The problem with radiocarbon dating as an analytical historical technique isn’t that the underlying science of radioactivity is hard (in fact, it’s fairly mechanical and straightforward, albeit probabilistic), but rather that mention of the S-word (‘science’) unduly raises many people’s expectations that they can use it to get to some kind of unshakeable bedrock of knowable truth about the past. “God’s smoking gun”, if you like (or not if you don’t).

Sorry, but even if you’ve paid your money to the University of Arizona to get a radiocarbon dating number in your eager hand, you still have a large number of issues to deal with.

For example, the historical curves are all twisted about thanks to human history (global pollution etc), which means that you have to go from uncalibrated raw data to calibrated historical data; another problem is that locale-specific human effects (e.g. polluted urban air vs clean mountain air, etc) can shift the likely dates forwards or backwards; another is that carbon trapped inside certain diets (e.g. shellfish or seafood) eaten by the animals whose radioactive carbon we are testing can cause yet more havoc inside the calculation; and so on and so forth.

Back in 2012, I tried to give an accessible summary of the most difficult bits of all this, but the tricky historical reasoning that necessarily has to be wrapped around radiocarbon dating remains a fiendishly technical business that few Voynich researchers can genuinely make proper sense of in toto.

One thing is fairly solid, though: of the four data points we have, three are extremely – and I do genuinely mean extremely – close. Certainly close enough for the three pieces of vellum to have come from the same decade.

Incidentally, “BP” (‘Before Present’) is the technical term for “number of years before 1950”; which means that the 500BP notches 3/4 of the way across the horizontal scale correspond to 1450. Hence you can visually see that the curves for all three of the top three samples go to around 1450.

The first counterintuitive thing about all this is that these curves are only probabilitic date curves insofar as we know nothing else at all about the object’s likely place of origin. For example, if we can determine by other means that the manuscript came from a polluted urban area, then we should (as I understand it) eliminate much of the earlier (leftmost) years’ components that make up the curve to effectively produce a new, much narrower curve biased more strongly towards the later (rightmost) years.

The second counterintuitive thing is that if you try to statistically combine just the top three samples together (by approximating their distributions as Gaussian probability distributions and then using a neat bit of stats maths), you get… pretty much exactly the same curve as any one of them. Think about that: because these three radiocarbon dates are so close together, each statistical merge brings hardly any new information to the party, giving the clever stats machinery barely anything to use to help it narrow that wider initial range.

This leads to the third counterintuitive thing: that in fact almost all the narrowing of the date range (from say [1400-1450] down to [1404-1438]) is therefore down to that pesky fourth sample, a thin sliver taken from the heavily-handled outermost edge of leaf f68. My personal prediction is that the difference in dating that this sample offers will eventually prove to have arisen from nothing more than a badly-chosen sampling site (on one of the most heavily handled areas of vellum in the entire manuscript). If Greg H. had instead taken it from the top of the page much nearer the bound edge, I expect that the radiocarbon dating would have ended up almost exactly the same as the other three.

It’s important to note at this point that I’m genuinely not trying to use this single f68 sample to try to ‘prove’, ‘verify’, or ‘validate’ my Averlino Voynich theory. Actually, the way this works is completely the other way round, in that what came first for me was a whole load of codicological, cryptographic, palaeographic and Art History analyses, which all seemed to me to specifically point to a construction date in the 1450 to 1470 range (neither before nor after). Hence for me, Averlino was simply an illustrative cherry on what was already to me a well-baked Art History cake: my identification of him as the author of the Voynich might be right or wrong (and I still don’t know either way), but all my other dating still stands.

And it is this other dating evidence which I happen to trust more than f68’s single radiocarbon dating value.

The problem with accepting nothing beyond the raw radiocarbon date range (as Richard SantaColoma is wont to argue people should do, which is somewhat ironic given that it’s the specific piece of information which his various it’s-a-hoax-but-using-unused-old-vellum theories then immediately deem irrelevant) is that it leaves you vulnerable to calculational and procedural errors. If you genuinely want to date the Voynich Manuscript, then I think you have no honest choice but to engage with ceramics, parallel hatching, cryptographic alphabets or whatever fields you choose to build up multiple sets of independent dating evidence. Unless you have these to combine with the radiocarbon dating, your results will be weak.

Which leads to the final counterintuitive thing for this post: that while radiocarbon dating itself is scientifically strong, the tricky reasoning surrounding it is historically fragile. The more you can sensible combine with it, the stronger a support it becomes: but argue from it in isolation from everything else, and your conclusions and inferences simply won’t have a great deal of strength. It’s like one leg of a tripod: you need two more legs for it to be able to stand for any length of time.

100 thoughts on “Radiocarbon dating and the Voynich Manuscript…

  1. D.N. O'Donovan on May 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm said:

    as a scientific evaluation of the manuscript’s age, the sampling procedure was so non-standard-method that it can’t be considered to return significant results – in that sense.
    However, as I’ve noted in the relevant post (already written, but won’t appear till the 19th), it does offer one interesting note. All the samples bar one – the most problematic f.68 – came from the top third of the manuscript, and three of them relate specifically to folios written in Currier A.

    My “conservator’s codicology of the Vms” has to deal with so many unknowns, that the process is described but as a hypothetical exercise.

    With that in mind, I hope you won’t be too hard on it.


  2. bdid1dr on May 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm said:

    So, Nick, what would be the most feasible method for determining credibility of the written content of any medieval manuscript versus the age dating of the material being written upon?
    Boenicke mss 408 is very much an illustration-dependent document. If at any point in its evolution and binding, it got torn apart and put back together ‘bass-ackwards’, so to speak,, would we not have to do a lot of comparative translating rather than de-coding?
    My question, here, begins with the very first illustration of the physalis ixocarpa. There is some discussion accompanying the illustration. There very likely is more discussion of the tomatillo in those pages of dialogue which are ‘bulleted’ with what appear to be either stars or standardized ‘blossom’ petals.
    Once a manuscript has been torn apart and its order of discussions is impaired, all bets are off (meaning back to the individual illustrated folios which have accompanying discussion ‘nearby’ so to speak).
    So, besides identifying the botanical item on folio 1v, and translating the discussion which accompanies the weird looking plant, one needs to refer to two other discussions for F-1v: the ‘bulleted’ page, and the ‘pharma/recipe”page.
    My, my, I like that word for the husk tomato:’Physalis ixocarpa’ — because the discussion clarifies that it is neither a tomato nor a “Chinese Lantern’ plant. (Both are physalis, but one is an edible tomatillo aka husk tomato)., The other member of Physalis is the decorative. “Chinese Lantern Plant” — which is not edible.
    I can’t remember if I found further discussion of the husk tomato in either the pharma or recipe sections of B-408.

  3. pete on May 15, 2015 at 4:29 am said:

    bdid1dr – pardon me for this: but I will not eat a Mexican taco if it does not contain tomatillo. Ever.

  4. Anton Alipov on May 15, 2015 at 9:01 am said:

    There is so much discussion about this carbon dating, while the things, if I am not very much mistaken, stand extremely plain.

