A new day breaks here in the suburbs, bringing with it birdsong, A-road traffic noise, and yet another Voynich theory to bang my head against.

On paper, Professor Stephen Bax certainly has the combination of big brain, linguistic experience and personal ambition that you’d think would be needed to crack open the Voynich Manuscript’s crab-like shell. But… then again, so did poor old Professor William Romaine Newbold; and his Voynich non-decryption ended up enraging Charles Singer so much (justifiably, it has to be said) that he was still angry thirty years later.

All the same, Bax believes that he has tentatively identified a number of words in the Voynich Manuscript, and has posted a 62-page PDF on his website describing his findings. His initial press release has been picked up by BBC News, the Bedfordshire on Sunday, and the irrepressible Daily Grail amongst many others. He has a lecture arranged for 25th February 2014 in Luton (if you happen to be nearby and interested), and is even planning a small Voynich conference in London in June 2014 to try to get other academics involved in his Voynich research programme.

Yet as Rene Zandbergen likes to point out, the most difficult thing about Voynich research is developing chains of reasoning while avoiding big mistakes. And while I hate to be the one to unplug the sound system just as it’s starting to really get the party started, I’m quite certain that every single one of Stephen Bax’s conclusions to date have been built upon a long sequence of easily demonstrable mistakes.

In fact, even though he is trying to use a sensible sounding methodology to elicit his results, I can’t think of a single piece of Voynich Manuscript evidence or secondary historical evidence he uses that I’d agree is a sound starting point: and I’m not convinced that any of his conclusions could be right either. I’ll go through a whole load of points, you’ll see what I mean soon enough.

1. “Initial Words On Herbal Pages Should Be Names”. Errrm…

As Bax rightly points out, you might reasonably expect the unique-looking first word on each of the Voynich Manuscript’s herbal pages to be the name of the plant depicted on that page, because that is indeed how many medieval herbals were laid out. This is not a new observation or idea: Leonell Strong assumed this as part of his Voynichese decryption in the 1940s (he thought the plaintext was written in English, but enciphered using a curious repeating offset into a local substitution alphabet).

But there’s an immediate problem: almost all the Voynich’s Herbal A pages start with one of the four gallows letters: EVA ‘p’ (53 times), EVA ‘t’ (24 times), EVA ‘k’ (21 times) or EVA ‘f’ (10 times). Which for simple substitution ciphers, broadly as John Tiltman pointed out roughly 50 years ago, would mean that the name of pretty much every plant in the Herbal section must start with one of three or four letters. Which would be nonsensical. (Leonell Strong was fine with this, because he thought the cipher scrambled all that stuff up a little: basically, he didn’t think it was a straightforward language.)

Yet Bax persists, and asserts that all of these gallows glyphs simultaneously map to plaintext C or K (in order to keep his ‘oror’ mapping intact, see [3] below), and as a result almost all of the plant names he considers start with the letter C – Centaurea, Cotton, Kaur, Crocus, etc. I’m sorry, but this whole notion is directly contradicted by the immediate statistical evidence. This isn’t something to build on, it’s something to abandon and leave far behind while you find some genuinely useful historical evidence to work with.

2. Bax’s proposed Voynichese alphabet has three letter R’s

This too flies in the face of supposed common sense. The Voynich Manuscript has a limited and compact alphabet, with roughly 18-22 characters occurring with particular frequency: and yet Bax concludes from his multi-language linguistic analysis that three of these (EVA r, EVA m, and EVA n) encipher the letter ‘R’. Come on: this is surely close to as unsystematic a system as could be constructed, a giant Red Flag of Non-Believability being waved in front of his train of reasoning.

3. The Voynichese word “oror” = the Hebrew word “arar”, meaning ‘juniper’

f15v not only has “oror” on, it has “oror or” and “or or oro r” immediately above each other on the first two lines. Did Bax not notice this when he picked this out? This is terribly selective and unconvincing. Moreover, “arar” itself is twice as common in the Voynich Manuscript than “oror”: while Bax himself points out good reasons why it shouldn’t be “oror”.

So… why does he persist with “oror” == juniper? “oror” appears throughout the Voynich Manuscript, while “or” appears extraordinarily frequently. This just seems a hopeful (and unsystematic) stab in the dark in exactly the wrong kind of way.

4. Bax thinks that EVA “kydain” = ‘centaur’ – but has he not noticed “dain” everywhere?

Now this is just ridiculous. One of the genuine mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript is the repeated presence of what look extraordinarily like medieval page references (EVA “aiin”): and here’s one apparently embedded in a word right at the top of f2r. So is there any real chance this also happens to encipher “kentaur” in the way he thinks? No, none whatsoever, I think.

5. “doary” = Taurus. Oh, really?

The reason people have in the past suspected the label by the “Pleiades”-like group on f68r might be “Taurus” was because of the late-medieval “-9” style Tironian nota at its end, preceded by a letter that looks like “r”. But both those correspondences remain a bit of a stretch, and so this seems basically unworkable in the way he hopes.

6. Reading EVA “keerodal” as “coriander”.

Ask people who have been working with the Voynich Manuscript’s “Voynichese” language for a few years and they’ll probably tell you (as I’m saying now) that this word is almost certainly a copying error by the Voynich Manuscript’s scribe. It is extremely rare to see “eer” (while “ar” and “or” are both extremely common), so I’m confident that this should instead have been written “karodal”, which closely matches how the Voynich Manuscript’s “labelese” often parses out in pairs, i.e. “k.ar.od.al”. Hence I have practically zero faith that this word could be a natural language version of “coriander” in the way Bax suspects – he has misparsed and miscategorised it.

7. Relying on Edith Sherwood’s hopeful plant identifications.

Oh, come on. Edith tries hard to do her thing, but remember that we’ve had real herbal authorities (such as the fantastic Karen Reeds) look closely at the Voynich’s herbal drawings, and they haven’t seen even 10% of what Edith Sherwood thinks she has seen.

So, in summary: of the nine words Bax claims (in his Appendix 1) to have identified, I disagree with the evidence, reasoning, and linguistic rationale for every single one. I am also sure that his letter assignments are fatally flawed. Contrary to the title of his paper, I honestly don’t believe that through his efforts he has yet identified a single “plausible” word in the Voynich Manuscript.

For me, this isn’t even a matter for Ockham’s blessed Razor: to be even remotely workable, a hypothesis needs to have a single example of evidence that chimes with it in a way that can actually be seen to work. And on the above showing of evidence, what he has presented so far is not yet a workable hypothesis in any obvious way, sorry.

194 thoughts on “Stephen Bax and the Voynich Manuscript…

  1. I think if u combine his ideas and methods with the earlier Nahuatl Voynich Manuscript Theory and identification of plants from the Badianus manuscript you might actually get somewhere.

    Voynich herbal at least, is a transcription of Nahuatl.

  2. I agree with your analysis, i don’t think Stephen’s proposals are viable though we could use more of his methodology and trial & error approach to break into some patterns that do occur in the text.

    In my opinion, the serious researchers in the VM community, linguists such as Stephen in particular, need better analysis tools for studying the contents of the manuscript.

  3. Ruby Novacna on February 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm said:

    Hello Nick!
    I think you are very harsh about proposals of Stephen Bax. It’s true that 62 pages for ten words is exaggerated. However, in my opinion, the word of page 68r must well be “Θαυρος” instead of “ταυρος” in Greek and … “PM curve word” (EVA oalcheol ‘) … must be equivalent “Alcyone – Альциона – Αλκυωνη”.
    Best regards

  4. Ruby: 62 pages for nine words (all of which I strongly disagree with) is indeed unimpressive. I’m glad that you think a couple of them are salvageable from your point of view… because they certainly all look badly broken from where I’m sitting. 🙁

  5. bdid1dr on February 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm said:

    Nick, Stephen, Job, & Ruby: One can gain much more meaning from the “Vms” script than from the EVA. One still needs to realize the effort involved in “Romanizing” native spoken vocabulary in whichever country the missionaries might have been proselytizing. I emphasize “Romanizing” because Latin was the language of the earliest missionaries. As far as I can see, the Dutch explorers to the West Indies and the North American continent did not proselytize. Nor did the Mennonites and Palatinates. The Russians, however, didn’t hesitate to enslave the Native Americans living on North American Western shores — and impose Russian Orthodox religious worship/practices upon them. Fort Ross is the name to ‘google’, if you are interested. However, I don’t think you’ll find any “Romanized’ or EVA script in the Fort’s archives. However, just about 40 miles south of Fort Ross begin the chain of Spanish missions: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Monterey, Lompoc (BTW Lompoc is pronounced ‘lom-poke’ , NOT Lom pock). Until about 25 years ago, San Jose’s missionary documents were available for review. They are now in the Historical Museum but are only now available for viewing to ‘credentialed’ professionals. However, microfilms are stored at UC Berkeley. I 1-der where the micro-film READING machines have gone. Y’ can’t read MICRO-film print with your ‘bare eyes’ so to speak.

  6. i agree with your ideas.
    why is everyone attached to the word. Why do not you examine the way

  7. Al Dorman on February 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm said:

    Hi Nick,

    Prof. Bax needed to be challenged and I think you did a good job. Would you consider writing into Reddit’s AMA when he does that in the near future?

    I actually have to disagree with your objection #1. The gallows letters are indeed at the beginning of many of the words for supposed herbal names, but is this really a big problem? His “oror” for juniper (page 15) has the gallows letter, but his “k” is NOT the same gallows letter. The “k” has one hoop, while the typical gallows letters are either with the big long loop (page 10), or the fancy box-like P (page 6). Look closely and you’ll see there’s two common gallows, and the “k” isn’t one of them. I’d theorize that the big long loop and the box-like P starting letters could be alef letters, denoting a common article (as in Arabic al-qutn, “cotton”), except it’s a left-to-right written language.

  8. Al: I’ll certainly have a look when he does. 🙂

    Here are the first letters from herbal pages in quires 1-8 (I whizzed through my copy of “Le Code Voynich” rather than write a script etc):-

    EVA p: 53
    EVA t: 24
    EVA k: 21
    EVA f: 10
    EVA ok: 3
    EVA ot: 2
    Weird gallows: 2
    Other characters: 0

    You and I both know that the gallows are probably different characters or tokens, but Bax is so anxious to prove that the various forms of [gallows]oror are the same word (“juniper”) that he concludes early on that all the gallows are just a single character. All of which may (strictly speaking) actually be ‘logical’, but it’s not really anything like the kind of historical logic I’m at all comfortable with: and this general idea holds true for the rest of his paper.

    But hold on a moment: in Currier A pages, the k:p and t:p letter instance ratios are about 6:1 and 5:1 respectively, while in Currier B pages the k:p and t:p ratios are about 6.8:1 and 3.5:1 respectively. So… how can it be that for the very first letters of Herbal pages, the k:p and t:p ratios are both about 1:2, i.e. the ratios are in completely the reverse proportion?

    Really, you’d have to be fairly unobservant not to notice that there’s something extremely unrepresentative (and indeed wobbly) about the initial (usually gallows) characters on the Herbal pages in the Quires 1-8. And yet it is precisely these specific letters that Bax is relying on most in forming his linguistic argument.

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  10. bdid1dr on February 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm said:

    Nick & Friends:

    Might it help y’all if you understood the difference in V-alpha if you could understand that the first two words of B-408, f-15v translate to Sp-a-s-os (species) os-kwash (squash), and third word is cu-com (cucumber). The illustration for f-15v is the evulsion of seeds from the flower (so that readers can better understand/identify the plant as edible — blossom, seeds, and all — whether a cucumber, squash, or melon). One would not want to mis-identify a jimson weed as being edible.
    Is there not room for considering that the EVA may need updating from its creator?

  11. bdid1dr on February 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm said:

    Other uses for this botanical specimen is a ‘natural’ sponge: the loofa squash.

  12. 8. It is possible to decipher nine words of the Manuscript in any language you like. See for instance this self explaining decoding of 8 words on a single page.

    EVA a = a, d = d, e = e, f = f, h = h, i = i, o = o, r = r, s = s, t = t


  13. 8. It is possible to decipher nine words of the Manuscript in any language you like. See for instance this self explaining decoding of 8 words on a single page!

    EVA a = a, d = d, e = e, f = f, h = h, i = i, o = o, r = r, s = s, t = t

    f111v.P.4 air
    f111v.P.10 shed
    f111v.P.11 shear
    f111v.P.13 tar
    f111v.P.16 far
    f111v.P.17 she
    f111v.P.21 air
    f111v.P.44 or

  14. Marke Fincher on February 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm said:

    OK, In a similar vein, check out my amazing Voynich decoding below:

    there is a section of Voynichese text on folio 102v1.P1.6 which goes:


    using a simple monoalphabetic substitution cypher this translates to:


    k => ‘R’
    ch => ‘ON’
    e => ‘A’
    o => ‘L’
    r => ‘D’
    s => ‘M’
    a => ‘C’

    So this proves I guess that someone in the 15th Century knew how to make a “big Mac” ?

  15. Robert Hicks on February 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm said:

    I’ve been challenging Stephen’s findings via the comment box on his website, but he is remarkably unwilling to respond to it. At least he has bitten (ineffectually) to Nick’s analysis.

    Stephen seems quite happy to receive pats on the back from interested members of the public, much less prepared to take any criticism from people who have studied the ms in any detail. How anyone, let alone a Professor of Linguistics, can dare announce to the world that he has ‘deciphered’ the ms on the strength of a handful of unrelated words in a so-far ‘unidentified language’ is beyond me.

    His main responses to any informed criticism is “you’ll have to wait a few years until I finish my results” or “we’ll have to agree to disagree”. Meanwhile, any armchair puzzle-solver who suggests even the most inane or done-to-death idea gets praised and told that their contribution to the project is invaluable.

  16. bdid1dr on February 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm said:

    Guys (and Dolls, if there are any female survivors of the “critics wars”):
    What I haven”t seen on either Nick’s pages or Stephen B’s is any response at all (contradictory OR validation) to my posts. I’m not feeling ‘left out’, per se, but rather disappointed at the lack of any feedback at all. It’s as if I’m writing with ‘lemon-juice ink. All one needs is a candle……
    BTW: Does anyone know what’s happening with Diane O’Donovan? I miss our little tete a’ tetes and occasional travels down the same paths. Hang in there Diane, Ruby, and Ellie!

  17. Robert Hicks on February 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm said:


    I have raised perfectly valid problems with what you have presented and, more importantly, HOW it has been presented. Perhaps without your direct involvement, the press has lauded you as “the man who cracked it”.

    As it stands, you cannot claim to have either a partial or provisional solution any more than I can claim to have a partial or provisional time-machine. What you have is a routine substitution cipher with abjad qualities and a mutable ‘unidentified’ language. Without such a language, any desired result can be fudged. All you have is “the first word of herbal pages could be names of plants” and “a word next to the Pleiades could mean Taurus”. Forgive me, but that’s hardly worth announcing to the world.

    I have no agenda, save to examine every single fact about the VMS, look at every single claim, and to judge them for their merits.

    As for my own solution, there isn’t one. There won’t be one. I am not looking for one. I have many theories about the VMS, but I am not going to present them without finishing them and then passing them underneath more expert noses than my own.

    But you are correct, there is little point in my trying with you any further. You do not like my approach, and that is absolutely your privilege. I hope what you are doing does come to something, or, if not, that you continue in the same spirit until a real finding comes along.


  18. Dear Nick & other interested parties: Yesterday I made a free-trade book exchange at my local coffee shop: “The World of Coffee – The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug” (Weinberg & Bealer, authors):

    So, my latest research to find a similar discussion/discovery in B-408 may have results in a day or so. I skimmed quite a bit of the book’s 400+ pages — and came to a screeching halt on page 238: Some of the craziest spider webs one doesn’t have to imagine. Scientific experiments on how well the the poor ‘common house spider’ could spin a web while under the influence of each of Marijuana, Benzedrine, Chloral Hydrate, and Caffeine. I laughed so hard, I cried — partly because I had captured a spider and released it over my balcony only minutes before. I’m laughing again, this morning, because I had to ask my husband’s assistance in ‘catch and release’ of a very confused/drunken? bee which was climbing the inside of my large window. Maybe it was drunk on rosemary blossom nectar?
    I arrived at this page consequent to my index search for “hallucinative” drugs which might have been chewed by South American Natives in the lowlands OR in the mountains: Betel nut: fruit/berry of Areca Cathecu/Feather-leaved Palms. (Note: Forbear the urge to correct my spelling to Catechu. The writer of this article and x-file also refers to Chrysalidocarpus).
    I’ve gone ‘way down trails and way up, even to the Andes and other higher elevations where the inhabitants depend on the betel nut to enhance their daily work and/or play — even today.

