Hillary Raimo has something big to smile about: a few weeks ago she got to spend some time with the Voynich Manuscript (assuming those Beinecke curators didn’t cheekily swap it for Klaus Schmeh’s prop version), taking 600 photos in preparation for writing an article to be published in a French magazine in 2014:-


She has also been adding Voynich-related articles to her blog The Yin Factor, including a new one that explains her idea of how the Voynich Manuscript is tied in with the Dogon tribe’s ‘Nommo’ gods. In case you don’t know, the Nommo are hermaphrodite amphibians from the binary star Sirius, giving them “the best of both worlds” in just about every permutation of the phrase.

She starts her piece with a long quote from Jason King’s “The Cannabible III” (summarizing the whole Dogon / Sirius mythology thing popularized in Robert Temple’s (1976) The Sirius Mystery). However, her view goes much further: that the manuscript “traces the star map of human origins. Through the plants harvested from them.” Essentially, she thinks that naturally occurring DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) in cannabis was brought here from Sirius (along with the human race), and that the Voynich Manuscript is one of the documents that can magnificently reconnect us to the raw ancestral (and interstellar) reality we moderns are so divorced from.

Raimo is also fascinated by the apparent occurrence of the Pleiades in the Voynich Manuscript (on f68r3), a featurette that has already inspired several generations of Voynich theorists (perhaps most notably Robert Teague, P. Han, etc), though this doesn’t seem to be anything to do with Sirius. (Incidentally, the Voynich-Pleiades connection also has a modern fan-base in the form of Wayne Herschel, Michelle L. Hanks, etc.)

Of course, there may be some problems here both with Raimo’s evidence and with her conclusions.

If I were a rich junkie burning my way through an inheritance and I really, really wanted to know where to find a type of cannabis that had a natural lychee and guava aftertaste, The Cannabible series of books is probably the first place I’d go. However, as a source of historical information it seems decidedly unsatisfactory, particularly where it credulously quotes Robert Temple’s work on the Dogon tribe.

Moreover, my own opinion on Temple’s book on the Dogon is that it is an historical crock, based as it is upon Marcel Griaule’s ethnologically crocked research. And if you want a good summary of why that was crocked, I suggest you read Michael Heiser’s long-ish 2011 web-page on the subject.

Do I therefore think that there is the remotest possibility that there is a star map of the Nommo-esque origins of the human race / cannabis hidden in the Voynich Manuscript? Errrm… no, not really, sorry. But please feel free to form your own opinion.

108 thoughts on “A Sirius Voynich Theory, I’ll be Dogon!

  1. bdid1dr on December 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm said:

    Oh meingot! Are you sure she’s not referring to the “Pleiades”?

  2. bdid1dr on December 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm said:


  3. Ms. Raimo experiences a moment of gut-instinct, dignifies it by calling it (even grander than an hypothesis) a theory. So far, so typical of the Voynichero’s question-begging habits.

    Ms. Raimo then reads things about her ‘theory’ (not about the ms or medieval times), which she expounds and promotes through a commercial outlet, using the manuscript’s imagery as clip-art to illustrate her views, while failing ever to treat those images thoroughly or in context, and neither asking or answering a single item of contradictory evidence present in the primary- or in secondary sources.

    Sounds perfectly typical ‘Voynichero’ method to me – positively orthodox – the model which Wilfrid established for this field 🙂 in 1912.

    No wonder most of the cryptologists dismiiss the historical arguments and discussions of the imagery as neaar-equally worthless while succumbing to the seductive argument of ‘commonsense’ solutions.

  4. michelle smith on December 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm said:

    Oh flipping heck, that makes my theory that it is a fake written by Wilfred in Latin abbreviations a bit boring..And she’ younger and prettier.

  5. Michelle: personally, I find lack of obvious rationality more of a deal-breaker than anything else. 😉

  6. Nick, are you aware that Boenicke now has a blogspot for the Voynich manuscript (408)?

  7. bdid1dr: I’d be somewhat surprised if there was an official Beinecke Voynich blog, but I’ve been surprised before and doubtless I’ll be surprised many times again. What is its address?

  8. What is Hillary smoking?

  9. Nick, I just tried to find the link to Boenicke’s “blog/discussion” page: no go. I think it was in relation to Reed Johnson’s paper/book/magazine article you recently reviewed. Ennyway, I was leery because of the possibility of various “post-ers” being able to backtrack on the conversations (besides my very elderly computer’s slo-o-w webspeed).
    Ellie, in re what our latest “dog-on”-ed contributor might have been smoking: Maybe she was drinking a particularly potent beverage (mandragore FRUIT juice — which needs to be seriously diluted b4 drinking it).

  10. bdid1dr on December 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm said:

    Recipe for mandragore fruit juice can be found in Boenicke manuscript 408 folio 83v. Hint: those strange oversized and “strung-out” globes are the fruit. The fruit was edible in tiny quantity — and the juice had to be diluted considerably, if one were to avoid the “witch doctor”s inducement of hallucinations, paranoia, and temporary paralysis. It was used mostly for the enslavement of women.

  11. bdid1dr on December 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm said:

    This morning I visited the website for Montpellier University, where I found a brief history with references to Galen, Nostradamus, Rabelais. Other ref’s are to its School of Theology (independent of the convents). There is some mention of 16th century lecturers William of Nogaret (chancellor to Philip IV, Guillaume de Grimoard, afterwards Pope Urban V, and Pedro de Luna, aterwards anti-pope Benedict XIII.
    So, I wonder where some/all of the “lecturers notes” and manuscripts ended up after the 30-year’s war, and the 100-years war. 🙂

  12. bdid1dr on December 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm said:

    Smiley’s & all, Nick, I take you Siri-ous-ly! Really!

  13. thomas spande on December 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm said:

    Dear all, Hillary might at least have a handle on something I think I spot in the VM and that is “Yin/Yang symbology”. Except for one problem: she sees only the Yin part “the eternally feminine” etc., probably distracted by all those bathers! I think by Hillary’s accepting Yin philosopy from the VM, she is half the way to a proper understanding of at least one slightly goofy element of the VM. Maybe the rest will occur to her or maybe that is just as far as she is able or cares to go? Cheers, Tom

  14. bdid1dr on December 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm said:

    ThomS and friends, when did Europeans first start using the “yin/yang” symbol in their writings? As far as I can recall (feeble-minded or not) the “yin-yang” is of Chinese origin. So, I 1-dr about the context of this symbol within the pages of B-408. Something else I’ve read recently is that Marco was not the only Polo to venture into “new territory”, so to speak.

  15. thomas spande on December 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm said:

    Dear all (paticularly b), Yin Yang was from Chinese philosopy (I Ching) and got into even whether it was better to have your house on the North or South side of a river. The S. Korean flag has all you need to know for a rough into to the philosopy. A broken line was yin, a closed line yang so three stacked lines were max yang, 3 stacked dashed lines max yin with variations of broken and unbroken lines meaning masculine with some feminine or feminine with some masculine. A numbering system used four symbols. There was always a bit of one in the other. Saw a wall graffito recently from Yemen with a black drone on the white (day) yang and some white arabic on the yin (black=night) symbol. I suspect the arabic translation is not suitable for family reading! Yin/Yang is all over southeast Asia and somewhat in the middle east. Alchemists (particularly in Europe) loved the idea and male/female natures preoccupied them when they could have been doing useful stuff like discovering phosphorous. Cheers, Tom

    ps. I did see the Armenians used the idea but that link disappeared and now all one gets googling “Armenia and Yin/Yang” are dating services. Missed the train on that one!

  16. Dear Thomas
    When I looked into the Armenian possibility a few years ago there was one character who seemed especially interesting: Ananias of Sirak.

    I’ve thought of this again when I turned up my copy of a paper written by Robert H. Hewsen.

    It’s entitled ‘Science in Seventh-Century Armenia: Ananias of Sirak”. When I added full details, the sp*mfilter refused to accept my post, so I can only say it was published in Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society.

  17. bdid1dr on December 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm said:

    The smoke of mandragore root was used to anesthetize soldiers, on the battlefield, while performing amputations. Perhaps the young woman smoked a pipeful of that before writing her book? ;-^ Me with tongue in cheek.

  18. thomas spande on December 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm said:

    Diane, Thanks for the lead. The filter has blocked me also from some posts. Now, thanks to the high res images provided by Job’s pdfs, I can make out more on the rosettes page. On his quire “10-end”, rosettes section, there is a circle in the extreme upper right hand corner that is “bisected”, then the bottom semicircle bisected again. Thanks to a ms “The Fall of Man” in the Catalog of Illuminated MS of the Br Mus., Harley, roll 9,membrane 1, we find the same icon. It is related to Christian iconography (see under Wiki, “Icona Derzhavnaya” for a modified “globus cruciger” that has The Madonna placing her hand on an inverted cross (inverted to viewer but not Madonna and Christ child, where it would appear to be a cross-like “T”. Well the “Fall of Man” defines the three zones made by the two lines of the circle. The unbisected semi at the top is Asia, the lower left is Europe and the lower right is Africa. Well there is “Voynichese” on the VM rosette’s trisected circle and the lower left is seen to be “o-‘gallows for p’-cco” that would be (by my decript “opeo”. The “p” gallows has a concealed macron where the central cross member extends left and I think conceals a “Eur” (that could be a reach! hope so) making the word “Europeo”. The river-like emination that leads to what I think is the breakwater at Chios stems from the “Europe” quadrant. What is really discouraging to me, if this analysis is correct, is that the concealed macron involves 3 letters at least. It also plops one back into maybe a Eurocentric world. If Asia is used as the Romans did, with everything east of the Aegean being “Asia”,then we rule out some of my favorite hunting ground. Asia was originally just a small part of Western Turkey, another restive province of the Roman empire. I have only begun a search for the iconography of the trisected circle (it might represent a globe?) and keep getting into orbish stuff. Maybe you have already been there and know what, if any, name such a trisected circle is called? Some circles close but greater ones seem to emerge. Cheers, Tom

    To b: I’d love to see the cat fight that would result when Hillary is presented with your latest surmises. More than a single pipe would be my guess!

