Hi, I’m Nick Pelling – and this is my “Cipher Mysteries” blog (formerly the “Voynich News” blog). It grew out of my long-term research into the Voynich Manuscript and other unbroken historical ciphers. If you don’t find some romance and mental adventure in uncracked ciphers, you must surely have a heart of lead, right?

The codes and ciphers discussed here have remained unbroken for a very good reason – they’re all really, really tricky, each in their own way. For example, some people say that trying to crack the Voynich Manuscript is not unlike attempting to solve a million-piece jigsaw with your eyes shut: but some days, it does seem to me that the person with the jigsaw has it fairly easy. But wherever on this scale you place it, the Voynich Manuscript remains a truly immense challenge – the Everest of code-breaking.

Nick with a Voynich nymph
Fig.1: A passing Voynich nymph greets Nick in the traditional manner

My ambition is, by contributing to the cracking of all these unbroken ciphers, to raze this whole field of study to the ground, so that I can start climbing the next mountain along. Perhaps an even higher one! 🙂

177 thoughts on “About

  1. Nick I was looking through some old boxes of books last night and ran across a collection of Horizon Magazine; These were a hard cover magazine published in the 60s and 70s on various artistic, architectural, historical and anthropological subjects. Anyway the January 1963 issue has a piece on the VM. Good pictures and a discussion of Newbold’s. No new info, just interesting.

  2. Hi Nick,

    I picked up an old postcard in Paris 2 months ago at the antique market outside Père Lachaise cemetary, the photo on the front is also incidentally of Père Lachaise, but on the back is a curious ciphered message, which is of course why I bought it! The postcard was printed around the 1920’s but I’m not sure exactly which year. It was sent to a woman, whose address is now occupied by the French Federation of Psychologists. Naturally I’m very interested to know what it says, and at first glance it doesn’t look like a simple cipher, ie. there may be several characters for each letter. Would you be interested in taking a look?


  3. Are there any working groups for folks to come together in a legal, non-compete environment and discuss their decoding theories?

  4. Niki: in the UK, I occasionally host a Voynich pub meet, usually at an historic London venue (yes, an old pub), so if you happen to find yourself near London please free to say, it’s always nice to have a visitor to plan & fuss semi-impromptu meetings around. 🙂

    As far as online theory discussion groups go, there’s an active (though terrifically noisy) Voynich mailing list at voynich.net , though I personally wouldn’t particularly recommend it for anything apart from teeth-gritted lurking. Each to their own, I guess. 🙂

  5. Hi ho, Nick!

    I hope your Vol 2 of Voy is proceeding at a pace that is satisfactory to you. Will you be giving all your fans a “heads-up” whey you are nearing publication?

    My feelings aren’t going to be injured if I get only a Yea or Nay from you. My offer to proofread still stands!


  6. Narissa Andrews on November 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm said:

    Hi Nick, read your article on the WWII pigeon cipher. Ive been trying to solve it, something in your list of 13 squadron places matches something ive found. Are you working on this cipher?

  7. Narissa: I did some experiments in Excel to test the suggestion that it might be a poem code, but nothing seemed to really fit. Others have suggested some form of double-transposition cipher, but I was going to re-read Between Silk & Cyanide before going too far down that route. May I ask what kind of a cipher you think it might be? Oh, and good luck, whatever you’re trying! 🙂

  8. Narissa Andrews on November 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm said:

    I havent decided what type of cipher it is yet but deep down i dont think its a OTP. The bit in your article that attracted my attention is the June 1940 anti submarine part. I wont say anymore yet, but ive followed you on twitter however you havent used your account for ages 🙂

  9. 23|24|25|26|27|28|29|30} {grammar|spelling|writing|grammatical}

  10. Hi Nick, if you are bored and need a break, Im posting ciphers to crack on my blog. Simple 5×5 substitution box.


    First person to crack it and give me a copy of the 5×5 grid that I used Ill publish name on my blog.

  11. Narissa: not unless you found it attached to the leg of a dead WW2 pigeon… 😉

  12. Nick,

    Sometimes the most important codes were hidden in plain texts. This is true for unit fraction finite math used for 3,500 years. Egyptian, Greek and medieval square root is a case in point.

    At the end of the background section of the linked Planetmath page (one of several that decode unit fraction and Mayan math codes) is an emerging mathematical proof.

    Anyone want to finish the proof of the ancient square root math works in today’s math?

