For the most part, constructing plausible explanations for the drawings in the Voynich Manuscript is a fairly straightforward exercise. Even its apparently-weird botany could well be subtly rational (for example, if plants on opposite pages swapped their roots over in the original binding, in a kind of visual anagram), as could the astronomy, the astrology, and the water / balneology quires (if all perhaps somewhat obfuscated). Yet this house of oh-so-sensible cards gets blown away by the hurricane of oddness that is the Voynich Manuscript’s nine-rosette page.

If you’re not intrigued by this, you really do have a heart of granite, because of all the VMs’ pages, this is arguably the most outright alien & Codex Seraphinianus-like. Given the strange rotating designs (machines?), truncated pipes, islands, and odd causeways, it’s hard to see (at first, second and third glances) how this could be anything but irrational. Yet even so, those who (like me) are convinced that the VMs is a ‘hyperrational’ artefact are forced to wonder what method there could be to this jumbled visual madness. So: what’s the deal with this page? How should we even begin to try to ‘read’ it?

People have pondered these questions for years: for example, Robert Brumbaugh thought that the shape in the bottom left was a “clock” with “a short hour and long minute hand”. However, now that we have proper reproductions to work with, his claim seems somewhat spurious, for the simple reason that the two “hands” are almost exactly the same length. Mary D’Imperio (1977) also thought the resemblance “superficial”, noting instead that “an exactly similar triangular symbol with three balls strung on it occurs frequently amongst the star spells of Picatrix, and was used by alchemists to mean arsenic, orpiment, or potash (Gessman 1922, Tables IV, XXXIII, XXXXV)” (3.3.6, p.21).

Back in 2008, Joel Stevens suggested that the rosettes might represent a map, with the top-left and bottom-right rosettes (which have ‘sun’ images attached to them) representing East and West respectively, and with Brumbaugh’s “clock” at the bottom-left cunningly representing a compass in the form of the point of an arrow pointing towards Magnetic North. You know, I actually rather like Joel’s idea, because it at least explains why the two “hands” are the same length: and given that I suspect that there’s a hidden arrow on the “bee” page and that many of the water nymphs may be embellished diagrammatic arrows, one more hidden arrow would fit in pretty well with the author’s apparent construction style.

This same idea (but without Joel’s ‘hidden compass’ nuance) was proposed by John Grove on the VMs mailing list back in 2002. He also noted that many of “the words appear to be written as though the reader is walking clockwise around the map. The words inside the roadway (when there are some) also appear to be written this way (except the northeast rosette by the castle).” I’ve underlined many of the ’causeway labels’ in red above, because I think that John’s “clockwise-ness” is a non-obvious piece of evidence which any theory about this page would probably need to explain. And yes, there are indeed plenty of theories about this page!

In 2006, I proposed that the top-right castle (with its Ghibelline swallowtail merlons, ravellins, accentuated front gate, spirally text, circular canals, etc) was Milan; that the three towers just below it represented Pavia (specifically, the Carthusian Monastery there); and that the central rosette represented Venice (specifically, an obfuscated version of St Mark’s Basilica as seen from the top of the Campanile). Of course, even though this is (I think) remarkably specific, it still falls well short of a “smoking gun” scientific proof: so, it’s just an art history suggestion, to be safely ignored as you wish.

In 2009, Patrick Lockerby proposed that the central rosette might well be depicting Baghdad (which, along with Milan and Jerusalem, was one of the few medieval cities consistently depicted as being circular). Alternatively, one of his commenters also suggested that it might be Masijd Al-Haram in Mecca (but that’s another story).

Also in 2009, P. Han proposed a link between this page and Tycho Brahe’s “work and observatories”, with the interesting suggestion that the castle in the top-right rosette represents Kronborg Slot (which you may not know was the one appropriated by Shakespeare for Hamlet), with the centre of that rosette’s text spiral representing the island of Hven where Brahe famously had his ‘Uraniborg’ observatory. Kronborg Slot was extensively remodelled in 1585, burnt down in 1629 and then rebuilt: but I wonder whether it had swallowtail merlons when it was built in the 1420s? Han also suggests that other features on the page represent Hven in different ways (for example, the three towers marked ‘PAVIA?’ above); that the pipes and tall structures in the bottom-right rosette represent Tycho’s ‘sighting tubes’ (a kind of non-optical precursor to telescopes); that one or more of the mill-like spoked structures represent(s) Hven’s papermill’s waterwheel; and that the central rosette represents the buildings of Uraniborg (for which we have good visual reference material). Han’s central hypothesis (on which more another day!) is that the VMs visually encodes information about various supernovae: the suggestion here is that the ‘hands’ of Brumbaugh’s clock are in fact part of the ‘W-shape’ of Cassiopeia, which sits close in the sky to SN 1572. Admittedly, Han’s portolan-like ‘Markers’ section at the end of the page goes way past my idea of being accessible, but there’s no shortage of interesting ideas here.

Intriguingly, Han also points out the strong visual similarity between the central rosette’s ‘towers’ and the pharma section’s ‘jars’: D’Imperio also thought these resembled “six pharmaceutical ‘jars'”. I’d agree that the resemblance seems far too strong to be merely a coincidence, but what can it possibly mean?

Finally, (and also in 2009) Rich SantaColoma put together a speculative 3d tour of the nine-rosette page (including a 3d flythrough in YouTube), based on his opinion the VMs’ originator “was clearly representing 3D terrain and structures”. All very visually arresting: however, the main problem is that the nine-rosette page seems to incorporate information on a number of quite different levels (symbolic, structural, physical, abstract, notional, planned, referential, diagrammatic, etc), and reducing them all to 3d runs the risk of overlooking what may be a single straightforward clue that will help unlock the page’s mysteries.

All in all, I suspect that the nine-rosette page will continue to stimulate theories and debate for some time yet! Enjoy! 🙂

169 thoughts on “A miscellany of nine-rosette links…

  1. Diane on May 29, 2010 at 10:46 am said:

    Nick – I’m going to credit Han and re-post my own observations on this point of towers as ‘jars’ – actually here, burners. Apologies to Nick for my ignorance of his priority.

  2. Diane: actually, Mary D’Imperio pointed it out in 1977 (I’ve amended the page to reflect this), and it may already have been a Voynichian commonplace by then, it’s hard to be sure. As an aside, I started out just trying to cover a couple of theories, but the page just grew and grew… oh, well. =:-o

  3. Diane on May 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm said:

    yes, well.. maybe I should credit her. The habit’s pretty well known, historically. Just not sure how long it has been known in Voynich studies.

  4. Paul Ferguson on May 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm said:

    What are the rune-like Hebrewy characters in the middle-top and middle-middle images? Can we have a much closer look please?

  5. Paul: it’s all Voynichese, I’m afraid, just at funny angles. Nothing to get excited about! 🙁

  6. A good collection of theories… and thanks for the mention of the 3D Rosettes. Related, I do have this post:
    As you know (you commented there)… but since it fits with the theme of identity, I add it here. On that page I show and compare other Utopias and how they were illustrated… IMHO, very similarly to how the Rosettes is laid out, in many ways. For a speculative identity of the specific areas, from “that old theory of mine” (pre-Carbon): That map compares the parts of the Rosettes to places mentioned in The New Atlantis. Rich.

  7. tony on May 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm said:

    Nick – Stretching this out to it’s original square shape (quite a bit seems to have disappeared in the folds) – it looks to me as if it was constructed by drawing a diagonal from corner to corner then taking a 12 inch ruler across the 2 diagonals to mark of 6 inch centres for all the circles – would a European have used a metric ruler in the 15th century?

  8. Diane on May 30, 2010 at 11:49 am said:

    Can I add a general comment, Nick? Do delete if you think it irrelevant.

    A lot of the comments seem to me to be attempting to guess what an individual meant to express by the drawing. I think that this is perhaps not the angle of approach for a drawing set down in the early 15thC.

    If you think of the drawings less as a means of personal expression, and more as an alternative, and formal, system of communication, then the stylistic features are as telling of their period and context as a variant form of handwriting is. I rather think that the person who first put the bits together to form the anthology had absolutely no conception of the idea of meaningless art: that is, art without meaning apart from its maker.

  9. Diane: it’s certainly true that 90% of Voynich theories give a strong impression of back-projecting modern experiences of art and writing in regard to some key element of the argument, so placing it in entirely modern categories such as asemic writing would almost certainly be inappropriate. What is perhaps more relevant is Marc Bloch’s distinction between historical documents intended for general consumption and historical documents intended for a single person’s eyes only: as with the VMs, the latter category can yield a very distorted set of meanings if (wrongly) interpreted as if it were the former category. That is, I think the VMs has primarily private meaning, not public meaning: though it is, of course, hard to prove this definitively. =:-o

  10. Diane on June 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm said:

    If no-one else has made the observation: the layout of the map is similar to formal maps of the world in the east which place Mount Meru at the centre of the world.
    Hang on, I’ll look one up on the web..
    ok Here’s a korean example

    Not exactly the same appearance, but similar scheme. A lot of Buddhist maps and diagrams take the same form.
    PS This Mt Meru is an island, not the Kenyan mountain

  11. Hi,
    Just to clarify what has been described as a “portolan” chart at the end of my rosettes section. A number of years ago I came across this impression of the markers of the circles on the rosettes folio, which though similar to those on other folios, due to the large number of examples and the spread of the rosette circles had the feel and impression of a mariners map with its many straight criss-crossing lines representing compass directions from various given points. However, although the rest of the rosettes folio I have interpreted in the “light of this particular theory” as described in relation to the life and work of Tycho actual places relevant to this the “portolan” chart is interpreted in relation to a star chart and not a mariners chart. As a star chart locating the position of SN 1572 it is in keeping with the type of work carried out by Tycho concerning the triangulation of the positions of various stars and also along the lines of the work of “Stephenson, F. R. & Clark, D. H” and not out of keeping with the subject matter suggested or the methodology, which if one accepts the possibility of the manuscript being a later creation using old materials is within the realms of possibility. The down side of the manuscript however is that it is as hard to prove a theory wrong as it is right, but it would be more useful to have evidence for something being wrong rather than opinion that it is “too out there”. I would welcome evidence that it could not be as suggested.

    P. Han

  12. P. Han: the problem with trying to review such a substantive (yet, dare I say it, somehow sprawling) theory as yours is that I end up needing to post substantive lemmas on individual aspects first, or else the review would end up 10000 words long. I’ll get there, though, please bear with me…

  13. Diane on June 24, 2010 at 4:11 am said:

    I’ve put up a note on the battlements of the tower in Taormina, with a link to yr blog, Nick.

  14. Diane on June 24, 2010 at 6:02 am said:

    As far as charts go – the same grid applies to astronomical and terrestrial positions. The ancient techniques of sidereal surveying remained part of the surveyor’s curriculum well into the 20th century.

  15. Diane on July 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm said:

    Purely an historical note: I’ve found the origins for the swallow-tail merlon, I think. They appear atop a building on a coin made for the first Selecid satrap in Persis.

    We need a ‘Voynich trivia’ website!!