    The results of the dating suggest, with high probability, the time interval in which the vellum was manufactured.

    Since the VMS is written on this very vellum, it could not have been written before the vellum manufacture, hence we have the “no earlier than” estimation of its creation.

    Since the VMS may have been written on old vellum, then we don’t have, from the carbon dating, any “no later than” estimation.

    IMO, this is quite straightforward. Why so many discussion about these trivial things?

  5. Anton: because only the raw, uncalibrated science part is straightforward. Almost everybody assumes that the historical part is just as certain, when that’s not even remotely true. Even the science part relies on a good sampling strategy, which (in the case of f68) appears not to have been the case here.

  6. D.N. O'Donovan on May 15, 2015 at 7:26 pm said:

    The raw data range just for the vellum covers nearly three generations: 1400-1461. And the samples came from just the top third of the manuscript. If you take out fol 68, the range narrows, but only for the top third of the manuscript. The remainder is still totally unknown. We’re relying, still, on the palaeography to argue inscription as fairly consistent through the manuscript. And all this only relates to manufacture: it says nothing about where and when the informing matter was first composed. Even the look of the imagery should make clear that the work is not a single, homogeneous, authorial (sorry, Nick) text.

  7. Anton Alipov on May 15, 2015 at 11:40 pm said:


    I don’t think sampling plays the major role for f68r. The fact that that side of the page was more heavily handled would shift its dating forwards (and not backwards, as it stands).

    I agree that it’s not correct to combine all four folios into a single “meta-dating”. A more appropriate methodology is to consider the dating of each folio separately, because different folios could well have been manufactured at different time. What are the separate EV’s for the four curves?

    I disagree with the suggestion that we should “omit” the left peaks or something like that. They are the result of the shape of the calibration curve, nothing more, nothing less – just (unfortunately) introducing additional uncertainty for certain historical periods. By the way they are not “means” as you call them elsewhere, they are rather modes. The mean (the EV) won’t align with the mode in a general case. These peaks attract the viewer’s attention, but actually it is the EV that we should look for, isn’t it?


    We could launch a Kickstarter campaign to pay for sampling much more folios, but I think they won’t be happy at Beinecke to have the VMS cut in pieces for the sake of statistics.

    From what we have, I think it’s a good result that the three folios seem to align neatly. Yes 68 is (judging by the PDF curve) older, but that could be explained by its having been made from older vellum. Note that its foldout format differs from the regular format of the other three folios, so maybe it was taken from “new old stock”, who knows.

    As for the content, yes you are right, but that’s quite trivial. If e.g. one issues a Bible that does not mean that he composed all that stuff himself. This is a separate issue out of the frame of the “carbon dating” discussion.

  8. bdid1dr on May 16, 2015 at 2:23 pm said:

    As far as the handling of various folios, would it not be the case that the older the document, the method of turning a page would have been accomplished by the use of an implement (stick, quill tip, rubber eraser?) So, I wonder how our US and British codiologists were able to make mimeograph and/or photocopies in the mid-twentieth century.
    beady-eyed wonder-er

  9. Diane on May 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm said:

    You mistake me. As it happens I’m horrified that there should have been so much emphasis on that destructive technique when we have so many other ways of dating a manuscript, including (or not) laboratory and other scientific techniques.

    What I should much, much rather have had was an expert appraiser’s description of the pigments, and the written assessment of the manuscript’s physical details written by a professional codicologist or conservator.

    One or either of those would have done perfectly well. In general, destructive techniques are a little “last year”.

  10. Anton Alipov on May 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm said:


    Well, at least it served to cut off the pre-15th century period from consideration.

    As for other approaches – surely you are right, and not only in regard to dating. The whole VMS is an interdisciplinary matter. But I sometimes wonder where are all those experts. In March I posted a couple of VMS-related questions on ResearchGate (not announcing them as such, though), of which one still has no replies, the other got some interesting answers, but unfortunately not to the point. I thought them trivial for experts in respective fields, but it appears that they are not.

  11. The dates need to be corrected.

    Using the information provided in the Voynich Parchment Measurements table from the slide Rich Santa Coloma has shared, and extrapolating from the data in Table 4 at:

    I figure the dates of the different folios to be about 1430, 1420, 1424 and 1412, averaging 1421, with an error factor of about plus or minus 36 years each, a smaller error factor for the group.


    Don of Tallahassee

  12. xplor on May 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm said:

    Putting the Voynich in perspective, more the lack of Linear Perspective This was demonstrated by Brunelleschi in Florence in 1420 and adopted soon after by other. artists. This would indicate The Voynich was made soon after the velum was made or was a copy of an earlier work.

  13. D.N. O'Donovan on May 17, 2015 at 2:35 am said:

    In view of all this, I’ll move the post forward that I’ve written. It was to appear on the 19th.
    Comments will be welcome, of course.
    voynichimagery is the name of the blog. It’s wordpress.

  14. xplor: linear perspective wasn’t immediately adopted by post-Brunelleschi Renaissance artists. For example, Filarete was critical of the technique (and he was active until at least 1465). Hence the fifteenth century was a time of transition to linear perspective, in much the same way that it was a time of transition between Roman numerals and Arabic digits.

  15. Don: when you “figure” those dates, are you using the statistical formula for “weighted mean” noted by Greg Hodgins the I quoted halfway down my 2012 radiocarbon post:

    As I recall, this gives a different result from just averaging out the mean values.

  16. Anton: surely if the contamination was not removed by the processing, then the relative amount of radiocarbon detected (relative to the original mass of the sample) would be less, hence it would appear older?

    The pressure to combine all four samples into a single headline-grabbing “meta-dating” was almost certainly immense. But as I wrote before, there are many difficulties involved when making that calculation – e.g. the four sampling sites were consciously chosen to be different (and hence to provide a reliable composite dating range for the purposes of historical elimination), yet people often interpret the result as if they were chosen for the purposes of precision, which would arguably have involved a different sampling strategy.

    I agree that the left peaks should be included in the illustration, but disagree that that they should be included in the calculation. As I wrote before, the curves are serving two statistical masters at the same time, and so the left hump should should be somehow eliminated from the calculations to avoid heteroscedastic ‘contamination’.

  17. Anton: (it of course depends on what the contamination was. 🙂 )

  18. Actually, radio-carbon dating measures the fraction of the C-14 isotope compared to the 1950 standard. This measurement has a certain error.
    The variations between the values for the four sampled leaves are all *within* this error range, so all four samples are statistically the same.

    Now how the time of parchment creation relates to the times of ‘start of book writing’ and ‘end of book writing’ …..
    Not sure if there are 95% statistics on that.

  19. D.N. O'Donovan on May 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm said:

    about the silence of professionals in manuscript studies and so forth. Some have never heard of this manuscript; others would feel no interest in it – it’s just one of hundreds of thousands of medieval documents, and not particularly engaging in the larger scheme of things. Others again are deterred because the first, tentative remarks tend to be either ignored, or savaged in ignorance. I had two codicologists interested, until they read the sort of flaming which I and a couple of my students received on the mailing list. After that, they wondered why I should bother, myself. 🙂

    Mary d’Imperio summed it up well in her book ‘An Elegant Enigma’. Professionals, in short, mostly have better things to do. Sorry.