    I’ll be appreciative …


    Milo Gardner
    Sacramento, California

  13. i was wondering how to contact someone i think i may have found a possible writer of the VM i did some research and i think i may have come up with an idea but i would like some help with it can some one please reach out and give me a hand please.

  14. Ralph: sure, drop me a line – nickpelling at (the same as the first part) dot com – , always happy to have Voynich-related stuff bounced off me in confidence. As I guess you’ve already found out, most well-known early Renaissance names have already been proposed during the last century, but there’s plenty of room for one more. 🙂

  15. Hey Guys I have a cipher I have not been able to use and its used allot in my household and I have not been able to crack it or figure it out. Is there anyone here who might be able to??

    here is a link to my posting with an explanation
    or just go right to the jpg of the code i scanned from paper


    Many Thanks

  16. sactech,

    If your cipher is a simple substitution cipher, here is a solution that fits:



    “Lepto” may refer to “Leptospirosis”, an animal disease that can be transmitted to humans. Maybe “lepto levels” refers to some kind diagnostic test. Or maybe some other solution fits on that line.

    The overall solution is a good fit but I’m not 100% certain it is absolutely correct, due to the shortness of the cipher text.

  17. What Dave said. 😉

  18. hi nick check this new site of me…and please all lovers of cryptography too!!!!!……………………….nick if you dont mind i will post your blog link into mine site!!!………..everything here nick they are perfect,keep going your good work!!!!…..thanks

  19. Well if you can’t not see I decoded the voynich manuscript; I would say it’s impossible then, because my transcription follows logic!

  20. Thomas: if only we all used the same logic, life would be so much easier. 😉

  21. Nick? What do you think about the voynich? Can you at least agree its an anagram based cipher and since it came from Northern Italy does logic dictate it would be Italian?

  22. Hi Nick,
    When talking about the Voynich script most people refer (without mentioning it) on the EVA transcription although this transfer may have nothing to do with the contents of the text.
    EVA is important due to the consistent presentation of the glyphs in a corresponding Roman alphabet’s equivalent with which a computer aided analysis becomes possible.
    I am now able to present a new analysis (complete N-gram followed by similarity sort), where slight differences are reported, and thus spelling errors of various origins may be discovered:


  23. Menno Knul on June 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm said:

    It might be helpful for you to learn that the Voynich Manuscript has been written in Northern-Italy, in Bologna in 1560-1568 by Dr. Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576), prof. in medicine at the University of Bologna (1560-1570). The coded language is Italian (or Latin). I have not yet decoded the book. If ever !!!

    This is not merely a theory. The above information has been deducted from the Voynich Manuscript itself, but has widely been neglected by researchers.

    Menno Knul
    (The Netherlands)

  24. xplor on June 1, 2013 at 9:28 pm said:

    1.If Gerolamo Cardano commissioned the manuscript , what language was it originally in?
    It does not appear to be based on the works of Dioscorides or Galen.

  25. Tricia on June 2, 2013 at 9:07 am said:

    Dear Menno,
    Where’s your working-out?

  26. Menno Knul on June 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm said:

    Dear Tricia and Xplor,

    I am still working on a text for my website, but I can give here the information needed for discussion.

    1. If you look at the green banner of this excellent blog of Nick Pelling you see the design of a castle from the Voynich Manuscript. This castle shows walls with so called swallow-tailed merlons (battlements). The only region, where you can find this type of merlons, called Ghibelline merlons, is Northern Italy as a result of a controversy between towns, which had chosen the side of the German emperors in a controversy with the pope. This has been neglected or overseen by the researchers of the Voynich manuscript, but it shows clearly the Northern Italian origin of the Voynich Manuscript. The uncoded language of the Voynich MS should be Italian or Latin. This is confirmed by subscripts with the Zodiac signs.

    2. The combination of subjects treated in the Voynich Manuscript (varying from botany, jars with mixtures of medical plants to astrology/astronomy) and the coded presentation of the manuscript indicates a scientific (alchemistic) community as can be found at universities, which rules out towns without a university. I decided for the oldest university of Europe in Bologna for further investigation.

    3. If one looks for an alchemistic scientist in medicine with knowledge of botany (medical plants), astrology, astronomy, mathematics (encoding) and in my view urban architecture and water supply (through tubes), one cannot miss Med. Dr. Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576) , who wrote more than 200 books over many subjects (some of them published in Leyden and in Amsterdam) and developed a code, which is still known as the Cardano grille (which has been used recently by prof. Gordon Rugg to decipher the Voynich MS, without result).