  16. Viviane on February 21, 2012 at 2:23 am said:

    So P. Han, the book you link to by Tycho Brahe, relates to his prophecy about the golden age that he seems to think it would arrive after supernova explosion, it IS totally consistent with your theory… he links it to the bible and other prophecies

  17. Diane on April 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm said:

    Amazing to see, Nick, how in 2010 you had enough energy to notice and report as little as a one-sentence observation by not one but several other researchers, all in a single post.


  18. Diane: everyone has their own unique blogging muse – and mine hasn’t been particularly inspired by Voynich research since 2010, I’m sorry to say. There’ll be another cycle soon, though…

  19. Diane on April 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm said:

    Not to worry – the weird and wonderful world of historical ciphers is much more interesting. Voynich studies is soooo 2008.


    more pirates?

  20. Diane: you can never have enough pirate ciphers, right? 🙂

  21. Diane on April 20, 2013 at 6:33 am said:

    .They are fun – but only if one assumes the treasure already found. Don’t want local residents woken by the hum of foreigners dressed in shorts, sandals and metal detectors.

  22. Diane: yes, some of those shorts can really hum. 🙂

  23. Re-reading this, and tony’s acute observation about use of a 12″ rule, I thought it might be a good time to emphasise that comparing Vms pictures with other pictures is likely more productive that the assumptions underlying efforts to match Vms pictures to objects. Pictures are not failed photographs.

    English 13thC ms with lots of buildings in it, but not exactly in Vms style, is
    An Itinerary to Jerusalem attibuted to Matthew Paris (Brit Lib. Royal 14 C VII)

    f. 5 shows the coast, and includes a keep/castle with flanking towers, which is nice. But of more interest, I think, is the use of the same blue letter, in different forms, before the name of each.


  24. for:
    … is more likely productive that the …

    … is more likely to prove productive than adopting the..

  25. Juergen on February 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm said:

    Dear Nick,
    after reading your book my wife and I were particularly hooked by the Rosette folio… My wife and I put together a few thoughts in a manuscript (link underneath, open repository) on what we think the entire folio is about: In a nutshell it is a map (as others already hinted at) but also a map of the four classical elements and we show the links between the continents (Europe, Africa, Asia and the forth continent) with the elements with climate and cardinal points.

    Here the doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.903756

    [i.e. ]

  26. Juergen
    So nice to find someone else who has reached such a conclusion. My full exposition of the map on folio 86v was more than a ‘hint’ though. Must warn you that while I explained it as a world map, identified the cardinal markers, related them to astronomical marks and set conventions *outside* Europe, then identified historical strata, concluding the imagery based in the early Hellenistic period but overlaid with additions from what I judge the century 1150-1250 ad, and other indications of late links to the western portolan tradition then arising…. the whole of my work was ignored.

    Better luck yourself.

    my exegesis is in a series of posts at my later blog voynichimagery dot wordpress dot com – just in case reading it might save you a little needless duplication.

  27. Juergen on February 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm said:

    Thanks for your feedback and further information. 

    However,  we think our conclusions differ significantly, e.g. different cardinal points(via the element discs), landmarks (paradise, pharos, Nile) and cities (Alexandria) etc. We believe parts of f86v to represent map-style features and conclude these characteristics to be part of a joint map, with the Classical Elements forming a climate diagram with characteristics which are not described or mentioned in your blog. For example a search on the (Aristotelian) Elements reveals no result in your blog in connection with f86v. We couldn’t find a conclusion or uniform picture on all discs in combined form as they occur in the Rosette Map in your research.

    The title of our paper already is the clue that our conclusion is that there is more than a world map in f86v.

  28. druids

  29. just found yesterday another manuscript (16th century, MS83, Special Collection, University Library Madison, WI) with a climate diagram (folio 23) and the classical elements in deciperable writing (and their influence on the climate in between). All goes back to a commentary (unknown author) on Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de Sphaera. I am sure Sacrobosco was discussed before (not so sure if in this context?); I saw this version only yesterday and fits with what I suggested for the Rosette map. If interested, a one page visual (with bibliography on where to get the manuscript /images/diagram from) is here:

  30. Juergen: Sacrobosco’s Tractatus De Sphaera was hardly a secret book, so your suggestion that some of these notes might derive from a commentary on Sacrobosco rather than on Sacrobosco’s book itself seems worthy of further consideration. It was the late Glen Claston who proposed that there could well be a connection between the Voynich Manuscript and De Sphaera, but I would need to go back through a lot of old notes to reconstruct exactly what it was he was reaching towards there.

    There’s an interesting book by Lynn Thorndike (whose books occupy a disproportionately large amount of shelf space in my study) on commentaries on Sacrobosco that might well be a good starting point here:;view=1up;seq=14

  31. Juergen on December 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm said:

    Nick: Thanks for the link to the free edition. I read a comment that Thorndike’s book may be misleading for later commentaries for Sacrobosco’s ‘Tractatus de Sphaera’ (late 15th century onwards) but fits nicely in the time frame of interest here. Excellent starting point indeed.

  32. Juergen,
    You are quite right about there being no reference in my work to your idea of the map’s depicting the elements in its four corners. No such interpretation occurred to me.

    However, I did identify and discuss at length the structure I believe is the (or ‘a’) Pharos, comparing it to representations in Hellenistic, early and later medieval works. I did not identify it with the great ‘mound’, but with a neat drawing in the north roundel.

    Not sure, but as a matter of fact I think I was the first to refer to the ‘paraidisi’ in relation to fol. 86v, this being the emblem used in the map’s north. (East and West are indicated by rising and setting sun).

    However, I don’t think anyone could mistake my analysis and conclusions for your own ideas. My point was simply that no-one before I offered a detailed analysis of that folio had regarded it as a world map. Indeed, the response to that explanation of it, as I recall, was generally indifferent and I’m not surprised no more reached you than a vague mention that it was supposed a map.

  33. Juergen on January 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm said:

    Nick and Diane,
    Yes, ‘Tractatus de sphaera’ itself was not secret at all (Nick’s comment above and Diane’s comment on the block paradigm part 3 comment section), however some commentary seem to have been more secret than others (Lynn Thorndike link above) leading to ‘extremes’ such as Cecco d’Ascoli’s ‘Necromantic Commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco’ (14th C).

  34. Juergen: Cecco d’Ascoli’s commentary is indeed what I was thinking of. 😉

  35. PS,
    cute bull in Cecco’s zodiac. I’ve found another with such unusual horns in a manuscript made several centuries earlier, too. None, so far, in imagery not consciously antique-d.

  36. Juergen on April 9, 2015 at 7:12 pm said:

    Here a more technical comment to the Rosette Map… I had a look (again) at the Rosette Map and tried to figure out how the scaffold had been constructed. What I found, basically, are two easy ways of geometric construction with compass and straightedge – a ‘circle’- and a ‘square’-based one – both not perfect due to the scan not being 100% flat or unfolded. The interesting bit is that the golden ratio is all you need to construct the bare minimum of the scaffold of f86v.
    Not only is the inner circle to the eight outer circles in golden ratio, but also can the radius of the inner circle be deducted from the overall dimension of the folio f86r. The location and position of the smaller outer circles also is rather easily found ( again, not a perfect match due to what I believe scan and minor human error issues).
    For those interested further, I discuss if the use of the golden ratio is deliberate or a just consequence of the construction process. I put together a manuscript with the ‘circle-’ and ‘square-based construction in the annex or separate files (in the bibliography).

    I found that trying to re-‘create’/draw the Rosette map as a free-hand drawing with results far more off than the ‘scan’ issue I mention above. I have a few more thoughts on that – to be revisited at a later time…

  37. Diane on April 10, 2015 at 6:42 pm said:

    I think you’ve done an excellent backwards projection.

    Some of the folios in MS Beinecke 408 show marks of some sort of pricker or compass (Rich Santacoloma noticed that there was more than one ‘centre’ on f.57v, and found a puncture mark.

    Question is: have you seen any sign at all of puncture marks from compass or divider on f.86v?

    I might also suggest that the beautiful intricacies of Celtic interlace would give you a lot to write about, too.

  38. Diane on April 10, 2015 at 6:45 pm said:

    For example, this page from the book of Kells seems to have lots of interesting geometrical arrangement:

  39. Anton Alipov on April 10, 2015 at 7:09 pm said:


    Haven’t yet read your new article, but anyways great that you develop this map issue further.

    Just to let you know that I occasionally found an example of a T-O map where Africa and Europe are strangely swapped:

    Maybe that is of interest for your research.

  40. Juergen on April 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm said:

    thanks for your comment and the link.
    Yes, I did check for the marks you mention in my preparation of my manuscript.
    However, the results were inconclusive (for me): The scans (even the new HD ones) bear marks and signs that I can’t distinguish from other marks (material based) so I cannot be sure about these. My best guess is that only the live visual inspection of the folio would reveal any signs at all (puncture marks).

  41. Thomas on June 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm said:

    Is there a breakthrough yet? I simply cannot read everything.

    But I write it down what little things I have observed. There is a thick starry something, a cloud or magic carpet, on the central disc, apparently floating in the air in the height of the onion domed towers or herbal jars, whatever they are.

    This thing has exactly thirteen fringed corners around its edge. Now, the top middle disc has a large starry star that is also thirteen pointed. Could this number, thirteen, be an intentional design, or simply coincidence by chance?

    Another thought of mine is that maybe these discs are vertical sections or layers of what this rosette drawing is supposed to depict. Considering this, I imagined viewing the top middle disc as it was showing the relevant layer from below and the middle disc as it was showing its layer from above.

    In that supposed system, the cloud or carpet, observable from above as such things, would take up the starry star shape when observed from below.

    I just thought of this engineering view system where side views, frontal views, top views of the same object are placed systematically around each other on the diagram, together with its meaningful sections necessary to show.

    To support this viewing fom above and below concept, here I mention the “tower in the hole” feature. Opposite the fold, an upside down earth mound is discernible for me, as I see it.

    This earth mound has a hole in it, where the tip of the tower could go when we fold the page. In turn, the earth mound will precisely fit and fill the hole around the tower’s bottom half.

    Then, if this perception of mine is of any import to consider, could it be that what is being shown deliberately to the viewer, is that the tower has significantly deep underground foundation, or maybe underground part that contain room?

  42. Thomas on June 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm said:

    I have some impressions about the nine rosettes image. Starting from the top left circle, it looks like a view of the land from above. To the right of it, the top central circle looks like a view of the heavens from below.

    I perceive an indication of the change of the projection in the tower-in–the-hole detail and opposite to it the seemingly underside view of a possible earth mound taken out from the hole, thus creating a kind of sectional depiction.

    Furthermore, I perceive most of the land views from above incorporating hairy lines at the foot of stone walls or what could be termed as stone walls, which look fish-scale like. These circular stone walls, when supposedly observed from below, do not have this hairy line feature.

    I sense this upward looking view from the illusion of seeing the stone circle from inside as if looking upwards from a large stone walled well. The top centre circle looks like such, with the addition of spouts that seem to issue something symbolically.