  19. Stephen, did my earlier comment/reference to the Florentine codex 51.9 ( “dig a hole: ‘insico cauitlatl”) ‘dig a cavity’ facilitate a decoding event for you?
    Nick, are we going to see a sequel to your book, soon?
    Diane, are we going to be seeing more commentary in re some of the more obscure items in B-408? Perhaps the IncanAztec/Mixtec mythology and ‘star charts’? Do I recall correctly that the Mayan/Incan/Aztec calendars predicted the end of the world for the year 2012?
    My pile of research books can no longer be stacked in one pile — so I have approximately six-feet of shelving for my history books, eight feet of shelving for botanical books, three feet of Ottoman Empire books, three feet of maps/atlases, and two feet of cook books! Four feet of folders full of downloads (to which I still refer and update)and most of the books will be moved to our guest room bookshelf. I 1-der how interesting potential guests might find those notes/downloads. My younger son began teaching his son how to spell and read (computer assisted) before my grandson was four years old. Sometimes it DOES ‘run in the family’.
    Stephen, what did you do with Tom Spande? Are you in touch with him? If so, give him my greetings. thanx!
    bees-knees beedee

  20. bdid1dr on February 24, 2014 at 1:23 am said:

    ‘Air’, see if you can find a ‘free-standing’ T anywhere in the Vms. “T” is found only in combination with “L” or “S”. As in such word formations as total, title, or atl? —> remove the dot at bottm of the question mark and you will have the Vms letter. Probably even the word “Nahuatl” is a “Romanization of a simpler sound/spelling : N’ otl
    bd id 1 dr

  21. bdid1dr on February 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm said:

    Nick, just ‘magine what a Nahuatl Scrabble game would look like. Kudos to your Gran for getting you off to a good start!
    beady-eyed wonder-r

  22. bdid1dr on February 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm said:

    Oops, my apologies, Air: I meant to say that the word ‘atlas’ (a collection of maps) could be spelled with only two glyphs: the combined “TL” and what looks like a question mark without the dot, which represents the sibilant ‘S’.
    In other conversations, I tried to compare the very similar glyph for ‘R’ — which looks very much like the glyph I’ve just discussed — except it has a curved “tail” instead of a straight downstroke.
    Nick, Stephen, have you noticed that two medieval plant specimens are identified as being xiu-hamolli ? With good reason: The small round-leaved plant is the “soap plant”. The illustration of the enormous root is identifying the ROOT of the “yucca” succulent plant (agave). The root is smashed and mixed into water to create a shampoo called xiu-hamolli.
    Round n-round we go — again.

  23. bdid1dr on February 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm said:

    Nick, there actually are three “R’s in the Vms. I’ll leave the mystery of their appearance to you and Stephen (and maybe Tom Spande).

  24. has there been any linguists who attempted to evaluate Voynich as glossolalia? speaking in tongues? christian or otherwise?

  25. You have to like what Stephen Bax is doing. The Voynich may me a copy of a lost language with some syllables replaced with other alphabets. Maybe it has even some boustrophedon text.

  26. xplor: respectively, (1) no, I’m sure you don’t; (2) I really don’t think so, the alphabet is too compact; (3) I don’t see any sign of boustrophedon – the stats all run in a single direction (i.e. 4o- at the left-hand-end of words, -89 at the right-hand-end of words, -am at the right-hand end of lines, etc etc).

  27. thomas spande on February 27, 2014 at 9:04 pm said:

    Dear all, First off “Bd”,I am still above the sod.Thanks for asking.

    Secondly, I rarely venture into plant IDs but here is one from left field! I think that f16v (likely scribe #2) depicts Cortex Moutan,the tree peony, where the red flowers and roots only are shown. No leaves. It is not found in my Culpeper but is found in my Chinese Materia Medica (Oxford,2005, p 458) where the roots (root bark) only are used for menstruation problems(amenorrhea, menorrhagia). The roots are clutching (five fingered) as though fighting cramps. The peony flowers have 13-16 yang (or yin) shaped lobes which approximates the fertile period of a woman’s cycle in days and the blue star-(yellow center) at the top announces an impeding or actual birth, to be rejoiced in. The MM indicates a yin /yang imbalance is treated with the tree peony root bark. Cheers, Tom

  28. bdid1dr on February 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm said:

    Hello, ThomS! While you’re on the same page, so to speak, take a look at folio 16-r which displays (image #1006l04) the botanical specimen which is identified as Plantago Ovata or Psyllium seed.
    Historic uses for the seeds were to make mucilage (a natural gel) to thicken gravy/sauce — but I suspect it was more often used as a laxative.
    One photo (for comparison, CalPhotos) I pulled up was taken at Red Rock Canyon State Park. My parents took us on a visit there when I was about 5 years old. I desperately wanted to take a ride on one of the ‘ponies’. My parents wouldn’t let me pick any of the wildflowers to feed the ‘horsies”. Before the canyon was made a state park, it was the stabling area for the “Twenty-mule” teams which pulled the wagons full of borax. I’ll let you all determine the uses of borax.

  29. bdid1dr on February 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm said:

    Friends: This morning I got a good look at my 18″ x 24″ reproduction of Piri Reis’ beautiful map:

    Edith Sherwood’s discussions in re the Benin (bronze work), Asante goldsmiths (Gold Coast), and the Ivory coast (Elephant with no tusks) are all beautifully illustrated on the map. Also appearing on the map are various European fortresses/castles — El Mina being just one of many.
    So, I wonder if Edith may have been very close to solving the puzzle of the language being written in Boenicke Ms 408. I’m writing this comment after comparing Admiral Reis’ map with the discussion and illustrations in a small book: “Asante – The Gold Coast” Philip Koslow, Chelsea House Publishers *New York* Philadelphia*
    Only brief discussion as to what happened to several million native Africans, but actually was rather disclosive.
    I shall be hunting down what may have been a set of books discussing the other kingdoms of Africa.

    Piri Reis focused on (and pondered) the parrots on his map. He may never have seen the white ‘cattle egrets’ which flew from the African coast to Key West via the trade winds. Cayo Hueso had hatches of millions of tiny bufonidae. The hundreds of egrets would gobble the thousands of toads which would hatch when the summer rains began.
    By the way: Cayo Hueso apparently meant “Islet of Pigs”. Over several centuries that tiny island’s name was mis-translated to Key West.

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  31. thomas spande on February 28, 2014 at 11:17 pm said:

    Dear all, Well I may have a steep hill to climb in placing the venue of what might be Cortex Mouton (f16v) as it has been reported mainly in the far East! China and nearby western areas. Diane would not be surprised at all,I suspect! Will look for some more IDs out of the Chinese Materia Medica going first to yin/yang disorders, then stylized versions of the plant with medical uses as laid down with mnenomic clues. So far the VM trail leads me toward “the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play”! Cheers, Tom

    ps.”and the sun comes up like thunder out of China cross the bay”

  32. bdid1dr on March 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm said:

    Sunset in Key West: Mallory Dock with several hundred people looking for the ‘flash of green’. Polyglot of English, Spanish, French, Portuguese…..
    My younger son has never forgotten the evening the US Navy’s flying team “Blue Angels” did a flyover with their latest jet airplane, which hovered fifty feet above the water surface and roughly a hundred feet away from the dock — and backlit by the setting sun.

  33. bdid1dr on March 3, 2014 at 2:05 am said:

    Nick, Stephen, & n-e other n-ter-es-ted par-ties: I refer you to a Dover Edition of the Maya Society’s booklet, “An Aztec Herbal — The Classic Codex of 1552” (William Gates publication). My husband handed me my copy this afternoon. I am so excited, I am somewhat incoherent. So, find a source (Amazon is good) for a good copy for about $15.00 including P & H.

  34. suter on March 3, 2014 at 11:11 am said:

    My own work indicates two things, thus far:
    1. A set of maps, likely hydrographic, of San Francisco, Ca., presumably c. 1500.
    2. The text contains “null” elements in the form of positional indicators, explaining the various “vertical” corellations.

  35. thomas spande on March 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm said:

    Dear all, Well, I am proposing an herbal ID with a fair amount of confidence but it is so “normal” in lacking odd shaped leaves, weird and strangely colored flowers that I suspect it is a rediscovery of the wheel by me. I was not led to this however except by a very, very similar depiction of f25r in my increasingly well-thumbed Chinese Materia Medica where on page 436 is identified Cortex Mori Radicis and where the root bark is used to treat edema and lung heat (excess yang). The VM depiction is what might be called a “true”image which seems rare in the VM plant section. Now things get odd as my Culpeper identifies it also as “white mulberry” (as is also given in the MM) but the parts used are everything BUT the root. So is the VM giving up both the trad. Chinese use as well as in Europe? A medicinal hybrid? The little dark berries at the juncture of opposite leaf stems joining the main stem are typical of this plant and the leaf shapes are accurate. I think the text is done by scribe #2 (looser style). So maybe we get an occasional glimpse of reality here in the VM,not the usual mumbo-jumbo? Cheers,Tom

  36. thomas spande on March 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm said:

    Dear all, I left out, for those who care about conventional Latin plant IDs,the usual name for the white mulberry. It is Morus alba (imagine the italics!), famously known as the Russian mulberry and also the mulberry used to feed silkworms. Has a circle closed or do I imagine that? Recall Chios island, Greece (a possible venue for the VM) when not raising mastic trees was heavily into silk making. BD has dealt with that topic in her previous Old World life! Cheers, Tom.

  37. bdid1dr on March 7, 2014 at 4:58 pm said:

    ThomS, several months ago (and on several discussion pages besides our host Nick’s) I gave a full translation of the fruit displayed on B-408, folio 11v: Morus Alba (mulberry tree). At that time I also explained that it was NOT the fruit which was fed to the silk-worm larvae, but rather the leaves (pablumox). “Blattae” (the last word of discussion on f-11v) means moth-eaten. “Blattae was a cautionary word to the folks who ‘unspun’ the cocoons into silk ‘thread’: Do it before the moth is fully evolved and eats her way out of the cocoon!
    Pull out your latin dictionaries, folks — and ‘see’ what I mean.

  38. bdid1dr on March 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm said:

    Prof. Bax, maybe you’ll find this discussion a bit more intelligible than my recent contributions in re ‘M’ and ‘N’ alpha-characters, which appear consistently throughout the “VMs”, and are perfect ex-am-ples of the use of “minims”.

  39. thomas spande on March 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm said:

    Dear all, particularly BD. The Chinese Materia Medica (MM)on the plant shown as white mulberry (VM 25r) does not deal with other uses of the plant; only medicinal ones despite China being at one time the main source of silk from that plant. Nothing on “tea” in the MM either! I do recall your essays on silk making. I will have to look again at f11v but I remain convinced Morus alba is that depicted on f25v. Two entries in the botanical section of the VM for the same plant would be strange but not impossible. Now to your ID of the plant shown on f16r as Plantago ovata. I can locate it in my MM but it bears little resemblance to the plant you discuss in connection with wanting to feed one or more to your horse. That would, in any case be a plant introduced into the New World and not the common weed in China (Semen Plantiniginis) to which it bears no resemblance. I cannot find yet the plant you have identified as Plantago ovata which would seem to have a very characteristic 9-lobed leaf. I am guessing that we are going back to medical clues anyway with the swollen roots being a clue maybe to psyllium for constipation as you are guessing. Are we going now for New World plants as well as Old World? I know that silkworms had a tough time of it in New England and other caterpillars were introduced in hopes of remedying this deficit The gypsy moth caterpillar was one that failed at this task, was unwisely released into the wilds and then went after every thing in sight including pines but failed at silk making. Henry Thoreau writes of these pests, totally out of control, pulling down his guttering by their weight and the sound of falling needles on his roof at “Walden” keeping him awake at night. Anyway I am guessing that your commentary on silk making applied to the Old World plant? Cheers, Tom

    ps. Has the VM search shifted to the New World while I was dealing with several heavy snows here in Maryland and not daily checking posts on Nick’s web? I thought a stake had been driven through that idea, donkey’s years ago? Are we now just ignoring the VM vellum dating as irrevelant, explaining away somehow, the use of Latin with Tironian notes, European hair coloration and styles, etc.

  40. bdid1dr on March 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm said:

    Yes, ThomS, while you were shoveling snow, our ponderings shifted to South American shores. Partly because Nick and Stephen B have been having an exchange of info in re “Na Huatl” (The American Botanical Society recently posted some ‘new’ info in re a botanical specimen called ‘xiuh-amolli’. Actually the ABC was slightly off-course, so to speak. So, my husband has been furthering my translation efforts by purchasing various books (Azteca, Badianus/De la Cruz–via Pope John II, in 1990), vocabularies, and maps. (Piri Reis).
    Here are two excellent sources of Aztec info (though neither of them make the distinction between the small blue-flowered ‘xiuh-amolli’ which stems, leaves, and flowers ONLY are to be macerated and boiled into a salve for scabies. The larger root, leaves and flower which portray a ‘yucca/Spanish bayonet are also being macerated and boiled; ‘xiuh-hamolli, into a ‘soap-shampoo.
    Another codex (Osuna Triple Alliance.jpg) identifies 3 major locations in South America: Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan (note the ‘b’ for ‘p’). I’m now wondering how the Aztecs would have identified “Cuba” (if they did the ‘offshore islands at all).

  41. thomas spande on March 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm said:

    To BD et al., First off, I think f11v is not any mulberry, white or black, but is rather the turmeric plant. I think this was one of the few Sherwood IDs I agree with. It is in Materia Medica (MM) (Chinese) on p 231, where it has one use as helping to strengthen the arm. I think the roots of f11v are sort of shaped like a bent arm (or maybe leg?) and do not resemble the roots of turmeric (Curcuma longa L. or C. aromatica Salisb) shown in MM. I think the text of f11v is done by scribe #2. For sure tumeric would be an article of commerce,e.g. for flavoring curries, although most or maybe all came from the East Indies. The use of the herb in medicine woulde involve those untinted roots and I suppose it is not a stretch to imagine those also being exported from Indonesia. I think we follow in the footsteps of Diane on this point.

    One another ID via the MM. On p592, we find a pretty fair depiction of VM f30v (Similax glabra Roxb.), a plant allegedly improving the mobilization of arm and leg joints. Note, in the VM, the berries are in two groups of five on the left stems and two groups of 5 on the right stem branches. I think the stems are arms and legs and the berries are toes and fingers.The text was enscribed by #2.

    I have downloaded “An Aztec Herbal” by Wm Gates onto my Kindle and so far. I remain unconvinced that it has any connection with the VM botanical section. I did find it interesting that the Mayans were using hot/cold illness characterizations and evidently had had some contact with Chinese medical lore and used also their taste characterizations. But they are also into the 4 “humors” common in Europe unlike the yin/yang system that I think is being used in the VM. I will dig further on what “plain text” was the source of the Latin translation and those really stylized original plant drawings.Even the later drawings bear little resemblance to the weirdnesses of the VM. Cheers, Tom

  42. bdid1dr on March 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm said:

    BTW, An Aztec word for botany: xiuh-tl-ama-tl-iz-tl-i
    Now that I have a Nahuatl-English dictionary at hand, I am going to continue to translate the Nahuatl-Latin script in B-408 into English. Those of you who speak or read Deutch, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Arabic– may gain quite a bit of understanding of
    the offerings of B-408 — from first folio to last.

    Those strange markings on the left margin of B-408’s first manuscript page are symbols used by scribes to indicate where the first item of discussion is to occur. The second strange marking indicates how the folios are to be paginated and folded before being bound (if to be bound at all).
    I’m still having fun because my brain is always 1-dr-ng even when I sleep. Do any of you recall the expression “I’ll sleep on it” (when trying to solve a puzzle or a dilemna)?