  20. Rene: the measurement itself has a certain error, and – as Edith Sherwood pointed out – it seems that different laboratories seem to consistently skew the results by different amounts, suggesting that the various cleaning, processing and measuring regimes in use yield different results. All of which cumulative scientific error shows why radiocarbon dating normally relies so heavily on parallel historical dating. 😐

  21. Diane: I don’t rememember D’Imperio summing it up in anything like the way you suggest – which part of “An Elegant Enigma” are you referring to?

  22. Hi Nick, please rest assured that I have no intention to turn this into a forum-like discussion, but there is a lot to be cleared up about the topic of radio carbon dating.

    About the cleaning: any contamination means that there is some ‘modern’ carbon mixture in addition to the old mixture. Not removing it will mean that the measurement will (on average) come out as newer.

    If one were to make the combined dating based on three samples, leaving out f68, the impact would be much less than you suspect. The high end of the range would only shift into the future by some 3-4 years.
    (I just did the calculation).

  23. xplor on May 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm said:

    In 1435, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), provided the first theory of what we now call linear perspective in his book, On Painting. 

  24. Rene: if the three corrected fractions (for f8, f26, f47) are (0.9409, 0.9380, 0.9389) with respective sigma (0.0044, 0.0041, 0.0041) respectively, my spreadsheet says that their weighted mean is 0.939191662 and their weighted sigma is 0.004193082 according to the formulae that Greg H was using (I know the figures don’t genuinely have this precision, but I thought I’d report exactly what Excel says). A ballpark figure for this would be 1425 with sd 15, i.e. 1395 to 1455 with 95% confidence (2 sigma). Unless I’ve misinterpreted this somehow (always possible, but I tried to be careful), this would shift the 2-sigma upper limit 17 years later than 1438.

    Also: the effect contamination would have on the radiocarbon depends (a) on the physical makeup of the contamination (organic, inorganic, etc), (b) the amount (by mass) of the contamination, and (c) whether all four samples were cleaned and processed in a near-identical way (or else we’re comparing different kinds of radiocarbon dating values). It would have been much more satisfactory if a relatively uncontaminated part of the page had been sampled, regardless. 😐

  25. I was trying to figure out the individual peak years of the samples so I could get a better mind-picture of the 4 graphs in relation to each other and to see what the average was for comparison to the published date (for which, at the time, I did not know the process of discovery). It may not be the accepted mathematical process but is one, I think) that is close enough to give me (not a mathematician) a ballpark answer check on the published date that I can easily understand.

    I think it also shows a narrower span of peak years than the uncorrected year dates shown in much of the information recently expounded as fact on the internet elsewhere.

  26. Hi,

    I’m probably revealing a trade secret (and may need to go into hiding…) but the strip that was cut off in the film isn’t actually the one that was used for the radiocarbon dating. When you look very closely, you can see that in the film it isn’t actually cutting off a piece of the page, but of a piece lying underneath.

    The calculation is quite a bit more complicated. Using uncalibrated years rather than fractions, one would get 1446.7 +/- 20.7 instead of the original 1435 +/- 17.8
    Then, through the magic of the calibration curve, the 95% boundaries move only by 2 years on the left and 4-5 on the right…

  27. Anton Alipov on May 17, 2015 at 6:37 pm said:


    I don’t think that carbon dating has anything to do with the mass of the sample. The method is to compare the (measured) current isotope concentration with its (known)concentration at some moment in the past. A later contamination will introduce more “fresh” carbon, hence it shifts the dating forwards. There are exceptions to this, however, such as when you introduce “ancient” carbon – carbonates, coal, oil etc. This is a big problem when you try to date bones, but perhaps not that big problem for our case.

    (I’m not an expert in carbon dating, but I refer to a helpful brochure on the subject that I recently downloaded.)

    As for the peaks. What these curves are is the probability density function (or, to be exact, the evaluation thereof) of the year of the sample. So if they yield a multimodal picture, we should accept it as it is or don’t accept it at all. If you remove a portion of it, then the whole PDF estimation loses its sense, both mathematical/probabilistic and the common sense. It’s like to request a weather forecast and then to say “sorry I won’t accept it because I don’t like when it’s raining”.

    Frankly, to my shame I don’t know what’s the correct approach to these multimodal cases, because e.g. if you calculate the EV for f68 it falls in between the humps and thus it makes little practical sense to date the sample to this EV which falls into the improbable interval of dates. Or most likely I knew this in my university years but have forgotten since, and I’m lazy to recover that knowledge… few books are more boring than books on probability and stochastic processes, and although they proudly reside on my bookshelf, I confess I’ve never read one voluntarily past one or two introductory chapters.

    There are tools like OxCal to plot these curves upon entering the input radiocarbon measurement data, and this OxCal gives its assessment as intervals around the modes, with a certain probability assigned to each. E.g. for that f68 we obtain 1307-1363 with 43,5% confidence and 1385-1436 with 51.9% confidence. So I’d say, this is just a bit uncertain, and if you adopt the course of omitting the peaks, you could omit the right peak as well as the left peak (for the sake of consideration of course, not for the sake of *calculation*).

    I have some questions about the exact math that they use, but this tool has been in place for some 25 years already and I think those guys at Oxford do know their job, so it can just be trusted.

    I see Rene Zandbergen’s point that the four samples are statistically the same (and it’s just great). But again, methodologically, from the cultural point of view, it’s more correct to *date* individual folios, because, a priori, they *may* have been manufactured at different time, so we should account for that possibility. It’s not like bones of a single person which could only originate on a single year.


    OK, so we need a Kickstarter campaign for to collect money for a PR campaign. 🙂

  28. SirHubert on May 17, 2015 at 7:45 pm said:

    Forgive what is probably a very stupid question, but I don’t understand how inorganic contamination could affect C-14 dating. Might someone explain this, please?

  29. SirHubert: Rene and Anton are both correct in noting that inorganic contamination should not affect C-14.

  30. Rene: I knew that the strip cut off in the film was a fake, but I assumed that Greg placed the fake strip where he knew he had taken the original from. 🙂

    As for the calculation, it sounds to me a great deal like statistically foolhardy sleight of hand, and I would need a lot of convincing that it is valid, sorry. 🙁

  31. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 1:03 am said:

    The passage I was thinking of is on p.35:
    If a scholar of Newbold’s impressive reputation and knowledge of medieval philosophy could be made to appear so deluded and foolish after so many years of painstaking effort, it is easy to understand the reluctance of other scholars to risk their own reputations and peace of mind on the problem.”

    It is not the fact that there are different points of view which is the problem. It is the way in which new information, and the person offering it, tend to be treated. Greg merely ran some tests on behalf of (was it ORF?). It hardly matters who did those tests, because one may assume that the University of Arizona turns out competent workers in the lab; the issue is the results. imo.