  19. thomas spande on December 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm said:

    Dear all, On “The Fall of Man”. That is from a ms roll in the British Library, not the B. Museum as I first indicated. It is on Harley Roll 9, from 3rd Quarter of 15thC. Look for bl uk and “illuminated manuscripts” and eventually you will get to it.
    Sorry for the earlier error. This site I think has been mined by Diane as Sloane is one of the search terms.Cheers, Tom

  20. Thomas, the classical Romans knew China – received and sent an embassy – and ships left Ostia for India. An ivory in Gandharan style was recovered from Pompeii and we have a much-quoted rant by a Roman orator about the amount of money which citizens expended on silk and ‘spices” – the latter mostly for incense and perfume. So the classical Roman”s ‘orient’ was certainly more than a small part of Asia minor.

    Against the reading of that trisected circle as a T-O diagram in folio 86v is the disposition of that folio itself into four and not three parts for the world it represents. Folio 57v might also refer to the post-diluvian division of the world: the Latins described it as a division into three, but even in the Mediterranean, Abraham Cresques’ worldmap in 1375 refers to north Africa as repopulated by Noah who planted there the vine. This implies a quadripartite division of the world, something which was traditional in Asia too but alien to the Latin Christian world of the time, where a metaphorical division between four seasons or evangelists was ok, but not a geographical division into four continents inhabited by four Noachian ‘tribes’; if we find both ideas in ms Beinecke 408 then I think it’s reasonable to posit that the work is not the expression of a single homogenous culture or tradition.

  21. bdid1dr on December 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm said:

    Oh ThomS, Diane, if only ‘someone’ could approach the young woman from the French point of view. Perhaps she would have access to the enormous manuscript archive at Montpellier? As far as I was able to understand, only tours to the Museum are available. ThomS, would your daughter have contacts with other European museums?
    Its Christmas Eve here. May the Season be benevolent for us all, including partridges, pear tree,…..five golden rings…..swans swimming………..

  22. thomas spande on December 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm said:

    Diane, I did not mean to imply that Asia at the time of the early Romans (e.g. Julius Caesar) was anything small and inconsequential. Asia, the province named by the Romans was small since the Persians controlled much of Turkey to the east. I do not know how the term “Asia” came to represent half the world in that trisected circle. The famous Julian conquest (veni,vedi,vinci) referred to a battle against a minor Persian prince at Amasia in north Central Turkey.

    What interested me was that the icon that appears uppermost right on the rosettes page might provide a possible clue to decrypting the VM. If the lower left quadrant is really Europe, this is a very discouraging development and if my assumption is correct that the “p” like gallows glyph (that I think is actually a Latin “p”) has the extender to the left as an overbar, then it likely conceals not one glyph (as I previously assumed) but, in this case, three glyphs “Eur”. This is taking Tironian notation to a new level of complexity.The worst case scenario is that there is nearly as much left out of the VM as what appears.

    I like your idea that the T-O icon may not necessarily be from Christian iconography. It would seem odd, I think in retrospect, to find maybe the single such icon practically buried in an obscure spot on a vellum fold out page that some opine was actually not part of the original VM..

    For b: The hard working Hillary has relocated the manuscript find of Voynich to a French villa! Is she harking back to Napoleonic times when France did control much of Italy?This would have been very inconvenient for Pope Gregory 13. I am really surprised that the Yale Beinecke library would let her rest her little hands on pages of the VM sans gloves! Equally surprising is that she shoots 600 digital shots of the VM. That is several shots per page. She was moving right along as 3 hrs of driving time and the photo shoot are all done in one exciting day. I think her take on the VM is cast in concrete and advice from anyone to consult any other library would fall on deaf ears.

    Best wishes of the season to all Voynichers and in the immortal words of Tiny Tim: “May [the] God [of your choice] bless us, everyone” Cheers, Tom

  23. thomas spande on December 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm said:

    Diane, I was able to download the paper by Hewsen. The Armenians are not shy about claiming nearly everything of importance but since this seems to have a non Armenian author, I pay it more respect. At bare minimum, at least one Armenian scientist recognized; 1) the moon only reflects light of the sun; it is not a light source itself. 2) the moon is smaller than the earth as observed with a solar eclipse (the Greeks knew this too and had calculated the exact circumference of the earth from experiments in Egypt. 3) here is the big one: the sun is at the center of our “universe”,not the earth. Ananias was also a good churchman and had devised a perpetual calendar for calculating moveable feast days of the church and setting up the Armenian calendar (year 1 for them is 552 years Julian). Why did not the inquisition seek him out? Probably because 1) the inquisition had yet to be created and likely few knew Armenian anyway. So Copernicus and Galileo rediscover the wheel? Looks like it.

    One of the nymphs in the bathing section (not splashing about but standing in the left margin) holds a key bit of Armenian iconography and that is two circles, one large- one small, fused together. This represented to Armenians, the orbits of the earth and the moon. Still searching for yin/yang and Armenians as Ananias didn’t go there so far as I could tell. He also wrote a book on geography, that I will have to try and seek outfor more details. He considered that the world could be subdivided into three parts: Europe, Libya (go figure!) and Asia (Armenia,the Caucases, Persia). Ananias (Anania Shiraksatsi; b.610 in Ararat province of Armenia) did seek out the best teachers available to him in the 7thC (some Greek, some Armenian) but found he knew more than one famous Greek teacher. Cheers, Tom

  24. Thomas,

    I’m not sure what you might mean by the ‘lower left quadrant’ on folio 86v. Not everyone uses the Beinecke foliation and the variations can cause misunderstanding.

    The lower left of the folio includes the thing which looks a bit clock-like, but which is a very old and plentifully-attested symbol for ‘south’- as I’ve shown.

    The larger roundel in that ‘South’ quadrant represents the ‘south’ known to the makers of this map, and as both logic and other maps of the time demonstrate, this irregular, jagged coastline is meant for the Great Sea (east of the Persian Gulf).

    So if that’s the bit you mean, it’s not Europe.

    On the other hand, if you mean the opposite marker – the North sign – I might grudging admit that it might – just might – derive from the notion of the ”Little Paradise” – earth/Armenia as reflection of the heavenly paradise and a world of its own – but I would argue against any effort to call that figure a T-O map.

    Sorry to fuss, but my pointing out that circles with tripartite division are not exclusive to Christian iconography wasn’t *an idea*, but another of those simple facts which Voynicheros constantly suppose debateable because plucked from the air as so many Voynich notions are.
    When I treated that emblem, the illustrations I used showed it from southern Spain to the Kushan/Gandharan region, all pre- or non-Christian uses of the image, consistently referring to the eternal table and its plenty.

    Once upon a time I used to add a bibliography to my posts but was told that people didn’t wish ‘to be set homework’.

    Happy day – Ho-ho-ho.

  25. I’m wondering if the young woman who is writing this “Sirius” book really deserves this much of our “serious” consideration. Especially vexing to me is that probably much of our efforts and argumentation, herein, is being glossed over and even being ridiculed. I’m heading back to Boenicke, after the holidays, to get a magnified look at the “bathing” folios.
    I want to compare B-408’s bathing drawings with mss “Three Women Take a Bath at Home”, Drawing 1390-1400, from Tacuinum sanitatis. Liege Biblioteque generale MS 1041 fol 76. By permission of the British Library. Quite faded but shows three women bathing each other (similar to the nymphs in Nizami’s manuscript to which I’ve referrd on other of Nick’s pages)

  26. bdid1dr: she’s doing her thing, you’re doing yours, and that’s ok.

  27. I seem to recall my earlier posts in re Tramontane having something to do with that obscure symbol. I don’t remember if it was used only by seafarer’s or if it could refer to hiking as well. Fr. Kircher shows/labels a similar symbol on his publication of the Alban Lakes and Alba Longa.
    Just paused to take a quick look at Fr. Kircher’s “compass”; his is the usual 4-directions cross: levante, ostra, ponente, tramontane.
    ciao! 🙂

  28. Nick
    Your live-and-let-live philosophy is surely the secret of your blog’s remarkable success. My very warm wishes to you for Christmas and New Year.

    Lest others misinterpret – I regard intellectual differences with Nick about a certain fifteenth century manuscript as on par with opposite sides taken in a game of chess, or the formal opposition of legal chaps while in court.

    bd1d – I think it was Hinkley Allen who recorded the saying that someone who had lost is bearings (metaphorically or actually) had ‘lost his Tramontane’. Very wittily alluded to in some early Renaissance images of the dance, too.

  29. bdid1dr on December 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm said:

    Just a little more ‘sirius’ discussion, speaking siriusly, that manuscript on the table in front of that young woman is not B-408. B-408 has a dark honey-brown leather binding/cover, which can be seen on the scroll-through search “slide-show”. Unless, perhaps, Boenicke has parted the covers from the book?

  30. Oh and by the way, hemp was brought deliberately into the western Mediterranean, not from Sirius, but from northern India to which it is native. By the time of Herodotus (if memory serves) it was being made into linen finer than flax linen by some Scythian tribes, though there was a technical trick to it which made it their specialty. The plant appears to have been deliberately sown along the high roads from India westwards to the plains of southern Russia, then brought in pre-Roman times – most likely from the shores of the Black Sea – to north Africa and Spain, where it was known by Roman times, though in Tertullian’s time the origin of the Latin word for hempen cloth was still remembered as of Spanish-Phoenician origin.

    Later – in medieval times, we think – it was planted near some sea-ports of the Italian peninsula, first to serve maritime needs – because it is unusually resistant to the effects of salt water and wind – and then for paper-making.

    Not quite sure how the Dogon would fit into that scheme of things, or men from the star alpha Canis major, but there you go.

  31. bdid1dr on December 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm said:

    Father Kircher, identified the bi/tri-sected circles as being the conical roof-tops of “Ferentine”, “Ferentum”. The closest Latin definition I could find was “of iron”, “iron-clad”– my “take” is that the structures were blacksmith/ironworker/weaponry sheds/storage areas.

  32. bdid1dr on December 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm said:

    But who knows, there are lots of interpretations which could be applied to those structures. I’ll be doing my usual “look-ups”. Vellitrae seems to have had several cylindrical structures with conical roof-tops also.