    Here again my sectional depiction concept is to be tested. It appears to me that the circle of stone wall from which I look up to the skies, is a horizontal section of the same wall on the corresponding, downward looking view.

    I also suspect that the blue/white or the alternatively dotted rows of stones may indicate which wall fits which other one when imagining turning the two halves together.

    So far I have no full success in this, but my strong impression remains, that somehow on this Escher-like, twisted diagram, the corner rosettes are mainly views looking downward and showing mostly land, while clockwise next to each of them are the corresponding upward looking rosettes, showing mainly the heavens, possibly above these lands.

    The skyward looking circles seem to have some starry spangled star shaped canopies or umbrellas or who knows what. These seem to be depicted in some symbolic projection mode, where four differently textured set of rays open them out. These rays come out from the central rosette’s stone spouts.

    The central circle must be special and also remains a mystery just as the rest. My observations may be wrong or bearing no significance, I do not know, I just have this feeling of sectional depiction. For example, at the left bottom rosette, I think I see another sectional view, just as on an engineering drawing where the material is broken out to show a hole or cavity.

    At that corner, a curious hollow protuberance seem to be cut out like that, showing the inner mouth of the hole through which some smoke or substance is emitted towards the large central rosette.

  43. Donald V. on January 16, 2016 at 5:17 am said:

    Just had a half baked Idea about the Rosettes, Not even a theory at this level.
    Perhaps what we are seeing is the central circle is the world as a whole and each of the surrounding circles is a “blow up” of some generalized aspect of the world. For example the upper right circle a generalized representation of the oceans, the lower left are perhaps caves or some such.
    I am not saying this is the answer because it probably is not but I thought it interesting.
    I just hope that I have not stepped on any others ideas.

  44. Donald V: certainly could be, who knows? The big problems with the rosette page are (of course) that (a) there’s only one of it, and (b) it doesn’t fit into any obvious representative tradition or literature: as such, we have no clear fixed points of reference to work with, to keep us on the (historical) ‘straight and narrow’. Oh well! 😐

  45. Don V. on January 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm said:

    I don’t think the idea would stand up to even the slightest of breezes, but it seemed novel to me. The rosette certainly doesn’t fit any known precedent, though recently I found some interesting similarities to a certain bit of historical imagery. I won’t present anything until I can build a case.

  46. Mark Knowles on April 8, 2017 at 8:44 am said:

    My theory for what it is worth:

    Top Left Rosette represents the Council of Basel of 1431.
    Top Centre Rosette represents Pfafers Abbey.
    Top Right Rosette represents Milan as per Nick Pelling’s theory
    Centre Left Rosette represents Geneva
    Bottom Left Rosette represents Lucerne and its many surrounding lakes
    Central Rosette does not represent a location, but rather the pope or the power of the papacy if you prefer(note it is the only rosette not connected to the others.)
    Causeway between Top Right Rosette and Top Centre Rosette represents the land between Lake Maggiore and Lake Como
    Causeway between Top Centre Rosette and Top Left Rosette represents the land between Lake Zurich and Lake Constance
    Causeway between Top Left Rosette and Centre Left Rosette represents the land between Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchatel
    Causeway between Centre Left Rosette and Bottom Left Rosette represents Interlaken
    Causeway between Bottom Left Rosette and Bottom Centre Rosette represents Bellinzona (as per Rene Zandbergen’s thought mentioned once on this website, but never pursued any further.)
    Causeway between Centre Right Rosette and Top Right Rosette represents Pavia (as suggested by Nick Pelling)

    It should be noted that this leaves 3 Rosettes and 2 Causeways unexplained. The nature of these has become so important to my theory that I would prefer not to give locations for these. I will just say that I believe the Centre Right Rosette to represent the crown of Milan from above with the edges of the crown turned in so they are visible (one should observe the faint lines connecting the centre portion to edges of the crown). This fits the description I have found as to how the crown looked when worn, but I cannot, as yet, find a painting or the like of the crown on the head of the Duke.

    These statements are presented here simplified with very few details and no justifications, although I have conducted a very detailed analysis with clear justifications of each statement. However for the time being I am happy to leave it at this for others if they have any interest, at all, to speculate as to why I have come to these conclusions.

    As far as to what the map represents, I believe it describes a journey to and from the Council of Basel of 1431.

    Sorry for being cryptic, but given we are talking about ciphers it seems appropriate. I am sure I will elaborate in the future. Anyway to understand it there would really be a lot to convey and images are essential.

  47. Mark Knowles on April 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm said:

    For clarity, I suppose I should mention that I have interpreted the central rosette as a crown surrounded by chalices. What some have described as “pipes” I believe represent cannons. The cannons pointed back from the top left rosette illustrate the tension/conflict between the Council of Basel and the Pope.

    I should further say that my analysis of the map has been done largely without reference to the rest of the manuscript; an approach which I appreciate has its drawbacks. However it has allowed me to focus intently just on the map.

  48. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 10:04 am said:

    I thought I would write a little about my Council of Basel identification. Determining what the top left rosette, on the Voynich map, represents is to say at least somewhat difficult as there is relatively little detail in the drawing. The chief detail that I can see is in the central oval. This I have long believed shows crescent moons, also in a oval shape, arranged around the centre of the main oval. For some time the question has been, for me, what does the crescent moon here represent.? At first I thought it must represent the Islamic symbol. However subsequently I observed that the crescent moon was used in the Christian world in many different scenarios. The next question being is why are there many crescent moons arranged an oval? Another important fact I think to notice is that there are “pipes” or cannons in my identification pointing back at the central rosette; the only rosette for which that is the case.

    So why did I identify this as the Council of Basel? There are a few reasons:
    1) I had already identified the central rosette as the pope for the reasons I stated before and I had long been inclined to view the “pipes” as cannons(for reasons I could go into), This would imply an opposition/conflict between the top left rosette and the pope/papacy, which fit given the opposition of the Council of Basel to the Pope.
    2) The location of Basel fit neatly given the nearby identifications I made on the map.(I could go into the precise details.)
    3) The arrangement around an oval was consistent with the layout of a council and the symbol of antipope Benedict the XIII was the crescent moon fitting with the widespread allegiance to the antipope..
    4) My research into the authorship of the manuscript first of all led me towards the council as being a significant event to the author.

  49. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 10:12 am said:

    I have listed below some of my specific identifications on the Voynich map:


    Abbey of St Gall (Under construction) in the valley of St. Gallen
    Laufen Castle in the Schaffhausen valley
    Reichenau Abbey
    Church of St Johann in Rapperswil
    Church of San Biaggio in Bellinzona
    Fontenella Abbey
    San Lorenzo in Milan
    and many more …………………………………


    and more……………..

    I have researched my identifications carefully. However given the total number of identifications I have made, including those above, I would be surprised if no identifications will be subject to revision.

  50. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 11:28 am said:

    I should say I am not aware of anyone who has provided a similar analysis of the map at all except Nick Pelling’s identifications of Milan and Pavia. If someone has come up with anything similar I would love to hear about it; I am sure that would be very interesting to me.

  51. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 6:03 pm said:

    My Perception of other “map” theories: (excluding Nick’s)

    For me, internal consistency and detail(i.e. lack a vagueness) are vital in a Voynich map theory. A complete analysis which fits together I feel is also important, though a local analysis of the map is not necessarily wrong.

    A first impression: the way a lot of other analyses seem to differ from mine is obviously first of all that I envisage a much smaller scale for the map whereas the other theories appear to view the map as a “Mappa Mundi”. Secondly a lot of the other theories focus much less on very specific detailed identifications of the map and much more on generalities, if I am not mistaken. I have tried to identify everything on the map down to the very smallest detail. I would love someone to provide a critique of my map. I firmly believe theories can only benefit from specific criticism.

    I notice my identifications relate far more to recognisable details of specific buildings or geographical features. Maybe I am missing something, but I think this is much less the case with other analyses.

    Also my map is much more down to earth than the Mappa Mundi, not that that makes it true, but I tend to prefer the more prosaic than the grandiose theory which seem to predominate(you know Incas in South America with Christopher Columbus kind of theories).

    Also core to my analysis is that as it has progressed I have tried to make testable predictions about other details of the map.

  52. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 7:44 pm said:

    A few more details as to my identifications:

    The rosette I have identified as Geneva. Illustrates the rose window of Geneva cathedral.

    The rosette I have identified as Pfafers Abbey shows the tower of the abbey in the centre with its bulb shaped roof. I believe that around the edge we can see the pillars holding up the elegant ceiling of the church(this is much better illustrated using an image rather than a description).

    The explosion of water emerging from the bottom left rosette towards the centre to me most likely represents flooding. This areas of Lucerne Canton often experienced floods. This may represent a specific flood or flooding in general. Determining which floods occurred in this area in the early 15th is hard and I must admit in this regard I haven’t invested much time.

    The two drawings often described as “volcanoes”, and coming from the top right rosette towards the centre of the map and the bottom right rosette towards the centre of the map, I believe represent the Alps. The white round circles and blue wavy lines I believe represent the snowy slopes; note the same illustration comes from the Pfafers Abbey rosette towards the central rosette (Pfafers Abbey being in the mountains). From the top of the “volcanoes” I believe water emerges illustrating that the Alps are the source for the many major lakes and rivers of Europe.

  53. Mark Knowles on April 12, 2017 at 7:56 pm said:

    The Famous Long Walls of Bellinzona

    As I have previously identified I believe the causeway running from the bottom left rosette to the bottom centre rosette to show the walls of Bellinzona. The walls are shown adjoining the Ticino River and on the other side of the causeway further away we have Lake Lugano and behind it Lake Como.

  54. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 8:54 am said:

    Another detail:

    I believe the bottom centre rosette shows a vaulted ceiling and flamboyant tracery. The central drawing represents an aerial view of a hill/mountain with a path ascending the mountain; note the path does not go to the top which is only accessible up a slope . The squiggly line emerging from the centre I interpret as a stream coming from a water source near the top of the hill/mountain. These details are all consistent with the identification of a specific location.

  55. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 9:12 am said:


    I, along, I believe, with some other people, interpret the following representations on the map:

    In the top left hand corner of the map we have the sun rising in the East. Similarly in the bottom right hand corner we see the sun setting in the West.

    In the bottom left hand corner we see a compass pointing North.

    This provides us with our bearings: North, East and West. Logically we can infer that South is in the direction towards the Top Right of the map.

    I can say these bearings fit neatly with the general bearings consistent with my identifications on the map; obviously for a map of this kind one cannot expect bearings to be 100% precise, but rather to reflect the general layout of the map.

  56. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 9:28 am said:

    Nick: I am sorry if I am clogging up your blog with my analysis. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it is long and very detailed. However I feel I have covered very many of the core details(excluding those relating to authorship) and can leave it there if you wish. I don’t want to misuse your blog in a way it was not intended to be used.