  32. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 1:44 am said:

    I’m at the point where I wish the Beinecke would offer the thing at auction. I daresay we’d get a fairly sensible appraisal given in the catalogue. 🙂

  33. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 2:04 am said:

    About the carbon dating: frankly, I don’t think it’s worth the virtual paper expended on it. The results are what they are, but they actually do not date the manuscript. It would have been better in this case, as with McCrone, if the scientists had been given the brief, with a note of limits on budget or number of samples allowed, and then let get on with it.
    At the very best, now, we have a date for the top third, or top half, of a highly disordered set of quires, and the cold fact is that the samples taken are not representative – neither in the scientific sense or in the codicological, or the iconographic, and the palaeographic is arguable. And, just btw, I’ve always been curious to know who suggested use of mopa-mopa as a control in the work McCrone did. Or is that another secret?

  34. Hi Nick,

    everyone their trade. We’re told to be in awe of rocket science, but I prefer it over art history….


  35. Diane Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 7:43 am said:

    Like iconographic analysis – and the various professional disciplines which need it – I believe that rocket scientists consider their work a profession rather than a trade. Perhaps in other languages, the distinction isn’t observed, but I thought I’d mention it.

    PS The history of art is a separate speciality, and most working in that field specialise in one region, or period. Iconographic analysis need a wider range, since the provenance of a given object is often the thing to be determined.

  36. Diane O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 8:11 am said:

    I should have added, just for general interest, that if anyone is thinking of becoming an iconographic analyst, they will need qualifications in ancient and later history, archaeology, a couple of ancient languages as well as any modern ones, various subjects under the general heading of ‘Art history’, experience in laboratory techniques for treating organic and inorganic substances, and worse still, some innate talent.

    For those wanting to emote more, and learn less – art history is a much better way to go (and I know that the art historians wouldn’t mind my saying so).

  37. Anton Alipov on May 18, 2015 at 10:32 am said:

    Not all that includes carbon is deemed organic. E.g. carbonates are not organic, but if they contaminate the sample they affect the dating (this is the main issue with those bones).

  38. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 11:51 am said:

    Anton, if it should happen that the vellum was made in the Byzantine sphere, there could be a problem with albumen, which was sometimes used to impart a smoother finish. We have a document in which the writer, complaining about slow delivery, repeats instructions that the maker is *not* to coat the parchment with egg. I’m looking into it a bit further – the difficulty is that so little has been done on this particular subject that it takes a lot of wading through scientific reports..


  39. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm said:

    I’m assuming here that the specialists in radiocarbon dating would know this sort of thing, or hunt it up as prelude to the tests, but for those interested, generally, on what might be found on the surface of parchment and/or vellum, this isn’t a bad overview. (The sca aren’t only amateur role players these days. )

  40. Anton Alipov on May 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm said:


    Sorry but I don’t get the point about albumen. At which point it is applied? If it is applied during the vellum manufacturing process, then both materials (animal skin and albumen) are of the same year and this does not introduce any problem.

  41. D.N. O'Donovan on May 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm said:

    The problem is not the albumen as such, but its use together with other substances to give a smoother surface. Personally, I don’t think the vellum looks like Byzantine at all, but it has been suggested that the work is a Greek work. Ideally, it would all come off the vellum during the wash-stage, along with the other substances bonded with it. Ideally. Otherwise, there could be a problem. That’s why I’m hunting other lab. reports to find any comment on the issue. Don’t know yet. 🙂

  42. bdid1dr on May 18, 2015 at 5:58 pm said:

    Diane, would not the albumen (egg white) protect the ink writing from moisture or drops of liquids (tea, water,….) which might wash away or blur the writing/image and make it unintelligible?
    I still think it is more important to translate whatever any document is saying, first of all, and then proceed to time periods’ identification, and then authors, illustrators, and provenance.
    So, maybe the author of the “Voynich” never mentioned the dandelion — because it was such a common ‘wayside’ weed that it was not considered for identifying its value. Too bad. Because the dent d’ lion or dent de leon feature on various manuscripts which originate in the Spanish province of Leon. Rene can probably understand this query of mine. Rene, are you familiar with writers Miguel Leon Portilla, Felipe Fernandez Armesto, Bernal Diaz , Charles C. Mann, and my latest reading “Conquistadors” by Michael Wood?
    I’ll be wandering back to some of my earliest translation: the so-called, by me, “Nine-Rosettes” folio. I’m doing this because several months ago National Geographic magazine did an article on a very ancient archaelogical site in South America called “Alban” — whose people came from the sea.
    So, Lakes Alban and Nemi in Europe (as appear in the Voynich manuscript) may have reappeared, partly, as the name for current day South American ‘Alban’ dig, which is ongoing.

  43. Anton Alipov on May 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm said:


    OK, I see. Interesting point.

  44. bdid1dr on May 19, 2015 at 4:28 pm said:

    The European Lakes Alban and Nemi are quite near Frascati and the papal archives in Italy. The Inquisitional reports and confiscated manuscripts would have been lodged with the Pope’s library/offices.
    There is a whole Papal archive of the Inquisitorial records. So several centuries after the Inquisitional confiscation of Fray Sahagun’s rough draft notes (the “Voynich’, with its mention of the Alban Lakes….important nobles marriage arrangements …interviews and notes for herbal medicine, sericulture, agriculture (zeamays, yucca,tunas/fruit/nopales oshquash,, jicama, and botanical floral items: monkshood, scabiosa, and fruit-juice of the mandragore as tranquilizer, and/or abortifacient …
    Mandragore FRUIT was used in the women’s health ‘spas’ to make a mild tranquilizing drink (similar to
    lemonade but carefully titrated to prevent overdose.
    So, the writer of B-408 was skirting the very edges of some very controversial ‘birth control’ and pain-relieving (narcotic) issues. BTW mandragore ROOT was burned — and wounded battlefield victims would inhale the fumes until unconscious — and amputations could be done. This last mention of mandragore root/smoke usage does NOT appear either in B-408 nor in the Florentine Mss (Fray Sahaguns’ published manuscript) which eventually entered the French Royal Library holdings.

  45. bdid1dr on May 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, Rene,
    Have any of you followed up Tom Spande’s suggestion of perhaps using a non-invasive age-dating method called Raman Spectroscopy. I’m still 1-dering why no -1 has done any further study or investigation of this method. Or perhaps Rene may have looked into this latest technique? Perhaps someone (at Boenicke?) can be persuaded to look into the procedure and give it some consideration?
    BTW, if our friend ThomS is no longer active, perhaps his daughter may be able to approach Boenicke from the perspective of a professional art historian?
    beadier-eyed than ever (cataracts still occluding my vision)

  46. Gert Brantner on May 20, 2015 at 6:35 pm said:

    In danger of making a complete fool of myself:
    Well said, but IMHO the very fine method of C14 dating will give answers as crude as the samples you feed it as you say, but also as the questions you pose: Is the vellum old? Yes it is old, not a hell lot to learn. It bugs me that there must be some thread, or twine holding the thing together and it has not been tested while this should be deemed so much less destructive and it would shed some light on the (re-)binding.
    The inks cannot be dated, so why not nondestructively locate the origin of it’s ingredients from isotopes? “Where” could sometimes be more usefull to know than “when”.
    I am keen to learn why the notion of old vellum used in a contemporary forgery is widely dismissed in this case. After all, there are some prominent examples that fooled the experts for quite some time, like the Siderius Nuncius and the Vynland Map.