  33. bdid1dr on December 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm said:

    Uses for hemp fiber vs flax fiber for making thread for weaving end products: hemp clothing was for the “common people”. Linen and silk were for the upper classes. Hemp would have been for ships sails and “sheets” (ropes). Hemp garments would have been slightly itchy to wear when newly made and worn soon after its making. Hemp shirts soften more readily than do linen, partly because they were worn by laborers who often carried large and heavy burdens, and sweat and body oils would have contributed to the softening process.
    Here, in the US, we have another botanical which has gotten really confused with “cannabis sativum”. Apocynum cannabinum is dogbane (“Indian hemp” dogbane is mistakenly referred to as the fiber of choice for our “Indian” Native American basket weavers). Apocynum androsaemifolium is the preferred dogbane plant for making cord. The reason for the preference for “androsaemifolium” is because of the way the paired leaf stems allow for a continous length of peeled fiber from the blossom tips all the way down the main stem to the roots. I won’t impose on Nick’s patience with a description of how they and I make cordage from that strip of fiber — or why.

  34. bdid1dr
    re hemp fibre – Herodotus speaks of Scythians’hempen linen as finer than flax fibre and in Michael Best’s recent revision of Gervase Markham’s “English Housewife…” (p.160) the trade-secret is given. Here again the description says the result is equal to the finest linen. A few years ago, there was a bit of a fad for ramie fabrics and these too can resemble linen.

  35. thomas spande on December 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm said:

    Diane, Sorry for the delay but vacationing a bit here in the US of A. The trisected circle I refer to is a very tiny thing uppermost on the extreme upper right of the rosettes page. It has only Voynichese within the lines, no other mappish things. If a small circle be bisected and then the resulting lower semicircle be bisected, it is the lower left quadrant of that figure I am referring to. It is very easy to miss it as I had until I began using Job’s improved pdfs. It is not a rondel. If it does represent a map, it is the entire globe in a very sketched out version that was used as the orb is some Christian iconography. It does seem to have an arrow head on the perpendicular line bisecting the lower semi circle. Use 10-en.pdf to see it. I agree that the circle to the extreme LOWER left of the rosettes is L and likely stands for Levant and likely could be “south”. I think you are correct in that the tiny trisected circle despite it showing up in “The Fall of Man” Harley 1, membrane 9,and thus appearing in a Christian-based text does not indicate it has to be Christian at all. Happy new Year down there in Oz. Cheers, Tom

  36. thomas spande on December 30, 2013 at 9:47 pm said:

    To b. I am very surprised that Kircher gets into that T-O image (Diane used that to refer to the trisected circle and it is consise so let’s go with it). So far as I can tell, it appears just the one time, in the extreme upper right hand corner of the “rosettes” page.It is really very small. I am wondering what the good frater has been smoking or more likely drinking to surmise that these are iron roofs of metal workers. Or was it a “compass rose”? You seem to indicate both if I understand your posts correctly? Cheers, Tom

  37. I seem to be drifting off-subject (lost my tramontane, Diane?) Please forgive me. However, while perusing the “The Mute Stones Speak” (McKendrick) I read of a discovery, in 1957, of a cave/Villa of Tiberius which had been made over into a nyphaeum or vivarium. Further reference is to the historian Tacitus.
    Other discussion in McKendrick’s book relates the Oscan mason’s marks found on tiles in the basilica of Pompeii’s forum. Also mention of lead water pipes and at least three public baths (with radiant heating).
    Page 336 of this book briefly mentions a “market hall at Ferentino, on the Via Latina 75 miles south-east of Rome. (Fr. Kircher’s identification of “Ferentium” — ?
    I’m not certain if the Alba Longa completely encircled the Alban Lake, or if it allowed access to Lake Nemi (Diana’s Mirror).

  38. thomas spande on December 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm said:

    Dear all, On that Latin “L” that Diane has referred to in the lower left of the rosettes. I was likely wrong in referring to it as Levant(e) as that would have been East in the medieval compass rose of Italy. It is more likely from its orientation on the rosettes page to have been SW (Libeccio,Italian; Lips(Greek)) or SSW (Libonatus (Latin) or Libonotus (Greek). The compass points were originally wind directions. I think Diane was totally correct that the direction indicated is “South-ish”. True South in Italian would have been “Ostro”. To B; I found MacKendrick’s book as a google book and could examine the text on pp 197-199 and the 6.10 figure but the resolution was poor and I could not make out any Scorpio zodiac symbol on the shield of Tiberius,although the text does mention one but with no details as to legs, etc. Cheers, Tom.

  39. Dear All,
    Just to clarify – the motif for ‘South’ on folio 86v (Beinecke numbering) is formed of three small circles joined to form a right-angle. I do not see it as the letter ‘L’ myself but as a convention of the older world, by which that direction was marked by three stars in this formation.

    I think that folio’s internal evidence shows its basis was contemporary with the classical world, but effects of precession among other things means the three intended can’t be exactly identified. Some southern triangles are mentioned in a post I wrote for voynichimagery, ‘fol.86v Emblems of direction: South and East’.

    What I’m trying to make clear is that if, in the end, the symbol proves to be a version of the Latin letter ”L” I’m not the person to cite in a footnote!

  40. Thomas – I do not consider the emblem for north a ‘T-O’ map; quite the opposite.
    My own view – with reasons for it, comparative imagery and contextualisation – given in posts on voynichimagery.

    That dated 26/07/2012 treats briefly all four of the direction-markers on that folio.

  41. bdid1dr on January 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm said:

    ThomS & Diane,
    Take a closer look at the sun symbols in upper left-most corner and bottom-most right corner of the folio, which central roundel is the Alban Lake. From them, one should be able to ‘orient’ oneself without the use of a map or compass. It does require one to determine which sun is rising and which sun is setting. Also helpful is locating Lake Nemi and Campus Hannabilis. In past posts I’ve also referred to Valscorum Regni Pars.
    Paul MacKendrick, “The Mute Stones Speak”, refers to the market hall (at Ferentino) on the Via Latina, 75 miles southeast of Rome. Other mention is the possibility of “the dole” being distributed from there.
    Diane, do I recall correctly that “the dole” was grain/wheat?

  42. bdid1dr on January 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm said:

    ThomS, yes the “scorpio” portrayed on that tiny shield was so small as to be overlooked by current readers of that book. I only mentioned it, here, as a side note to the various discussions in re the very confused illustrations of the Zodiac portrayals for “Scorpio”. The illustration I mentioned not too long ago on another post (referring to the Book of Hours of the Duchess of Bourgnone) was the best example of the confusion.
    I mentioned on another post that I have been “up close and personal” to a scorpion which was on the wall at my eye level — next to my bookcase where I had been reaching for a book. It was raising its tail stinger when I flattened it with the book.
    On other pages, you, Diane, and I have discussed Ankara and monuments to Augustus (B-408, f. 116v). I had some difficulty making a clear statement as to the origins of the entire manuscript and its appearance in the Jesuit archive in Frascati. I’m sticking to my “supposition” of provenance as being one of some 240 mss which Suleiman gifted/sold to Busbecq. Busbecq served at at least two European courts (Ferdinand of Austria and Rudolph II of Bohemia) and left a menagerie at the second court. He was killed by French soldiers while he was making his way home.
    Nick, did you catch that double ‘at’ in this paragraph?
    Happy New Year!

  43. thomas spande on January 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm said:

    Bd. That “scorpio” on the shield of Tiberius is too tiny for the resolution of my monitor, I will take your word for it.

    To Diane. I did not mean to imply that the T-O circle to represent ANY direction. I was merely interested in 1) the great river eminating from the lower left quadrant that impinges on the upper right rosette and 2) what appears to be Voynichese for “Europe”, i.e. “…opeoe” for that quadrant, where the dots indicate missing letters indicated by the implied macron of the “p” extender to the left. What appears to be an arrow head in the bisector of the lower semicircle might indicate a direction and it might prove to be north but I remain uncertain on that point. The T-O circle is approximately 180 degrees opposed to the encircled “L”that is likely “Libeccio” (Latin) for SW or “Libonatus” (Latin) for SSW although the middle ages mixed compass points and wind directions.So could be either. To reiterate, I have not claimed the T-O circle to represent North either as a wind direction (Tramonte) or compass point. I did not mean to, if I implied that it did. Cheers, Tom

  44. Thomas,
    Yes those emerging rivers interested me, too.
    I’m not sure if my dry writing style would interest you, but among the posts referring to them is one in particular:

    “fol.86v Ways to the east: the river roads” – the revised edition was published there 22/08/2012

    I’d be glad to receive any thoughts and comments that might occur to you.

  45. bdid1dr on January 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, & ThomS, I’m now hie-ing off to visit the site where Suleiman “left his heart”. Not quite the site of where “I left ‘my; heart (in San Francisco), but Suleiman’s last battle (he was in his 70’s). My stack of downloads spilled to the floor this a.m. while I was heading out the door for a cardiac sonogram.
    Interesting parallels? Maybe only my point of view?
    Some twenty years ago, I tried to read Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose”. Page 15 of the paperback issue, Eco describes the “Aedificium” as being an octagonal structure. So this time around I will read the entire book. A tout a l’heure!

  46. It is true that the map of stars was correlated with the earth (vide pyramids, or if you prefer, works of Claudius Ptolemy, or still-practiced techniques of sidereal surveying and navigation).

    It is also true that plants were associated with their diverse native regions by the same medieval geographers and map-makers who correlated astronomical and geographic coordinates.

    So far so demonstrable.

    It is true that there appears to be astronomical information in ms Beinecke 408. Some have claimed to identify the Pleiades and/or Sirius. Most people agree that a hemp plant is among those included in the botanical section.

    Nothing gasp-worthy about those items, either.

    Yet Mz. Raimo’s story-line takes these unremarkable items and so transmogrifies them that it’s only with effort that one remembers that Sirius is a real star, that hemp was chiefly used for rope, textiles and paper, and that the Dogon spent most of their days just as we do: working, eating, conversing and being perfectly normal – hardly thinking about cosmology and the origin of species at all.