  43. thomas spande on March 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm said:

    To BD (mainly). Well I think it has to be admitted that the “New World” is older than many imagine. I have an account of some early Christians from Sendai Japan who went to see the Pope the hard way in early 1500s. They landed in CA than went overland through Mexico establishing monasteries along the way then built a ship and resumed their sea voyage, eventually hitting Italy and gifting the pope who graciously gave some treasure to them to take home. They returned to Sendai and are honored by a statue there. Well this is all true but another book I own “America BC” by Barry Fell is evidently the result of imagining glacial scratches in New Hampshire (“our little Stonehenge”) as examples of “Ogam”, the writing of early Celts in Ireland. That NH tie-in been pretty much debunked. The Ogam language was unusual in that it involved 1-5 fingers above, even with or below a horizontal line made by one’s other hand. So it could be seen at a distance greater than the voice would carry and made no noise. Fell gets into early monk’s travels and they did get to Iceland (see Tristan Jones “Ice”) for a good read and an account of known travels of those monks using leather circular boats (cowries(sp)?). Only a few think these guys made it to the New World however. Maybe St.;Patrick’s Day flushes out a few more believers. Guiness helps. Ever open to new ideas but the Aztec Herbal may be a stretch.

    Here’s another stretch. My daughter noted years ago that a Mayan branch in Mexico. the Olmec’s, had on their statuary, eyes with the occipital fold, like the Chinese. Once you get established, idle (but interesting) speculation generally ceases so haven’t heard about this for years. Now it is known that non-Caucasians were in the New World long before the “ice bridge” during the last ice age (10K yrs ago). Most think they came down the west coast by boat
    and settled all along the way. A good find in TX predates the ice age and it would make sense if all this is true that Mexico and points south would be in their travel itinerary. Just that the Aztec Herbal is sort of normal and not weird like the VM. Cheers Tom

  44. Ruby Novacna on March 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm said:

    Dear friends and colleagues!
    Please post your results on your blogs so that we can see them.
    Best regards

  45. bdid1dr on March 11, 2014 at 5:13 pm said:

    ThomS & all interested:

    “America’s Beginnings” – ‘The Wild Shores’, by Tee Loftin Snell, discusses emigrants from Portugal and the Azores to ‘a Cape Breton Harbor, about 1522. Further discussion in Chapter 2 of this book is in re Ponce de Leon, Balboa, Cortez, and Coronado – 1492-1561. Next chapter: ‘Bloody Florida, Lost Roanoke – 1502-1590: Some discussion in re Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his massacre of 334 French Huguenots on the shore of Florida.
    Nick might be interested in picking up the story from the English side of “The Pond”.

  46. thomas spande on March 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm said:

    Dear all, Last comment on Turmeric. It grows wild in Indonesia but has been extensively cultivated in Tamil Nadu, India.

    It has been remarked often that NOT A SINGLE WORD of the VM has been decrypted. Well, I push forward one decrypt I have made, just one that I have confidence in, and that is the tiny writing to the right of the thistle like plant on f2r that I think reads (L->R) “Troaia” which was the Greek spelling for Troy. The main text is in the hand of scribe #2 (looser style). What that means is anyone’s guess.

    I think, all the gallows glyphs are single consonants, not ligatures and the fundamental key to decrypting the VM is the recognition that the language used in the VM uses letters for numbers as did many languages in the middle East, including Arabic, Hebrew and (here it comes gang!) Armenian. If one uses the Latin equivalent of “89” used by Armenians and often occurring in the VM, you have “et”. “9” without a long tail to the left is “t”.The tail amounts to a macron and I think “st” is usually meant. It is the concealed macrons, usually using the gallows for “p” that even sort of looks like a “p” that are most commonly used. The use of many macrons and made up word lengths is what makes a lot of computer analysis of letter occurrences, word lengths etc. of minimal use. Now what the hey does “Troy” signify? It might be that a specimen drawn on f2r was found at what was once considered Troy but was really Troas Alexander. The actual site of Troy was not discovered until the 19th century. Then why not provide the venue for all the other botanicals? This appears not to be the case. Cheers, Tom

  47. bdid1dr on March 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm said:

    Which is why I am busy translating rather than decoding the contents of B-408. The language which is translated on every single page/folio is Latin, regardless of which ethnic group might have been observed and/or interviewed by the various monks or traders who composed and illustrated B-408.
    If some of the translations are vague on details, most often it would be the case of the translator attempting to write ‘syllables’ as he heard them being spoken. So, this would be the results of monk/scribes working with the Azteca (who supposedly had no written language at that time).
    The Maya had an incredible vocabulary which was carved into their stonework.
    Our latest viewing of a ‘NetFlix’ offering was “Cracking the Maya Code” and interviews with Merle Green Robertson and MacArthur ‘genius’ grant recipient David Stuart.

  48. bdid1dr on March 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm said:

    I emphasize ‘supposedly’ the Aztecs (Na-huah-tl) had no written language until the ‘Florentine’ and ‘Badianus’ codices were transcribed in the late 1400-1500’s a.d.
    Even today there have been changes to the bc (before Christ) and ad (anno domini) references to history. We now use the terms bce (before common era) and ce (common era). So, which ‘common era’ are we discussing/referring? How are our younger generations of historians handling this shift in terminology (regardless of their nationality)?
    Ruby: Not all of us very verbose contributors to Nick’s pages have the means of creating our own blog, much less being able to maintain one. Even if we did, we would probably end up in the same ‘scrap heap’ as Diane, Ellie, and Edith. You may, at this very moment, be wondering ‘who is Edith Sherwood’.
    Nick, at the risk of being ridiculed a ‘nag’, I still hope to purchase a set of your book(s). The sooner the better!

  49. bdid1dr on March 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm said:

    Ruby, some of us do not have the computer and peripherals to maintain/illustrate a blog. In fact I am seeing more and more computer activity at our local library — even though I haven’t yet seen a printer for ‘downloads’.
    My ‘antique’ home computer and printer setup was only recently upgraded with video & sound cards. Even then, unless the videos have captioning, I am unable to enjoy audio/visual presentations on-line.
    My apologies if I am interfering with the communications hosted by Mr. Pelling on his blog.
    BD, the one-eyed wonder (two eyes, but which only one works.)

  50. thomas spande on March 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm said:

    Dear all On Troy. Armenian prehistory indicates a generous readiness to believe that they originated as survivors of the sack of Troy! Particularly those around ancient Cilicia. But folks inclined to trace their beginnings to Troy abounded, some in fact in South Central Italy. Why identification with the losers of the seige and sacking of Troy seems odd.

    Ruby, you are likely missing Diane’s practise of referencing every statement with some authoritative monograph or publication. I have tried to do this with plant IDs but when it comes to decrypts, what can you cite? How do you reference speculation? I think a lot of computation on letter frequency, on word lengths is of minimal use since there are many examples (a dozen or so per botanical page) of scribal abbreviation for deletions indicating absent letters such as the concealed macrons I mention above. To this might be added the more common Tironian notation of the “)” superscript, most commonly after “m” and “n” and indicating truncation, i.e. a following letter or letters is omitted. One example of a common deletion in the VM botanicals is “st” for “sunt” where the meaning is usually “are” in Latin.

    JB, a few years back, provided a useful tabulation by character recognition software of the gallows gyphs; it could be refined by gallows used by scribe #1 or #2? If his character recognition software is up to it: the “&”, “8” and the “8 with a rocker” might be attempted. Maybe some additional blood might be squeezed from the VM turnip? Cheers, Tom

  51. bdid1dr on March 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm said:

    ThomS, just so you know, the verso of B-408 f-2r (f-2v) is illustrating and discussing the water lily: the very first four ‘glyphs’ represent the syllables ‘oa (Wa) tl a-om: wa-ter-lil-i-um.
    Because this folio did NOT have an elaborate “P” (especies) glyph, “oa” could be added, mentally/automatically by an informed reader, so that the specimen could be read as I have x-pl-ae-nd above.
    So, later today, I shall visit and download f-2r, just to see if B-408 begins with discussions of the various aquatic plants (some of which are included in de Sagittae). What we all might be seeing is a progression through aquatic, bulbs, ranunculae/buttercups. corms,……until the more ‘exotic’ specimens begin to appear: Sericinae and the feeding and maintenance of the insects which kept the silk production lines busy for centuries. Corms for saffron. Bulbs for tulips/ranunculae….regardless of which country produced them.
    Some other time, I may re-introduce my discussions in re Artemis/Diana (folios in B-408 which number in the 70’s through the 80’s.
    Ciao (time for chow)!
    beady-eyed wonder

  52. Ruby Novacna on March 13, 2014 at 11:33 am said:

    Dear colleagues!
    My proposal to consolidate your comments on your own blog was not dictated by the feeling that you caused the interference on the blog N.Pelling. I admit that the reason is purely selfish, because it is much more convenient for me to visit a blog that can inspire me that to read hundreds of messages, I do not have this possibility physically. Between us, we need the same number of minutes to post on our own blog, that on the other blog.
    However our hobby should not become our duty.
    Best regards

  53. bdid1dr on March 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm said:

    Corrections to folio 11v (Morus alba fruit (mulberry pictured) and leaves chopped into ‘pablumox’:
    Line 5 translates to latin phrase rogaes-eus a-quo-llegeus (funeral in hot water).
    Line 6 refers to ‘a type of beetle (blatta-n-aes-os)[silkworm] recox-laes (to cook-to boil).

    There may be another folio in B-408 which would be referring to the same tree (morus alba) which thin underlying layer of bark was used for paper (and paper money by the Sericine (Chinese).
    Anyway, the discussion I’ve just recapped, above, is all about killing the moth inside the cocoon (in hot boiling water) before it can eat its way out of the cocoon; which would cut the mile-long thread of silk into unusuable lengths for reeling and spinning, and production of cloth.
    I was (and still am) a handspinner (drop spindle, Navajo spindle, silk and cotton spindle).

  54. bdid1dr on March 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm said:

    I can also make a three-ply yarn out of a ‘single” length of yarn, whether I ply with my spinning wheel or drop spindle: The technique is called “Navajo plying”, although Navajo spinners/weavers tell me they do not use that special technique.
    So, how much of the of “Na-huat-l codices were written by Native Americans of Mexico and the Yucatan? I ask the question, here, because I already know the answer. Do you?

  55. thomas spande on March 14, 2014 at 5:32 pm said:

    Dear all, particularly Ruby. I think Voynichers are split into two main camps: those with their own web sites and those who use Nick’s. Nick has graciously provided space over many years so that every blossom has a chance to bloom, despite some grumbling about imagined abuses. I side with those using Nick’s web pages as this at least keeps the discussions from becoming too diffused to be useful. I find that key words, like “Bax”,”Dogon”, “Internet mind” can be used with Google along with “Nick Pelling voynich manuscript” to select among the topics currently under discussion. Some run out of gas when a topic has been expatiated upon enough and then may get shifted to his ongoing archive, but evidently are never deleted. I think it also serves the role as “argument settler” as every entry is dated so priority for an idea is automatically established and an email address is required of the submitter.

    Nick will permit posters to run with an idea to its logical or illogical end. To me, this is the great strength of this approach; it can be self correcting or people can just settle in for an agreement to disagree. Nick will referee the more preposterous but a great flexibility seems permitted. An always grateful Voynicher. Cheers Tom

  56. thomas spande on March 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm said:

    Dear all, On Armenian cryptography, redundancy and nulls.

    At the risk of dwelling overmuch on a topic that may annoy or exasperate; I will mention yet once again my detection of tentative Armenian hands in the VM encryption. In particular, the use of two letters to encypher a single letter was widely used by the Armenians and from the 9th C (A.D.) onward. I have a link to an enciphered Armenian grave stone epigraph but this would block my post so I will pass on that. The letter “c” was sometimes used as I think it is in the VM. I think the following double glyphs are used for vowels in the VM: cc=e; c-c=i; c-*c (*= curlicue over the line joining the “c”s) =u and the plain old Latin “o” is used as o and also in the folio numbering for “0” as common in Europe with the introduction of the concept of zero by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci . A single “c” is a null as well as any simple “c” in an odd number of the “c” glyphs as in c-c c. One of these double “c”s is redundant as “8” = e as well as cc=e and c-c=i. The VM language is phonetic and does not really use any diacritical marks. I think some that appear to be diacritical marks are macrons or part of the encipherment and not meant for pronunciation. BD also inclines to a phonetic code but more complex that what I propose where only the tipped “2” an Armenian glyph, has the same meaning in the VM as in Armenian and that is “ch”. So the gallows are all consonants l, r, h and p in order of complexity and where c-gallows-c is found this is simply i-consonant-i, i.e. the i appears before and after the consonant. Another Armenian glyph is used and that is one I have yet to understand, i.e. the “8” with a flattened rocker that I think is the Latin “f” and was not introduced in written Armenian until the 11thC. The”&” also appears in the VM and may substitute for “89” =et. I have not seen it in cursive Armenian until the 16thC so it is strange to find it in the 15th C VM manuscript. It was rare in cursive Latin and not much used until letter press printing, late 15thC in Italy. Is one purpose of the VM cipher glyphs to pass for Arabic? When the Tironian notation for truncation “)” is combined with “n” or “m” then something really cryptic results: The combined glyph resembles another letter followed by the tipped “2” (2*) in these cases i2* and n2* respectively. Just so much additional smoke! Some Latin glyphs are used in their original context “a.i o d,m,n” and also appear in Armenian. Well enough said on this but the macrons and Tironian notation as well as no punctuation, no upper cases for anything (nouns or sentence starts) and arbitrary but reasonable word lengths make this puzzle even harder to figure out. The Armenians used the colon (:) for a full stop. That would be too obviously Armenian for the VM encryptors! So nothing was used. The number “4” stood for “c” and no q,x,y or z is used. Cheers, Tom

    ps. The Armenians also used a 30 day calendar and while most of the calendar (with European zodiac names) is in the VM, part is missing. I think some of the tipped tubs are done to adapt the VM calendar to the Gregorian calendar where 10 days were subtracted from the Julian calendar.

  57. bdid1dr on March 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm said:

    Diane, ThomS: I hope you can find an illustration of the ‘fruiting body’ for the fruit/berry/seed of the cucurma/turmeric plant.
    Thirty years ago, I lived in a city which streets were lined with mulberry trees and Spanish pepper trees. Mulberry tree fruit is very messy and sticky. Without even looking at tree, itself, one can tell it is a mulberry tree by the over-ripe fruit melting down on the sidewalk. All of the berries still retain the “topknot’ (which you see in B-408, f-11v) after the berry has melted away from its stem.
    ThomS, so far, ‘looks like’ (various body parts) discussion in re any botanical specimen in B-408 does NOT bear out the translation. Most of the translations deal with the plant’s origins and its uses, curative, medical, or its value as a cooking spice. The saffron crocus, for which I have done a translation, and presented to the WWW, is an excellent example (B-408, f-35r) — which I submitted to Nick’s ‘Castel del Monte book launch blog on 10 Dec 2013 and again just last week .

  58. bdid1dr on March 15, 2014 at 4:33 pm said:

    Since this blog page began with reference to folio 2, I’d like to discuss the next folio 3 (verso):
    Aconite (aco-ni-til-o-am) s-P-c-e ran-un-cu-c- tl-ox — roxg wraps and continues with aes-an-aes-geus ranunquollecox–It.
    The dialogue continues with reference to es-pec-i-at-iti-us, –and eventually ‘wraps’ the discussion with ‘aesan e—ceatius geus tle atius (lines 12-13-14):

    Species of buttercup (ranunculus) Aconite “Monks Hood”.
    (The illustration on f-3v is portraying only 2 or 3 clusters of petals (cups).

    When I ‘read up’ on this peculiar specimen, I found mention of its roots being poisonous, as well as being antagonistic to other garden plants nearby.
    So, if anyone reading this essay is an avid gardener, be sure to read the cautionary discussion on where it is most acceptable to include in your gardens.

  59. bdid1dr on March 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm said:

    In re the person whose name appears at top of this page — which Nick has not yet buried in his ‘back pages’: If ProfB professes to be an expert in linguistics, he seems to be particularly dense when it comes recognizing written phonetic translations of Latin term-in-ol-ogy.
    So, I shrug, and continue to donate to Nick’s Mysteries blog. Thanks again and again for your very interesting presentations and puzzles, Nick! 🙂

  60. bdid1dr on March 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm said:

    Nick, let me know if you’d like for me to lay out (one more time) the Latin alphabet/syllables/words formed by B-408 scribes. So far, there has been no changes in the syllabary throughout the manuscript’s folios.
    I still want to reiterate that the message on the very last page was written in an entirely different hand (my guess Busbecq). That last page is simply a note specifying the location from which the writer was departing (with some 240 manuscripts which ended up In Vienna and Bohemia): Ancyranum/Ankara
    Monumentum Augustus

  61. James Noble on March 19, 2014 at 6:25 am said:

    Please could you lay out your full solution for reading the VMS, with step-by-step instructions someone can follow get from EVA to phonetic Latin, along with several examples of complete folios?