  57. Mark: no, your comments are relevant and interesting, but I think they’ve probably now gone past the point where they need to have a post of their own. Perhaps I should add that first? *sigh*

    To be honest, though, even determining something as (apparently) simple as when the walls at Bellinzona gained swallow-tail merlons is something that could very easily warrant a blog post all of its own. (Hint: I looked at this before and again yesterday, and I don’t know – as with Milan, this needs some solid sources.) Rene Zandbergen is correct that the Murata could form an excellent candidate for the long swallow-tail merloned wall on the nine-rosette page, but the swallowtails could very easily have been added by Francesco Sforza. That’s something that really should be possible to test.

  58. Mark Knowles: there must surely be dated drawings of the Murata in the Museo di Castelgrande, right? Here’s a link to a short video on some old painted wall panels (if I understand correctly) that were reclaimed and are held at the museo, including a brief cameo from none other than art historian Vera Segre herself:

  59. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 11:34 am said:

    Nick: Thanks for your assistance! I have tried to be a thorough as possible in my research. However I do admit given the sheer quantity of identifications I have done rechecking details is certainly of value. I must state that my identification of Bellinzona occurred prior to my reading Rene;s suggestion. I found his comment as I was searching online to see if anyone had made similar identifications to my own as far as I could find nobody had made any suggestions such as mine bar obviously your identifications of Milan and Pavia and Rene’s suggestion of Bellinzona. I believe some other people may have made similar suggestions with regard to bearings; however just for the record I was not aware of these until after I had made my own analysis of this kind.

    As well as the Murata there are 3 castles in Bellinzona and some(all?) have swallow-tailed battlements.

    Yes, if its not too much effort creating a page just for my analysis would be great. I can also provide relevant images if you like.

  60. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 11:49 am said:


    Looking at the causeway connecting the bottom centre to the bottom right and the causeway connecting the bottom right to the centre right and the causeway connecting the centre right to the top right; these causeways have what I will describe as squiggly lines on either side. The squiggly lines I believe represent meandering rivers. I associate these lines with the water bounding the causeways.

    Unfarmable land:

    Towards the top of the causeway running from bottom centre to bottom right and towards the left of the causeway running from bottom right to centre right there are many circles with dots in the centre I believe these to represent rough, rocky and unfarmable land. There are reasons why I have come to this conclusion.

    River Delta’s and Open Sea:

    In the top right of the map and also in the bottom right of the map I believe there are illustrations showing river deltas leading to the big waves of the open sea. This is best illustrated visually.

  61. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 11:55 am said:

    With regard to unfarmable land I do not believe this land is unfarmable now as significant efforts were made to improve the quality of land; some of them in the 15th century.

  62. Mark Knowles: the first part of Sasso Corbaro castle was built in 1478, so I think we would only likely have the two other Bellinzona castles to consider. 🙂

  63. Mark Knowles: the two reasons I’m particularly interested in Bellinzona are (a) that the long swallowtail merlon castle wall is a fairly distinctive feature of the nine rosette page, and (b) that if swallowtail merlons were added to the Murata at a particular date, we could get a terminus a quo on the date of the Voynich (contingent on the identification of the Murata being correct).

  64. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm said:

    Nick: Absolutely I completely understood your logic vis a vis Bellinzona. I know some sections of the wall do not have swallow tailed merlons now. I will look into it in more detail though I don’t know how difficult it will be to determine. I should probably email you with a visual identification of the bottom right rosette; not only has this rosette become very important, but I find the visual details of this identification particularly persuasive. I say this, because if there are other identifications on the map you find very persuasive they could also be helpful in dating.

  65. Mark Knowles: it may well be that a friendly historian at (or associated with) the Museo di Castelgrande might be able to tell us exactly when the Murata gained swallowtail merlons – it’s certainly an historical question that really ought to have a high chance of being answerable. 🙂

    A single well-placed email ought to do the trick – do you want to write or shall I?

  66. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm said:

    Nick: Do you know Italian? I don’t. Funnily enough I spent a certain time in Italy when I was very young and my parents speak Italian, but until now there has been little reason for me to learn.

    If you know Italian it makes sense for you to write an email otherwise I would be happy to. If you write it, do copy the email to me and let me know who you have chosen to email and what their credentials are.

    Very Many Thanks!

  67. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm said:

    As an aside since I started looking at the Voynich for fun I have often wondered what we know about swallow-tailed battlements. When did this technology emerge and where? What are the earliest examples we have and where? Were they originally associated with a specific state or military power? How fast did they spread? (I imagine they must have been some kind of military architecture fashion. You know keeping up with the Jones “his castle has swallow tailed battlements, so I’ve got to have them”.)

    Obviously whilst they are very striking it also seems to me that unlike building a new wall or new tower adding them or modifying existing battlements to incorporate them is not so much work.

  68. Mark Knowles: my understanding is that they were less a technology than a symbol of political alliance, i.e. Guelph or Ghibelline.

  69. Mark: I read Italian tolerably well but speak it like a tourist. I’ll compose something suitable and see where it lands (cc-ing you, of course). 🙂

  70. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm said:

    Great thanks for that! I have also sent you an email about bottom right rosette specific identification details.

  71. When traveling through Northern Italy, one inevitably encounters buildings with swallowtail (Ghibelline) merlons. Long walls with these merlons are indeed found in Bellinzona (I only saw these in pictures) but there are many other examples.
    Verona has long stretches at the ‘Ponte del Castelvecchio’ with the connecting castle.
    So does the Fenis castle in Valle d’Aosta.

    The most striking example I ever saw was the ‘arsenale’ in Venice.

  72. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 6:31 pm said:

    Why 9 foldout page is a map

    I have written this in reply to Rene Zandbergen’s request that I justify why this page represents a map.

    First of all in one sense I agree with you that we cannot say for certain that it is a map as we can’t say very much for certain about the manuscript.

    To start with, I don’t believe the manuscript is a hoax(I can leave this argument for a separate discussion), so I see purpose in what the author is doing. I am inclined towards the view that the author was an intelligent serious person.(Again this is a separate discussion).

    I don’t believe it is a fantasy document. I think it was intended as a practical document. It took a lot of work, so I feel there must be a meaning to what is written.

    Rene mentioned John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s progress” and the similarity of a drawing in it to the top right rosette. However this of course is a work of fiction intended for an audience. I do not think the Voynich represents a work of fiction, though I am open to persuasion. In so far as the Voynich is not a work of fiction I think the parallel between the two does not really exist.

    When I first saw the map I thought it looked like a map from Lord of the Rings, although I don’t think the Voynich is an early fantasy novel written in a made up language like elvish. Especially as one would assume the author would then produce multiple copies.

    Similarly the foldout page could be a board game for a child, but I don’t think the author was so frivolous; though this is something that I cannot disprove.

    First of all I must say I was convinced it was a map from the start. This was because of the very specific detail on the map. In particular there are numerous different looking carefully drawn detailed buildings on different parts of the map. I thought and continue to think that these drawings correspond to real buildings in the real world at that the time of writing rather than made up buildings, otherwise why the attention to such specific detail which would presumably have been unnecessary if they were ficticious.

    I believe the author had intent in the details he drew in the manuscript and so he drew each building in its own specific detailed way for a reason rather than just making up buildings for no reason at all. Drawing a detailed building just for the sake of it seems somehow too frivolous for the author. You would expect at the very least the building drawings would be influenced by real buildings.

    If they do indeed correspond to real buildings what is the significance of their relative locations on the “map”? My sense is that the relative locations of buildings on the map have some association to their relative locations in the real world. If so, we can say that we have a map as that fits the definition of a map, though it could be topological in nature like the London Underground map.

    I would certainly welcome an argument as to why it’s not a map.

    If it is not a map I welcome someone to provide very specific identifications of the drawings of buildings on the “map” and what they represent.

  73. Mark Knowles on April 13, 2017 at 6:57 pm said:

    Rene: Yes, I am sure, in fact I know, there many walls it Italy and I daresay other places with swallow tail battlements. For me, as someone who believes this page represents a map, it is important also that the location fits in a logically consistent way with other locations in the map. So my identification of Bellinzona comes not only from its appearance, but from its position relative to my other identifications on the map.

    Verona. Fenis castle and Venice just would make any sense in the context of my framework. Now my framework could be wrong, but that is why I have identified Bellinzona and it fits neatly and logically with my map.

    Having said that I appreciate you making me aware of that information. It would be wonderful if someone could produce a precise history of the swallow-tail battlement, as far as that is possible, when it was first used and how its usage spread; I think that would be of real value. Am I right in thinking it was first used in the 13th century as wikipedia seems to suggest? If they were a symbol of political allegiance can we trace their usage on that basis. I think being able to predict who would have more likely had swallow tail battlements and when could be really useful.

  74. Mark Knowles on April 14, 2017 at 6:30 am said:

    This text belongs in a cipher related page though I don’t know which!!

    My Ideas for how the cipher may be solved:(What I say may have been said somewhere else, in which case I apologise)

    I think even attempting to solve the cipher comes at the end of a potentially long process. Far too many people just seem to dive in prematurely before having a solid foundation from which to work.

    I think first of all one really needs to know the text; one doesn’t need to be able to read the text of the manuscript in order to know it very well, I think to start with one needs to be familiar with the “landscape” of the text. I think understanding the features of the text(maybe even broadly speaking the patterns within the text) should form the basis for going forward.

    I have questions I would like to ask the text. So for example I would distinguish between “isolated” words, i.e. labels, and words that are part of a sentence. So for example I might ask the manuscript to list short low frequency isolated words and their corresponding pages and locations with the manuscript. Certainly whilst specific labels corresponding, for example, to known plants could be useful to work with one, might become aware of a word in the manuscript which occurs twice and on the basis of commonalities between those pages it which it occurs determine what it means. There may be words which occur more on some pages than others. There maybe a series of distinct words, such as for example a sentence, which occur in more than one place in the manuscript. These are all just features of the manuscript and may not lead to a solution, but these kind of features are, it seems to me, part of the “knowing the manuscript” process.

    My wild speculation about the manuscript is that a small number of specific examples, which will probably be stumbled upon when exploring the text’s landscape, will unlock the cipher and the only way to bump into these examples is by knowing the text of the manuscript really well without being able yet to read it. Probably building a long list of observed possible features of the manuscript would be a good way the begin.

    I am sure some, although I hope not all, of what I have said here has been said elsewhere, but with luck this is a little food for thought.

  75. Mark Knowles on April 14, 2017 at 9:46 am said:

    What scares me about the Voynich cipher
    (It should be noted that I know very little about ciphers except for the modern “Number Theory” kind.)

    The vague impression I get is that this cipher should not be viewed through the frame of reference of the formal modern idea of a cipher. By that I mean one where there are a very clear define set of rules to get from the original text to the enciphered text and similarly a definite set of rules to get from the enciphered text to the original text. Rather I wonder if rules are applied on an ad hoc basis and the process of reading back the text, knowing the set of rules used in the cipher, is more like solving an anagram by working out which rules have been applied.

    This, I believe, represents a personal cipher.The purpose of most ciphers is for the secure conveying of information between two individuals. However this cipher I believe is intended for 1 individual or maybe small group of individuals to record information which he/they can subsequently read back as and when they need to. With this kind of cipher I would think the writer brings a certain amount of insider information which is not necessarily contained within the rules of the cipher and which makes it easier for them to work out what they originally intended to encipher.

