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! 🙂

106 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:
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/theres-no-place-like-utopia/
    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): http://www.santa-coloma.net/voynich_drebbel/new_atlantis/rosettes_labels.jpg 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
    http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200504/the.leek-green.sea.htm

    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.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1977QJRAS..18..340S

    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.

    Congrats.

  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.

    See:
    http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMINBig.ASP?size=big&IllID=45873

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

    read
    … 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. http://figshare.com/articles/VM408_folio86v_The_Rosette_Map_Elements_of_a_mappa_mundi_and_a_map_of_the_Elements/903756 ]

  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:

    Diane
    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:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1282401

  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: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015025028716;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).

    http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1368746

    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:

    Juergen,
    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:
    32minutes.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/book-of-kells-man-lion-bull-eagle.jpg

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

    Juergen:

    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: http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/zbs/SI-0167/55v

    Maybe that is of interest for your research.

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

    Diane,
    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:

    Buildings->

    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 …………………………………

    Rivers->

    Ticino
    Po
    Sesia
    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:

    Bearings:

    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:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0OpwH1PR2E

  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:

    Rivers:

    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?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bpe4ftj-6c

    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.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tri2OW1WqXg

  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

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/voynich.yahoogroups/

  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:

    @Nick
    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.

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