  62. bdid1dr on March 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm said:

    Mr. Noble,
    I’ve just now got a-round-tu-it (your Q.) I’ll be back after breakfast, and will once again lay out my three-phase translation method.
    A tout a l’heure! (French ‘slang’ for see you later.)
    c eu l-a-tr !

    Smiley (with a wink) 😉

  63. thomas spande on March 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm said:

    Dear all and particularly those who hold to a Mayan origin for all or part of the VM.

    The Dover reprint of “An Aztec Herbal” has an informative preface by Wm.Gates, the English translator. After reading this I think we are left with some facts that disqualify this as the source or inspiration for the Voynich botanical section. The earliest translation of the Mayan language into Latin was 1552 with the original plaintext in Nahuatl unfortunately being lost. One assumes that it was written in Mayan by Padre de la Cruz just slightly earlier than the translation into Latin by Badianus. So the time line is off for the VM parchment being dated to the early 15thC, not mid 16thC. If it is argued that the VM is a copy of the early lost plaintext of the Mayan herbal, than one has to argue that somehow it was available to de la Cruz and also two Voynich scribes contemporaneously on or around mid 16thC and that the Voynich scribes did their own translation into Latin?

    The Aztec Herbal is not really an herbal in the sense of the VM botanical section. It included edibles, trees and ornamentals as well as plants for medicinal uses. The organization appears totally different from that of the VM botanicals where, so far as I can tell, no obvious organization has been detected. I am beginning to think that Diane may have put forward the most reasonable hypothesis about the organization of the VM plants and that is they are drawn and the texts written subsequent to extensive travels by the VM botanists or travellers describing their finds to the VM scribes. The plants drawn in the original Mayan herbal are even more strange than those of the VM and carry stylization to a new level of iconography, which was also true of the original Nahuatl language. That language was based on icons, sort of like hieroglyphs or ideagrams such as those used in China. It seems reasonable to expect that a huge number of glyphs would be used and not the 20 or so used in the VM texts.

    I think that persuing the Aztec herbal is a huge time waster from the standpoint of a link with the VM. There are some interesting overlaps perhaps with Chinese medicine that would be worth digging into such as the Aztec herbs being used for “hot or cold” disorders. The easiest way of dealing with this is not to postulate a common shared source but rather the same idea arising independently in widely separated parts of the globe. Cheers, Tom

  64. thomas spande on March 19, 2014 at 9:57 pm said:

    Dear all, particularly BD.

    When I say that some part of a VM plant depiction “resembles” or “looks like” or “represents”, I mean exactly that. It may not appear in the text as I think the plant (herb) drawn includes reminders of its use which might imply the herbal is not being used or prepared for a true herbalist who would not need such clues. If I can cite Diane, she concluded that spots on some leaves were a mnemonic device, independent of my speculations. I think some weird proturberances (some even cubic) on roots, even to the point of what look like mines at sea, the berry pips all facing toward the viewer (eye disorders?), yin/yang shaped leaves, and roots with almost right angled branches are all done to suggest a medicinal use. The directionality of leaves (all to the left, both sides or right), and flower directions as well as color (blue, red or blue-red) are meant to imply ying/yang properties are being portrayed. For example use of yin (the female, cool principle) is to be given for an overabundance of yang (male principle or heat, as in a fever). The Chinese Materia Medica herbal is straightforward and has western-style plant depictions but the text gets into yin/yang physical disorders on many occasions.Like Dioscorides, the Chinese MM also uses animal parts including hedge hog hide to stop bleeding (not start it as one might guess!). No animals in the VM plant section so the medicine of the VM is a departure from both that of the Materia Medica of either Dioscorides or the Chinese, or is that part missing? Menno has speculated that some of the VM herbal section might be missing.

    In short, I think there is method in the madness of the VM plant depictions, but not every one. I think that the white mulberry is depicted on VM f25r and it is a departure from the distorted plants that typify the VM botanical section. It is a very faithful drawing of the real thing as discussed at length in the Chinese Materia Medica on p.436 as Morus alba. Sorry BD, you have not convinced me yet. Cheers Tom

  65. bdid1dr on March 20, 2014 at 2:26 am said:


    I’m with you on Chinese herbal/botanical discussions. After all, the whole industries of feeding and raising silkworms to the point where they spin their cocoons so that they can metamorphose into moths inside the cocoon — is dependent on boiling those cocoon occupants to death before they chew through the umpteen layers of very fine silk thread — is discussed in excruciating references to boiling those living creatures inside their ‘coffins’, so to speak. Morus alba leaves are their only pablum. That folio makes several references to ‘sericine’ and ‘ser-i-cin-ae’ . Sericine is actually latin for Chinese, true. But the closest the scribe came to naming the bug (actually a caterpillar) was ‘blattae’.
    The picture on folio 11v is a mulberry, not the tree, only the fruit/berry. The discussion makes no reference to the berry, but only the leaves which were turned into latin ‘pabulumox”. My mother used to refer to our breakfast cereal as pablum. So, when I saw the latin word pabulumox, I knew I was identifying the fruit of the white mulberry tree (morus alba) which leaves get finely chopped and fed to the ‘blattae’ (latin for ‘bug’ insect.
    Black mulberry trees may have other uses, too. Perhaps VM folio 25r may be discussing those?

  66. bdid1dr on March 22, 2014 at 1:52 am said:

    Mr. Noble, in re your query as far as moving away from the EVA and into the ‘clearer waters’, so to speak, of the latin words and terminology:
    First of all, put aside the EVA (forgive me, Rene, if I hurt your feelings) and concentrate on those letters which ‘appear’ to be the common, ordinary letters of the alphabet: a, c, o, dl, f, g/k, ll, P, q, tl, . .. eu, eo, oe, oi — are obvious in context. Most confusing is the linked c-c characters which can represent cc or ce or ec or ece…..the word ‘species’ is a very good x-ample. Larger numeral 9 is ‘g’ or ‘k’. Smaller 9 is ‘x’.
    These are the basics which appear throughout the manuscript. I’m weary. I beg your pardon, Nick, for this last reiteration of my method of consistently translating some 25 folios (not all botanical). Rene, I hope you have been following some of the recent discussions and Nick’s disgust with ProfB. I hope y’all might visit the Gregorian University’s finding of the hoard of manuscripts which were walled off when Pope Gregory enlarged the Roman School. I’m pretty certain that at least one manuscript (Codex Badianus?) was one of hundreds that Pope John II reviewed before returning it to Mexico.

  67. thomas spande on March 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm said:

    Dear all, I think most Voynichers agree that the plants in the botanical section were drawn first and perhaps colored (but not necessarily so) before the text was added. Then color slapped on in several stages over many years atop the original color that may have been a watercolor wash or colored inks. Nothing new here. BUT

    Does the same scenario play out for the “pharma section” Of the approximately 14 pages of that section (f88r-102v) I think a lot of crowdedness can be observed in the vicinity of those elegant apothecary’s jars. In some cases part of the adjecent herb/plant actually touches or even overlaps the jar (e.g. rootlet of f88r and f89r/v; leaves with f100v-(1); plant parts with f102r/v . Text collides with jars on f88v, 99r/v and f101v(2). This implies that 1) all or part of the apothecary jar was added AFTER the text had been written. What is the humble little unpainted jar doing at the bottom of f100v(2)?? Was this jar the model for ALL the original jars which were then greatly augmented by decoration? One can see on f89r, that the jar second down from the top had its base redrawn in a very crude way but the original base outline remains.Jars seem equally crowded either on the inside of a page or the outer edge. If indeed the jars were either drawn last or redrawn from a more modest container, it might suggest that the coloration of the jars was done in toto more at a time well after those of the otiginal plants of the VM. Maybe here mineral based pigments were used? if this argument stands up to scrutiny, the question raised is WHY was it done this way? Was this just for appearance sake, maybe to hop up the saleability of the VM? I throw this pigeon among the cats of the Voynichers. Cheers, Tom

  68. bdid1dr on March 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm said:

    ThomS, I think it is Diane who has discussed the colors of pharma-jars (white) vs the color of distilling equipment (red). Not too long ago Nick raised the question of similarities in folios 99-100-101. I responded that those objects were probably “measuring-cup’ ‘pharma-jars’ in that they appeared to be indicating proportions of the root/leaf mixture — and whether “hot” or “cold” liquids.’
    Maybe Nick has since then gotten valid answers. I just now realized that I missed any discussion in re production or use of alcoholic liquids (distilled or fermented).
    ‘pigeon’amongst the cats’ or vice-versa? How about one particular “Thom-cat” amongst the pigeons? ;-^

  69. bdid1dr on March 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm said:

    ;-^ — is my ‘wink and tongue-in-cheek’ smirk. Friendly!

  70. bdid1dr on April 1, 2014 at 12:35 am said:

    ps: Besides Wm. Gates edition of An Aztec Herbal (The Classic Codex of 1552) I am reading:
    Daily Life of the Aztecs (Jacques Soustelle)
    Yucatan and the Maya Civilization (M. Weisenthal
    Nuestra Poetas Aztecas (Miguel Leon-Portilla (in Espanol)
    Pre-Columbian Literatures of Mexico (Miguel Leon-Portilla
    The World of Caffeine (Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer) –fascinating and amusing.
    In between sessions/lookups with these books, I have my 15-volume Encyclopedia of Gardening (T.H. Everett) and last, but not least, my Western Garden Book (Sunset).
    I also have at hand eight atlases/maps (incl. Piri Reis copy).
    In between my look-ups and WWW posts, I average 5 or 6 fictional or historical novels in an average week. Blessed me: I am retired! (A career records management specialist-paralegal.)

  71. thomas spande on April 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm said:

    Dear all Another possibility for pharma jar designs is those with a small opening were for essential oils; those with wider openings were for powders, crushed leaves, roots etc. maybe measured as BD suggests. I think the colors are some kind of alchemical code: green for herbs from the land; blue for water (or water soluble?) and red for plant ptoducts resulting after heating perhaps distilled as Diane opines? No air but the usual earth fire and water part of the ancient composition of all matter. Some jars indicate mixtures by two colors.

    Caffeine is odd chemically in that it is very water soluble and ends up pretty much uniformly distributed throughout the human body. It tends to be pretty persistant and little is metabolized. It is thought to be an antifeedant screwing up the nervous systems of plant pests. Cheers, Tom

  72. bdid1dr on April 5, 2014 at 8:27 pm said:

    So, I am now checking out various manuscript offerings which might be indicating South American sources of caffeine: cacao, cocoa, in particular. I’ll be back when I’ve done a little more research.
    I’m now going to listen to a Nahuatl reading of the ‘Nican Mopohua’ (a second section of a larger publication). Fortunately the recording is accompanied with a small booklet which translates between the Nahuatl being spoken and its translation into Spanish.
    Apparently there is ongoing (disagreeing) historical studies of the entire manuscript “Huei tlamahuicoltica”. I’ll get back to y’all later (if anything of interest evolves).
    Hasta la manana!

  73. Carmen on April 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm said:

    Hi Nick,
    After reading “Provisional decoding” by Professor Bax I have noticed some contradictions in his theory.
    1.- He says the writing is unknown (page 8).
    But later he claims that ‘unknown’ language is borrowed from Arabic and Hebrew (page 14).
    2.- If the whole writing is borrowed, then where is the encoded text? I mean, loanwords occur whenever your own language lacks that word. Why was the scribe going to borrow all the words from Arabic and Hebrew? Besides a transcribed loanword is not an encoded text.
    3.- On page 50 (Purpose and function of the VMS) he says again the text is encoded. As I said before, a text full of transcribed loanwords is not a ciphered text.
    Why was the scribe going to use Arabic or Hebrew for plants whose names can be found in Latin or in any vernacular European language at that time? @_@

  74. Carmen: all good points, but the problems you point towards form no more than the tip of a giant yellow Baxian iceberg. And I really wouldn’t advise anyone to eat yellow snow. 😐

  75. Carmen on April 13, 2014 at 8:51 pm said:

    Thanks again. I will follow your advice. Nice metaphor.

  76. bdid1dr on April 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm said:

    Metaphor — I’ll be chewing on some metaphorical gum (sapodilla sap/latex) which Wrigley chewing gum factory used for many years before modernizing their product lines. I’m still looking for a specimen/leaf illustration in B-408 which will clue us to a translation into Nahuatl and Latin for chicle. I/we may be reduced to visiting the folios/pages of “bulleted” discussion, one specimen at a time. I’ll be looking for a word which would appear something like this: ?a P tl a

  77. thomas spande on April 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm said:

    BD, You may have bitten off a good deal more than you can chew comfortably in trying to link the VM language with Nahuatl. For starters, one branch of the Mayan language called Nahuatl was NEITHER PHONETIC NOR ALPHABETIC; It used icons or pictoglyphs.and these are really arcane. To show something at half size (relative to something else I guess), the pictogram of a plant is shown in the most stripped down manner with the bottom half of a man shown curled up and hidden by the plant so that only the lower half of the man is seen. The icons were put into Spanish by de la Cruz and then Latin by another translator and ultimately re-translated into better and better Latin twice more. The 160+ modern looking plants/herbs of the Gates version did not exist until 1964 and were done by the neice of a cardinal Tisserant. Those look like most European herbals except the roots tend to be root balls. Still the leaves and stems are detailed with veining. Judging from the types of cures e.g.: “For the lethargy attached to high office (early pooped politician interest?)” No wonder Charles the 5th parked it away in a rarely visited section of his library!; he may have thought the herbalists were a bit cheeky? Important adjuncts for the herbs like dog urine and human feces make these Indians as weird as anything the Voynich herbalists likely could come up with. I wonder if the church hierarchy in Europe that the Aztec Herbal Latin translation was supposed to impress didn’t just assume the compilers and writers had been out in the sun too long!

    Suppose you do find chicle? Is this at al related to anything in the VM? If you find it in the Aztec Herbal it could be for something like reducing flatulance or improving lactation or treating gum pain? I find the Aztec Herbal even more curious than the VM if that be possible but I really doubt it has any connection to it. Good conversation piece for sure! Cheers, Tom

  78. thomas spande on April 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm said:

    Dear all, particularly BD. Of the various herbs of the Aztec Herbal, four had been positively identified in the Wm. Gates’ Dover reprint as Thorn Apple (Datura), Morning Glory, Cocao (Theobroma) and tobacco.

    If you are “vexed” by tornadoes or being struck by lightening? Plants from the Aztec Herbal can help!

    Evidently the Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez gets a huge posthumous vote of confidence as a major research scientist by the scholars of the Aztec Herbal and other botanical works; a serious researcher and not just another of the n+1 conquestidores. He evidently identified some 3K plants and tried to describe 1K of these in the style of Dioscorides. Note that most of the plants described in Nahuatl converted to Spanish end in “tl” “ie” or “ti”. No simple Linnean system was used but a much more descriptive one (up to 4 terms) which incorporated place names (at least 38 ideagrams are used just for place names; over 400 appear in another New World codex by Mendoza) and appearance with four terms chosen among which are taste, feel and smell. The descriptions are called didactic mnemonic.

    I made a key error yesterday: The neice of Cardinal Tisserant produced watercolors (aquarelles) of 185 (not 160+) plants for the Herbal and in 1940, not ’64.

    All compelling reading but really a dead end for Voynichers I fear! Collateral information only. Cheers, Tom

  79. Carmen on April 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm said:

    Please, does anyone know what explanation Stephen Bax gives to the word ‘OROR’ on the so called Michiton page (f116v)? Or how does he relate ‘juniper’ with that context? It makes no sense 🙁
    And why does he (or any other researcher ) think the first word on herbal pages appears only on that specific page? For example, the term ‘Podaiir’ is on f49r, third paragraph, first word and again on f55r, first word.

  80. SirHubert on April 20, 2014 at 7:42 am said:

    Carmen: both very good questions. From memory, I once saw a post where Stephen Bax used the analogy of the English word “cat” in the context of “oror”. His point, as I understood it, was that you could find the sequence “cat” in all sorts of longer English words and phrases (e.g. “catalogue”, “scatological” and “sardonic attitude”) where it has no connection whatsoever with felines and the word “cat” itself.

    I’m not saying that I agree with any of this, and in fairness I may have misunderstood or be quoting out of context. So you may wish to contact the man himself, whose website is www dot stephenbax dot net. I’d be very interested to hear what he says!