  47. Gert: the thread is a reasonable suggestion – the problem is that manuscripts typically get rebound several times over their lifetime, and the Voynich Manuscript has a number of places that strongly suggest that it indeed was rebound several times.

    Many of the ingredients for colours were widely traded and/or imported from afar, so would – as I understand it – be difficult to draw hugely strong inferences from, sorry. 🙁

    FInally, some major problems with using-very-old-vellum theories are:
    (a) the Voynich Manuscript has internal evidence that points to a fifteenth century construction
    (b) it has marginalia and marks that point to its having been owned during the fifteenth century
    (c) three of the four vellum radiocarbon dates are extremely close together, which would seem to be improbably lucky for an opportunistic modern forger. 😉

  48. bdid1dr on May 21, 2015 at 4:28 pm said:

    Nick and Gert: I’m hoping you will be attempting to find out what (and which) ships carried missionaries (and their blank manuscript and writing materials) to their various missions/monasteries/schools in countries far, far away from home.
    I’m still on the trail of Fray Sahagun, Jacobo de Grado,, Martin de la Cruz, and Juan Badiano, Francisco de Mendoza, and last but not least, the archives of Hapsburg king Carlos V, Felipe II, Diego de Cortavila y Sanabria (pharmacist to Felipe IV), Cardinal Francesco Barberini, Cassiano del Pozzo (Academy of Lincei….where the ‘copy’ of that manuscript ‘disappears’).
    What is not being mentioned is that a large segment of Fray Sahagun’s manuscripts and teaching materials ended up in the Inquisition headquarters (Papal) and were never returned to Fray Sahagun before his death.
    Thank goodness we can now read, online, the final draft of Fray Sahagun’s “Florentine’ Codex”which is written in bilingual Espanol/Nahuatl . The entire 12-volume codex can be read online.

  49. Diane on May 22, 2015 at 1:30 am said:

    As usual there’s no reference for this, but I do recall someone on the (new) mailing list once saying that the current stitching appeared to be the “original” i.e. the one which gave the ms its present order of quires, presumably in the fifteenth century.

    Gert is right about the valuable information which can sometimes be gained by considering the binding cords and threads. Even non-destructively. 🙂

  50. Gert Brantner on May 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm said:

    Nick et al., Thank you for taking the time to kindly answer my questions.
    Wouldn’t looking for holes be the most non-destructive procedure? 😉
    .. In case the re-binders did not always use the same stich-holes.. But to be honest I know too little about vellum-binding.

    I took some time thinking about Nick’s ABC. Of course it provoked counter-questions:

    a) Reasonable. But does this also apply to the entirety of the VMS’s appearance, the whole thing?

    b) Reasonable. But does this exclude later additions of content and manipulation of the appearance (e.g. order & number of pages)?

    c) Not that much. There seem to be too many unknowns in the equation to judge, let alone calculate the odds. What would be more likely, getting hold of vellum from roughly the same period and area of production, or stuff from “all over the place (& times)? I couldn’t tell.

    IMHO the ink’s ingredients having been widely traded does not make their origins less interesting. Archaeologists have been able to exactly determine the resource of gold for the Nebra Sky Disc (river washed gold form a certain alpine region) and the other metal ingredients – I gather there is a huge database they can draw from, also used to identify modern forgeries. So, unlike with the Vynland Map (which btw. is a contemporary addition to pre-existing content) where identifying the spectrum of a modern ingredient did the job, identifying locations of ingredients and aligning it with historic records of exploitation could yield some interesting insights. If you knew about historic inks (as WMV did), you could decide for authentic ingredients, but not necessarily for authentic sources. But maybe that’s thinking around corners, I don’t know.

    So much I gather: It is all very complicated.. 🙂

    Have a Nice Weekend!


  51. Gert: according to my spies, work has recently been done on analyzing some of the Voynich Manuscript’s thread holes, and the results of this should be made public before very long, so you are definitely asking questions in a fashionable area. 🙂

  52. Gert Brantner on May 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm said:

    Nick, great to hear!
    I’m not in a position to have spies, alas and contrary to past musings on the VMS mailing list I am also not employed by such, just to make that clear 🙂
    This is completely OT, sorry for abusing the thread:
    Speaking of which, I would love to get on the VMS mailing list, but either my requests are getting filtered out or RSC has other reasons. So Rich should you read this, please subscribe me! You’ll know my address from the comments section of your blog (see Voynich Animations).


  53. Diane on May 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm said:

    The ink was iron-gall ink. Made anywhere from Persia, through Yemen and the near east to Ireland and the north. Constituents altered slightly, but not much. It was basically oak-galls and iron.

  54. Diane on May 23, 2015 at 7:22 pm said:

    Do your spies tell you whether the work has been done by a codicologist or conservator, and whether the aim was scholarly or media/commercial?

    I ask because the difference seems to be reflected in the quantity, quality, reliability and relevance of the information we receive, as well as how soon it is shared.

    If someone’s written a doctoral dissertation on codicology and taken MS Beinecke 408 as special study, then I’d certainly be interested. I’ve always been curious to test against different forms of binding including the Asian punch-binding style.

    Hope we don’t have to wait too long. 🙂

  55. Diane: hopefully it will all be revealed soon enough at our collective front gates, I get bored of being told so much in confidence at the back gate. 🙂

  56. Gert: ooh, now that’s something I couldn’t possibly advise you on (though I personally find life outside the Voynich mailing list much better than life within it).

  57. Diane on May 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm said:

    I think I may have Baresch’s “noble man” – Judah Leon Ben Moses Mosconi.

    A physician who travelled to Egypt where he studied under Obadiah Miẓri, to whom he owed [quote] “the greatest part of his learning”.
    He went to Majorca and his library was so impressive that though it was supposed to be auctioned at his death, the king of Aragon snaffled it *all* for himself.

    ‘ello, ‘ello.

    Wonder how many Voynicheros will now feel a sudden divine inspiration to start talking about the same chap? 😀

    or, perhaps, this time one of my discoveries will be properly treated. Who knows?

  58. bdid1dr on May 24, 2015 at 11:32 pm said:

    So, Diane, any way we can get into the Aragon king’s ‘snaffled’ Mosconi material ? BTW: Which Aragon King (Isabella’s husband, maybe)?
    Frankly, they both (Ferdinand & Isabella) appear, to me anyway, as raving lunatic racists. Even their letter of permission for ” X-toph” Columbus to sail the sea and claim possession of whatever he found — really smacks of exaggerated self-esteem and vicious intolerance of ‘non-Catholic’ members of the human race (anywhere).and they still remained suspicious of any Converso.
    So, can you tell us a little more about Senor Mosconi? Was he a Converso? Was Cresques Abraham (mapmaker) a Converso? Are my questions appropriate to your latest offering in re Baresch’s ‘noble man” ? Perhaps Philip Neal has relevant material in his archive in re Mosconi ?
    Very interesting. More! More! (And don’t get me started on Sir Thomas More’s beheading, and the latest whereabouts of the head.)
    beady-eyed wonder-er

  59. Gert Brantner on May 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm said:

    @Diane: Iron gall ink was sold in germany even into the 1950’s by a company called Pelikan. But it is not about where the ink was prepared, my point was that one would be able to find out exactly the origns of exploitation (e.g. which mine) for the iron-sulfide by a method called “gas chromatography-mass spectrometry”. Since iron mining history is generally well documented, temporal reference should be possible.
    If I was to feign iron gall ink, I could use all the original ingredients, but I would not necessarily know to select iron sulfide with the “right” origin for the given time. The mentioned method is a rather recent accomplishment.
    I outlined my thoughts a while ago on my (now-deserted) blog so I forgot that it is a destructive method, sigh. So just for reference: (Santa failed to comply my wishes, btw.).


