle on December 4, 2009 at 8:42 am said:

    So after all this time, Yale actually let someone do the carbon dating? I’m confused, hadn’t it been said that they didn’t want to?
    I reckon it’s even older, the little ladies look so much like Trotula’s drawings in her manuscript on women’s health ( 13th century). But then the castle drawings would be out of date I suppose. The link says that Rene thinks the writing might just be decoration- can you elaborate Rene ? I’m curious.

  8. Vytautas on December 4, 2009 at 10:50 am said:

    I remember what Steve said, even when I am sleeping 🙂


  9. As long as you don’t dream in CaMeLcAsE, that’s OK! 🙂

  10. Sean Bentley on December 25, 2009 at 3:57 am said:

    What do you think about her theory of anagrams? The examples she posts seem pretty convincing …

  11. It is the nature of anagrams that you would be doing badly if you could not find a decent Aramaic anagram in each page of Moby Dick. But that doesn’t mean that was how Moby Dick was constructed. 🙂

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