  47. bdid1dr on January 10, 2014 at 12:37 am said:

    Diane: You READ her whole book? Siriusly? !!

  48. thomas spande on January 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm said:

    To bd (mainly). In your post of 12-24-13 you mention that Fra. Kircher used the O-T symbol for North (Tramonte). Have you seen it used anywhere else? Maybe it overlaps the “Christian” orb and was used by churchmen or monks? Sort of like writing “IHS” atop every page of a diary or log. I have owned one such thing, a notary’s book from the estate of the Count de Luna, the so-called temporary pope when competing popes existed in France and Italy. Atop every page was “in the name of God, amen” and the book was sold to my late wife as a prayer book of this stubborn temporary pope but my wife was able to decipher the thing as being written in Catalan and just dealing with land disputes (mainly). The paper was early for Spain (1470) and that was enough to sell it and recoup our $700 investment.
    Well, the question would be: Was the T-O circle used primarily by Christians or was that little icon in general use in the medieval period? If that did stand for North (Tramonte) on the “rosettes” page, it would imply that the lower Sun is “rising” (East=Levante) and the upper left sun is “setting” (West=Ponente). Cheers and hope the ticker is OK! Tom

  49. bdid1dr on January 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm said:

    Oh Thomas! I have, many times, referred to Jocelyn Godwin’s booklet “Athanasius Kircher – A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge”. Kircher had two engravings made of the Alban Lake (pages 46 & 47), the town of Frascati, and the Temple of Fortuna (p45), and the mosaic from the Temple of Fortuna, page 48. The mosaic is currently housed in the “Museo Praenestino Barberiniano”.
    Kircher’s two engravings (pp. 46-47) of the Alban Lake and its surroundings have extensive labels applied by Kircher. The engraving of the Alban Lake on p 47 has a circle in the center of the lake which has two lines criss-crossing the circle. top of circle: Levante — bottom of circle: Ponente
    Right side of circle: Ostra From the inside right edge of the circle is an arrow which is drawn completely to the inside of the left edge. Outside the left edge is the label ‘tramontana’
    This is as concise as I can be, considering I have, in the past year or so, referred to this item at least twice before. I think I paid $4.00 for this fabulous reproduction of Kircher’s works. Jocelyn Godwin mentions, in his first paragraph of the section “Latium”, two of Kircher’s English contemporaries: Ashmole and Aubrey

    Godwin didn’t hesitate to comment on Kircher’s “Latium” even though the risk of ridicule was high. (NOT a “hemp” high!)


  50. bdid1dr on January 11, 2014 at 5:29 pm said:

    The apparent fact that Kircher didn’t comment on Lake Nemi is, to me, a “tell”; insofar as that tiny lake was a shrine to the goddess Diana/Artemis (and the surrounding oak forest was Diana’s ‘sacred grove’). He did discuss at length Praeneste and Fortuna. So, you may be able to translate some of the elements of Boenicke’s PHOTOGRAPH “File: Voynich Manuscript (158).jpg”. I have labeled that folio “the nine rosettes” in hopes of resolving some confusion with other “roundel” features of the entire Boenicke MANUSCRIPT number 408. The most obvious water feature is the central “fountain” motif, which is nearly connected to the smaller water motif on the photo’s right-facing-the-viewer: Nemi Lake. I’m heading next to Boenicke to get the actual folio number for this ‘keynote’ folio which I have already translated word for word.

  51. Bdid1dr and all

    We must again thank Nick Pelling for permitting conclusions and observations about the Voynich manuscript to be aired here when those conclusions argue against the dominant idea of a European genesis.

    I am happy to see that, while my name will probably never be mentioned in the acknowledgements, my lengthy re-consideration of the Franciscans, and argument for their having some role in the manuscript’s evolution is finally having its effect.

    I gather it is about to be ‘re-discovered independently’ quite soon, and that this will then permit a subsequent rediscovery of my explanation, provided and illustrated over several years, for that pronounced eastern affect seen in the imagery of some sections – notably the botanical and ‘pharma’ sections, which I’ve related to what we might loosely call the ‘Pepper route’. i

    So all in all, next year looks promising for those working on the script and language(s); you may soon be given the go-ahead to look beyond the last decades’closed, endless loop created by the all- Latin thesis, one which can lead nowhere but to cipherwheels and/or Rugg’s solution.

    So to all,
    Hasta la vista.
    Happy New Year.

  52. bdid1dr on January 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm said:

    Diane: From my point of view, what makes the “Voynich” mysterious is NOT the botanical sections, NOR the “Bathing”, NOR the “astrological”. The mystery is the SCRIPT and LABELS which accompany every illustration/map/sky sign/birth sign.
    So, I am reading Cyrillic scribes writing in Crimean Gothic “Book-Hand” Greco-Latin terminology. I’ve also recently found the original discussions for all of those naked people who seem to be dancing the “Macarena” (Ellie’s Label).
    I am now going to find, somewhere, the latin version of Dante’s “Hell”. In the meantime, I’m continuing my translations of the Artemis/Diana folios (bathing/maternal care of prepubescent and pregnant women and the many uses of the mandragore fruit–NOT root).
    A tout a l’heure! 🙂

  53. bdid1dr on January 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm said:

    Well, my apologies for leading you astray in re “Dante’s Inferno”. I can no longer find a folio in B-408 which seemed to show a “circle” of naked men “speechifying” and/or posturing”. I probably wandered off into another WWW-realm?
    I am also correcting my reference to Crimean Gothic insofar as to say that Crimean Gothic may be a “Humanistic Script” similar to 15th century Caroline Miniscule which would often appear in “Incunabula” (a book printed before 1500).

  54. bdid1dr
    In hindsight, I wonder if Voynich research mightn’t have advanced faster and more honestly if Tiltman had called it “the least well understood” manuscript in the world.

    Failure to understand is human failing, not the artefact’s.

    The assertions most often repeated about this manuscript today rest on evidence so flimsy that only a Kung-fu master should trust his weight to it.

    Worse still, if one asks for that item of evidence informing some bland assertion such as “the book came from the star Sirius”, or “Jesuits probably stole it’, your response on the intellectual level is likely to be much slower in coming than more personal responses.

    I have even seen it asserted by several Voynicheros that it doesn’t matter whether something said is true or not; that what matters is only how many people can be persuaded to believe it.

    I find that idea rather chilling, somehow.

  55. Diane: “re-discovered independently” – any more details on this? Bear in mind I don’t follow the main Voynich mailing list (and can you blame me?)

  56. I think, author of the voynich manuscript knew the prime numbers. But are prime numbers important about voynich cipher, i do not know.

  57. Nick – (in reverse order)
    No, I cannot blame you.
    No, I cannot give more information, since I’m not supposed to have any. 😀

  58. Nick – less mailing list than Google circle, I’d say.

    Your blog having a higher Google-rank than any of mine, I’m sure you suffer losses too from the tap-and-peck.

  59. Nick, I’m not claiming to have invented the Franciscans.

  60. bdid1dr on January 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm said:

    Dum Dianae (supposedly an honorific term): Have you been reduced to “one-liners”? Can’t blame you (or Nick). I see a pattern here (not my personal paranoia?). Just from reading your back & forth posts, I can tell when Nick is getting ready to turn to a new page.
    Ciao for now! 🙂

  61. thomas spande on January 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm said:

    BD. I will try to access the Godwin pamphlet. It does sound at though the criss crossed circle that Kircher draws in more in the style of a compass rose and is not the “T” enscribed in a circle (the “T-O’ circle) as seen in the upper right hand corner of the “rosettes” fold out. Kircher refers to the four directions (winds or compass points) and not evidently land masses (Asia, Europe, Africa) as I think the three segments of the T-O do. Thanks for the leading ref. I’ll see what Google Scholar comes up with. Cheers, Tom

  62. thomas spande on January 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm said:

    Dear all, Maybe the VM botanicals have some overall scheme that eludes most of us? I have scrutinized it over a couple of years and I conclude at the moment, that it is not amenable to any quick decipherment. I think we all accept that it is written with a limited number of glyphs that are substituted, probably for Latin letters. But as another layer of impenetrability is added a clever (I think) series of made up scribal abbreviations and some known Tironian notation. Among these are m,n,c,a all with a T.N. indicating truncation, i.e. a superscript right paren “)” but these in turn resemble Latin glyphs run together with the tipped “?”.at the end In addition (I think) are hidden macrons provided by the VM gallows for “p” and “h” (my assignments). I think the “9” with a long tail at the start of a word also amounts to a concealed macron. So a “c” with a super “)” and a “9” with a long tail to the left both might be “st” and stand for “sunt”= are? “ST” was a common T.N.

    Wouldn’t just a cipher substitution have been enough to make the VM a tough nut to crack? Also words are clearly split up, not by syllables alone, but by suffixes as well. I thought I had discovered a difference between the two scribes in their use of “&” where it appears more often (but alas not exclusively ) by the scribe with the tighter style. There is in medieval ms, a marker (we use it now for paragraphs as a proofing mark) and this was callled a pilcrow, if memory serves. I think the “&” might be used in the VM by both scribes in this sense but both also use the Armenian glyph for “f” which is like an “8” with a rocker at the bottom. Scribe #1 (“mighty tighty”) uses both a lot more than #2 but it will be noted that #1 generally has more text to deal with. Space constraints may sometimes give the job to #1 but not always. Scribe #1 falters a lot more in forming certain glyphs than does #2 and sometimes his “8”s are pretty wiggly. My interim thinking is that this was made as cryptic and resistant of interpretation as humanly possible. We may just lack the viewpoint and imagination to drive much of a wedge into decrypts but this thing was not made for any facile success in interpreting it, no matter how much intelligence or computer power is brought to the task!.

    Layered onto the text are the illustrations, many with hidden writing that sometimes is Voynichese, sometimes Latin and sometimes even Arabic. The plants are not likely to be found as potherbs and I think contain hidden clues as to medical use, an idea that was discussed also by Diane. Maybe the writing was originally a guide to preparing the illustrations, e.g. one with 8 weird leaves that look like gripping hands and has an “8” just discernable in the upper left heavily colored leaf. The plants are drawn with great precision but this has been marred by very slap dash coloration (likely applied much later).