  81. Carmen on April 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm said:

    Sir Hubert,

    As I see, mainly what he has done is a kind of syllabic transposition. I don’t know if that is the right word but he must have found a lot of possible combinations. Then he will have to re-arrange all the syllables to convey a meaningful sentence. This fact means Stephen Bax must have (or at least he should) a valid method so that anyone can read what he reads.

    The word transcribed (oror) has itself two ‘or’ syllables if we split it that way. We all know the morpheme ‘or ‘ occurs quite often. So how can the word Juniper explain that? Unless Hebrew has the morpheme ‘ar’ too… And any other Hebrew morpheme which can be swifted in both texts.
    Thanks for your advice. I may write to him.

  82. bdid1dr on April 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm said:

    Nahuatl word for paper: Amatl. Amatl was made from the inner bark of the ‘fig’ tree. Since fig tree fruit (hi-cox) is/was edible, I now wonder if we can find a reference in B-408 to the fig tree, itself (tree with fruit: xo-co-yoh), (ama-cua-hui-tl). I’m also wondering about how many manuscripts were rough-drafted on parchment/vellum by the various monks and their ‘native’ students before more experienced scribes produced ‘fig-tree paper” manuscripts. Another tree product which might have been useful for book-binding material (latex) would be sap from the ‘sapodilla’ tree.
    I’m now going back to some of the famously familiar manuscript holdings (Badianus, Osuna,……) which are in various European, North American, and South American museums and libraries. I’ll be searching for references to “Lienzo”, for instance, because that material being written upon was woven cotton fabric. So, I’m hoping to find references to “amatl” (paper), here and there.
    I’m also wondering if some of the manuscripts which eventually arrived in Papal/Holy Roman Emperor archives may have been packaged into water-proofed (latex) cotton fabric for shipment overseas to Europe.

  83. Sukhwant Singh on April 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm said:

    My name is Sukhwant Singh and for the past 2 months I have extensively researched in depth on MS-408 better known as the Voynich manuscript.
    I hope, my explanation will lead to resolving the Voynich manuscript once and for all.
    The origins of the VM ( Voynich Manuscript ) lies in 6000 miles east from its current location. The place is in North Eastern Sindh region which is a part of Pakistan right now. The explanation in the VM is copied from an even older original book written in “Brahmi” language about ( 300-400 B.C ). The knowledge and editions of the books were passed through generations of merchants( Known as Mahajan’s with Vedic knowledge ) in ancient Indus valley civilization which also gave the name “Sindhustan”, the Sindh region in particular which was divided into India and Pakistan in 1947.
    The book is divided into 4 parts as mentioned by the author( details below ) written in early 15th century as that’s the time period when Khojki was more prominent.
    The book was taken by the “Holy” man from town to town and based on the knowledge he had( He was the go to guy and first person to approach in case of issues, either injury or some depression, bad dreams, marriage and business, Hex etc. ) , and the facts he collected from the inhabitants/customer. This man would then recommend to-do things. The book also deals with what kind of women she is based on the type of hair she has, what type of clothes she wears, what to expect from the second wife of the husband etc. What to do if someone has Hex on you and how to figure it out and recommendations for getting rid of the Hex.
    The book is not written for others to read and is usually passed within the family from Father to Son or someone more capable whom the Mahajan has taught and guided himself.
    Some background…..
    When the Arab conquered the Sindh region in about early 700 ADs and moved more towards the east they started eliminating learned Sindhi scholars and Holy men, who enjoyed rich merchant heritage and were established in the region. With passage of time, “Urdu” language was forced in the region and subsequently became an official language and in current times known as Sindhi language (Descendent language of Landa script) which is currently written in Urdu script.
    In early 15th century Khojki language was used by many to write prayer hyms and guidance songs. The extended use of this script and the underlining Landa script also indicate that the author didn’t revise his book into the periods urdu language but made it’s knowledge more hidden by superimposing Khwaja Khoji Vowel marks on top of Brahmi languages ( K, Ki, Ku, Kuu, Kay, Kaay, Ku, Kho, KHU, KHUU Gutturals ( Guttural).
    Brahmi language is considered as the main language based on which current northern India languages are based on. It itself is part of Indo-European set of language whose base is Sanskrit in general. This timeline spans 1000’s of years from the period of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
    This VM manuscript is a very important book and will be another key to bind “Roma” people in Europe with their Sindh region ancestry. Most likely this book was taken along with the movement of Sindh’s migrant population 100’s of years ago( as slaves by Arab rulers ) and was preserved in good condition because the knowledge it would provide and likely the person owning it wanted to one day use it to establish the same respect the merchants of the Sindh region held. “Roma” migration from Sindh region resulted in scores of people being moved as slaves into Turkey and then current Europe.
    There has been plenty of scientific tests conducted on the origins of Roma people. The book landed from a Roma person into the hands of Italian rulers as the poor Roma people faced many atrocities in Europe and many times were eliminated by the countries in which they tried to make their settlements.
    The main issue to decipher the VM had to do with the place where it ended first and then later in America. Considering the “Nasal” phonetic words particular to “Landa” language (Ancestor language of Khudabadi, Mahajani, Gurmukhi, Khojki, Sindhi languages) are not spoken in Europe and for that matter in America.
    English does not have these sounds at all. So for that matter it becomes next to impossible to decipher it and all the false theories it has generated, including its origins.
    In America, it being predominantly English speaking world it adds to the problem where from ages researchers started emphasizing that the VM is some sort of miniscule Roman language or some false code system( It is not ).
    That miscategorization has hindered the deciphering of the language for such a long time.
    I have deciphered the alphabet to what I think it is( As I originally belong to Punjab region and I am aware of the cursive writings from the region as well as phonetics ).
    The alphabet contains 4 different character set from languages spoken in same way but written in different form. There was no consistency of a set language in the region.
    The merchants/judicial holy Sindhu men started using 3,4 languages mix in order to hide the contents( depending on the knowledge of the person and area he travelled ). This was done to protect business knowhow and maintain superiority at that time. The languages used by the merchants of North western Multan and Sindh were “Multani” and “Landa/Khudabadi/Mahajani” apart from other regional dialects and written words. It was what the Sindhu Mahajan’s( Merchants ) used to do. This kind of book and knowledge was in demand as people relied on auspicious moon cycles and it was part of daily life and it is still in many parts of the world.
    Day and night are divided into 15 “Mahurats” or auspicious times, Year is divided in 12 months based on astrological signs ( Not January February etc.. ) The day and night each were divided into 8 parts each based on Sanskrit astrology ( pages 67v and 69v clearly depicts the division of 8 parts segments around the sun and moon )
    The times, days, years were not depicted as in Roman date forms, nor did they had the same timeline of 24 hours. This book is thus written with calculating moon cycles and the positions of 9 planets and the Vedic astrological knowledge is gathered from the original Brahmi book ( 300-400 BC or even earlier ).
    Some details of which are recorded in India’s archeological preservations.
    The characters are also intermingled from dialects in the region but they sound and mean the same example
    CH, TA, JJH, K, KH are written in mixed scripts, which makes it difficult.
    The Brahmi scipts usage from which the MS 408 book was copied adds to more complexity, but the words used are common short 2-3 characters found in recent Devanagari language. This book probably had 1-2 readers( at that time, Mahajan himself and probably his son or someone else he took along on his business in various towns There were other people who had similar books but probably not as detailed as this one. Holy men were killed by Arab rulers and their books were burned so that Arab rule could be established in force and almost everyone follow one language, which was Urdu ( like Persian script ). This book most likely was hidden by the author and usually people like him belonged to higher castes who had good people connections as they were respected for their knowledge and guidance. The so called lower caste people were made slave labor and soldiers to fight in wars. It is likely that this book’s author was killed and as this book was hidden was later picked by someone else and taken along as an important document to be used later. The problem occurred to decipher it at that time too, so the Roma person kept for generations hidden in the belongings until it ended in front of some Italian king’s subject.

    The languages used in MS 408 are ( Yes, there are multiple languages, but their pronunciations are almost same ).
    Landa, Khojki and Brahmi are used throughout the book.
    1. Landa ( Which later became Sindhi, Khudabadi, Khojki )
    2. Brahmi ( 300- 400 B.C ) Which gives a reason to believe that MS-408 is copied from an original book
    3. Multani
    4. Mahajani
    5. Khojki
    6. Gurmukhi which is also a descendent of Landa script ( Words which cuts at the end and sounds individual standing separately ). Gurmukhi usage is very minimal, which tells that the book was written prior to the era in which the Gurmukhi was main stream in Punjab region around 1430 AD.

    The last page 116V is written by someone else other than the original writer as it contains characters from Sarada and JaunSari scripts from mountainous region of Southwestern Kashmir as those few lines are similar to later on what became Kashmiri Dialect and scripted language.

    First paragraph from 1r goes like this.

    “Many 100’s of years desire tradition and as requested by the cultivator from his pouring knowledge in under increasing guidance
    To accomplish it this promise of the interrogation of field subjects and about those manner for eating about their power learning from oneself condition about
    under ongoing sufferings about stuck in those conditions which has already affected them learning from them in self-help either called for taking care during taking care or
    When called by the messenger one about trees provided information in parts and about desire….”

  84. bdid1dr on May 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm said:

    Just so you understand, people: The Badianus/Florentine Codex was written upon PAPER. Paper (amatl) was obtained from the inner bark of the South American fig tree. The discussions and illustrations that appear in that manuscript would FIRST have been ‘rough-drafted’ upon vellum/parchment.
    Another aspect of codex manufacture (whether tree bark OR animal skins) would have been the superiority of the finished product. Also to be considered would have been the longevity of the finished product.
    So, once again I’ve been ‘doing the rounds’ of pre-colonial South American ‘literature’. So, if you plug into your search application the term “Boturini Codex”, you may arrive at discussion of page thirteen of the Aztec Codex Borbonicus; an obviously ‘final draft’ (written on PAPER) of just one of Sahagun’s discussions which eventually escaped the censors’ archives.

  85. Carmen on May 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm said:


    Here (the link above )you can read my questions to Prof. Bax’s theory. I get the feeling he did not really answer them.

    1.- If the graph ‘m’ (EVA) is a flourished final ‘R’, how can the common R be explained when occurring at the end as in OROR?

    2.- Oror (again) on f116v (Michiton page), how would it be connected to that context? How could your transcription/translation as ‘Juniper’ be explained regarding the sentence “So nim geis mi[l]ch”?

    3.- On p.1, you state that “the script was possibly devised to encode an unwritten language or dialect “. However, you have focused on Hebrew, Arabic and even Turkish phonemes. Is it not a bit contradictory? As I see your analysis, it would be then an unwritten language which copied and/or transcribed Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish phonemes into Roman abbreviations and ligatures (See Capelli and other paleographers’ studies. D’Imperio also comments on this).

    4.- If, as you have stated on p.10, the script consists of leaving the vowels out (as in the Abjad ), how could this hypothesis explain the vowels ‘a’ ( /ə/ /u/ /wə/) and ‘o’ (/a/) appearing on the Ms?

    I would like to mention that there may be something Arabic. On the Michiton page what I read is “po? laben umm”. ‘Laben’ means ‘milk’ and ‘umm’ is mother. Both Arabic words do make sense within that context (a goat, milk, a woman).
    The only owner who knew Arabic was Kircher (and Marcus Marci learnt a little from Kircher). So could the marginalia have been written by K.? It would be interesting if someone checks his handwriting (or it may have been discarded as his).

  86. thomas spande on May 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm said:

    Dear Sukhwant, You have made a mighty effort to introduce a new language or languages and a venue for the Voynich. I think it might share some inferences that others have made over the years of a far eastern origin for the VM. Personally I have problems with the Kojki language in being (if I understand your post) the underlying language of the VM, being overlaid with Mayan Landa and others. The primary problem I have with Kojki is that it is a language where many of the glyphs, even if they are ligatures represent a SYLLABLE, that is it amounts to a mainly phonentic language and the number of glyphs at a minimum would appear to be more than 40. Classical Kojki separated words with a colon. If only the VM were so simple! Of course you imply that the Kojki is in code so the helpful colons have been removed but still it is a syllabic language and I doubt many (maybe with the possible exception of BD?) believe that to be true of the VM. Kojki is written L->R which fits the VM but it has a huge number of diacriticals, which does not. Kojki does not seem to have been formalized until the 18thC long after the radiocarbon dating indicating the VM parchment to have been prepared. Most Kojki documents that exist were written on paper. I think the VM did originate “East of Suez” but most do not. Diane O’Donovan also favored a non Eurocentric origin but not New World. Still thanks for the glimpse of another language where I would admit, some of the glyphs do resemble a few of the gallows glyphs of the VM. Cheers, Tom

  87. Diane on May 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm said:

    A note of caution – we have no certainty of the scale to which the so-called “apothecary jars” in the so-called “pharma section” were reduced. If they were supposed to be containers of that sort, few resemble any such jars employed in mainland Europe’s herb-shops at the time to which the Voynich parchment has been dated.. or such was the case in January when I completed my own investigation of Beinecke 408.

    Has some new information (not hypothesis, speculation or story-line) emerged since then? Genuine question.

  88. thomas spande on May 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm said:

    Diane, Welcome back to these pages! Re the apothecary’s jars: I wrote a bit on Mar 24, 2014 on what I think had not been pointed out before and that is a certain crowdedness that can be seen on the pharma pages. This implied to me that the jars were drawn later than the text and maybe the end product overlaid a simpler earlier, less space filling jar. Cheers, Tom

  89. Zippy on June 1, 2014 at 2:58 am said:

    Or it could’ve just been the scrawlings of someone with autism, or some other major mental disorder, and not much else to do. I’m sure someone has thought of this, though it’s not nearly as intriguing or romantic as all the other theories.

  90. hakan on June 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm said:

    ”doary or doaro” in page f68r why not Atlas (mythological figure)? Because, Atlas is father of Seven Sisters (The Pleiades) of Greek mythology.
    ”The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain. Virgil took pleasure in translating etymologies of Greek names by combining them with adjectives that explained them: for Atlas his adjective is durus, “hard, enduring” which suggested to George Doig that Virgil was aware of the Greek τλήναι “to endure”; Doig offers the further possibility that Virgil was aware of Strabo’s remark that the native North African name for this mountain was Douris” referancefor last passage from Wikipedia.(Atlas (mythology)-Wikipedia. Doaro, doary–durus, douris. is not well-matched?

  91. hakan on June 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm said:

    doaro,doary – atlas (durus, douris)

  92. Thomas – those jars don’t resemble 14thC Europe’s apothecary jars in any detail, including colour.

    Where we do find containers with comparable structure and detail, they are traditional items whose antecedents can be traced to the last centuries BC and early centuries AD, and which remained in production in such a style almost to the last sixty years or so. They are not, however, European and neither are they pharmacy jars in the sense the term is normally used. Speaking in a purely personal capacity, I’ve sometimes wondered if the initial gallows on the botanical folios don’t indicate either the country/region/port where the produce was gained (such as C-Cathay), to the season/time of year as that optimum for trade in the group of plants depicted on a given folio.

    Investigating this does depend, rather, on keeping an open mind about whether the hope for an all-European content is justified.

  93. btw – there is a sentence in one of BD’s posts which might be misconstrued:
    “I think it is Diane who has discussed the colors of pharma-jars (white) vs the color of distilling equipment (red). ”

    I think I did discuss the colours, but I don’t recall suggesting that white containers were pharmacy jars, or that red-coloured containers were for distilling. Not that such a division is necessarily wrong – I don’t see that it could be proven, BD.

    On the business of gallows letters, Nick has explained that while the idea of a folio’s first glyphs forming a plant’s name might appeal by assuming parallels with western herbal works, it cannot be so, unless one supposes every name begins with one of only four ‘letters’.

    On the other hand, since the manuscript contains clear evidence of an existing recognition of four continents (unusual for Latin-educated Europe in the 15th C), so it is possible that the maker(s) cued the image of a plant to that continent from which it was gained.

    My hesitation about that is chiefly that few of the plants appear to me to come from Europe, and the overlaying with pigment of a fourfold division to create with pigments the three recognised by contemporary Christendom can be seen clearly in a detail of folio 67v -I (Beinecke numbering).