  60. Gert Brantner on May 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm said:

    Nick et al.,
    After reading some of the list mush-mush on THE VOYNICH MONKEYS I follow you that it is most propably not the place I am looking for (*Quietly retracts request, admin isn’t listening anyways).

    Actually what I am looking for is a place that concentrates the most of sensible information and allows for learned (and civilized) debate. So far, the comments section of your blog has been my best guess. But: I find it hard to read (no threading) and I think it is a pity that lots of valuable information is buried deep inside flat comment feeds that get more & more unaccesible by time (the nature of blogs). It is almost “unsearchable”.

    So.. anyone interested in starting a true Voynich Forum? I took the liberty to install a forum software I would like to provide to the community. If there is real interest that is. It asks for forum administrators, of course. This is actually a call for participation, in case you are interested please let me know.

    Btw., contrary to their statement, THE VOYNICH MONKEYS, while being fittinlgy labeled, DOES de-anonymize participants email addresses when they are quoted in replies, which is certainly not intended.


    P.s.: Nick, do you really moderate all of that comments? Wow..

  61. Gert: for me, the way the Voynich mailing list turned out rather spoilt the pre-2006 illusion I had that genuine collaborative effort might be enough to reveal the Voynich Manuscript’s historical secrets. (Even though I think everyone should have (if perhaps only briefly) that kind of “Eric S. Raymond” phase, I think this should be followed by a rather-more-prolonged OMG-now-that’s-a-stuffed-turkey-that’s-only-going-to-fly-if-you-fire-it-from-a-cannon phase.)

    I now think that almost anybody could crack the Voynich Manuscript if they were given the right starting point: and so it’s the endless non-debate about how best to start that I find tiring. People who spend their time noisily denying that any historical evidence could ever be strong enough to start with are a major part of the social problem, and in no obvious way seem to have anything to contribute to solving it. But you’ve already worked that out for yourself, I’m sure.

    So I don’t think there’s currently any appetite for a new Voynich forum. Perhaps if we get a whole new load of physical evidence that’s out of scale for being analyzed by a single person, then we would have a need for more direct collaboration again. But… I don’t see that happening for a fair while, which is a shame. 🙁

    As for comments: WordPress tells me that ‘Cipher Mysteries’ has 14,171 of them. Unsurprisingly, I don’t have time to critique them all to the depth I’d like: but – as here – I do the best I can, time permitting. 🙂

  62. Anton Alipov on May 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm said:

    The Voynich Forum is an idea that occurred to me long since, especially given that I have experience with managing forums. Unfortunately I have been afraid that if I undertake one more forum, this might burden me and thus ruin the whole idea. So I did not announce any incentives and I’m afraid I am not available to participate actively (as admin or mod).

    But if there are enthusiasts who are willing to undertake the rather cumbersome task of launching and administering the forum, I think this can be only welcome. I think the community definitely lacks something of the kind.

    But such a forum will be useful and successful if and only if it appears as an instrument of collaborative research, not as “yet another” place for Voynich chit-chat.

    Of course, to be recognized among many other resources, it should unite the most notable researchers (it’s impossible to list all of you, you know who you are). If nobody participates, then there’s no sense in launching it, to begin with.

  63. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm said:

    bdidr – yes, I agree about the Spaniards, but the flash-point for the mad hostility towards non-Christians in fourteenth century mainland Europe was the propaganda from Constantinople, where things had always been so bad.
    I’ve got a series of posts prepared which eventually talk about Dr.Mosconi (sorry about the ad. Nick). Good thought about Philip Neal – I’ll see if he ever mentioned same.

  64. bdid1dr on May 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm said:

    Nick, Diane, Gert, and anyone else interested in solving the puzzle of B-408/Voynich:
    Is it possible for Rene Z to contact Paula Zyatz (spelling?) and maybe they would be able to index the individual folios (online) so that you, for example, would be able to portray a particular item, and its discussion, side-by-side — and in large enough print size that an interpreter would be able translate line-by-line. It would still require a three-stage interpretation/identification of any item; but by having a full-size image of each folio in front of our eyes, on your (this) comment page, would make it easier for all of us to compare and discuss with YOU.
    I’ve mentioned, before, that there is an on-line ‘reader’ which can present bound manuscripts, folio-by-folio, and enlarge particular items of interest: The Florentine Manuscript (book-bound) can be read page-by-page/folio-by-folio — and the print-size can be adjusted to the viewer’s need.
    The reason I am bringing up this subject, for the umpteenth time, is because Anderson and Dibble invariably translated every manuscript into English (bypassing the Nahuatl into Spanish).
    So, if you really want to be able to read the “Voynich: manuscript, it might help if you try to read and translate B-408 by first recognizing the mysterious script as being the Nahuatl “alphabet” designed by Fray Sahagun, who then translated Nahua-tl into Espanol. There is no French or Italian Latin in B-408 (except here and there a classic Latin term for botanical items.
    My favorite mixed up page in the “Voynich” is the Cilantro and Radicchio items: The coloring, as well as the discussion for the two plant specimens were reversed.

  65. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 3:06 pm said:

    Gert, I agree in part, but the preparation of iron gall meant importation of some ingredients and sometimes both, depending on where a person lived. Certainly the galls were imported into Persia – sorry, can’t recall the details. I think I referenced them on the old blog, when first talking about inks.

    We know so very little still about economic history in the pre-modern era. I’ve read diatribes against the whole concept, written as late as the 1960s by perfectly respected academics, who thought talking about money-stuff was all a bit infra dig. – much as sociological history was (and sometimes is) still looked down on.

    So in theory the idea of analysing for levels of iron and contaminants is ok, but we just don’t have the level of secondary data to make much sense of it. I mean – what are the levels of zinc in iron-gall inks used in tenth century Soqotra? Sorry to be difficult.

  66. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm said:

    I agree with Gert. I really hoped to be part of a collaborative team, too. I don’t enjoy having no other researcher able or willing to chew over new information, or to let me know in advance that it’s all been done on some point – so I can cite and move to new ground etc. etc.

    Gert, do let us know how to reach your forum, won’t you? Have you time to moderate it?

  67. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 4:03 pm said:

    Sorry Gert, I wasn’t clear. If we know the find-place of an artefact, it is possible to match the mineral profile(s). However, if the artefact contains imported materials – more than one – you get good results, but it may not tell you much.