    My daughter is of the opinion now that crayons were not used in the VM coloration but rather a worn down reed pen. Why the hidden glyphs anyway that might deliberately have been colored more intensely in a later stage of coloration. I am working on what I think can be proved to be some original pigment (I think, and Nick agrees), that vegetable or plant colors were likely used at stage one. These were in most cases fugative, with I think the exception of some brown (maybe mineral based using iron) and some blue..

    A hand made sign was on the door of one of the labs down the hall from mine “No simple solutions lie to problems ahead!” i think this applies in spades to the VM. I side with Tiltman. Cheers, Tom

  63. Diane: I think Tiltman was merely commenting on the poor historical and cryptological reasoning that the Voynich Manuscript has long been a victim of. I can think of plenty of other messengers I would shoot first, many of whom clearly have an epistemology far closer to the chilling one you describe. 😉

  64. thomas spande on January 13, 2014 at 9:45 pm said:

    BD, I did find in the Wiki piece on Athanasius Kircher a little map of “Atlantis” that had alongside it a circle bisected with a line and perpendicular to that it is bisected with an arrow having a “v” attached to the topside of the arrow (i.e. where the feathers would be) and an arrow point in the lower semicircle. It is supposed to represent “North” as down and South as at the top of the circle. Maybe close to the rosettes “T-O” circle but still no cigar. Cheers, Tom

  65. thomas spande on January 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm said:

    Dear all, The old existential “right you are if you think you are!” takes the believer on a trip to nowhere when it comes to making sense of the VM. Nick hit the nail head-on re VM messengers who will not be missed!
    I think the code can be cracked as I think there are some hard fast rules being followed: 1) I think there is a null but maybe just one. All multiple “c”s with an odd number can have the odd “c” struck out as well as a single “c”. 2) I think the code is invariant. an “8a”f”” is always “leaf” where “f” is the Armenian glyph. “8a?” where “?” is tipped and the glyph used for the Armenian phoneme “ch” is always going to be “each”. “8am” will be eam or Latin for “that”. This is a huge break if it holds..My own little idiosynchronism is to think that yin/yang symbology is being used for a) color; b) direction and c) leaf shapes in the VM botanicals. This eastern idea could imply that male-/female-ness is important in the medical use of the VM “herbs” or botanicals. This idea was common among Arabs, Iranians and Armenians among others, in fact all the way to China..

    to BD. Kircher lived 1602-1680, ca. 150 yrs after the VM vellum was made. If his ideas are being referred to in the rosettes section, are you thinking this was being done by “Kircherians” and not by Kircher himself? Cheers, Tom

  66. bdid1dr on January 14, 2014 at 12:09 am said:

    Dear ThomS & Diane: I have, on several occasions in this past year or so given my explanation of each of the mystery ciphers. I’ll do it once more; and I hope you’ll take a look at the website which presents and explains every cipher/alphabet/ or syllable being used in the so-called “Voynich” manuscript. I have also explained the combined ciphers which Nick has called “Brackets”.
    a = a as in apple
    8 = aes as in b-asic or as in paste or taste or case
    9 = g-ame or as in garden, or came, cardinal, crop…
    smaller 9 = if the loop extends a little to the back = X
    loops at the top of both upright poles is ell as in tell, tiller, spell, bell…….quell, shelf, help, melt.
    loop on the second pole, only = tl as in t-ll, medal, meddle needle…..

    m looks like a fish-hook with two barbs
    n looks like a fish-hook with only one barb
    both of these characters are usually preceded by vowel (and if the vowel is an ‘a’, the tail of the ‘a’ sometimes gets linked to the “barbs”) Example: the word ex-am = 9 \\)
    ex = smaller number 9, two half-slashes, a half-height slash, and an elaborate “P” which curlicued tail can extend to create the words such as perpendicular or biblical — all in one continuous stroke of the pen/quill.

    R is recognized by what looks like a BACKWARD capital ‘s’

    S is recognized by what looks like a BACKWARD capital ‘c’ which has a straight handle attached to the bottom curve.

    U, V, W, and Y are created by the syllables of ee-oo-ee

    So — x geus my ‘generic gothic’ puzzle solving ‘script’. I pra itis nt ntirely n n tl i gbl !
    Mollom wil probably have difficulty with this. We’ll see!


  67. bdid1dr on January 14, 2014 at 12:32 am said:

    I’m addressing the most problematical “Voynich” alpha-character combination separately from my latest comment, BECAUSE it is the most difficult to explain:

    It helps to realize that the lower case ‘e’ is tinier than the lower case ‘c’. Sometimes there will be a whole string of cae ce aes aes ec c……which usually ends with either a large ‘g’, but sometimes follows a whole string of c-e combinations with a smaller numeral 9 which indicates x-eus. Once in a while we will come across a figure which looks like an incomplete ampersand and a short down-stroke added on. Folio 55v (water lotus) gives the best example. Look for it at the very ending paragraph of discussion: it translates to ‘itius’, or ‘tius’, or even ‘deus’ or ‘dios’. So, whether the discussion is about botany or ‘god’ worship will only be determined by the overall discussion/translations.

    N’as drovnya!
    ‘appy nu year!
    bd eyed one der

  68. Thomas,
    I’m not inclined to shoot people, but do remember that Nick’s name is upon the list of scholarly, intelligent, articulate people who’ve been driven off the Voynich mailing list and scarcely acknowledged thereafter. .. thought their work is often pushed through the sausage-mincer and stamped with some other name.

    actually.. I think it would be reasonable to add, at the top of that list of the forgotten
    MS Beinecke 408.

    Thomas – are you seriously trying to find some way to re-invent the work I’ve done over the past six years, explaining the imagery in each section, dating its foundation, identifying the stylistic overlays (remember how easily I did the same for the mixed-style Armenian manuscript .. remember how you ignored two-thirds of my evaluation? Thomas, I’ll say again; though I first raised the Armenian thing when discussing the botanical imagery and the maritime ‘pepper route’ with its ancillary industries, I found there was insufficient in the manuscript to justify an Armenian thesis for the whole.

    …. all the way to China.

  69. Nick,
    The CEA ship now has so many holes in it that reworking our different contributions re the Franciscans strikes me as little more than a frantic effort to plug a few of them.

    I wait – breathing easy – for what I predict as the next stage of post-facto plugging: an effort to invoke a manuscript now in Madrid in order to explain the Vms astronomical section, its supposed ‘bathing ladies’, to explain away that southern/Spanish and Jewish character which was noted by Panofsky.

    All raaather tedious. Since no discussion, conversation or informed debate is permitted about the more flummeriacious offerings of the CEA group, I daresay that will endure until one of them is so foolish as to put forward an article to a reputable scholarly journal – say on manuscript conservation, or the history of Mediterranean art, or perhaps a journal of palaeography and epigraphy.

    On the general topic of ships and crew:

    Ms. Velinska’s distinctively US-European style (and extremely imaginative it is) led her to comment last year on own research by asserting that I believe the Voynich manuscript … or its materials, or its imagery, or perhaps its cultural context .. she wasn’t clear… was/were “created” by a European.

    I can honestly say I’ve never in my life supposed any manuscript made other than by manufacture, and the whole point of my research – as she seems not to know – is that it concluded there could be no single auteur for the content of this manuscript, and most definitely no single European Latin auteur could have invented the content.

    For those who might enjoy her very staunch declaration of adherence to the CEA line, Ms. Velinska’s plein-air letter to the Voynich list is a model of the VMS-list’s in-house style.
    (Ellie Velinska to Vms list, 8/26/13)

  70. bdid1dr on January 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, ThomS, Job, & Menno:
    If any of you find my well-meant (maybe tedious) posts objectionable or contradictory to your posts, I’m fairly certain that Nick will intercede. Most of all, I pray that I am not distressing his peace of mind. I have never visited the VM list, and never will.
    Nick, I’ll try to be more brief and more ‘to the point’. I promise! 🙂

  71. thomas spande on January 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm said:

    Dear BD, I have a different interpretation of the Voynich glyphs and it seems to work in short test decrypts. It is hypothetical only. The proof will be in the pudding!

    To Diane, I have often had trouble accessing your site. If you have discredited the Armenians as the source of the VM, that is a legitimate scholarly conclusion. I was led into postulating some Armenian connection largely because of the glyphs, not the imagery. I have not found any indication that yin/yang symbology was used by them although I swear I ran across that some time back. One big problem with an Armenian connection, is that they were all over the map as you no doubt recognized also. So any venue for creation of the VM by Armenian hands will be tricky. I find little evidence for Armenians in Chios, Greece which I incline to at the moment, largely from the “map” of the upper right hand rosette circle, that I think depicts Chiostown at the time of Genoese control. It is the glyphs with 8 and 9 being used by them for “e” and “t”, the tipped “?” for “ch”. and what is sometimes a backward “s” for s and which however can also be c with a superscript “)” and I think is “st”, and their characteristic symbol for “f” which is an “8” with a rocker at the bottom and which is usually not closed at the bottom. The Armenians often used double letters to code for a single letter and I think the “c’s” fall into that pattern. Any attempt to crack the VM must involve the formulation of one or more hypotheses; just no other way outside of divine inspiration. I am pursuing an Armenian connection but it may boil down to someone familiar with at least some Armenian glyphs and writing L->R. You have written about hyphenated Armenian peoples and their languages as I recall. I did not argue against that and if I did not cheer you on, I meant to. The zodiac rondel for Scorpio is something the Armenians could have supplied, the Nhang, a croc like monster found in the Euphrates. Well anyway, I hope we can at least agree to disagree. Cheers, Tom

  72. thomas spande on January 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm said:

    Dear all, Nick Pelling is among the first to develop and use the most accessible tools of amateur scholarship for the study of manuscript material, and applied these to the study of the Voynich codex. We are all indebted to his research summarized at the time of his writing “Curse of the Voynich”. These shed light on some codicological curiosities of the VM, studying such topics as bleed through and bleed across of pigments, quire numbering and shuffling of folios within. These are now facts that all Voynichers accept as proved. And there is not a huge supply of these. Maybe some punctillios remain to be supplied but the methodology will be the same as employed by Nick. The linguistics of the VM in terms of glyphs used (even to inventing terminology), and the idea that the VM is likely written in a cipher substituion code, were advanced by Nick. Techniques in art and their historical context and venues (like parallel hatching and glass making were also brought to bear in his analysis of the VM’s art work.
    Nick then put together his internal studies of the VM to advance his own imaginative scenario for its creation and use and although this hypothesis has detractors as being unlikely in part or all. Nevertheless, it is out there as a somewhat logically consistent story. This was advanced before the vellum was dated. I personally don’t think the plants of the botanical are disguised machines but they are so weird, the question remains, why the h…don’t they resemble more the plants that we all know and love? Why do they have flowers that look like gears or root protuberances that resemble land mines?