    That detail also shows pretty clearly how the division places Asia (adorned correctly with an Asiatic face) to the left, meaning that if the person who added the colour to that detail was a westerner. he was obliged to turn his ‘T=O’ world at ninety degrees from the norm. it also means that unless he worked against the intent of the folio as it was, the whole should be oriented similarly, with east/Spring/asia on the viewer’s left. South-looking in the same way I’ve described for folio 86v (in the foliation given online by the holding library).

  94. Bd – purely for accuracy’s sake, and not to spark contention – but I was under the impression that my identification of the loofah in the Vms had been the first mention of that plant. Sherwood and her associates have tended to accept and adopt others’ conclusions, but since the source is rarely credited, and the web-page (last I saw it) its first, static date of 2008, the matter of precedence can become a little confusing.

    In some cases, her offsider – name for the moment escapes me – seems to have perked up at the idea of a new identification, but not rarely then found the new plant within a different folio, which muddles things still more.

    So – is your ‘loofah’ come from your own work on the language, or perhaps from reading Sherwood’s page, my posts, or Dana’s notes to the mailing list, or some other source again? Appreciate your help – thanks.

  95. andreas on November 30, 2014 at 9:54 pm said:

    Dear Mr. Pelling,
    Excuse me, my English is very bad. I have read an article in the actually German journal “GEO” to your work at the voynich-manuscript. I’ m a psychiatrist and I’m relatively sure, that the manuscript is a product of a man with a specially form of a schizophrenia. The disturbances in cognition, the false formal thinking, the illustrations and the structure of the manuscript are very typical. I think that a consultation of a specialist for psychopathology of schizophrenia can help you more, to open the secret of the manuscript. With kindest regards-

  96. Dear Andreas, if the manuscript had been produced in the twentieth century, by a person of European extraction, then one might suppose his divergence from cultural norms was a sign of mental estrangement.

    However, the drawings are not at all out of keeping with historical precedents, even in their style of drawing and as for the manuscript’s disordering: that too is quite in keeping with what we find in studying older manuscripts. As for the language, who can say?

    As a psychiatrist must know, what is a cultural norm in one environment seems ‘mad’ in another. A large part of the difficulty for people attempting to understand the imagery (at least) is persistence in the quite unproven assumption that the matter depicted in the manuscript -and not just the object itself – was entirely a product of western European culture and world-view. Like an ostrich egg in a fowl-yard, though, it really doesn’t fit. One can point out all the reasons that it can’t be the egg of a domestic fowl. One can also insist on the few superficial points of resemblance, but to insist it is a hen’s egg, then posit that the hen had a sickness is to cling too determinedly to an idea derived from fixation rather than dispassionate comparative studies.

    (Sorry Nick, for the butt-in)

  97. Nick, in your article you say that Newbold’s “non-decryption ended up enraging Charles Singer so much (justifiably, it has to be said) that he was still angry thirty years later”.

    Is that so? I had the impression that by ‘Newbold’s solution’, Tiltman was alluding to his death, which some appeared to believe had been hastened, or precipitated by the savage criticism offered in public. I wonder which, if any, of the “many experts” referred to by Anne Nill’s notes and correspondence was later willing to contribute to investigations initiated by Friedman and/or those carried on by Tiltman?

  98. Diane: Charles Singer was definitely still enraged thirty years later, so yes, that was so.

    I don’t see why Tiltman would use the phrase “Newbold’s solution” to allude to anything apart from his (attempted, wrong-headed, deluded, and ultimately nonsensical) ‘solution’. Having looked at Newbold’s correspondence in Philadelphia, I can say that he seemed to have received only politely-phrased doubt while he was alive, so the criticism John Manly dished out after Newbold’s death surely had nothing to do with his death.

    His death was supposed to have been hastened by his sustained and intensely pareidoliac concentration trying to intuit anagrammed cipher solutions to blocks of ciphertext that simply were imagined far more than real. However, I suspect that Newbold may well already have been unwell before he embarked on his unwise codebreaking assault on the Voynich Manuscript, and that his efforts there acted more like a trigger than a gunpowder keg.

  99. Thanks.
    Can you tell me where I might find anything that Charles Singer wrote about the manuscript?
    Rich Santacoloma’s great work in the Grolier archives in 2012 turned up a letter written by Singer to Manly in 1931. That letter being later passed on to Anne Nill it was preserved. Singer says that he had (to that time) “never written anything about it” – yet Panofsky references Singer in his responses to Friedman.

  100. Sorry – should have checked first. That letter was in the Beinecke collection. I won’t try to add the url, but the post is initially dated August 19, 2012, with that information as update on June 18th 2013. As Rich says:
    “The trouble for me was that the Voynich collections are split between the Beinecke and the Grolier Club..”

  101. shahbaz ali on May 29, 2015 at 4:21 pm said:

    I ithink drawings of plants are hybrid.
    someone who try to merge different plants together.
    and women figures are actually seeds who produce hybrid plants differnt position is equal to different woman and so different plants seeds.the depiction of astronomy and sun and moon showing other aspects of plant life like photosynthesis.
    and the writing is just missing its key to decipher it and possibly person who created this book has knowledge of arabian,persian, and european languages so he can make a codex book with the help of knowledge of different languages who he/she knows.words sometimes repeat like a spell so many times so i am thinking that someone is trying to produce hybrid plants with the help of magic thats why book is not in simple language.

  102. shahbaz ali: lots of good thoughts there. Unfortunately, the challenge with the Voynich Manuscript isn’t coming up with lots of good ideas about what it might reasonably be, but is rather with finding ways to prove that any single one of them is correct – it turns out that proof is hard, really hard. 🙁

  103. Thomas on June 17, 2015 at 5:45 pm said:

    When we concentrate on judging the efforts of our fellow men in their independent attempts to solve a problem, then we cannot concentrate on our own independent efforts to solve that same problem, which is free for any one of us to try to solve.

  104. Thomas: why indeed not try to independently unravel the mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript?

    My advice to anyone considering this is simple: whatever you see Stephen Bax doing, do the opposite. 😉

  105. Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 6:33 am said:

    Nick: yes indeed, we all should be able independently to chase our individual dreams without ridicule. For me, the Voynich is hard work. When I take a break from it, my recreation is The Great Pyramid of Giza, and not Bax-bashing. 🙂

  106. Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm said:

    And, incidentally, the pyramids fear the Voynich. 😉

  107. Diane on June 19, 2015 at 2:38 am said:

    I don’t understand why you target Bax among the many people tackling the text from their own area of interest, or specialty. He has succeeded in drawing together a lot of new people, even if his ‘newbie’ status is obvious from his failure to recognise that so much of Ponzi’s work is plainly plagiarised, or that Velinksa’s reviving the old ‘wokenband’ issue is continuing, not originating, a line of discussion. (At least she has demonstrated that Rene’s effort to use this motif in support of his “exclusively German-provenance” argument is a-historical, as so many of them are).

    I like reading his site, and its comments, though I must say some of the “re-presentation”of other people’s hard-won conclusions as if they were common knowledge, without proper attribution, gets my goat there, same as it does on the rare occasions I look at voynich.nu

    But in my view, lack of experience in this area isn’t nearly as bad as certain other derelictions including less full-frontal attacks than that above.

  108. SirHubert on June 19, 2015 at 8:01 am said:

    Diane: in many ways I agree with you.

    Personally, I think that Nick may have been unwise to tackle something on the scale of Bax’s article in a blog post. Equally, I don’t think that Bax’s criticisms of Curse, which he admitted he hadn’t actually read, were very helpful either.

    What is sad for the rest of us is that two of the most active figures currently working on the Voynich Manuscript aren’t engaging with one another. No blame, no criticism implied – just seems a shame.

  109. SirHubert: if I don’t take on nonsense cipher research, who will? Who will be a Manly to these Newbolds?

  110. SirHubert on June 19, 2015 at 10:37 am said:

    Nick: like I said, that’s fine. But Bax is a professional academic, can structure an argument, and can defend his position effectively.

    I think you write very well and clearly and your knowledge of the subject commands respect. For 99% of Voynich speculation surfacing on the internet, one of your blog posts is perfectly adequate to describe and debunk it. If you want to be all Manly about it, that’s absolutely fine, but it’s going to take more than a blog post to dismantle 60-odd pages of Bax.

  111. SirHubert: I thought I rebutted the huge errors underpinning Bax’s wonky argument effectively and reasonably thoroughly. Nobody needs to respond to 60 pages of vapid handwaving nonsense with 60 pages of crystal clarity, life is too short – and the world is too full of idiotic theories to spend your time rebutting them. I got sent a 200-page cipher theory the other day, which made Bax look like a model of conciseness (heaven help us all).

    But what you actually seem to be asking is a bit broader: which is whether I ought (a) to destroy the argument or (b) to destroy the academic credibility which is, once you remove all the sorry excuse for content in the so-called argument, all that’s left. Well… even Manly waited until Newbold was dead to say he was an idiot. 🙂

  112. Emma May Smith on June 19, 2015 at 12:17 pm said:

    SirHubert: Nick has dealt perfectly well with the underpinning of Bax’s work. I did an April Fool’s of his method which should be enough for anybody:

    agnosticvoynich. wordpress. com/2015/04/01/ive-cracked-it/

  113. xplor on June 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm said:

    The art work suggests the book is from the Swabian period. Was most likely written by a Ghibelline.
    It is probably a secular book of poetry.

  114. SirHubert on June 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm said:

    Nick and Emma:

    I don’t think I asked anyone to destroy anyone’s academic credibility, did I?

    Lots of people have come up with what I think are valid objections to Bax’s work. I haven’t looked at his site in months, but there used to be some very lucid examples there – as well as those you have both written (with which I tend to agree).

    But while it’s not possible to see this any more, I thought Bax was pretty good at defending his position on here. By which I mean he’s effective at arguing, and was probably in a school debating society or something, not that he is right in what he says. Just my opinion.

  115. SirHubert: I’m sure he really enjoyed his school debating society. I just wish he’d move on from it. 🙁

  116. Diane on June 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm said:


  117. Diane on June 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm said:

    There are a number of professionals involved, many of whom, I’d guess have degrees in something. There are any number of people with arguments and positions. The great difficulty I have with most, even those most cogently argued and expressed concisely, with references and footnotes of their choice, is that they have so little connection to the object which is MS Beinecke 408. The vellum protests attribution to late sixteenth century central Europe; the imagery denies assertions of German origin; the pigments will not accept a seventeenth century dating.. and so it goes.

  118. Thomas on June 19, 2015 at 6:53 pm said:

    I am going to memorise his tentatively suggested sounds for those handful of characters. Then I will try pronouncing these sounds as I look at and read the Voynich words. Of course, most of the words will be holey but there will be some that is shorter or fortuitously lettered for an expected subjective impression. I even imagine a world project where synthesised sounding Voynich words could be presented to native people around the globe and then asking them what meaning they reckon to have heard out of it.

  119. SirHubert on June 19, 2015 at 7:09 pm said:


    Re vera, nec autem illegitimi te confundant.

  120. Thomas: memorizing them should be easy – if in doubt, Bax says it’s an ‘r’.

  121. xplor on June 19, 2015 at 8:38 pm said:

    We call it trash. The closest in artwork I have found , thanks to Rene, is Peter of Eboli. Do you have something better ?

  122. Thomas on June 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm said:

    Nick: I can’t help feeling you’re steadily poking fun at him. Is that “r” in the “arar”, or is it the singular “r” that is the suggested same sound for several different characters?

    Well, anyway, this is my amateurish idea, this trying of sounding the words. I am not capable to do the opposite and endeavour proving that the Voynich character string believed to be writable as “arar” is not likely to mean juniper. Or, that another one, similarly believed to be writable somehow like “taurn”, does not possibly mean Taurus. 🙂

  123. Diane on June 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm said:

    I was imprecise. I should have said “unadulterated fudge!”

  124. Diane on June 19, 2015 at 9:14 pm said:

    If it is argued that the manuscript is a product of 12thC Sicily, a handbook after the style of the Zibaldone da Canal, it would be understandable.

    If, on the contrary, it is being argued a work containing poems of the ensenhamen type, then that might be understandable. Journeys are long and tedious things in the middle ages, and educational amusements sound like a fair balance to the pragmatic content of the imagery.

    But then, I think, one cannot argue the botanical section a herbal in the Latin tradition, can one? (Or can one?)

    Without qualifiers the term “Swabian period” doesn’t mean terribly much… except its more recent medical sense.

    So what is it, in your opinion, Xplor? One of these possibilities or something else again?

  125. Diane on June 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm said:

    “we call it trash” – that is sooo funny.

    Talk about a global statement which explains the nature and current state of Voynich studies… perfect.

    That goes on my page of memorable sayings, I think. Has to. Unless anyone minds?

  126. Diane on June 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm said:


    Confusa manent propter ignorant, non ego.

  127. Diane on June 20, 2015 at 3:14 pm said:


  128. xplor on June 20, 2015 at 6:23 pm said:

    It is good you think about things.

    For a long time the only drawings found that were simular were in the Bayeux Tapestry . It is nice to know other wonderful books are in the Vatican libary. Why did Athanasius Kircher
    collect and plagiarize the works of Ramon Llull ? Is MS 408 the work of Ramon Llull?A master saracen crossbow man would be able to build them from scratch. A crossbow man would have to know how to repair his bow or not get paid.

  129. Diane on June 21, 2015 at 2:22 am said:

    I know what you mean. I was looking for pictures of water buffalo in Scottish medieval art the other day, Nothing.

  130. D.O'Donovan on July 3, 2015 at 6:34 pm said:

    Poor Stephen Bax

    Yet another object lesson for scholars thinking of becoming involved in study of MS Beinecke 408. When you’re not being flamed, you’re being fed nonsense, topped with mad ambition and determination to plagiarise with a ‘twist’. My lord, he must be wishing that he’d never had anything to do with the world-beyond-reality.

    If I were a great deal richer than I am, I should offer a thousand euros to certain Voynicheros, in return for their voluntary but permanent retirement from what I call, advisedly, the arena.

  131. Methodology of a Number System Cipher to the VMS

    First off, I believe that the Voynich Manuscript is a cipher, but not in natural language form (meaning the glyph’s are not arranged as so). I truly believe there is text, a book or books that were used to produce the manuscript, but in the art of numbers. Yes if you interchange the glyph’s you can get the same result and therefore make the script seem as a major null as a natural language. So it would seem to violate frequency analysis to equate to an alphabet. The cipher in number form adds a natural defense at trying to decode the main body of the text; by the premise of a number system in which I believe John Dee would be so inclined to do. John Dee used a number system in which he associated divination to letters as numbers.

    Yes I even attempted to decode several paragraphs from 16th century Bibles. Although not in welsh which violates the main thrust of the language that I propose it is in Welsh! And it was not verse by verse so that was a failure.
    However, if you attack the Voynich Manuscript from a theme and imagery perspective along with a sound cipher many words have come forth which represent its meaning. The cipher which I came up with is a number system which letters equal numbers. I approached this decoding method in the Voynich Manuscript from the most intricate approach attributed to the Zodiac in folio 67r2. Furthermore this became the base of operations for my cipher in which I added upon. This should answer the (Strange) question. However Mr. Strange you have to line up the Zodiac on top of creating cipher for that to work. If you can present one using a number system in a different language; I would like to see it and I will allow 1 Zodiac sign to be a different language to be fair. Every attempt in history here has been met with failure; but I noticed a glyph equivalents to the (scorpion) and, (craf, i.e. garlic) equaled a 1 in along with the code I embraced for this image of craf in f99r; as the Voynich Glyph’s which I associated to have number equivalents added up to a 1.
    o=6, H=8, a=1, e=5, 8=8, 9=9 } All add up and equal a 1

    This cipher I have found which I’m certain is used within the Voynich Manuscript has confounded the language to numbers. It does not follow order of a natural language which has kept it secrets for so long. The words which I have found are in Welsh would be 85 out of a hundred. And they correlate to the imagery and themes. The reason I have 15 words outside of welsh is attributed to known astronomy words in which John Dee would have known. John Dee also annotated a Welsh to English Dictionary (1)! I discount the, “Boke of Jona”, because it was just an attempt in which it produced failure from not following verse by verse and its outside of the Welsh Language. So in a sense I’m just using Welsh with astronomical and astrological slight imbalances to the overall language. That is fair! I’m certainly not using every European Language.

    1) The facts are the images and themes tell a story on their own.
    2) The Voynich word has to add up and equal the Welsh equivalent word
    3) Translate that in which the cipher meets the images head on.
    4) And the theme words correlate to the whole picture; I would say no this is not just a coincidence from 1-9.