    I sincerely hope that most of this speculation is untrue as if a lot of it is true it could make the cipher fiendishly difficult to crack.

  76. Mark Knowles on April 14, 2017 at 10:19 am said:

    A question for Nick

    I searched your site for a page about the different available data structures which have been generated to store the manuscript; I daresay there is such a page but I didn’t happen upon it. I note there is a page on Rene Zandbergen’s website listing something of the kind, although quite a few of the links are broken. Realistically in order to ask the manuscript the questions I want am I going to need to generate my own data structures/SQL database?

    Are there tools you would recommend using to work on the manuscript text?

    Don’t worry posts will dry up soon!

  77. Mark Knowles on April 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm said:

    Nick: I think Filippo Maria Visconti was a Ghibelline as he led a Ghibelline revolt. Is it reasonable to infer on that basis that his castle has Ghibelline battlements?

    I would think if these battlements were a reflection of political allegiance rather than for some military reason they could be changed without huge difficulty as and when that political allegiance changed. This could be like changing a flag, although somewhat more work.

  78. Mark: allegiances to the papacy or Holy Roman Empire were rapidly shifting sands at that time – and for something like the Murata at Bellinzona caught between multiple expansionist empires, even more so.

  79. Mark Knowles on April 14, 2017 at 4:06 pm said:

    Nick: I actually mentioned it in the case of the Porta Giova Castle as previously we were discussing whether it had swallow tail battlements. I am inclined to agree that the Bellinzona case is likely to be more complicated. I still wonder how much work there really would have been in changing one’s battlements from one to the other.

  80. “This, I believe, represents a personal cipher.The purpose of most ciphers is for the secure conveying of information between two individuals. However this cipher I believe is intended for 1 individual or maybe small group of individuals to record information which he/they can subsequently read back as and when they need to. With this kind of cipher I would think the writer brings a certain amount of insider information which is not necessarily contained within the rules of the cipher and which makes it easier for them to work out what they originally intended to encipher.”
    Mark Knowles: I couldn’t have said it better.

  81. Mark Knowles on April 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm said:

    Voynich Documentaries

    I have only found 2 bona fide Voynich documentaries on YouTube. One which is a BBC Four documentary and another American possibly History Channel documentary. Are there others available online now?

    Voynich Prize

    I feel a prize ought to be set up for the person or persons who produce a universally accepted (by academic and non-academic experts*) decryption of the manuscript. I don’t know if this could be done by crowdfunding it or some similar way. I feel such an important puzzle should have some reward for its solution. This could create a real incentive leading to its solution as well as publicity for the Voynich.

    *there will always be a tiny minority who will object to whatever theory is presented that is not their own

  82. aziz azbo on April 15, 2017 at 6:56 pm said:

    mark Knowles ,
    you want to know about the map ? just look for aziz azbo on youtube and watch the videos . you will know what land is that .

  83. Mark Knowles: there are plenty of interlinear transcriptions out there, but this topic would be a 4000-word post on its own.

  84. Aziz Bounouara on April 16, 2017 at 7:27 am said:

    The rosette is a map of the Golden horn (Constantinopole) Istanbul today. it shows the Topkapi palace (castle) on right , Galata tower on left Hagia Sofia betwen and one mosque with domes. The map matches with old maps and nowadays maps. The naked women in VM are Odalesques living in the sarayi bathing . most of them are princesses with crowns ( Sultanates). to know more ask aziz azbo .

  85. Mark Knowles on April 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm said:

    Nick: These guys are unreal. Claiming to have discovered lost pages of the Voynich manuscript. Are they joking? Are they charlatans?

    There are really a lot of odd YouTube pages on the Voynich manuscript as I am sure you know well.

    By the way, Happy Easter to you Nick and all visitors of this website!!!

  86. Mark Knowles on April 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm said:

    Nick: I was wondering about making my map analysis, or the part I am happy to provide, available online. It benefits hugely from the use of images(including quite a lot of small photos) which I have obviously been unable to include here. I could put it all in a pdf. To be honest just one image the original Voynich map page with my annotations and photos included would be a big start. Naturally these files are large. I have a website of my own, but I use this exclusively for business purposes. Is there somewhere on the web you suggest uploading it to? I know there are a few other websites devoted to the Voynich some which have downloadable papers from them,

  87. Mark: I’d be happy to put it here as a guest post, either as a PDF or as HTML.

  88. Mark: they’re not for real in any useful sense of the phrase, but that hardly counts as any kind of handicap on YouTube, right?

  89. Peter on April 18, 2017 at 8:35 am said:

    There are hundreds of castles with these peaks in northern Italy. Whether in the direction of France, Switzerland or Tyrol. Sure for me is that they are at the edge of the Alps. Possibly, she has guarded an access to a valley. Or it was a church or monastery fortress. However, many of them are no longer in use today, they can only be seen as ruins or have simply been rebuilt. Since I have concentrated on the plants in the VM, and these actually occur and have not sprung from a fantasy. These also tell me that Milano is too low, since certain plants occur only in height.

  90. Peter on April 18, 2017 at 8:37 am said:

    For me, the city gate is also important. Middle section with 2 round towers and a bridge in front.
    How big must a city be around 1400-1450 for such a city gate?

  91. Mark Knowles on April 18, 2017 at 10:21 am said:

    Peter: May I ask, whereabouts do you live? Do you live in Switzerland or Northern Italy?

  92. Peter: few researchers currently claim that the majority of plants in the Voynich are definitely real, this isn’t something that has been widely accepted at all.

  93. Mark Knowles on April 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm said:

    Peter: You say “These also tell me that Milano is too low, since certain plants occur only in height.” What makes you think some are Alpine plants?

  94. Peter on April 19, 2017 at 8:38 pm said:

    Nick: Most plants are even pretty much drawn. In my opinion no one really took the trouble to look for the plants.

    Mark: Some of them are pure alpine plants and rarely occur in the plains. ( No rule without exception )
    Yes, I come from Switzerland.

    I do not like advertising on my own, but here again the link for the plants. The similarities are, in part, astounding.

  95. Mark Knowles on April 20, 2017 at 8:41 am said:

    Peter: Whilst I know nothing about plants your identifications sound plausible. As you should know if you have had the chance to read my comments my map analysis leads me to believe much of it refers to Switzerland. May I ask more precisely whereabouts in Switzerland you live? You might be able to provide some insight into my theory.

  96. Mark Knowles on April 20, 2017 at 10:33 am said:

    Peter: You seem to have been quite thorough in your identifications. I hesitate to comment on whether they are right or wrong as I have simply no idea, but they certainly appear to be plausible. Also the identification of Milan on the map does not mean that Milan is the place of origin of the plants. How far do you live from the Canton of Lucerne?

  97. Mark Knowles on April 20, 2017 at 11:34 am said:

    Peter: Of course there were very many castles with that style of battlement in northern Italy and many are ruined. In my opinion identifying an individual castle is part of a broader identification of other locations into a tight consistent system. You wouldn’t identify a plant just by looking at its flowers without looking at its leaves or roots. I believe Milan fits within a tight consistent system of identification of many locations on the map; this doesn’t contradict the idea of alpine plants appearing in the Voynich. Have you ever climbed Mount Pilatus?

  98. Mark Knowles on April 20, 2017 at 4:47 pm said:

    Peter: I don’t know if someone has produced a candidate shortlist for each plant in the Voynich. Then I would think the key criteria to membership of the list obviously has to be visual identification though my understanding is that in medieval times plants were not always represented completely accurately. Clearly the extent that a plant identification fits within the general framework of the other plants broad geographical area and other geographical location pointers from the manuscript will of course affect its suitability for the list. For example a plant only found on Easter Island or one only found in Alaska are likely to be incorrect even if there appear to have a strong resemblance though the plant could come from a related plant species.

    Even if one cannot identify a specific plant, but the group or family of plants it belongs to then that is progress.

    It seems the primary use for plant identification has been for the purpose of text identification. Although again plant identification could assist in geographic identification.

    I have no idea what the level of consensus in plant identification has been. I am pretty certain plant identification is very unlikely to be something I try. Whilst it is far from my core mission if there are consensus identifications in the manuscript outside of the map it would probably be a good idea for me to make myself aware of them should my focus at some stage turn to text identification.

  99. Mark: All plants are found in Central Europe. The basis were the native plants of Switzerland. Since the area has different climates and differences in altitude, the variety of planting is appropriate. I am currently investigating the flora of Italy. Most plants are even classic examples of early healing.
    I’m sure you got it in Milano as well, but it’s also certain that they do not all grow in front of the front door.
    I also wonder what makes the crown of Albrecht II or Frederick the III in the VM? Did the Habsburgs have an influence in Lombardy at this time? This makes me suspect the route to Tyrol.
    Yes, I was already on the Pilatus about 25 years ago.

  100. Mark Knowles on April 21, 2017 at 9:08 am said:

    Peter: My advice to you is to focus on 1 thing, plant identification, as you seem to have some facility for this. The Voynich is a big enough puzzle, so to attempt to understand everything in one go is very likely to lead to miserable failure,

    Look at other people’s suggested identifications of plants and where you disagree with them; you should try to provide a good justification behind your difference of opinion. You need to be very open to the idea that one or more of your plant identifications is wrong and someone else has got it right; far too many people stick stubbornly to their own theories even when the evidence might point in another direction.

    So in short don’t worry now about Albrecht II or Frederick the III, Hapsburgs and Tyrol; just focus on the plants.

    Also, by the way, whereabouts in Switzerland do you live?

  101. Here is a link where I show a part of the work. It is written in German, but much is also in pictures.
    Much is only an example to look at and should only bring people to new ideas but the facts not from the eyes.
    Maybe it will bring you new ideas.
    PS: Near Zürich

  102. Mark Knowles on April 22, 2017 at 2:19 pm said:

    Peter: My focus is purely on the map page and inferences I have made, to the best of my ability, from it.

    I know nothing about plants, but would certainly welcome a widely accepted set of consistent plant identifications. Have you compared your identifications to those of many others?

    My in depth analysis of the map leads me to believe the map covers parts of Northern Italy(north and west of Milan) and much of Switzerland. For more details read the many comments I have already made on this page.

    Where exactly do you live near Zurich? I ask as you might possibly be of some help with my identifications.

  103. Peter on May 2, 2017 at 7:21 am said:

    I suppose you saw the plants in the video. What is your opinion on this? Is it possible that it is really only fantasy plants?
    The details speak for me a different language.
    And indeed, many of them target women’s problems in medicine.

  104. Mark Knowles on May 10, 2017 at 12:34 pm said:

    Nick: The Voynich “map” and the Travelling Salesman Problem.

    In the past in my professional life I implemented many algorithms for solving Vehicle Routing Problems. In case you don’t know the Vehicle Routing Problems are extension of the famous travelling salesman problem.

    Surprisingly it only occurred recently to me that I am trying to solve something vaguely akin to an extremely informal variant of travelling salesman problem. Whilst a glaring difference is that I am not trying to minimise travel time from my perspective I am endeavouring to solve a loosely related optimisation problem.