    If the iron in my imaginary Soqotra example had come from India, it might have higher than usual levels of zinc. All well and good. But you have to know the manuscript was written in tenth century Soqotra. We don’t actually *know* where the Voynich manuscript was produced; we’re still wandering about in the dark, following the most confident-sounding voice but not much more. To add to that, we don’t know where the materials were gained. Imagine the log of a ship’s doctor, even one the straight grain run from Egypt to the Black Sea. One quire might have spectra telling us the iron came from Spain, another quire’s ink might have iron from the Crimea (or from the Hartz, if it was shipped out to Greece).

  68. Gert Brantner on May 25, 2015 at 7:35 pm said:

    Aw, there I go trying to put fire to a raw unstuffed turkey in a half-finished cannon.. My enthusiasm is yet unbroken. I’m propably spoilt through pretty neat forums for some of my other areas of interest, but now I realize all of them are german – no unproductive misdemeanor whatsoever or there comes the whip, so mind your fingers (_good jokes welcome, though). I also realize I might be presented with a radically different landscape here. But wouldn’t some of you like to ’start over?
    Anton, I agree with you, a missing forum is what got me started after all, and also your last paragraph – that all or most of the key suspects should partake – which alas makes the undertaking currently very impropable, as it seems.
    bdid1dr, that reader issue is another thing circling my free circuits but I’m unsure I’m able to follow you in full, tonight.. if it is mainly a technical issue I’m most propably able to help, or provide.. let’s get into it, arh, throughout the year?
    Diane, your hopes are very similar to mine & your disappointment at the same time crushes them, a little..
    I think I’m acting wisely not to disclose the URL of the forum unless I gain considerable support from some of you. While it is technically ready it needs a lot of editorial touch before it is useful. Going back to deutsch’ism, the corset is unfinished. Let me know if you can help!


    P.s.: Nick, I remember a post of yours outlining your criteria of letting comments through or not, but heck, you are going to have to click “ok” or “trash” for the umpteenth time again, now. Sorry for that 🙂

  69. Peter on May 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm said:

    @ bdid1dr
    To understand the language, you have to know that the Latin was written before Gutenberg in spoken language. (Vulgar)
    Latin is the output, according to the long influence of the Roman Empire.
    Cognate languages: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, regardless of the Eastern Empire.
    Therefore, it is very difficult to find a common denominator. It can be use in connection with certain expressions multiple languages.
    Since I come from Switzerland, where four basic languages are spoken and more than 100 dialects, I can assure you, that was no longer spoken or written in the last 200 years more than 120 dialects. (Extinct)

  70. Gert: what others think is another matter, but I personally wouldn’t like to start all over. I like what we’ve achieved with trying to understand the Voynich Manuscript – the fact we still can’t read it is probably simply a matter of its internal complexity, not of our stupidity or vanity. 🙂

  71. Peter on May 25, 2015 at 9:55 pm said:

    It is no longer important to what year it is just for me. Based on the C test. Much more would be interested if the 3 sites where German text is, was written with the same ink. That would help the record straight and clear some ambiguity out of the way

  72. Peter on May 25, 2015 at 10:01 pm said:

    With the new formation time, it is important that we separate from the normal Latin dictionary. You have relatives all Latin languages include.

  73. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 10:27 pm said:

    This is a serious question, so please don’t take it as anything other than a simple one.

    Who is “we”?

  74. Diane on May 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm said:

    If you want to email me, I’ll see if I could help with the project.

  75. Peter on May 25, 2015 at 10:48 pm said:


    I still assessing the NSA, (140 pages). Would have been known at the time that there is a manuscript in which about 200 years younger, also assessing the NSA would have been different.
    But at that time was also the computing power is limited to erode to a Quantum 1000 languages.
    Therefore, it is unnecessary to be based on old.

  76. Peter on May 25, 2015 at 10:57 pm said:

    And Folio 68r
    He writes translated (Place of the Gods)
    He does not describe Zodiac, he thinks the star cluster is a collection point where the Zodiac meet (eg. Olymp)

  77. Diane: ‘we’ = all of us. We are unfunded, disparate and uncoordinated, and yet we are up against – what I, at least, believe to be – the Everest of historical cryptography.

  78. Diane on May 26, 2015 at 10:16 am said:

    Ah – the cryptographers are “we”. 😀
    I wondered why it was so quiet in my neck of the field.

  79. Diane: the “Everest of historical cryptography” part was my belief (and flagged as such). Feel free to replace with your own clause. 🙂

  80. Diane on May 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm said:

    Nick, I like yours better – so much more impressive. I just think it’s a fairly interesting – ok, fascinating – example of the ‘viliores’ genre. Very glad to have had an opportunity to study it, but while a challenge I’d never say it constituted an ambition of that magnitude – not for me.

  81. Diane on May 26, 2015 at 1:21 pm said:

    ..and in the only ‘ambition’ you could say I had – to open the work for others to understand – I do not think I’ve been terribly successful.

  82. bdid1dr on May 26, 2015 at 3:01 pm said:

    Nick, I remember ‘way back when’ you apparently were having a ‘down-in-the-dumps-day’. At that time, you compared your efforts to that of ‘climbing Mount Everest without an oxygen tank’.
    Is my memory bank still fairly accurate and disclosive? I’m hoping that some of us (y’all know who) are viably supporting your efforts.
    So, I hope some of the posts (coming from a half-blind reader who is also hearing-impaired) are not interfering with the sense and continuity of your manifold discussions.
    Diane knows why I have been posting primarily on ‘cipher mysteries’. I’ll try to be more brief, yet disclosive of, hopefully valid comments. Nick, you are the greatest!

    ps: I nearly cried when Edith had to put up defensive walls on her website: fascinating when it came to discussion of the Benin bronze work. Much of that African shore’s native population were imprisoned in El Mina until being loaded onto European (and American) ships bound for plantation slavery. So, Diane and Rene, I hope I haven’t been counter active/interfering on your websites.
    beady-eyed wonder

  83. bdid1dr on May 26, 2015 at 8:24 pm said:

    Another (injurious) aspect of medieval-to-current-day visits of European and American adventurers to other countries: diseases and epidemics. When I visited Tahiti, I had to update my various vaccinations (smallpox, measles, and TB…). When I returned to the US, I brought with me a coffee-can-ful of shells (both marine and land-snail). Because the US Customs inspector confiscated the can (unopened) I missed my home-bound airplane connection; I ended up at my baby-sitter’s doorstep at four in the morning (instead of 10pm) .
    What’s my point, you ask? Only that it is nice to know that most, if not all countries, now require inoculation records in addition to passports – and will also examine any dubious ‘souvenir’ before allowing entry/re-entry.


    I’m hoping some of you may also visit Nick’s other discussion in re the “Vinland” map. (As it addresses another very controversial manuscript from the Boenicke’s archive.)