    It’s a number system; whether or not Pythagoras came up with it, I used it for my cipher.


    (1) William Salesbury his Dictionarie in Englishe & Welshe, or Brytishe. 4o London 1547 :
    Dee’s copy is now TCD, EE.e.32 (formerly C.10.17). At the head of the titlepage is ‘John Dee’. In the first half of the book, up to sig. K, he extensively annotated and corrected it; in some instances where Salesbury had put words of English origin in the ‘Camraec’ column, Dee supplied a Welsh word and occasionally, where Salesbury left a blank, he supplied an English equivalent. He also corrected equivalents in both languages. Later owned by abp. Ussher. See R. G. Gruffydd and R. J. Roberts, ‘John Dee’s additions to William Salesbury’s Dictionary’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, n.s. 7 (2001), 19–43.


  132. Tom: good luck with your quest to be awarded a Nobel Prize for your Welsh interpretation of the Voynich Manuscript’s language:

    How many roads must a man walk down, etc.

  133. Hi Nick,

    I was just in a playful mood that day. What are your thoughts for the possibility of numbers behind the glyph’s? LoL I have walked off cliffs like everyone else who has tried to crack the VMS.


  134. Tom O’Neil: I have no doubt that numbers are in there, along with vowels, consonants, super-common words such as ‘the’ / ‘and’, and the rest of the dictionary (in whatever language(s) it is ultimately written in).

    In “The Curse of the Voynich” back in 2006, I put forward one way in which I suspected Arabic digits might have been hidden in plain sight ‘inside’ a common Voynichese group (EVA ‘ain’ / ‘aiin’ / ‘aiiin’). I gave evidence why I suspected that, and pointed to a specific page where the suggestion could be easily tested. But nobody has yet bothered to even try to carry out such a test. Maybe some day.

    Incidentally: a number cipher was discussed at length by Professor Robert Brumbaugh in the 1970s. For a long time, Brumbaugh believed that the (Arabic digit) number column on f49v was the key to the Voynichese cipher. However, handwriting analysis shows that this number column was very probably added a century or more after the main text was written. And so Brumbaugh eventually came to see the error of his various Voynich theories.

  135. Thanks Nick,

    What page are you referring to for the test? I would like to check it out.

    This is what I come up with using my cipher for f49v. But I had no idea a handwriting analysis was done. Is it possible for you or do you know were the link to that study is?


  136. jeff haley on May 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm said:

    Are people still hooked on the voynich? Boy oh boy! Hi Nick.

  137. Mark: on May 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm said:


    First of all I would say that it seems to me that the traditional and proven approach that Stephen Bax advocates in very broad general terms has great sense even if one argues that his specific analysis is deeply flawed.

    By the traditional approach I mean the approach of Champollion, Ventris and others of associating specific meanings with specific character strings; clearly this applies whether one is talking about a cipher or a language in an unknown script.

    I am inclined to the view that numerous text identifications in particular, but certainty not discounting information concerning the text coming from computation/statistical approaches is the most likely way that the manuscript will be deciphered.

    As part of my analysis of the 9 rosette foldout I have attempted and am attempting to identify the meaning of specific strings varying, from my perspective, from quite likely identifications to very speculative shortlists of possible identifications. Most, if not all, of these identifications would be valueless and nonsensical if one doesn’t broadly speaking accept my “map” analysis as having some validity. Stephen Bax, for example, I imagine would not be amenable to a Italy/Switzerland model and so would put very little weight in my identifications. So there seems to be little sense in sharing them at this stage as almost nobody would have any interest in them.

    However I think it would be worth, for me personally, trying to supplement and incorporate my list with a list of other plausible character strings(words) identifications. However I don’t know what we have as a reasonably respectable if at times somewhat speculative existing list of identifications. “Taurus” seems to be mentioned a lot and specific plants like the pepper plant seem to be referred to as possible text identifications, but is there a specific list you would recommend as being reasonably respectable? (I don’t mind quite speculative identifications as long as they are marked as “speculative” or even a shortlist of possible identifications of a given string of characters as long as people are honest and accurate as to what the statuses of them are.)

    I am not saying all these identifications will serve as sufficient in number for deciphering the manuscript, however to me it seems like one good place to start. (Obviously there must be a critical mass of identifications in order to decipher the manuscript, but what that critical mass is I can’t easily guess.)

  138. Mark: on May 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm said:

    Nick: Rereading your comments above I get the sense that you believe that so far nobody has made any plausible text identifications. Is that really your opinion?

  139. SirHubert on May 13, 2017 at 9:20 pm said:

    Mark: the whole point, which Stephen Bax also seems to have misunderstood somewhat, is that Ventris *didn’t* do that. He created tables of relative consonant and vowel combinations within a syllabic script but never attempted to assign fixed values until to them until the very last stage – and even then by using toponyms which often survive other linguistic changes.

    Ventris could do this because the Linear B script was syllabic, which Voynichese almost certainly isn’t, and because the underlying language showed strong evidence of inflection, which Voynichese seems not to.

    The approach you describe is perfectly sensible but hasn’t been successfully applied to Voynichese. There aren’t easily identifiable unique words which could be plant names in the herbal section, for example; both empirical observation and at least one computer algorithm have been tried without success.

    I would hardly be saying anything new by pointing out that this supports the position that Voynichese is neither a trivial cipher, in which a single plaintext word corresponds uniquely to a single ciphertext one, nor a natural language.

  140. Mark Knowles on May 14, 2017 at 7:00 am said:

    SirHubert: Can we not conclude that in the case of isolated labels “a single plaintext word corresponds uniquely to a single ciphertext one”. What you say may well be true about words in a sentence, but there are numerous labels for which this one to one correspondence must apply.

  141. Mark: on May 14, 2017 at 11:09 am said:

    SirHubert: I only know the 9 rosette foldout well, but I would have thought what applies to it would apply to some extent to the rest of the manuscript in terms of text identification.

  142. Mark Knowles on May 14, 2017 at 11:28 am said:

    SirHubert: Small clarification in a very small number of cases we may have a situation where 2 distinct cipher text labels correspond to the same plaintext word where for example 2 cipher characters correspond to 1 real character. So technically we don’t have a one to one correspondence. However I think what I have said before essentially stands.

  143. SirHubert on May 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm said:

    Mark: I know more about Linear B than about Voynichese, and there are better qualified people than me who can answer you properly. But since you ask, my answer to “Can we not conclude that in the case of isolated labels “a single plaintext word corresponds uniquely to a single ciphertext one?” would be no, for many reasons.

  144. Mark: on May 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm said:

    SirHubert: I would be very happy to hear your reasons. Sure it is possible the manuscript text is nonsense and conceivably a character could represent a space. But I am very curious as to what your thinking is.

  145. Mark Knowles on May 14, 2017 at 8:52 pm said:

    SirHubert: To clarify if we identify some text %$#÷@ which is in the place one would expect the word “north” to be tben associating the word “north” in one language or another with the character string %$#÷@ seems to me very reasonable.

  146. Mark: on May 15, 2017 at 11:35 am said:

    SirHubert: Compiling a list

    %$#÷@ = “north”
    #÷@@!!@ = “elephant”
    %%#_++ = “zebra”

    and so on…

    would seem to be a very good basis for trying to decipher the manuscript.

  147. Mark: unfortunately, I have to point out that Voynichese really isn’t that kind of a linguistic beast.

    Or… to be precise, if there are Voynichese words that are at all like that, they’re few and far between. I think Rene had a (very short) list of possible candidates (hint: they’re not qoteedy and daiin), but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it.

  148. I have two favourite sets of cribs.

    D’Imperio mentions fol. 69v which has 28 “label” words, that might represent the 28 stations of the moon. (See figure 30 in her book).

    On f67r2 is a circular figure subdivided into 12 segments. In 7 of them there are more-or-less single stand-alone words, which realistically could be the names of the 7 planets.

  149. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm said:

    Nick: I am intrigued. My attitude is that with enough isolated single word text label identification one should be able to spot a pattern. The question from my point of view is what are enough words I.e. critical mass? That’s very hard to say it seems to me and it may be many more than can be easily found. Nevertheless I wonder if it could supplement another technique even if it is insufficient in its own right.

    It seems to me overall that short words would be better to work with than longer words as patterns would be more easily observed.

    Clearly identifying possible options for the language used would be immensely important in determining the method of encoding used. If one believes the manuscript originates from a fairly rural area of Italy Armenian would seem pretty unlikely.

    To take as extreme examples if

    @# = “up”
    %$ = “in”
    @$ = “on”

    With enough of these examples I would be very surprised if a pattern would not start to emerge.

    Or an even more extreme example


    ! = “n” say as an observed abbreviation for the word “north”

    then it seems to me incontrovertible that knowing the word “n” is equivalent to the word “!” would be a very helpful step in solving the cipher even if in longer word containing the letter “n”, the letter “!” is somehow permuted such the letter “!” does not appear in the resultant word.

    Surely we are talking pattern recognition whatever kind of linguistic beast Voynichese is.

  150. Mark: you don’t quite seem to have grasped that Voynichese just doesn’t work like that. There is structure in abundance, but where very little of it can be wrangled into classical linguistic forms.

  151. Rene: ah, I was referring instead to non-qoteedy-like sequences, which give the impression of being plaintext words of some importance but which did (for whatever reason) not fit the structure of the written text.

  152. Mark: on May 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm said:

    Nick: It doesn’t need to be wrangled into classical linguistic forms it just a question of observing patterns. Lets take this to its logical conclusion:

    Suppose we know the root language say purely in this example it is English. Suppose we know 1 trillion character sequences extending from symbol words of length 1 on up through all possible combinations of characters and for each word the precise sequence of letter of the latin alphabet that correspond to it. Then by your logic we could not deduce the cipher on the basis of this information as “it cannot be wrangled into classical linguistic forms”.

    Clearly it seems to me the question is one of critical mass which is largely going to be a function of the nature of the cipher. In simple very rough terms the more complex the cipher the greater the critical mass needed to break it.

  153. Mark: on May 15, 2017 at 3:21 pm said:

    Rene: Thanks for that, I will check those and add them to my list. I don’t know if there are others. There is a lot of talk about Taurus and plant names. Do you think they can provide corresponding text?

  154. Mark: if you mean Stephen Bax’s baseless linguistic noodlings, your arse is more likely to spontaneously whistle the Marseillaise.

    But don’t let me put you off. 🙂

  155. SirHubert on May 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm said:

    Mark: you keep talking about languages and ciphers somewhat interchangeably. If you think that Voynichese represents an unenciphered langauge, I’ll respectfully ask you to explain how the features identified by Currier back in 1976 can be consistent with a natural language. If you think that it’s enciphered, I’ll equally respectfully ask you to find me an enciphering system known circa 1450 which could produce those same features. What do you think you are trying to solve?

    Incidentally, and although it’s somewhat unhistorical, knowing the plaintext need not make encryption easier to break. You may have backups of every single file on your PC, but that information won’t be the slightest use cracking the RSA algorithm which Wannacry has used to lock up your hard drive…

  156. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm said:

    Nick: I am not refering to what Stephen Bax did specifically as I thought I made clear. Stephen Bax is working from the basis of symbols corresponding to specific letters of a natural language rather than the presence of a cipher. But in very very broad generalities it is the same approach. It means associating specific sequences of characters with specific words in a natural language and so looking for a pattern between multiple words. This pattern could at its simplest be a one to one correspondence, which is broadly Bax’s approach. or be a simplish cipher on the lines of Cicco Simonetta’s suggestion or it could be a very complex cipher. It is about looking for a pattern and so universally applicable.

    Broadly speaking from my reading we know very little about Voynichese.

    There is macro statistical or a micro more traditional approach to understanding the language, which I think is likely to be more profitable, although they are not mutually exclusive.

    I hope I have made my perspective clearer and in its details has very little in common with Bax, but in the very broadest sense it has a lot in common.

    I have no idea what Bax’ s “linguistic bookings” are, but they probably have little in common with my thinking.

  157. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 6:14 pm said:

    SirHubert: I think it is enciphered. I see features found in Cicco Simonetta’s suggested cipher. We know very little about the ciphers used around the time the manuscript is carbon dated to. From my understanding we have very little acquaintance with ciphers used personally and not for diplomatic communication from that time.

    Do you think The Voynich was encrypted using the RSA algorithm? If so the Voynich is really path breaking. If the Voynich is encrypted that way we either need to find a much faster way to find prime factors or we need to get our hands or the most powerful supercomputer we can find. However I doubt that we need to worry about that kind of public key cryptography prior to the time of Fermat.

  158. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 6:20 pm said:

    SirHubert: Anyway which features of the text are so inexplicable that they could not be produced in the early 15th century?

  159. SirHubert on May 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm said:

    Mark, I think it is *exceptionally* unlikely that the Voynich is enciphered using RSA. Although Eratosthenes would like his sieve back, please.

    Otherwise, like I said – Currier’s observations from 1976 have yet to be explained satisfactorily (as far as I know), so you night start with those:


    Oh, and we know quite a lot about the ciphers being used in fifteenth century Europe. There’s plenty about them on this site to start with. Most of them, unsurprisingly, are fairly trivial in terms of complexity.

    Finally, there is a label next to a dead body on f66, apparently in an old German dialect. It has defied easy interpretation, and that alone should serve as warning that other Voynichese labels may not be obvious…

  160. Mark: it would be far more precise to say that Voynichese has plenty of features that are as yet inadequately explained, many of which sit uncomfortably with the suggestion that it is “just” a linear text in a language we can’t read by virtue of its obscurity.

    Unless you happen to know exactly how it was produced, you currently can’t genuinely say that it couldn’t have been produced in the early 15th century. 😐

  161. SirHubert on May 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm said:

    Nick: I do think it was produced in the early 15th century. But I cannot explain the features you mention, some of which Currier described. I must have missed the bit where Bax explained away the line-as-functional-entity thing too…

  162. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 8:37 pm said:

    Nick: I am really confused as I thought I made it clear repeatedly that I was not exploring the hypothesis that “it is a linear text in a language we can’t read by virtue of its obscurity”. Maybe, because I posted on this page you assumed despite what I wrote that I was advocating exactly Bax’s approach. I posted on this page as it seemed the most similar to the subject I am interested In that I could find easily on the website. I only posted on this page to see what existing text identifications had been made not to get into a protracted discussion about the merits of this or that approach as this limits the time I can spent actually following this line of enquiry. However the input is certainly of value. Although I have not yet been made aware of any features of the Voynich which preclude what I regard as an eminently sensible and I thought uncontroversial micro approach; though I forget when it comes to the Voynich everything is controversial.
    Whilst obviously I see the value of statistical approaches I think this can be a situation where you can’t see the wood for the trees. This is the methodology I am personally most interested in following at this time; maybe my opinion will change. I certainly don’t want to stand in the way of other people exploring methodological approaches they prefer.

  163. Mark: relative to our current level of understanding, the correct reason for carrying out statistical tests should be to understand better (hopefully much better) how Voynichese works. Too many people assume they already know how Voynichese works before they even begin doing their tests (and that is unfortunately just as true for cryptologists as for linguists), which would seem to be an almost guaranteed way of failing. 🙁

  164. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 8:56 pm said:

    SirHubert: I am glad we agree on the RSA algorithm.

    I will look at Currier’s observations, although I have a suspicion they won’t invalidate my approach, but rather be another distraction.

    There seems to be little, as I said, in terms of ciphers from the early 15th century especially the period associated with the carbon dating. In North Western Italy which is the area I am interested in there seem as far as I can tell to be none from that time.

    I don’t see the German label as a problem for my approach. Most likely, though, I haven’t looked it can be regarded as a one off, but even if not it’s not intrinsically a problem in fact in some way it might even be wholly consistent with some of my previous thoughts. I must admit that label sounds intriguing, so thank you for mentioning it, and I am now curious as to whether it could relate to other aspects of my thinking. Has the geographical area corresponding to the dialect been identified?

  165. SirHubert: I wouldn’t worry, we’re all obviously confounded by Voynichese’s veils of linguistic obscurity, which only someone with a big brain and an Indiana Jones-style hat stands any chance of peering beyond. “Only the Penitent Man shall pass”, etc. 😉

  166. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 9:07 pm said:

    Nick: Naturally I am not implying that statistical approaches do not have value. However it is my opinion that the kind of micro approach I am talking about has real value otherwise I wouldn’t interested in pursuing this tack My primary concern is that it may not be possible to assemble a long enough list of reasonably reliable word identifications. Overall at this stage I am only interested in isolated word labels as I am keen to avoid the potential complexities of sentences. But certainly I will refer to relevant statistical results and all other relevant information. However you can see where I am interested in putting my focus.