    Nick has patiently and with good humor presided over endless attacks on his hypothesis of the Renaissance Italian architect Averlino being responsible for the VM. But at least he has hoisted a target for brickbats and urged: If you have something better, let’s hear of it! We are all slightly impatient with “school of”, “typical of” and sometimes irrelevant citations. Some, it is true, may point us in a new direction (like Diane’s Venetian map maker or did I imagine that?) and limit or expand possibilities but I think Nick’s philosophy is to let every flower bloom may eventually prove to have been wise. Cheers, Tom

  73. Thomas
    For your gracious response to my horrid, grumpy post, many thanks.
    I’ve had occasional problems loading wordpress sites too, but clearing the cache and recent cookies usually helps.

  74. Thomas, re ‘Venetian map maker’

    I understand that before or perhaps after me, some person or group in Spain or Portugal also saw elements in the Vms suggesting links to the Mediterranean’s ‘portolan’ chart tradition.

    I did mention the Genoese, and the Mallorcan and Majorcan chartmakers, as well as the fact that our oldest example comes from North Africa and appears to have involved Basque mariners.

    I’ve no more details about the Spanish or Portuguese comments.

    Just for the record: I recommend only three online sites to newbies: ciphermysteries; Philip Neal’s page and Knox’s roll-call of Voynich researchers. The last is as comprehensive and generous as my own list is short and parsimonious.

  75. Thomas,

    I learned from W.F. Friedman, that a code needs four steps to resolve:

    1. find the language.
    2. find the method used for coding.
    3. retrieve the codebook or key.
    4. decipher

    Where are we in the case of the VMS ?

  76. bdid1dr on January 15, 2014 at 2:40 am said:

    Hey, gang! How about three cheers for our Master Gardener who lets ‘every flower bloom’. Can we rescue Nick from the “gloom” which quite often descends post-holidays? Did I mention that my Master Gardener husband recently planted another 300 saffron crocus corms — in pots and planter boxes on all my balconies? (Boenicke 408, folio 35r) First line below the blossom translates to “Speciam —cec aes–am crocos ceam. Last word of line 2 translates ‘to recognize/gather. Still lots of repetitious syllables, but line 7 does seem to come to a conclusion: ‘oceos ream aes am g ell an’ . What I did not find was any reference to a ‘corm’ rather than a ‘bulb’. Nor any reference to ‘saffron’ except, maybe the last line (line 7), which translates to ‘oceas ream aesam g ll an. (the ‘ll’ sometimes represents a trilled or tapped ‘r’. Time to eat! ciao!

  77. Thomas –
    Perhaps I’m mis-remembering, but as I was writing (or rather re-publishing from 2010) my opinion that folio 69r represents the qanat system for irrigation, writing the name of a Persian scholar (Mohammad Karaji) rang a recent bell. I think you asked me about him recently.. or was it not you?.

    If it was, I apologise – probably set the gears to Armenia, not Persia.

    A manuscript copy of Karaji’s work is at UniPenn and it does contain diagrams which could be described as like an orb, or like a T-O or even like the old cistern-ball of brass.

    post is on voynichimagery wordpress com

  78. SirHubert on January 15, 2014 at 12:04 pm said:

    Hi Menno:

    0 out of 4 still, I’m afraid, although others may not agree with me.

    We can’t make secure assumptions about the underlying language(s), unfortunately. But we can, in my opinion, rule out once and for all the idea that it’s a simple monoalphabetic substitution cipher or a known language written in a funny script (essentially the same thing).

    We can also draw some sensible inferences about possible techniques of encipherment. Unfortunately, this is the point at which people start to home in on a possible solution, and if you want to be the first person on top of Everest, you don’t show someone else the best route.

    And until we make some progress with points 1 and 2, we’re not going to get far with 3 and 4. But you don’t necessarily need to know the plaintext language first to decipher an unknown script if you analyze the ciphertext properly.

    All of this, of course, assumes that the plaintext is recoverable and was ever intelligible. Which we also don’t know.

    Still, nobody said it was going to be easy…

  79. Menno: unfortunately I suspect that the Voynich is a “corner case”, in that the way it transforms and manipulates its underlying language (some kind of shorthand seems almost unavoidable) makes 1 and 2 (and quite probably 3) into a single interwoven challenge. That’s broadly why I say that solving the puzzle of the Voynich Manuscript is like trying to win a triple-jump contest with a single jump.

  80. SirHubert,
    To talk about something as vague as ‘mindset’ is difficult, but from my point of view it runs against the grain to suppose any method for encipherment would use a meaningless or random element – runs counter to the nature of the manuscript’s pictorial text.

    ‘Cipher wheels’ as a general idea I can imagine, but the slant of mind informing the imagery (as I read it) is so practical, minimalist, elegant – an active traveller’s easy reference and portable reckoner sort of thing – that I can’t conceive of the user/s including a text which required a person to sit down, twiddling cipher wheels and decoding letter by letter with pen and paper. It is wasteful of time and energy in a way that none save diplomats and clerks could do – and instead there were a great many memorised sets – at least before the western schism.

    As one example: Ibn Arabi’s correspondences between name of Gd, asterisms, alphabetic letters and prophets – which Burckhardt made into a diagram. Or moralised alphabets of which there are so many (John Climacus, a Syrian, includes a couple for the Greek). Just more instances of one-to-one correspondence, I suppose, but most of these systems are responsive to movements of time and place, a dominant character of the Voynich imagery.
    (The Oxford Museum portrait sculpture of Roger Bacon keeps coming to mind, here).

    I do like the idea of a highly condensed technical text – along the lines that Don Hoffmann posits – but I myself wouldn’t expect all of it to refer to western herbal medicines.
    I realise my unqualified thoughts don’t much limit the number of possibilities – except perhaps that a memorised system of correspondences as ‘wheels’ does suggest some formal system of apprenticeship, training or education .. and of that there just might be record.

  81. bdid1dr on January 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm said:

    Well, Nick, my ‘verbosity’ aside, can we substitute ‘superior education’ argumentation techniques and literary references as a means of solving the language of Boenicke 408? In other words, has argumentation led us any closer to being able to read the context of the manuscript? Lots and lots of references being made to historical figures and possible sources of the manuscript. Have we, this generation of ‘puzzle-solvers’, gotten any closer to the meaning of the script and/or its written language?
    I do see discussion of ‘everyday’ affairs in the lives of medieval citizens. I also see the language of “Sabir”, when it comes to trading activity (spices, aromatic resins, silk, slaves). What I have not been able to find is a word for word translation of the two Treaties of Nymphaeum nor in what language(s) the treaties were written. Still looking!
    A tout a l’heure!

  82. thomas spande on January 15, 2014 at 7:09 pm said:

    Dear all, Nick has alluded many times to shorthand being used in the VM text. I think both Tironian notation (T.N.) is being used as well as some “hidden macrons” likely developed by the two scribes involved in writing the VM. Tironian notation has been discussed by Nick and has received a lot of study in classical (pre-Renaissance) Latin but the hidden macrons might or might not be generally recognized as that does depend a lot on distinguishing scribal flourishes from an intentional indication of one or more letters missing. Two of the distorted gallows can be read (I think) as following or preceding one or more omitted glyphs. T.N. was used in Latin, and became so numerous (over 4K at least) and cryptic that they were abandoned at the time Dante was writing. Early histories of some of the Scottish kings had so many T.N. that they remain untranslated from Latin. The main T.N. that appear in the VM use the classic mark for truncation and that was a right paren “)”. It occurs mainly after “c”, “m” and “n”. I think that until the concealed macrons can be decrypted (let’s hope they are usually used to refer to the same omitted letter(s)), progress in decrypting the VM will be stymied. I lean to thinking that the fundamental underlying language is Latin but some English and German also appear to be used. To reiterate: progress in decrypting the VM is going to be held back until we clear away the shorthand. That is step one! Cheers, Tom

  83. thomas spande on January 15, 2014 at 8:02 pm said:

    Dear all, I think the VM might be in known languages, chiefly Latin but contains maybe some German and even English (probably as loan words into Latin). But what makes this hard to spot is the widespread use of abbreviations, where maybe 20% of the text might be missing. A lot of linguistic efforts have gone into word length studies, letter frequencies and computer visualization of those gallows glyphs (e.g. work of J.B.) but I think much of the Zipf correlation conclusions are just fortuitous as I am convinced that VM “words” are split up, not just by syllables but suffixes also have been written as separate words. Incidentally, Armenians did that even when writing in uncoded Armenian; supposedly because what counted was the sentiment of the whole sentence, however that is determined? Some biblical translations use this idea.