    In my situation there are two important assumptions which others may not agree with: One that this page represents a “map” and moreover it illustrates a “journey”. I even believe the “map” was written during the journey not at the end of it.

    Anyway although unlike the Travelling Salesman Problem this problem cannot obviously be formalised, for me it could serve as a useful analogy. There is a parallel to the idea of an objective function satisfying closeness of fit I.e. localised similarity meaning specific things looking like they do in real life and the overall fitting together of parts of the solution. This fits neatly with your notion of plasticity and the goal to minimise plasticity. It is true one can point to the notion of local optima versus the global optimum, but by exploring the whole solution space one can seek to avoid that. Actually in general regarding the Voynich I think methodologically the goal of people trying to come up with the most “plausible” explanation for certain features of the manuscript is a perfectly reasonable one. Methodologically I think the idea of providing formal proofs of theories is the wrong paradigm rather the goal of providing the most probable solution is actually a better way I think of approaching many though not all aspects of the manuscript.

  105. Mark Knowles on June 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm said:

    I apologise for the delay in replying to your email; I think you misunderstood the nature of my challenge.

    It seems to me that the best way to approach the question of the identification
    of the Central Rosette is from two angles “A critique of your identification” and “A look at my argument for my identification”. I will start with the first:

    1) A critique of your identification

    You identify the central rosette with St. Marks in Venice. I am challenging whether that can really be a valid identification. There are the 5 domes of St. Marks versus 6 domed objects in the drawing, 4 front domed objects and 2 rear domed objects. What in your model does the central area around which the domes are encircling correspond to? Why are the domed objects not connected in the way the domes of St. Marks; in the shape of a +. Why are the bases of the domed objects as they are? What does the rest of the rosette represent with the different tiers and the “pipes”? It seems hard to reconcile the drawing with your interpretation and the fact that you attempt to explain little else does not help. You describe it as a scrambled view of St. Marks, but it almost feels like it has been put through a blender to get to that identification.

    It feels like your core argument is that there are drawings of objects in the central rosette the tops of which could resemble domes and St. Marks in Venice has domes with a few possible slight extra similarities to the drawings therefore the overall drawing represents St. Marks. This feels like a big leap especially given the inconsistent number of domes.

    I feel you ought to be able to justify your identification to some extent independently of other ideas of yours. This is not necessarily to be viewed as a challenge to the Venetian connection, though I must admit I doubt there is one, but merely a challenge to the central rosette identification.

    My understanding is that you deduce Averlino is the author in part on the basis that the Central Rosette represents Venice not that you deduce the Central Rosette represents Venice not the basis that the author is Averlino.

    Even if one believes there is a Venetian connection to the manuscript it still seems very hard to justify your identification of St.Marks as it seems fundamentally incompatible.

    As far as the pages of the manuscript you link to are you suggesting the objects on these pages represent St. Marks as well as or have some connection to it? To me they look like containers for preparing recipes.

  106. Mark Knowles on June 5, 2017 at 4:22 pm said:

    2) A look at my argument for my identification

    I identify the Central Rosette as showing in the centre a crown surrounded by 6 ciboria(A ciborium is a chalice with a lid). The series of tiers of the Central Rosette(Like the tiers of a wedding cake) I identify with the tiers of the Pope’s tiara(This is the special crown warn by the Pope. This crown is actually composed of 3 crowns each above the other.)

    At the edge of the final tier there is drawing which I identify as the rim of a crown. Prior to looking at this I previously identified a very similar drawing around the Centre Right Rosette, which I identify with the crown of the Duke of Milan. The way the rims of the crowns are drawn in both cases is very very similar. (It may be of note that I had identified the Centre Left rosette and the Central rosette before I spotted this rim on the Central rosette.)

    It is worth noting that this explanation covers all or almost all features of the drawings except for the difference of appearance of some of the ciboria from each other. This I can only speculate about: it could be they represent different cardinals or different regions or different chalices belonging to the owner, it could be that they are merely a reflection of the author’s artistic choices rather than anything real.

    The objects, termed by some as “pipes”, I identify as cannons indicating the power of the Papacy militarily, politically and religiously.

    It may also be of interest in noting the author made what looks like an error in the drawing as behind the front left “ciborium” is what looks like a partially drawn ciborium.

    I would contend that however one analyzes the drawing the central part of the rosette, it looks very much like a crown encircled by chalices. I initially came to the conclusion this rosette corresponds to the Pope given the representation of the church(chalices) and also the king of a state(crown). However other people may interpret the meaning of the crown encircled by chalices differently.

    Paradoxically this is the one part of the “map” I don’t think is a map as it does not constitute part of the author’s “journey”.

    (As an aside, if the St. Marks identification was correct chalices would be the most obvious representations of the domes of a religious institution.)

    More to come….

  107. Mark: I started from Averlino’s own description of his various books of secrets – something which I suspect is extremely rare, if not unique – and worked my way out, exploring the implications of the Art History hypothesis that he was essentially describing the Voynich Manuscript.

  108. Mark Knowles on June 5, 2017 at 10:23 pm said:

    Nick: I guess the only precise concerns I have at this time which relate to the Averlino hypothesis are:

    1) Dating

    (a) By symbol 4o

    I think one reason you date the manuscript to around the 1450s is in part because of the non-occurrence of the 4o symbol in ciphers before 1440. However the absence of this symbol before 1440 seems to be largely explained by the absence of records of ciphers in the early 15th century, especially in Milan where all records were destroyed.

    (b) By Swallow-Tail battlements

    Which you have covered

    2) Central Rosette – Venice Identification

    Which I have explained

  109. Mark: you’re projecting your own proof structure onto a different kind of claim. Averlino wrote in cipher, had his own herbal, describes Greek tachygraphy, was close friends with the head of Milan’s Chancellery, and describes writing a number of small books of secrets. This is a mainstream kind of Art History narrative, not a proof by iconography.

  110. Nick, what did you mean when you wrote “that many of the water nymphs may be embellished diagrammatic arrows”? Was this someone’s theory?

  111. Koen: that was my suggestion in the “The Naked Lady Code” chapter (Chapter 8) of “The Curse of the Voynich” (2006).

  112. Mark Knowles on June 9, 2017 at 11:32 am said:

    Nick: As regards the “pharmaceutical jars” illustrated above I think it is very possible they also represent chalices. At least one of them has the same circular band around the “neck”(narrow park). I guess this circular band is there to make it easier to hold in the hand. To me the presence of this band would suggest a drinking vessel and hence a cup of some kind and therefore a ciborium. However they do differ from one another in appearance and so they may not all represent the same kind of object. The one on the far right looks most like a ciborium chalice and the one on the far left least like one. However Ciboria from that period could vary in appearance quite a lot from one another, so it is hard to be certain.

  113. Mark Knowles on June 9, 2017 at 11:38 am said:

    Nick: In addition I wonder if some ciboria were used purely for religious purposes and some for non-religious purposes. Even if that is the case it makes far more sense for those in central rosette to represent religious objects. To me the one in the far right looks like a religious object whilst the other two much less so, in fact they may not be ciboria at all.

  114. Mark Knowles on June 11, 2017 at 6:01 pm said:

    A bit of research on Wikipedia, no less. A chalice is a “footed” cup. In Western Christianity they normally have a “pommel” on the stem, the pommel being the large wide band around the stem possibly to assist in the holding of the chalice in the hand.

    The front far right object really fits all the criteria to be a ciborium: it is “footed”, it has a “pommel”. It seems most likely to me that the other objects are ciboria probably drawn with some artistic license.

  115. Mark: be careful of linking the word “research” to the word “Wikipedia” 🙂

  116. Mark Knowles on June 11, 2017 at 6:25 pm said:

    Nick: I thoroughly agree with you, but in this case I would think it is trustworthy as this is a fairly simple idea “footed” cup with “pommel”.

  117. Mark Knowles on June 11, 2017 at 7:41 pm said:

    Nick: Another thing I have spotted is that some of the other objects referred to as “pharmaceutical jars” may be thuribles. Thuribles are incense burners and the more ornate variety bear a striking similarity to some of those objects. I imagine thuribles could be used for burning things other than incense.

  118. Mark Knowles on June 12, 2017 at 6:59 pm said:

    I would argue that the tops of the “domed” objects, which I regard as ciboria, must be crosses. Now to look at them they don’t instantly strike one as being crosses as they have distinctly pointed tops and somewhat bulbulous sides; crosses normally have rectangular tops and sides. So how do I explain my claim: well I have a few thoughts

    1) This is an easier and quicker way to draw a cross as the author had many to draw and so probably opted or fell into the habit of drawing them this way as one does with one’s signature.
    2) Many crosses are not in the standard rectangular form. It is not unusual, especially in this period, for crosses to have very curved and pointed ends.

    I appreciate this could be seen as quite controversial, but this is what seems most likely to me.

  119. Mark, I would not call this controversial. It is a fairly clear example of ‘making the data fit the theory’.
    (Don’t take this personal. I see this being done all the time).

    This is something that can be done at the end, when the theory isn’t really a theory anymore, but considered to be a reliable explanation.
    It cannot be done at the beginning, when it is still speculation.

  120. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 10:19 am said:

    Rene: Have you followed my full argument as to why they represent ciboria. If you merely look at points in isolation then you won’t understand the full argument. I think the case that they are chalices with lids i.e. ciboria is strong given the fact that they are “footed” cups and the far right one has an unmistakeable “pommel”. Then given the other aspects of my anaĺysis of the Central Rosette this fits.

    I think you mistake the difference between “the facts fitting the theory” and “drawing an inference from a theory”. I am not saying that, because they are crosses my theory is true. I am saying that my theory makes be conclude that they most likely represent crosses.

    My theory is not based on them being crosses rather this seems to be a very likely consequence of my theory. I hope you can see the difference.

  121. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 10:24 am said:

    Rene: Read my detailed argument for my identification of the Central Rosette further up in these comments “2) A look at my argument for my identification”. You may find my comments regarding “Thuribles” also interesting.

  122. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 10:40 am said:

    Rene: Let me simplify the argument for you. I don’t mean to be patronising when I say this.

    A: I am in Texas.
    B: I see a man on a horse herding cattle.
    C: The man is wearing a hat.
    D: The man is a cowboy.
    E: The man is wearing a cowboy hat.

    Ok there are two different arguments:

    1) A & B -> D
    C & D -> E

    2) A & B & E -> D

    1 is my argument. I think you think my argument is 2 (Imagine the cowboy hat is the cross)

  123. Mark: an implication of a speculation is a speculative implication.
    The only real question is whether it strengthens the initial speculation or merely adorns it.

  124. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 11:37 am said:

    Nick: Of course it is an implication of a speculation. How can I be sure I am in Texas and have not strayed across the border? How I can I be sure I see a man herding cattle? It could be a mirage or it could be a machine not a man and a mechanical horse with mechanical cattle not real cattle as in Westworld. How do I know he is wearing a hat? He could have a frisbee glued to the top of his head. How can I justify the inference that he is a cowboy merely on the basis of being in Texas and the man riding a horse and herding cattle? He could be a tourist playing cowboy. How can I justify the inference that he is wearing a cowboy hat from the fact that he is a cowboy and wear a hat? He could be a cowboy who actually prefers to wear bowler hats.