    4. It cannot be just by accident, that in the same years of the professorate of Cardano (1560-1570) the University of Bologna realized a botanical garden (1568). I regard the design of the six spheres as a philosophical plan for the development of a ‘healthy city’.

    5. I realize, that carbon dating shows a much older date for the Voynich manuscript (beginning of the 15th century. I doubt this. In my opinion the Voynich Manuscript is much younger. I would like to see a carbon dating of the Vermont MS 2 to compare the results.

    6. The remains of the castle in the green banner on top of this blog still exists in Bologna. It is the Palazzo Re Enzo, built 1244. The castle itself collapsed in an earthquake, but the lower part with the entrance still exists.

    7. In my comment on Mona Lisa I wrote, that young Gerolamo Cardano was a son of lawyer and mathematician Lazio Cardano, professor at the University of Pavia. He was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci, painter, inventor, etc. Young Cardano met Da Vinci, when he was 14 years old.

    I hope you enjoyed my cultural approach to the Voynich Manuscript.

    Menno Knul
    (The Netherlands)

  27. Diane on June 3, 2013 at 3:25 am said:

    1. Crenellations of that kind occur not only in northern Italy. There is no certainty that their inclusion on f.86v is meant literally. On ths same point I differ from Nick Pelling who discussed them in his book (2006) and here on his blog.

    – subscripts with the Zodiac signs. If you mean the inscriptions which are taken as month-names: not my area but most people believe they are in tan Iberian language or dialect. Some suggest Occitan; others Catalan Jewish.

    – What scale we should read for containers in the ‘pharma’ section is problematic; that the plants there are primarily medicinal is not established. I assume that whatever their primary use some (and perhaps even all) had some application for medicine. To be sure, we’d need to know surely what each is.

    Neither books nor academic training are needed to practice the implied skills, nor to create a means of encoding.

    3. “If one looks for…” quite.

    I do not know what your ‘6 spheres’ might be.

    5. “I realize, that carbon dating shows a much older date for the Voynich manuscript….” yes, and so will many of your readers.

    But don’t worry. No-one has written about the manuscript since 1967 without being considered by all others to lie somewhere in the range between ignoramus and lunatic and while my opinions differ from yours, in that respect there is no difference between us, I should think.

  28. xplor on June 3, 2013 at 4:37 am said:

    Menno,You are doing very good. The place you are thinking about is Friuli. Italian as we know it did not become the official language until 1861. In the 15th century they would have spoken native dialects.

    A place of note would be Aquileia a major roman city. In 1420 Venice annexed the territory of Udine.

  29. Menno Knul on June 3, 2013 at 8:53 am said:

    Dear Diane,

    1. Thanks for joining the discussion. I can promise you there is much more to come, but discussions should start somewhere.

    2.I would be interested to learn from you, where Ghibelline crenellations of the same type and from the same period of time occur outside of Northern Italy, the province of Udine excluded.

    3. I am not interested in hit-and-run type of opinions as long as they are not embedded in a comprehensive geographical and cultural environment. The Voynich Manuscript may be a unique document, but it did not fall out of heavens.

    4. It should be 9 spheres (86v).

    5. I have not yet seen a document, that relates the contents of the jars with the individual plants. This would be useful, because the ingredients have a coded name, which should be retrieved in the texts accompanying the individual plants.

    6. Of course one can be sure as soon as the code has been revealed. We all know that. In the meantime we can collect as much information as possible to improve the chance to decode.

  30. Menno Knul on June 3, 2013 at 8:58 am said:

    Dear Xplore,

    The Italian province Udine (Venice, Friuli, Aquileia) is out of range for the Voynich Mansucript. I’d rather concentrate on central North-Italy.

    Menno Knul
    (the Netherlands)

  31. Menno Knul on June 20, 2013 at 1:55 am said:

    The general idea is, that the Voynich code is an alphabetical code. If so, the code would pay for the whole text and its features would be seen in the whole text. This is not the case. Folios 1r/v to 25r/v are excluded. All highly frequent words on -edy can be found from f26 r/v onward only, but lack in the first 25 folios. Apparently they form a separate category. The conclusion can only be, that the Voynich code is not an alfabethical code. For a numerical code would pay the same.

    chedy (502x), shedy (426x), qokeedy (305x), qokedy (272x), okedy (155x), lchedy (119x), okedy (118x), okeedy (105x), oteedy (100x), qotedy (91x).

  32. Diane on June 20, 2013 at 8:18 am said:

    Dear Meno
    You say
    The Italian province Udine (Venice, Friuli, Aquileia) is out of range for the Voynich Mansucript.