    This simple code technique of arbitrary splitting up of words makes a lot of linguistic studies pointless. I may try a letter frequency analysis just concentrating on consonants and vowels and see if this fits any real language? As a starting point. I think the gallows glyphs are all consonants and the linked “c’s” (cc; c-c;c-c* (c-c* has a curlicue above the line joining the c’s and equals “u”) are all vowels. I think m, n, a, o are used in their Latin sense and that some vowels are redundant, e.g. cc is same as 8 and is “e”; c-c is “i” and i also occurs by itself. One problem is that I have yet to find in the VM, glyphs for “q” “w” and “v” but this is true of Czech Latin. The Armenian glyph for “ch”. a tipped question mark, still remains in Czech as a hold over from the language reforms of Jan Hus where “c” with a circumflex (tiny “v” above the c) still remains in the language and indicates that Kovac is pronounced as Kovach. Cheers, Tom

  84. thomas spande on January 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm said:

    Diane, Karaji is not known to me at present. I did write about an arabic herbal by a Spanish botonist originally from Cordoba but that was being translated at a Canadian Univ. professor. It was compiled in Alzaera during the medieval period. It was not Karaji but I am blanking at the moment on the herbalist’s name. Cheers, Tom

  85. thomas spande on January 15, 2014 at 10:33 pm said:

    Dear all, I think I see where Diane is going with her mindset position. It might be very hard to put oneself into the mindset of, for example, a medieval alchemist. Or maybe an alchemist of any era! That philosophy was made deliberately arcane and the weird imagery (e.g. the snake eating its tail; hermaphroditic creatures) created a world view that is really hard for any non-alchemist to share. This is just one analogy but there were many others that coexisted in the middle ages, generally a result of wrestling with good/evil, the plurality of the Godhead etc. And were often thought significant enough to fight and die for. Just the communion cup for ALL believers was enough to cause Jan Hus to be burned at the stake (1460) and provoked his followers to armed clashes with troops loyal to the church.. Some mindsets just might be out of reach for many who have been subtly exposed to rational science-based thought in their sort of standardized education. Maybe only in the Southern US where we have a sizeable minority of non-evolutionists is an uncommon mindset still alive and well. Cheers, Tom

  86. Nick,

    In my opinion the four steps of W.F. Friedman should be preceded by an initial step.

    0. identify the script
    1. find the language.
    2. find the method used for coding.
    3. retrieve the codebook or key.
    4. decipher

    So we are trying to win a quadruple-jump contest with a single jump. I’d rather do things step-by-step. So my first task would be to identify the script, even if obsolete or invented. Next step to identify the language. I’ll keep you informed about the results.

  87. Thomas, thanks for the comment. Perhaps I should have distinguished between a cast of mind and ideology, but not sure quite how to do it …

    Perhaps one could say that ‘mindset’ is why Voynicheros so often suppose any reference to the stars in the vms must be about astrology, or why they find it so difficult to read figures – especially the female figures – as symbolic or metaphorical.

    These reflexes are not due to religion or madness, or stupidity or even formal education, but just a habit of mind pervasive through the general run of people in Europe and America today.

  88. bdid1dr on January 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm said:

    A really good source for “decoding” B-408 is the “Tacuinum Sanitatus”. Because the Latin-based original ‘TS’ has been copied by scholars/students in whatever their individual language-base and terminology, we will always have difficulty in explaining the words of the TS, rather than identifying the subject material/drawing of each version of the TS — much less the “VMS” copy (Boenicke ms 408). So, I’m planning to write my translations in Latin (which I have already done with 15 folios).
    Interesting, Menno, is your change of attitude toward my posts. Diane, have you been able to translate any of B-408’s offerings? Have any of you been able to do a valid translation of some of B-408’s folios which defeated Brigadier General John Tiltman? Yes, there are many botanical drawings which were mis-colored — probably deliberately so. The carnation folio, in particular: Dianthus. Dianthus had much discussion in re ‘dark places’, ‘captivity’, ‘sadness’, home (and mention of the rising evening star). The turban ranunculus folio (another that Tiltman was not able to identify) had a more obvious clue, which actually DID appear smack-dab in the middle of the blossom: a capital ‘R’.

  89. thomas spande on January 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm said:

    Menno (chiefly), Your game plan is logical but might miss another preliminary step (besides “0”) and that is to deduce missing letters that are implied by known Tironian notation (like little “o” s or “9” superscripts that lie above some glyphs or the much more common right parenthesis,”)” which is used to indicate truncation of a “word”. There are also, I think, letters omitted under some built in and cleverly concealed macrons, where the following might be used: “9” with a long left tail and two of the gallows glyphs that have a cross stroke to the left (the “p” and “h” ) and sometimes a bizzare extension of the upper loop to the right..

    Then the very real possibility exists that the letters (probably outside of a, m,n, o which seem to be used in the sense of known Latin glyphs) of the VM are unique to that manuscript and just will not be found elsewhere! I think the language is mainly Latin but the glyphs are the product of some feverish and imaginative encoders. I think they might have been designed to look somewhat arabic at a hasty glance. It will be noted that probably no true diacritical marks are seen indicating that pronunciation of the text (i.e. it is not designed to be read aloud) is either not important or the glyphs include some phonemes. I am guessing the latter and some languages like Armenian were phonetic as they had built in glyphs for sounding letters and used no diacriticals. I think that if the glyphs were ever used elsewhere that someone out there in the 50 some years of studying the VM text would have spotted them. When I indicated that I don’t think any diacritical marks are in the VM, I am excluding the little cirlicue mark above c-c, that I think does not have anything to do with sounding the enciphered glyph but is an identifier of the glyph and that glyph in this case (I think) is the Latin “u”. Likewise some Tironian notes are excluded. Cheers, Tom

    Well I do not want to prejudice anyone in accepting these positions but logically, it seems to me, that cracking the VM will have to include them. Cheers, Tom

  90. thomas spande on January 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm said:

    Diane, I finally see your point but I think it might imply a reality that the non-initiated will likely never grasp or can never grasp. I think we all recognize that the botanicals might, in many cases, not resemble any plant that has ever existed and that consulting the old “Culpeper” or any known herbal might be a waste of time. Some do however look enough like real plants that likely IDs can be advanced.

    If those nymphs are not really bathers but are symbols for something else, this is crypticism squared. The “plumbing” might be something else like some parts of human anatomy. Golly, I hope not. Cheers, Tom

  91. thomas spande on January 16, 2014 at 10:17 pm said:

    Dear all, relative to the question of whether the Armenians did use yin/yang symbology is the church entrance at the major church at Naravank (built 1339) in Armenia. An Armenian traveller, Irina Lokhikyan visited (9-29-08) the two churches at that site in Armenia and was told by a guide that the sun and moon carved on doors were the yang and yin symbols, respectively. The moon representing the changeable, mercurial nature of female psychology and the sun, the constancy of males. Well,who dreamed this up, I hear you ask! I have read other commentaries indicating the opposite with yin being the hearth keeper (more constant) and yang being the hunter-gatherer (prone to wander). Well this is a tiny peg to hang yin and yang usage by Armenians. Looks like the arabs were more into this than anyone, outside of the orient.

    Organs of the body also had yin and yang labels applied to them with organs essentially involved in the internal workings of the body (e.g. liver) being yin (female) and those interacting with the outside world (bladder, lungs, intestines) being yang (male). I think, with regards to mindset, that yin and yang might be depicted in the weird shape of some leaves in the VM botanicals but, at the moment, that is about all I am able to get my head around. Cheers, Tom

  92. bdid1dr on January 17, 2014 at 8:49 pm said:

    ThomS: The various c’s require one to determine which ‘c’ combinations were ligatured — and to which ‘C’ the ligature was attached. In any case, if the ‘c’ figures were the same size and had no ligature, one could read those as cc as in “gnocci” . If a group of ‘c’ appeared, one would could identify an ‘e’ instead of a ‘c’ . When one finds a combination of ‘c’ linked with a long top bar, and rising above the center of that bar another ‘o’ cipher (for instance the cipher for ‘r-o’) — one would be looking at a ligatured combination of the syllable ‘croc’ — which could then be followed by ‘os-aes-am’. I refer you to B-408 f-35-r , 7th line next to the blossom. Full translation for that entire line is: croceusaum ellecoes ceotleus — which briefly translates to saffron yellow golden. So, even though the blossom itself has been mis-colored (should be lavender color), the ‘stigma’ (red stamens) and purble ‘pistils’ feature prominently above the bowl of the blossom. The other visual clue is the shape of the ‘roots’. They are not roots, nor are they bulbs. They are ‘corms’ which can be identified in this famous illustration by their flattened bases.
    Actually, the very first line below the blossom ‘bowl’ translates to: Speciam c e c a s – am cce a s —– I can’t duplicate the ligatured ‘c-c which has the ‘ro’ symbol above –the entire word is “crocos ceam”.


  93. thomas spande on January 17, 2014 at 11:05 pm said:

    Dear BD. I can see you incline to a phoneme-based lingo for the Voynich. That may turn out to be the case but I incline to a largely non-phonetic language with the exception of one glyph, the tipped “?”.for “ch” Some others,like the Armenian for”f”, that “8” with a rocker at the base (8*) have always a hard sound and usually are at the end of a “word”, as in “8a8*” for “eaf” that I think is used for “leaf”. I think the “c’s” are tricky in that the odd numbered “c” or single “c” is a null glyph. The others are “cc=e”; “c-c”=i, and “c-c”with a curlicue above the line is a “u”. In brief, they are all vowels but some are redundant as cc=8=e. There does see to be a c-c with a superscript “)” and this might be something like “ist”, dunno about that one. It is rare. This might be essentially a ligature. Keep at your decryption studies. I would not hold my hand over any candle flame at the moment in defense of my cipher substitution ideas. I don’t think any “c” is actually a “c”; that job falls to the “4”. Cheers, Tom

  94. Thomas,
    In my part of the world, students get a nicely presented piece of paper when they graduate, but no initiation ceremony, and there’s no obligation to attend even the official graduation ceremony.

    So no, art analysis isn’t conferred by initiation, just by study, more study, practice and more practice, graduation, study and more study, practice and more practice… to retirement.