  84. bdid1dr on May 30, 2015 at 1:47 am said:

    When it comes to discussing the Vinland Map, you might find something interesting I just discovered yesterday: Much of the controversial findings for that supposed fraudulent map was based on the specialists not knowing that ‘fallout’ from nuclear bomb testing was skewing the C-14 and other (Raman?) readings of various manuscripts and maps (ref: UC Davis, California).

  85. bdid1dr on June 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm said:

    Forgive my cross-posts, Nick. Possible erroneous reference to UC Davis ‘….. Maybe UC Berkeley. Still, the importance issue is/was how many age-dating of manuscripts/maps procedures results were being skewed by atmospheric radioactive fallout of nuclear testing.

  86. bdid1dr on June 2, 2015 at 9:59 pm said:

    So, besides all the brouhaha in re the “Voynich” mss, consider this: Just about the time Boenicke was submitting the Voynich and the Vinland map to various ink and manuscript materials experts, apparently the United States military, were developing and testing the “Atomic” bomb. Which radioactive fallout apparently cycled the Earth’s atmosphere, and seriously skewed many of the tests done on the inks and manuscripts for age dating/validity (and maybe worldwide experts findings)
    So, how much faith can we now have in the various radio-carbon tests and/or dates of manuscript, and ‘anatase’ presence, etc. ad nauseum?

  87. bdid1dr: radiocarbon results are corrected and calibrated for the skewing effects of radioactive fallout, so this is a technical issue that has been thoroughly covered. The test for anatase is very reliable too, so that too is not an issue in scientific testing.

  88. Anton Alipov on June 3, 2015 at 11:38 am said:


    Please feel free to PM me on FB (“asalipov”) if you would like me to share my opinion or advice on the forum implementation and possibly technical issues (if the engine is that which I have experience with).

    As I wrote above, I am not ready to perform any moderator work, but surely I would be a visitor to such a forum.

  89. bdid1dr on June 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm said:

    Thanx, Nick, for setting me straight on the calibrations. I’m now heading back to L’Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland) and the various Viking explorations of the North American seashores and islands. (Including the Grand Banks fisheries).
    Hopefully, the L’Anse aux Meadows historic site will be yielding even more information to back up historical documents which have been discussed and disputed for ‘ages’ now.

  90. bdid1dr on June 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm said:

    BTW: I’ll be heading out, later today, to explore the history of the Coney Island (New York) amusement park and beach.
    I mention this only because Newfoundland island had a small settlement which mentions ‘coney’. Newfoundland island, itself, appears in antique maps as the shape of a rabbit (coney).

  91. bdid1dr on June 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm said:

    Well, I researched the origin of Brooklyn NY’s Coney Island Amusement Park/Beach. Sure ’nuff, that beach property eventually evolved into commercial and housing projects.
    Most fascinating was that it was not far from Coney Island NY, that the Transatlatic Cables were laid down on the seabed — and one cable was set in place near “Coney”, Newfoundland Island, Canada.
    ps: L’ans Aux Meadows archaelogical site is located at the tip of the “coney’s ear”

  92. bdid1dr on June 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm said:

    Now, back to my query of several months ago in re a more recent, and supposedly less invasive/injurious/damaging procedure for age-dating and/or chemical identification of ancient manuscripts: Raman spectrometry. I first read of this procedure (referenced by Thomas Spande) as being much less invasive or damaging to the material being studied. Tom was still working with the NIHS, I believe.

  93. bdid1dr on June 8, 2015 at 12:20 am said:

    Following up on my comment in re L’ans aux Meadows archaelogical site on the “tip of the rabbit’s ear’ :

    Farther down that same peninsula is a now-abandoned cove settlement called “Coney Arm”.
    Lat/Long: 49.966667 -56.783333

  94. bdid1dr on June 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm said:

    Yesterday I went online with St. John’s (Newfoundland) website: They were discussing the ‘addling’ of the eggs (coating the unhatched eggs with oil) of a pair of white swans. Swans being swans, and doing what swans do, apparently is controversial (swan lovers vs filthy bird haters).
    So, I spoke my 2 cents worth: I queried whether relocating the swans to a cove called “Coney Arm” — which, apparently, is no longer occupied by humans — would be feasible.
    So we have a nook at the base of the same peninsula which is ‘capped’ by the archaeology of “L’Anse aux Meadows. (Viking settlement).
    Nick, I’m posting on this page because of the discussions of radio-carbon-dating for so-called “Voynich” Mss also discuss the Viking/Vinland Map.
    So, have the Newfoundland officials (in St. John’s) been doing any further research of manuscripts and maps?

  95. bdid1dr on June 12, 2015 at 12:13 am said:

    Not that I’m trying to leave anyone breathlessly speechless, much less ‘typing-less’. My husband brought home another book which discusses the archaelogical site L’ Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. The book is authored by Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad. They definitely know what they are talking about in their book “The Viking Discovery of America”. One of the carved artifacts found at their dig bears a strong resemblance to an Easter Island figure, stone cap and all.. (page 19 of their book).
    This, my latest post, is an attempt to turn your interest toward some very interesting details of early Viking sea-travel, their modes of transportation, and types of dwellings, and their farms and pasturage. The book also shows their means of navigaiting by sun readings based on a floating notched, disc. There is much more detail and illustrations packed into this rather slender book.
    Full speed ahead — regardless of mode of travel!

  96. bdid1dr on June 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm said:

    I intentionally mentioned items of “Vinland Map” interest on this page because we seem to get buried deeply under various conversations/dialogues/argumentation on the “V-nich” manuscript — both of which apparently underwent multiple age-dating processes and discussions of provenance and origins.

    I beg of you; please do not take anything for granted with D’Imperio’s manuscript/publication. The only successful codiologists working for the US military were Navajo & Hopi radio ‘codetalkers”.during World War Two.

  97. bdid1dr on June 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm said:

    When we visited Canyon d’ Chelly (in the 1980’s ) and camped out in the snow, briefly, we were taken on a tour (flatbed truck) of the petroglyphs which lined the canyon walls.. To my eyes, the petroglyphs were recording ‘ancestor’ history. Also recorded were more ‘modern’ figures of men on horseback, who were wearing armor and helmet.
    I was given permission to lie on my back at the base of the canyon wall and photograph the colorful mineral deposits sheeting the walls.
    Several days later, at the Hopi museum, I had the pleasure of meeting their curator, museum host: Valjean Joshevema. Besides the products of his renewed school of silver working, he had a group photograph of some 14-16 relatives of his: Code Talkers. He gave me 10 minutes in which to pick out himself among his cousins and uncle. I didn’t do badly at all. Such a kind person. I went online a couple of years ago — apparently his son (?) has carried on the family history and tribal affairs.

  98. bdid1dr: “codicology” has nothing to do with codes – it is to do with the study of codices.

  99. bdid1dr on June 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm said:

    So, if you were a writer of codes or codices, how would you differentiate between a sibilant ‘c’ and/or a hard ‘c’ (as in coke)? The name of an island comes to mind: Cyprus or a tree Cypress. The word ‘codices’ seems to be relevant to my query. (?) ;_)

  100. bdid1dr on June 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm said:

    That is my goofy, mixed up ‘smiley’ at the end of post.
    I meant 😉 smiley with a wink

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