    So in conclusion these are all inferences based on speculations. The same applies to my Voynich arguments. So of course this is a speculative implication. It is not intended to strengthened the initial speculation. In fact it could even be said to challenge it. On the whole I think it probably neither strengthens it nor weakens it. However if they are crosses then it could lead me to other avenues I might wish to explore.

  125. Adding more speculative elements to a theory may appear to make it stronger but there is a great chance that it makes the whole construction weaker.

    Two items of speculation may be consistent with each other, but that does not mean that they confirm or support each other.

    You need some other kind of confirmation.

    As regards the cowboy parallel, it is more like this:

    1. I think that I am in Texas (cf. I think that the drawing is a map)
    2. I see a creature moving. I think it is a man on a horse. (cf. I think I see ciboria)
    3. I see a big fluff of hair on top of the creature. I think it’s not hair but at hat, because this fits with Texas and the man on the horse…….

  126. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm said:

    Rene: I am not saying that the tops of the domes objects which I say are ciboria, are crosses, makes the theory stronger. I am saying that given that normally on the tops of ciboria are crosses if these are ciboria the tops are most likely crosses. There are examples where the tops are birds, with a religious significance, but these are much rarer. The crosses on top of ciboria do vary significantly in appearance whilst maintaining the standard features of a cross. However this poses a challenge as the tops aren’t obviously crosses.

    So I am not adding this to the theory to make it stronger rather I am inferring what I see as a likely consequence of the theory. It could be seen by some to make it weaker, but I am trying to stick to my principles of not conveniently ignoring features which some think might make the theory weaker. Personally I think it makes the theory neither weaker nor stronger, but more interesting.

    I am not saying that they confirm or support each other in the way you mean.

    More to come…

  127. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm said:

    Nick: As an aside have you looked into the progress of the construction of the Certosa di Pavia during the 15th century and how it looked at various times and how they fit with the drawing the identification of which we agree on. For example it would be interesting to establish how it looked in 1431 and how it looked in 1456.

  128. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm said:

    Nick: I believe the 4th foundation stone of the Certoss di Pavia was laid by a prominent member of a Novara family.

  129. Mark: I’ll check the official history this evening (which I bought rather than a T-shirt when I visited the Certosa).

  130. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 1:44 pm said:

    Nick: I know construction began in 1396 and continued throughout the 15th century.

  131. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm said:

    Nick: One thing I have been thinking about generally is what level of accuracy can we expect from the author’s drawings? Obviously this is a very general question. I say this as for example there are ways in which certainly there are differences in the Certosa di Pavia drawing from the way it looks now. It is possible it looked different in the past or it is possible that it just not a very accurate drawing, maybe a function of memory rather than drawn on site. I was persuaded by your identification by the presence of a porch at the front of the Certosa which is very hard to find amongst Italian basilicas. It also fits neatly with the rest of my “map”.

    Obviously themes and symbolism also impact on drawings.

    This question touches many identifications I have made. How many drawings are there in the manuscript which we can identify with certainty, so that we can make some assessment of the level of accuracy we can expect from the author?

    I know this is a rather big and open ended question, but it is something I have been wondering about and it obviously really impacts on everything such as my “crosses”.

  132. Mark Knowles on June 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm said:

    Rene and Nick: I wonder if we are talking the same language when in comes to argumentation and methodology.

    Yes. This is all about probabilistic speculation rather than formal logical proof. Nick’s Averlino theory obviously is based on different speculations, which is perfectly fine by me in principle.

    So when you talk about confirmation, what kind of confirmation would be sufficient in your mind, Rene? Certainly my identification and analysis of the Central Rosette fits and implies things. Most noticeably the tiara hypothesis fits well with a subsequent observation. However none of that is or can be rock solid confirmation.

    Speculation is of course a normally part of the process of developing theories even in subjects like physics people speculate and then look to find evidence which will either support or contract the theory. Even in the process of developing a “Mathematical” theory speculation is often employed. So we should not treat building theories on the basis of speculation as problematic. Clearly one aims in the long run to move away from speculation to certainty.

    In fact as I have explained before the Central Rosette is the one part of the map I don’t think is a map.

    If the objects don’t represent ciboria can you find a more plausible explanation? You may say that it is not your job to find a more plausible explanation, but I think it is fair to ask what is the most likely candidate for that drawing. Also the ciborium hypothesis fits neatly with the rest of my analysis of the Central Rosette.

    I would say that I constantly challenge my ideas that is why I have spent a lot of time going over details.

    Rene you are in the safe position of not having a theory to justify. Howevet I feel one needs to stick one’s neck out and try and construct theories to make progress. I continue to have plenty to do to follow up my lines of enquiry and challenge and test my ideas.

  133. Mark Knowles on June 21, 2017 at 10:47 am said:

    The Case of this Page being a map:

    I thought it worth presenting an argument as to why this page represents a map and exploring counterargument.

    I thought I would start with what I hope can be universally agreed on; if not then let me know and I can explore this.


    A) There are drawings of buildings on this page.
    B) Many of the drawings of buildings are distinctly and recognizably different.
    C) These buildings are drawn at separate locations on the page.

    Now possibly more conversial statements:

    D) The buildings are crudely drawn.
    E) There are other geographical features drawn on the map such as cliffs and expanses of water (This could represent rivers, lakes or seas)
    F) Fantasy maps from this period either do not exist or are very rare. By fantasy map I mean a map of a deliberately completely made up land like “Middle Earth” or “Narnia”. ( It should be noted that many medieval maps have the Garden of Eden marked at the edge of the map, but this in the context of a map with many real locations in it)
    G) There are no or very few examples from this period of architect’s plans containing very crudely drawn, often very small and lacking in detail buildings as we see on this page.

    More To Come…

  134. Mark Knowles on June 21, 2017 at 10:58 am said:

    H) All or almost all documents containing drawings of distinctly and recognizably different buildings drawn at separate locations in this way at this time period are maps.

    An interesting issue raised by Rene is that maybe the page is not a map in its entirety, but maybe a small part is a map. The obviously candidate for this theory is the Top Right rosette.

    On the basis of the presence of buildings one might argue that the following are maps:

    Top Right Rosette
    Causeway from Top Right Rosette to Top Centre Rosette
    Causeway from Top Centre Rosette to Top Left Rosette

    add possibly

    Causeway from Top Right Rosette to Centre Right Rosette
    Causeway from Bottom Left Rosette to Bottom Centre Rosette.

    More To Come…

  135. Mark Knowles on June 21, 2017 at 11:10 am said:

    It seems to me that it is hard to argue that the Top Right Rosette and the Causeway between the Top Right Rosette and the Top Centre Rosette are distinct and separate maps as they very much flow into each other. I think the same could be said to apply to the Causeway between the Top Right Rosette and the Centre Right Rosette.

    Following on from this one can make the case that all or most if the page is likely to be a map. In my case I can argue why this is not the case for the Central Rosette.

    Some rosettes certainly raise question about being part of a map such as:

    Top Left, Top Centre, Bottom Centre, Centre Left, Centre Right and Central

    I think it worth stating that no maps or non-maps of the period resemble the overall design of this page. Yet it must be a map or a non-map. I argue that it much more closely resembles a map of that period than any non-map of the period.

  136. Mark Knowles on June 21, 2017 at 7:58 pm said:

    Nick: Just a quick update on the Bell Tower. The curves under the roof I referred to are described I believe as “arcades cornices”. My research seems to indicate that the use of them in Bell Tower architecture does not occur in southern italy. In fact in Italy it looks like this precise design of Flat-Roofed bell tower was most common in Lombardy or around Rome. Though I do believe this design is also found in the very South Eastern part of France.

    I am beginning to wonder if this could serve as a much more useful geographical marker than swallow tailed battlements.

    I intend to do more research to be able to precisely isolate exactly where towers of this type are to be found.

    I have my own map analysis which is unchanged, but I am still exploring these broader questions.

  137. Peter on June 22, 2017 at 2:57 am said:

    Actually, I was not interested in the rosette before. Only now by your descriptions, I’ve looked at it to me times more accurate and so my thoughts. And this also compared with the whole book.
    1. If you look at the links up and down, left and right, you could really talk about a kind of road rough way.
    But the middle has no real connection which I would call as such.

    Compared to the rest of the book, we have a fundamental problem.
    1. The plant part, not perfectly drawn, but somehow scientific.
    2. Sternzeichen, also somehow scientific.
    3. Stars cards, also Scientific.
    4. Processing Description (Bathing Women), Scientific
    5. Recipe, or at least looks like this, Scientific

    The rosette, however, is not scientific at all. And already garnnicht as a map to use.
    The author was certainly not a gifted artist, but he had a hang on reality. It makes all sense, only the rosette does not.
    But there is a historical reference. Although the church has separated from this vision, it is still represented in some peoples today.
    I myself am anything but religious, but have the guess that it could have something to do with it.
    What happens after death.
    Resurrection, sojourn, rebirth. etc.
    Stations that a soul must go through to their …. (whatever).
    eg. Egypt. Check your heart on the scale with a spring to test the purity of the affected person.

    In this way I can imagine the importance of Rossete.
    (To be regarded as an example)

  138. Mark Knowles on June 22, 2017 at 10:36 am said:

    Peter: As I think I have written before I don’t believe the Middle is part of the map. I sometimes wonder if I should call it a “map” or whether a better name would be a “journey”.

  139. Mark Knowles on June 22, 2017 at 10:39 am said:

    Peter: If it is a “map”/”journey” then I think there is a strong argument that it is the most important part of the manuscript for practical purposes. This is, because if one can identify the geographic region it covers then this can tell us a lot of important information about the manuscript.

  140. Mark Knowles on June 22, 2017 at 10:43 am said:

    Peter: Also since I first looked at this page I believed it was highly likely that the precise location that the author came from was drawn on the map. I also wondered if one could determine who the author was on the basis of the precise location they came from.

    Obviously determining the author whilst not the same as translating the manuscript is a very important achievement.

  141. Peter on June 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm said:

    The term “card” is certainly wrong and confusing.
    In your case would be more likely “The history of a journey” or in this way.

    For me it is certainly no map, and it will never be one.

  142. Mark Knowles on June 22, 2017 at 6:56 pm said:

    Peter: Without getting bogged down in semantics I think it could be called a “map of a journey”. I believe there are broadly speaking general bearings defined which are features of a “map”, so obviously the word we use is not important, but what our interpretation is important. However I think the word “map” does capture the general description of my interpretation even though I don’t believe the Central Rosette is part of the “map”.

  143. Mark Knowles on June 23, 2017 at 8:10 am said:

    Fantasy Maps:

    I can say that if the Voynich was dated to for example the 21st Century I would say it is almost certainly a fantasy map. Why? Because it doesn’t look like a 21st Century map and the creating of fantasy maps of fantasy lands is a normal thing in modern fantasy fiction such as Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Game of Thrones.