  95. bdid1dr on January 18, 2014 at 3:36 am said:

    No, ThomS, the ‘4’ is just what is the phonetic beginning of ANY word which has the “kw” sound as in “quar-ter”. The ‘4’ can also be preceded by the letter ‘a’ for aqua, or ‘e’ for equal…. or how about a word like ses-qui-cen-ten-ni-al ? Just my ‘take’ and ‘use’ of that ‘4’ in numerous folios of B-408. I can write the word SeS-4-Sn-t n-e-l — where the “S’ appears to resemble the short-handled hand-sickle, and the ‘N’ appears to look like a right parenthesis with a short slash at its base. I have several times used this method in some 15 different folios in B-408. Once again, I feel that I am monopolizing Nick’s “Voynich” pages. So, Nick, this latest post of mine can be viewed by you and your faithful followers, as a reprieve. For a while, at least. After the Easter Holidays, and maybe even Mother’s Day. Fathers Day in some parts of the US is spent with the Greek men setting up the booths, barbecue, and soda, beer, Retsina wine……

  96. Thomas,
    In my opinion, the ‘ladies’ have the same reference throughout, the problem being only that where our own mindset will permit identification of the ‘ladies’ as symbolic/allegorical in the calendar section.. where everyone happily identifies them as astrolabe stars, our own customs offers no easy parallel for the continuing use of the allegorical forms in other sections and styles of presentation. Hence an expectation of European genesis leads to the reflexive shift in interpretation – in this case to trying to identify the figures as representing living breathing humans, and their environment as bathing establishments.

    Because a mindset is common to a given environment, everyone native to that environment sees its habits as self-evident or common sense. Yet if I interpreted the calendar roundels equally literally: suppose I argued that the series represented the sequence of public spectacles in ancient Rome and all the figures in tiers were members of the Coliseum audience, it would seem ridiculous.

    Yet in that scenario, my interpretation would be the more consistent because all would be explained literally.

    I think they’re all symbolic figures and all represent celestial creatures. We even find similarly distorted faces used to represent the chimerical denizens of the heavens in an illustration to one copy of the Tacuinum.. but this verges on the TMO, so I’ll stop.

  97. mindy dunn on January 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm said:

    Hello all… been a while I know. Holidays, switching jobs etc. Anyway, just a quick question. Has anyone id’d a page as witch hazel? I have a pos id. I looked to see if the page had been associated previously, but google search leads me to believe it had not. Also the page may be associated with an island which used to have inhabitants, but is now only inhabited by small animals. Just started this page, but the good news is my language skills are gradually improving. Might post more later. Cheers for now.

  98. bdid1dr on January 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm said:

    Hello, Mindy! Yes, B-408 f-28v has been tentatively identified (on Ellie’s blog) as “hamamelidaceae”. The funny-looking ‘seed-pod’ MAY be a hazel nut.

  99. bdid1dr on January 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm said:

    Mindy & all — I made the identification AND translated the dialogue of folio 28v word-for-word for hamamelis coryllus: hazelnuts/filberts are the edible parts of these trees.

  100. bdid1dr on January 18, 2014 at 8:07 pm said:

    Meanwhile, I’ll be returning to Beinecke for a better download of B-408, folio 28v (my printer was running out ink, previously). I’ll then make any necessary corrections to my handwritten notes (the mystery alpha-cipher, its dialogue, the bi-nomenclature, origins of the plant, and its history/uses. C y’all later!

  101. bdid1dr on January 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm said:

    I visited Boenicke and was able to get a better look at B-408, folio 28v: My earlier translation still stands un-amended. However, I got a better look at the ‘seed’. It may still have been an illustration of the ‘seed/nut’ but it also appears to be a mended tear.
    Ennyway: cross-referencing leads to ‘betula’, ‘birch’, ‘corylus’, ‘korya’. I began my translation by first identifying the very first word (a phonetic contraction) “Hamameliaceae”.
    Line six begins the sentence with Bet-u-la-ceae.

  102. bdid1dr on January 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm said:

    Aloha oe…..aloha oe !

  103. thomas spande on January 27, 2014 at 8:57 pm said:

    Dear all, Under the heading “glyph notes”, I propose the following puzzle: Why do both scribes (#1 tight; #2 loose) have a folio page with loads of the weird “8” glyph (8*) with a rocker at the base (might be the Armenian “f”?) and then another folio with scarcely any? For #1: f34 r/v 7 and 5; 33 r/v, 2 each and for #2: f45 r/v, 3 and 6; f35 r/v, 0 for both. While searching for glyphs used more by one scribe than another, I noted that #1 tends to use this weird glyph more and #2 but it is not definitive enough to qualify as a unique practise of #1. just a tendancy. I am thinking that #1 uses it in two ways. As a glyph for “f” as in “8a*”= eaf = leaf and also as a sentence ender. Scribe #2 frequently does not use it all and when he does, it looks to be “eaf”. What makes this analysis problematical is that both scribes(particularly #1) can be very careless making this glyph and some wiggly “8s” might be”8*”, some might just be a sloppy “8”. Complicating life is the occasional occurrence of the ampersand “&” which both scribes use. To see what I am talking about here, examine the top right hand margin of f45v where scribe #2 has one ampersand and 6 of the 8* glyph. Scribe #1, so far seems to be unique in using the upside down “v” under a bar. Both scribes use m and n with a scribal abbreviation indicating truncation (the superscript “)”, and often this occurs after “8a” and I think is some suffix of “that”. So far the tell tale scribal difference originally postulated by Nick seems the best quick distinguisher, Scribe #1 has a tendency to write 8’s slightly slanted to the right; scribe #2, tends to have them more erect. All for the moment. Cheers, Tom

  104. thomas spande on January 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm said:

    Diane, IF the bathers are symbols (and consistantly referencing some idea) why is so much detail provided that appears also to be consistent? I think one can see that the bathing is really more like wading. Nowhere is any nymph really swimming. There is evidently fresh water (blue) overlaying greenish water that might be mineral baths, in fact the floating nymphs might indicate that. There are sponges being used that BD and others have drawn attention to. There is structure seen in the construction of the pools. There are inlets and outlets shown. In short lots of detail for some allegory. Well if anyone can provide one I think we can rely on your imagination and knowledge base.

    Art conservation in the US is sort of done by experience also; only art history is a formal degree granting study and Ph.D.s can be given.. My daughter has a masters in fine arts but that is just a general umbrella for a lot of backgrounds. Conservation work is very much a hands on thing with neophytes working on stuff that is beneath the radar-a lot of mediocre art,often of a religious nature. My daughter studied techniques at NYU, NYC where they were given some cleaning chores at the Met,then she went to Florence where she worked for Opofficio, state run labs that restore and preserve works from convents, churches etc where funds just are not available from those organizations. They had a chance to work on a life-sized crucifix from convent where my daughter and her two Japanese colleagues discovered a relic that had been concealed within the top of the cross. Some little bit of bone in a tiny bronze cross that probably was worn by someone like a mother superior. They did a thorough job on this and used X-ray to look for mending spikes etc and discovered this instead. My daughter had worked in the X ray dept of the Nat.Gallery in Wash, DC and was ready to interpret the results and the director then pulled out his Swiss Army knive corkscrew and pulled out a large cork behind the head of Christ and there was this little relic. Now she is more of a curator and others do the grunt work. She was one of two in her class of art conservation to pick painting repair. The test is tricky and involves matching up scores of pigment chips with, for example, green with increasing amounts of blue. No errors allowed. Few can do it and most go into objects or paper. Well, I tend to agree on your point that what you get after coursework or just work in art conservation is essentially a pat on the back and a certificate. Then it is all up to the “old girl’s school” to find a position. This area is one of the few academic pursuits dominated by women as you can probably attest to? Cheers,Tom

  105. bdid1dr on January 28, 2014 at 5:06 pm said:

    Diane & ThomS, this discussion has been ‘bumped’ to the ‘page 2’ position of Nick’s huge archive. I still visit his ‘back-pages’ whenever I want to double-check and/or print out various commentary. Check out his Nahuatl review on “yesterday’s” pages — we’ve apparently (finally) reached the shores of the North American continent and Cuban/Key West cuisine!

  106. Thomas, my point is that there is no need to explain the female figures in one section as metaphorical (or allegorical) but in another as entirely literal. That only becomes a habit if a Voynichero refuses to consider non-European genesis for those sections.I hope I don’t mislead by saying I first informed Voynicheros that to distinguish fresh from sea waters by colouring them blue or green, respectively, is not a natural or enduring custom in Latin Europe.

  107. thomas spande on February 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm said:

    Dear all, One more comment on yin/yang. I managed to obtain a copy of the Chinese Materia Medica (Wu, Oxford Univ. Press, 2005) which is way more ancient than Dioscorides although Wu uses the same title and covers both plants and animals as did D.. It is illustrated but the terse discussions are based on traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and heavily into numerology. Five flavors, five temperatures, 8 disease (disorder) states. The first two of the disorders are imbalances of yin and yang. A fever is a run-away case of too much yang or a deficiency in yin and plants are discussed in terms of remedying the yin/yang balance. Just getting into this at the moment. The herbal (plant) or animal drawings are beautifully done. Plants and animals are arranged alphabetically by Latin name although the English name is usually also given. To cut to the chase, I am revising my view of yin/yang in the VM as there, what I think are pretty obvious allusions to yin/yang symbology, may like TCM refer to the alleged imbalance of these principles and not to suggested use of the plant for male or female medical complaints. Cheers, Tom

  108. thomas spande on February 7, 2014 at 11:35 pm said:

    Diane and others, I incline also to a non European origin for the VM,still favoring hands familiar with some Armenian glyphs and their counting system. I won’t belabor that further but I think the VM world needs a detailed more exhausive pigment analysis OF ORIGINAL PIGMENTS.I think it can be demonstrated from medieval Italian colors in manuscripts that mineral-based pigments are used, likely even with lapis lazuli, whereas I think as do others, that plant-based inks or pigments were used for the VM,with the exception of iron salts that were used for the inks and likely some of the roots.

    I think Diane may have a point in that those bathing nymphs could well be allegorical as are the star holders in the zodiac pages,where each is likely “mother earth” with the little stars on a leash being the sun, as I think most Voynichers have concluded. This is clearly an allegory and I have no problem with Diane positing some unknown (for the moment, at least for most of us;maybe not Diane?) representation for the “bathers”. The plumbing may also be something more cryptic than water conduits?

    It does seem to me logically that part of the VM might be literal, part allegorical and yet could be still be of a Eurocentric origin? The water colors could be sea water with green and fresh water for blue, but also green could be from a mineral source on land. This may not have been in the Latin tradition as Diane indicates and I have nothing to say on that point, for or against. Cheers, Tom

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