  167. SirHubert on May 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm said:

    Mark: what it comes down to is that there really aren’t *any* completely secure ‘text identifications’ which are generally accepted (and that’s due to uncertainty rather than Voynichero perversity), and btw Taurus *definitely* isn’t one.

    You claim that ‘labels’ must map uniquely to enciphered words, and thereby to their plaintext equivalents. Why must they? How are you going to convince me that your interpretation of a label is correct? What assumptions are you making when you do? Can you prove that these Voynichese ‘words’ function as labels at all, or is this an old and superficially plausible assumption that needs checking?

    Sorry – but you made the mistake of asking my opinion 🙂

  168. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 9:22 pm said:

    SirHubert: Having looked at Currier’s analysis the key findings I can see don’t trouble me. In fact 1 fits with my perspective. I will read it in detail though I suspect it won’t invalidate my approach.

  169. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 9:34 pm said:

    SirHubert: We need to get away from the language of proof and move to the language of likelihood.

  170. SirHubert: there’s a point here which I’m sure you appreciate but which many others (possibly including Mark) don’t seem to notice – which is that even though we don’t (yet) know the precise details of how Voynichese’s inner “engine” works, we do know a terrific amount about its statistics and its patterns on the page.

    All of which sounds paradoxical only for a moment: because all that knowledge does help us to grasp that almost all of the explanations people propose for Voynichese don’t work, including such notions as (a) a language occulted merely by obscurity, (b) a simple substitution cipher, (c) an Alberti cipher, (d) a Vigenere cipher, (e) a polyglot Romance agglomeration, (f) Nahuatl, (g) an artificial language, etc.

    It’s only stubbornly finger-inserted-in-each-ear people who argue otherwise, and to do so they are forced to rubbish all the things we know about Voynichese. Which is why I get cross when I hear people parroting the phrase “but nobody knows anything about Voynichese”, because it’s a lie (AKA “fake knowledge”) put about by people who should know better. The great deal we know about Voynichese tells us that Voynichese is genuinely much harder than it ought to be.

  171. Mark Knowles on May 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm said:

    Nick: I neither proposed a, b, c, d, e, f or g What I propose is far simpler and more general.

    Your point about the stats is possibly a good one as I haven’t studied the research which has been done, although it has been my intention . However I am not aware of any evidence that does contradicts the method I have advocated and I very much doubt there is any.

  172. SirHubert on May 16, 2017 at 7:06 am said:

    Mark: if even the absence of secure text identifications for labels isn’t giving you pause for thought, then press on, and I hope my misgivings are misplaced and that you can indeed find the patterns you’re looking for. My personal view remains that what you are proposing is speculative cribbing based on more or less educated guesswork and a lot of unexamined assumptions, but I am frequently wrong and would be happy to be proved so. Good luck.

  173. Mark,

    trying to decipher the Voynich MS text is one of these things for which the more information you have, the more difficult it becomes.

    If you have only just read Currier’s paper for the first time, and you also say: “I haven’t studied the research which has been done”, your chances are vanishingly small.

    What also doesn’t bode well is when you say: “I am not aware of any evidence that does contradicts the method I have advocated and I very much doubt there is any”.
    Of course you cannot know if you haven’t read much yet.

  174. Mark Knowles on May 16, 2017 at 10:12 am said:

    SirHubert: The absence of secure text identifications for labels does of course give me pause for thought. I know my text identifications and which I see as more reliable than others, but I would like to be able to supplement it with as many other text identifications as possible. As they would be other people’s text identifications then it is hard for me to determine which are more reliable. However I hope by referring to others then I might come up with a list and some idea of the reliability of each item. Rene has mentioned some. However I am a little surprised nobody has bothered to compile a list of speculative identifications. One would have thought someone like Bax would need such a list. Maybe I should contact him. I think you are right about the guesswork there is no certainty in this as the number of possible text identifications may be far too small and unreliable to make progress. However methodologically I don’t see a problem rather the need for a critical mass of identifications which may not currently be available. So it is not guaranteed success, but it seems to me an avenue that I want to explore.

  175. Mark Knowles on May 16, 2017 at 10:54 am said:


    It seems impossible for me to study all the research done. I know there is the recent Russian study and I see there is a study by Torsten Timms. I note that there is research by Young Kim which I have been contacted about. If I studied all the research done I wouldn’t have time for anything else. I have no intention of ignoring relevant research and I am sure I will refer to it. However this in no way invalidates my focus on text identification of isolated label words.

    More importantly unless the text is meaningless I find it hard to see theoretically how any research could invalidate my approach, RSA excluded. That’s why I say that I very much doubt there is any. I think I have a basic familiarity with the kind of research you are talking about and the sort of results that I been observed and it all seems to be perfectly compatible with the micro approach I am referring to.

  176. Well, the text *could* be meaningless.
    What it certainly is not is arbitrary. It is the result of a concerted effort with a plan behind it.

    There is one thing (or maybe a combination of several things), that has a great chance of invalidating your approach. I can’t say what it is, but it is that thing that has caused all people in the last 100 years to fail.

  177. Mark: on May 16, 2017 at 1:13 pm said:


    You are right it could be meaningless. However I am working under the assumption that it is not. I very much agree it is not arbitrary and the result of a concerted effort with a plan behind it.

    I think the thing that has most likely caused a problem in the past is simply a question of having a critical mass of possible or reliable text identifications. That is why I would really like to have access to a list that I can possibly add to mine. I have already spotted something simple but I think significant on the 9 rosette page which is wholly consistent with a cipher idea of the time, but which I have not heard as an observation elsewhere in the Voynich. I also believe I have spotted some useful “short” text identification labels. I am inclined to think the fewer the number of characters in a label the more useful it is likely to be. This may not work either because I just don’t have enough reliable identifications or because I fail to spot something that I should in the cipher.

    Every approach tried so far has failed; to me that doesn’t mean that every approach tried so far is destined to fail and so not worth pursuing.

    For example take the 9 rosette foldout. I think it is very likely I know it better than anybody as I think I can pretty much reproduce it from memory even the very minor details excluding most of the text itself. As far as I know there is only 1 other full page analysis conducted and I believe it is radically different from mine and I suspect much less detailed. Whether what I have done is right or wrong I like many other people are doing things that nobody else has yet done in exactly the same way before. So people whether correct or incorrect in their analysis are doing things that in 1 sense have been tried before and another sense unique. I think it is possible for people to use a technique tried many times and yet at the same time be innovative.

    As I say my main concern is arriving at a critical mass which may not be possible. for me.

  178. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on May 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm said:

    Rene writes. The text is nonsense.
    And I wwrite. The text is encrypted and written in the Czech language.
    Each picture is related to the text.
    The key is written on the first side of the manuscript.
    It is also written on the last page 116.
    Eliška. Elizabeth began to write the manuscript in 1473. Letters are numbers. This is writren by Eliška in the manuscript.

  179. Peter on May 16, 2017 at 7:38 pm said:

    Look at the rosette up right. Then you go south. As you can see 2 words that are upside down. There are 2x 4 characters.
    It looks something like this (e poor disum).
    Since times in the google translator ein.
    Sometimes there are crazy coincidences, but I can not leave alone.
    According to my theory, the first and the last is a combination. There is no deception. The middle ones are singular.
    I know sounds crazy, but so are my experiences.

  180. Peter on May 17, 2017 at 8:21 am said:

    @Josef Zlatoděj Prof.
    Let us look at the crown on F72v1. Why in October? Could this possibly have something to do with the death day? This was certainly a big event in all of Europe.
    Let us look at his time as emperor. That’s just 2 years.
    From this data, I assume that this page was drawn between 1438-1441. (Only theory)
    Therefore, your Eliška for me as the author is first off the table.

  181. Mark Knowles on May 17, 2017 at 9:37 am said:


    I, personally, am inclined to the view that diversity of thought and strategy is a good thing. If everyone is pursuing exactly the same strategy; I question the wisdom in that as it is possible that it is not the best approach and all other strategies are then ignored.

    I would welcome suggestions of relevant statistical results that pertain exclusively to labels and even more specifically those pertaining to short labels would be the most interesting.

    I think an imageless approach I.e. one which ignores the images and corresponding speculative text identifications and purely focuses on statistic analyses of the text could potentially have its drawbacks. Broad brush macro statistical analyses certainly can have some value, but I don’t want to focus exclusively or largely on them.

    To be honest I mentioned this initially just as I wanted to obtain a reasonably reliable list of text identifications. I did not plan to get into a long protracted discussion about whether what I am interested in is a stupid idea or not.

    I grates with me somewhat that I am accused or stupidity and arrogance. Surely it’s not me who is guilty of arrogance by suggesting that any approach that one’s own is stupid. Anyway I am not interested in receiving insults however intelligently crafted they are; they seem superfluous and intended to demean.

    I greatly value your contributions, but if you can stick to the facts rather than ad hominem that would be great.

    Any direction in terms of compiling a text identification by anyone would certainly be really appreciated.

    All the Best,


  182. Mark: after a century of people saying “I think this picture is X, so therefore this label must also be X, so why aren’t all the code-breakers jumping up and down with excitement?”, I’m merely pointing out the blooming obvious. 🙂

  183. Mark Knowles on May 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm said:

    Nick: I definitely value your perspective. I think that’s the direction I am interested in exploring at the moment, but I may come to the conclusions you have, who knows? It is the case that I am slightly nervous about relying on other people’s text identifications without assessing what level of reliability they are. As far as my own text identifications I feel I have an idea which I trust more and which less.

    I certainly don’t expect you to jump up and down with excitement. What is blooming obvious to you is far from obvious to me, but my opinion may change.

  184. Mark Knowles on May 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm said:

    Nick: In fact I feel it seems pretty obvious to me that a sufficient quantity of reliable text identifications would be incredibly useful in solving the Voynich. By your logic it is blooming obvious that the countably infinite set of all possible character sequences and the corresponding sequence of associated letters would be of no use in deciphering the Voynich. From my perspective that is absurd.

    My only concern would be achieving a critical mass of reliable identifications.

  185. Mark: so far we have been presented with a long series of uncertain identifications and a long series of unconvincing decryptions. If there is a way of not seeing the two together as a giant haystack housing a tiny needle, I haven’t yet found it. 🙁

  186. Mark: on May 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm said:

    Nick: I think you have made a very good point. So far identifications made may be too uncertain and clearly all attempts at decryption using text identifications have failed so far. I hope that the number of possible text identifications is increasing all the time and that has helped to provide a growing dataset which wasn’t available to people in the past. I have made my own text identifications that have not been made by other people, although they largely require some acceptance of my model which is really a lot to expect of other people, so I will share them in my eventual write up for those interested. Some I think it is possible that you might find intriguing. I have some different ideas about how one might search for possible identifications outside of the 9 rosette page. However being able to come up with a credible list of other people’s identifications with some idea of their reliability would be useful to me. I think statistical and other evidence could serve to augment the text identification approach.

    As you say it may be a a giant haystack housing a tiny needle there is no certainty, but it is something when I have the time I would like to look at.

    The fact that it seems nobody has compiled such a complete list makes me think this approach worth pursuing in 2017. I may need to weed out identifications which look shakey from the list and so culling it.

    I feel the method is sound, but the quantity and quality of the data may not be there.

  187. Peter on May 21, 2017 at 9:54 am said:

    Here is a sentence in a language where the months April and May occur.
    That would correspond to the words in the horoscope part. Is a dialect in Northeast Italy.

    Abril issi ‘e mays intrava
    April went and the May came

  188. Byron Deveson on May 22, 2017 at 1:44 am said:

    I think there is a chance that some of the sections of the VM that appear to have a poetry like structure might contain parts of the poem De Balneis Puteolanis by Peter of Eboli ca.1150-ca.1220.
    Although it has been suggested that the VM contains some poetry sections I haven’t found any indication that these have been tested against the Balneis Puteolanis. Adam McLean has pointed out that the balneological illustrations of the VM are similar to those in the manuscript Ross.379 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana). http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Ross.379


  189. Byron: I checked this some years ago, and the block structures of the two seem quite different. The post is here:


  190. Mark Knowles on May 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm said:

    Byron and Anyone Who Can Help:

    What I really am interested in is identifications for labels i.e. words that do not form part of a sentence. These should be ones where ideally there is some amount of consensus as to their likelihood of being accurate. It would be unreasonable to expect them to be certain identifications, but they need to be ones with a reasonable probability of being correct not a complete shot in the dark. Ideally they should be short rather than long words. Basically what I am trying to do is minimise complexity by avoid sentences and preferring short words, so hopefully making it easier to spot patterns. There are some arguments one could make that actually long words are better as there are more characters and so more data to work with, however on balance I think short words like 3 or 4 letter words are best (words with less than 3 letters would be better still, but I expect it will hard to find any such labels.) I have identified 7 short word labels from the 9 rosette page which are, I feel, the most reliable of my identifications and some longer words. I would like to be able to add to my list similar identifications from other parts of the manuscript.

    Ideally I want to avoid trawling through lots of identifications with no idea of the likelihood that they are accurate and then having to assess myself their reliability or not, which I think will be a slow and hard process. I imagine that the reliability will to some extent depend on who has made the identification.

    In the best scenario I would be able to produce a spreadsheet with a row for each label for which their has been an identification and columns for the person who has made the identification and the given associated meaning of the word(not translation or decryption). I can then use some kind of colour coding as a measure of confidence in each identification.

    I hope this will not be a lot of work, but unfortunately I fear it probably will.

    Also reliable statistical and other results which apply exclusively to labels would be useful to hear about. These in combination with text identification could serve to make patterns more apparent. This kind of pattern searching is as SirHubert mentioned essentially largely guesswork nothing more profound than that. Using some pattern searching algorithm inevitably requires some assumptions about the kind of pattern you are looking for and so excludes alternatives. However it is conceivable that this kind of algorithm could greatly reduce the effort when you know the kind of pattern(s) you are looking for.

    Even if this research produces no meaningful results this kind of list could form the basis for future research by someone else with more information than I have obtained such as new identifications/new statistical information etc. or with a better ability to spot what the underlying pattern is.

    I would think it better for me to admit to not being able to find a pattern than providing a highly questionable one, remembering the purpose is to be able to decipher/translate other labels.

  191. Mark Knowles on May 22, 2017 at 12:29 pm said:

    Byron and Anyone Who Can Help:

    I should mention that as each identification is not certain this adds a further difficulty in spotting a pattern as one has to allow for the possibility that the identification is wrong. I feel as long as one is very aware of this in looking for patterns one should be able to consider scenarios where are given identification is potentially incorrect. This is a reason why it is important to work with identifications where one has a reasonable degree of confidence. Juggling uncertain identifications is hard enough, so the less uncertainly of course the better,

  192. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on May 22, 2017 at 2:43 pm said:

    Mark. Of course I can help.
    The author of the manuscript used deceptive characters when writing text.
    In the Middle Ages it was common practice. Deceptive characters need to be deleted from the listing.
    For one character. There must be several letters. It is written on the last page of the manuscript. ( That’s the key ).
    Because the manuscript is written and encrypted in the Czech language. So do not look for another language. And use the Czech language.

  193. Mark Knowles on May 22, 2017 at 3:31 pm said:

    Josef: You say you have translated the manuscript, so what does the text on the 6 page foldout with the 9 rosettes – f86v say?

    I know this large page very well and so it will be easy for me to tell if your solution is correct or not.

  194. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on May 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm said:

    Mark. Of course, I know the whole manuscript.

    * Baroque unites everything. Everything is in one *.

    Left top rosette. Mine where silver was mined.
    Upper midle. ( Turn the whole parchment to the left ). You should see. Lower body. Legs. He is drawn above it. Upper body. ( Not a wall ). It’s a dress.
    Right rosette upper. Hands, shouders. He holds an animal in his hands. At the same time, a fish is drawn in the rosette. ( Fish is a symbol ). The fish waves on you and laughs. She hands herself. The smile is hidden behind the wall. The teeth are also visible. = Thats Eliška. ( Elizabeth ).

    * For mediaeval thinking and literary creation, it is very characteristic to find the hidden meaning behind literature or even an external from . *

    * Everything is in one. Baroque unites everything . *

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