Just a quick visual idea for you to ponder on with regard to Voynich Manuscript page f57v: it’s something I’ve not seen mentioned elsewhere.

Back in 2010, I posted a page here discussing astrolabes, nocturnals and Voynich Manuscript page f57v, in which I laid out some codicological reasoning why I thought the 4 x 17 = 68 single character ring was actually a 4 x 18 = 72 mark ring, i.e. marks spaced every (360 / 72) = 5 degrees. (I also didn’t explain nocturlabes as well as I should have done, so that’s something I ought to return to soon.)

One other anomalous feature of f57v is the text in the innermost ring, three quarters of which is also made up of single characters (marked in red below). This looks to me as though as though it too might be concealing a string of marks. But on what kind of device would marks only go three quarters of the way around?

So… your Voynich thought for the day is that there is indeed a very specific type of device of great interest in the fifteenth century where the marks only go 75% of the way around: a sundial (or solar clock), which very often only cover 18 hours of a day.

Now, I’m really not saying that f57v is ‘definitely’ a sundial (in the world of the Voynich Manuscript, nothing is ever that easy): but, rather, that the idea that at least one of the text rings on this page might well be somehow connected with a sundial ought (I think) to be considered here.

I don’t recall any other theory or suggestion that explains the curious string of characters on the innermost ring: nor why (for example) it should contain freestanding EVA ‘l’ shapes, even though these hardly ever appear elsewhere in the text, or various other unknown weird characters. My strong suspicion is therefore that these are just random letters added to cover up dots and dashes in the original diagram, and have no actual meaning beyond that.

23 thoughts on “Voynich f57v

  1. Mark Knowles on August 31, 2017 at 10:11 pm said:

    Nick: Thanks for the interesting post. Your posts are greatly valued.

  2. There could be between the 2 ring and the 4 ring a combination system to arrange syllables from multiple characters.
    I myself do not believe in the system because I have not seen any syllables in the VM. I think the system is easier.
    I see the problem rather in the implementation to the language and spelling, which did not exist at this time. (Written as spoken).

  3. Milen Chakarov on September 1, 2017 at 9:39 am said:

    Hello Nick,

    I think the four characters marked in blue(outer circle)were initially only vertical lines.The ink with which the vertical lines are written is of the same density as the neighboring characters.They have served as dividers for the four identical series of characters.Curved ornaments are then added with a freshly charged pen, which is evident from the higher density of the ink.Their purpose is to make it easier to discover the four dividing lines.There is only one such symbol in the inner circle, but there is a line without an ornament.Between them, in the upper half of the circle, if we count “aiin” for a single character, we have 17 positions.And between them, in the lower half of the circle, if we count the “words” for a single symbol, we also have 17 positions.These are just my observations and assumptions, but this topic gave me an occasion to share them and to hear your opinion.

    Best Regards,

  4. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on September 1, 2017 at 10:22 am said:

    Nick and Ants.
    I’m sorry. No sundial is drawn in the picture. ( f57v).
    Nick, they are drawn in the picture. 4 men. Who is bathing. The men are Rosenberg. Eliška of Rosenberg had 4 brothers.
    1. Jindřich V. of Rosenberg.
    2. Wok II. of Rosenberg.
    3. Petr IV. of Rosenberg.
    4. Oldřich III. of Rosenberg.


  5. Josef: as a very wise man once said, “my monkey’s uncle had a Susquehanna hat”.

  6. We can draw inspiration from the existing images of the nocturnals and try to delimit the 17 numbers: the middle one and the eight on each side, from 0 am to 8 am and from 4 am to 12 pm in the afternoon. May be that “l” at the end of some left words means a.m. and “r” at the end of some words right means p.m. Or only 16 numbers. With a little luck we can find the meaning.

  7. bdid1dr on September 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm said:

    Four seasons Q ?

  8. The diagram has three centres – what does that imply?

    The shape drawn in the centre has the four radii precisely proportioned and, apparently, measured. What does that imply?

    What happens if you make a version in cardboard – each concentric ‘wheel’ made separate, and then all pinned through the middle? Has anyone done that?

    Incomplete circuit. of course suggests use somewhat like:

    It’s very easy to create Voynich-related ‘ideas’ from nothing at all, and then to slide into researching the idea’s plausibility rather than explaining what is there on the page, and how it would have been read at the time this was made.

  9. Diane: I actually think it is quite hard to devise explanations for multiple anomalous features that don’t clash with yet other features simultaneously.

  10. Charlotte Auer on September 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm said:

    From my point of view, f57v refers to the four elements and the then related alchemistic symbols.

    The number 4 plays the central role in the drawing: 4 circles, 4 human figures, 4 directions, 4 repetitions of single characters etc. Some of the single characters, celarly separated from each other, are known from other contemporary mss, i.e. “secret” alchemistic ones.

    The “entrance” of the circles is also clearly marked as the end of each one, and a four times repetition of alchemical elements looks like an incantation. If you take the blue marked symbols/characters only as fancy separators, then you come to 4×16 characters which makes a lot more sense in relation with the mystic number four.

    Just my interpretation from a first glance and far from deeper analysis.

  11. Some of the weirdos on this page look like the symbols in Picatrix and similar writings, but there are so many things the diagrams look slightly like and such an absence of things they look exactly like that it is hard to evaluate these things. The diagram looks slightly like a sundial, but if it is one, why does it not look exactly like one?