    However as the Voynich is dated to the 15th Century I think it is almost certainly a real map. Why? Because it much more closely resembles a map of the 15th Century and the creating of fantasy maps appears to be from my research something which wasn’t done at that time though there were sometimes elements to these map which were fantastical though the author’s believed them to be real.

    Rene Zandbergen mentions Pilgrim’s Progress published in 1678. However this dates from a much later period than the Voynich. And at that time the idea of fantasy lands and fantasy fiction was emerging. For example Gulliver’s Travels was published in 1726 think one can argue was an early fantasy novel.

  144. Mark Knowles on June 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm said:

    Other Geographic Markers:

    I have already mentioned Swallow-Tailed battlements and the Bell Tower with arcaded cornices, but are there other geographic regional identifiers?

    Well looking at the causeway between the Top Centre rosette and the Top Left rosette one thing that strikes be is what appears to be a Germanic style city gate, the building with the blue smudge on it. This needs to be investigated as to whether there is any case for using it as a geographical marker.

    Another conceivable geographical marker on this causeway is the tower with the very steep and tall steeple. These seem to be a Germanic feature, but whether this drawing is specific enough to be of any use as a marker is questionable.

    As far as the building on the causeway between Centre Right Rosette and the Top Right Rosette one might think this would be useful as a marker, however this kind of design appears to be very widespread. Despite this, even if it is quite a broad one we might be able to narrow down the area in which this design is found or at least determine areas where it is not found.

    Exploring these design geographical identifiers is potentially an arduous task nevertheless it has the possibility of being of great value.

  145. Mark Knowles on June 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm said:

    Whilst my analysis concurs with that of Nick’s in identifying the Top Right rosette as Milan, systematically looking at Northern Italian towns and cities and comparing their design with that of the Rosette would be a useful exercise.

    Another contentious, but I think reasonable question is the extent to which the Bottom Left Rosette is a geographic identifier. The way water is drawn on the page appears to be by using blue and white wavy lines whether this represents rivers, lakes or sea is to be determined. Land appears to presented as areas which are not illustrated. In this rosette there are areas bounded by land, but containing water. These areas I would have thought can only be identified as representing enclosed seas, like the Caspian sea, or lakes.

  146. Mark Knowles on June 23, 2017 at 5:59 pm said:

    Having reviewed the buildings I fear to my disappointment that the city gate is not sufficiently detailed to act as geographical marker, part of the problem being the extent of the blue smudge.

    I still think that the Bell Tower can serve as a reasonable geographic marker.

    If I had one complaint it would be that the author would have been much more helpful if he had drawn some of the buildings in more detail. However I don’t think he had in mind the concerns of someone 600 years hence.

  147. Mark Knowles on June 24, 2017 at 10:47 am said:

    Concerns with my Voynich analysis->

    I would suspect that the differences between reality and the drawings in the Voynich can be explained due to author inaccuracy, artistic decisions and also how the locations looked at the time compared with now.

    Certosa di Pavia: – Causeway between Top Right and Centre Right Rosette

    There are ways in which the drawing does not represent the current building; these being that the side towers are much narrower than in the drawing and the Central tower does not look the same. In fact there are multiple side towers.

    Milan Castle: – Top Right Rosette

    Whether you identify this as Portia Giova as I do or Sforza Castle as Nick Pelling does there remains the question of how one explains what appear to be steep cliffs either side of the Castle leading to the adjacent causeway. Whilst the Castle may have had steep sides leading to a moat these hardly justify what we see in the drawing.

    Geneva: – Centre Left Rosette

    The rose window in Geneva cathedral has significantly fewer panes than in the drawing.

    The Lakes:- Bottom Left Rosette

    There are many questions about my identifications of specific lakes and how they appear in the drawing; to use Nick Pelling’s term they have to be somewhat “scrambled” to get those identifications. (This does not necessarily mean they are wrong merely that there is not a very neat fit.)

    The Pope – Central Rosette

    Some of what I identify as ciboria have wider necks than what would normally expect from ciboria. The Pope’s tiara is composed of 3 crowns, but by my analysis there are only 2 drawn.

    More To Come…

  148. Mark Knowles on June 28, 2017 at 1:48 pm said:

    Nick: Don’t worry if you don’t have time to answer this, but I wanted to mention it.

    If this page represents architect’s plans one has to ask what all parts of it represent as much of it does not represent buildings. For example, how does the bottom left rosette illustrate architect’s plans unless this is somekind of landscape gardening? Whilst some of that page could theoretically fit within that framework much of the page seems to be pretty inconsistent with it.

  149. Mark: what I speculated in 2006 was that the page was an encrypted (or at least obfuscated) record of Averlino’s architectural works. I don’t believe every detail on the nine-rosette page is meaningful, because there is clear evidence of at least two phases of construction.

  150. Mark Knowles on June 29, 2017 at 5:57 pm said:

    Nick: I am intrigued when you say “two phases of construction”, can you elaborate?

  151. Mark: the 2+ phases of construction in the nine-rosette page is something I’ve talked about for years, but I don’t recall blogging about it. I’ll try to put that right before long…

  152. Mark Knowles on June 29, 2017 at 7:10 pm said:

    Nick: Clearly the overall design was decided at the start. That being 9 circles with the outer circles connected by sections which herefore I will use the term “causeway” to denote. Clearly a distinction was decided upon between the 4 side circles and the 4 corner circles in their design representation which I assume was made at the start.

    Within my framework I would argue that it seems most likely that the centre circle was completed first. Also I believe the 2 suns and the “compass” were added at the start.

    In almost all cases the “causeways” are bounded by water; I interpret the wavy lines as representing water. It should be noted that part of the Causeway between the Top Left and Top Centre Rosette is not bounded by water on the Upper side. I am unsure whether the author anticipated that design in advance.

    It is my interpretation that the details of the page were filled in over a period of time starting in the Bottom Right circle and moving in a Counter-Clockwise fashion over time from Circles to Causeways and Causeways to Circles.

    I believe the author had some very rough idea in advance as to what the completed page would look like before he started filling in the details.

    However I would really love to read your thoughts on the “construction”, if I have understood what you are referring to.

  153. Mark Knowles on June 29, 2017 at 7:25 pm said:

    Nick: I would expect that having rays emanating from the 4 side circles to the centre circle or vice versa was decided in advance, but drawn as the details were completed as the Top Centre circle has a different illustration of rays.

    I think it worth noting that the 4 side circles follow an overall spiral design, but the Centre Right circle does not. I would argue this design style choice came about after the completion of the Centre Right circle. Having a drawing in the middle of each spiral side circle was a similar design choice.

    In terms of the key, how different aspects are illustrated like water or cliffs, I would think it was probably again decided upon as the details were filled in, though I am sure the author had a good idea in advance as to how he would illustrate the different features.

  154. Mark Knowles on June 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm said:

    Nick: With my “map of a journey” interpretation I anticipate that the author had decided the destination would be illustrated by the Top Left circle at the beginning and that the start of the journey would be the Bottom Right circle.

    I would expect this page to have been completed over a period of months, which is roughly how long I imagine the journey would have taken.

  155. Mark Knowles on June 29, 2017 at 7:50 pm said:

    Nick: It is worth noting that I was unhappy in the past with the identification of Pavia as the bearings relative to Milan didn’t fit well with the overall bearings of the map. Now I believe Milan is off bearings not Pavia.

    The initial part of the map from the Bottom Right circle to the Top Left circle seems to be quite organised and detailed. The final part seems less detailed and somewhat disorganized relative to the bearings and the overall layout of my idea of the route in question. I think this is, because at the end the author was stuck with fitting the route to the design not producing a design to fit a route. I think also the author may have been somewhat less motivated than prior.

  156. Mark Knowles on June 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm said:

    Nick: I interpret the 4 corner circles and all the causeways as more directly illustrating the features of the map. The 4 side circles I interpret as having drawings associated with a specific location on the “map” rather than being directly part of the map or maps in their own right.

  157. Mark Knowles on June 30, 2017 at 2:14 pm said:

    Nick: Though I should add that I believe the Top Centre and Bottom Centre and probably Centre Left rosette all have a specific buildings/geographical feature drawn in their centre.

  158. Mark Knowles on June 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm said:

    Nick: As far as I am concerned it seems hard to determine how much of the design of this page was decided upon at the start and how much of the design immerged as the page was filled in i.e. how much planning and how much improvisation there was. Clearly if it was “a map of a journey” then the author would certainly have had at least a rough idea of the route the journey would take.

  159. Mark Knowles on June 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm said:


    I have some questions for you:

    I assume the author would have used some kind of “pair of compasses” to draw the circles and given that there are circles within circles there must have been quite a few to draw. Do you think that is correct?

    I guess now someone would use a pencil to draw the initial outlines before reaching for the paints. Did the author do something similar in this case?

    I haven’t checked how accurately everything is laid out, but this should give one an idea of how much it was planned out in advance.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  160. Mark Knowles on June 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm said:

    Nick: Another question:

    Would the author have used a tool like a ruler to ensure some lines are straight and to measure distances?

  161. Mark Knowles on July 1, 2017 at 10:52 am said:

    Having looked at the Sforza-Visconti Tarot cards to see if I could identify similarities between the drawings of people in the Voynich in terms of their clothing style I spotted some drawings of chalices. I thought them interesting as they have the same wide bodies with a narrow drinking opening in the top that one sees in the “ciboria” in the Central Rosette.

    I would say that some of the drawings on the Astronomical pages show naked men as well as naked women.

    Identifying a localised geographical area based on the clothing of many of the individuals looks as if it would be quite hard.

  162. Mark Knowles on July 1, 2017 at 1:44 pm said:

    Nick: Is there somewhere in your comments or elsewhere I should look for your writing about “the 2+ phases of construction in the nine-rosette page”?

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

  163. Mark: I’m writing a post on this at the moment, but the scope is a bit wider than I at first thought. :-/

  164. Mark Knowles on July 1, 2017 at 4:34 pm said:

    Nick: Wonderful thanks Nick! I just received an email on the subject from Diane, your sparring partner, but I imagine you have a different perspective.

  165. Peter on July 2, 2017 at 5:53 am said:

    Yes, there are also men in the star sign. Naked and in clothes.
    This is one of the reasons why I think this is about plants.
    Another reason is that it only starts in March.
    The months January and February are missing. In the plant world this is rather the quiet months. Snow, less sun, cold.

    About page 74 I’m therefore not sure. It is said that this page is missing.
    From the view of the plants it is not necessary (dead month).
    In January and February, the binding technology of the book leaves no side.

    @ Rene
    You have been impressed with the binding of the book. Is the page 74 only cut or missing?
    In my opinion there have been no grounds for page 74.

  166. Mark Knowles on September 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm said:

    Nick: Did you make any progress on “the 2+ phases of construction in the nine-rosette page”?

    Don’t worry if your work is not complete, any work you have done would be of interest. I have my own ideas about the process of construction of this page, but I would welcome a challenge to them.

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