    One feature of the rings has struck me for a long time: the Voynichese text fits the slots where it is written very nicely. In this respect the rings are in complete contrast with the pages of continuous writing, where it looks as if a verbose ciphertext has been shoehorned into a frame intended to contain a shorter plaintext. I see two possible explanations.

    1. The text in these diagrams was enciphered first, the diagrams spaced and drawn accordingly, and the ciphertext recopied into the diagrams.

    2. A different, non-verbose, encipherment was used on the plaintext of the diagrams. Freestanding numerals and letters would only require a simple subsitution into mysterious symbols, and it is not new that the labels have different structural properties from the continuous text of the manuscript.

  12. Philip, Nick, There are so many anomalous features in this diagram that I reserve judgement on its date. Philip notes the way the diagram appears to have been drawn first, and the letters added neatly into their slots. But it is also – as far as I’m aware the only circle in the manuscript that was drawn with a compass, and absence of ruling out, ruler-straight lines and so on is itself one of the features about the ms which is characteristically Voynicherian and absolutely contrary to Latin habits in making a page… the ruling out was always done, and done first. The Renaissance literati attempted to imitate Greek practice in minimising the presence of ruling out, but evidence of erasure, or use of the Jewish string-guide is still apparent. Nothing of the sort in the Vms, and I can’t emphasise enough what a telling point this is.

    Then you have the central ‘island’ which employs a characteristic but non-Latin mark to denote the centre of the world, and the four ‘continents’ extending from that centre, each with a precise measurement apparently significant… I guesss I should have investigated Pythagorean number theory there. Too late now.

    Since the older matter had to be known to be set down purposefully in a generally-early-fifteenth-century object, I find it interesting that the peculiar way in which the figures are drawn is just that we find in one of Kircher’s illustrations. I have no way to settle the question, either way, but I suspect this drawing might even have been made by Kircher. The answer to the numerical questions, and the anomalous method of construction for diagram, and (as Philip says) the very neat disposition of the letter sequences may possibly lie in Kircher’s Oedipus or China Illustrata.

    When talking about these things in posts to the blog, I included the illustration he labels ‘Machauter’ – misreading the name of a deity who – imo – is the subject of the fish-with-emerging-‘nymph’ in another folio. It is not unexpected that Kircher knew that figure. Its few known cult-sites were near the old trading centres with the west, and one of them had become a centre for the Latin missionaries and settlers by Kircher’s time.

    Who was it who suggested that Voynichese was an attempt to invent an artificial ‘universal language’ – or have I misremembered that tid-bit?

  13. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on September 2, 2017 at 7:15 pm said:

    Nick. And Ants.
    Small circle. f57v.
    Eliška writes there. That the picture is a riddle ( rebus ). He also writes about the character that is down there. ( character ” S ” ).

    Diane asks what the center means. The center is made up of 4 numbers – 3.
    This means 3,3,3,3.
    Numerological system Jew. Number 3 = C.G,S,L.
    Therefore there are 4 numbers 3.

    The main meaning is written from left to right.

  14. What interests me is, why is the character where looks like a 2, twice in the list before.
    Why do not I find a (c) or a small (a). These are represented in the normal text 100x.
    The same with the small (m) where looks like two cc, linked up.
    Or the twisted (S), and the small (u). ?

  15. bdid1dr on September 8, 2017 at 2:25 pm said:

    @ Nick : Has the question ever come up before that f57v may be a set of dials? Or at least the portrayal of a set of movable dials ?

  16. Davidsch on September 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm said:


    What was the idea that led to your comment?
    Do you have similar ideas or related ones on your website, if so, I would love to read about that.

  17. Davidsch on September 12, 2017 at 10:21 pm said:

    Made very little progress on some symmetries in f57v.
    but perhaps somebody has a clue.

    Scroll to half of the page to “Nick made us think” if you want to look.

  18. Davidsch: I wrote about this in detail in Curse 2006. As I recall, the ‘sun’ shape in the middle didn’t come into use until 1480 or so, so that’s a bit late for the Voynich.

    The shape you think might be a 5 is very probably ‘ij’ with a bar above it, denoting the start of the second book, a mark likely added by a later owner (somewhat scrappily).

    The first two signs of each set of 18 have been joined together into a fake gallows-like character, turning a real 4 x 18 sequence into a fake 4 x 17 sequence.

  19. Davidsch on September 13, 2017 at 11:15 am said:

    Nick, your refer to some old info on that page. But what about the line drawings?

    Scroll to half of the page to “Nick made us think” .

  20. Davidsch on September 13, 2017 at 5:03 pm said:

    Why is the 4 x 17 sets not actually 4 sets of 16, and one character a Null ?

  21. Davidsch: because you can see the different ink used to turn two of the 18 glyphs into a fake gallows glyph.

    And then 18 x 4 x (5 degrees) = 360 degrees.

  22. Davidsch on September 14, 2017 at 12:31 pm said:

    …16 is a perfect number to form a cryptographic system. But if you insist on 18:
    there are more similar “pseudo perfect numbers” you can choose from and make 360 degrees from there, but to me, although I like the idea, it doesn’t make much sense either. sorry.

  23. Davidsch: a number of late-medieval astronomical devices had rings marked in five degree increments (where 5 x 72 = 360). I’m currently collecting a number of these to write up in a paper.

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