    … but you give no reason for your opinion.

  33. Menno Knul on June 20, 2013 at 11:17 am said:

    Dear Diane,

    Venice kept aside of the Guelph and Ghibbeline conflict with the pope to protect its free trade. Thus the city has not been listed as one of the Ghibelline cities. The drawing of a Ghibelline castle in the Voynich Manuscript shows, that it is a Ghibelline castle. If one takes into account, that the Voynich Manuscript has scientific contents, one has to look for scientific communities in the Ghibelline area: Milano, Pavia, Padua, Bologna. Bologna had the oldest university of Europe (1088) and expanded its scope to medicine (botany) and mathematics. I have shown that the depicted castle still exists: Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna (1245). Si non e vero e ben trovato, isn’t it ?

  34. Diane on June 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm said:

    Forgive me, but I think you have not troubled to question the evidence before deciding certain things.

    “..The drawing of a Ghibelline castle in the Voynich Manuscript shows, that it is a Ghibelline castle”.

    You are merely presuming that the work was made by a Latin Christian, and that the drawing is meant literally, without proving or even testing those assumptions.

    Further, if you cannot explain why that folio contains the imagery it does, and show by comparative examples that Europeans had the beliefs expressed by other motifs in that map, questions must remain:
    such as – was the image drawn with an intention to be literal or, on the other hand, is it like the sketches in the Zibaldone a Canal – purely ornamental? Are there maps where the same type of crenellation appears without meaning ‘a Ghbbeline structure’ – (answer is Yes there are – it can mean more generally, ‘imperial’).

    Do such crenellations occur outside Italy – yes they do. In Crusader-era defences from Caffa to the eastern Mediterranean, where ‘Guelf’ vs Ghibbeline had no importance. That was a problem only for some cities of the Italian peninsula.

    “f one takes into account, that the Voynich Manuscript has scientific contents”

    You may call them ‘scientific’ but people have been doing ‘scientific’ things since the fourth millennium BC. I’d say that the contents were pragmatic.

    ” one has to look for scientific communities in the Ghibelline area” – that doesn’t follow. Any person could draw those crenellations who had seen them, and the whole idea that the Voynich, in the early fifteenth century represents ‘science’ in the sense you imply verges on the anachronistic.

    Milano, Pavia, Padua, Bologna. Bologna had the oldest university of Europe (1088) and expanded its scope to medicine (botany) and mathematics.

    There is absolutely no evidence that the content of the manuscript was first created for a European university. Who used it, how and when, is another question entirely. I agree that the disorder it now has may reflect use within the pecia system – but students didn’t study contemporary authors and the most wanted texts were those already centuries old. A chapter from Archemides’ work turned up in southern China! Clearly the copyist is unlikely to have been to university anywhere, let alone in Bologna – but I daresay university students copied the text eagerly after it had arrived in Europe.

    I have shown that the depicted castle still exists: Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna (1245). Si non e vero e ben trovato, isn’t it ?

    Nick Pelling first discussed the possible implications of these crenellations, and offered possible identifications. I have read a number of others.

    I myself could have argued, that it represented an imperial castle in Hierapolis or Smyrna or Greece… but it is impossible to achieve such certainty, given the number of castles and fortifications destroyed since 1415.

  35. Menno Knul on June 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm said:

    Dear Diane,

    Thanks for your reply, which reflects the same points as your earlier reply. That does not matter, because it sharpens the mind.

    1. There is one drawing of the Sagittarius in the astrology section. The drawing of the hand crossbow in his hands is amazingly accurate. If this is the case with the crossbow, one may assume that other pictures like the castle, churches, walls, containers, jars etc. , may be accurate as well.
    2. The Voynich Manuscript has been found in Italy near Rome. It was in the hand van the Jesuits. De Tepenecz and Kircher, whose names are associated with the Voynich Manuscripts were jesuits as well. And Cardano, who may have been in the possession of the manuscript was seized by the jesuits of the Italian inquisition and accused of heresy in 1570. He lost his position at the Bologna University and committed suicide in 1576. I don’t believe the John Dee / Roger Bacon connection with the Voynich Manuscript. I am not the only one.
    3. The Voynich Manuscript contains special signs, which are derived from the alchemists. We call them alchemists, but they were in fact the scientists of the 14-15c. Moreover the combination of a botanical book with astrology/astronomy shows that there was a philosophical, scientific liaison, not just a practical book.
    4. Mediaeval universities attracted people from everywhere, especially those interested in philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. In the 16th century also medicine (especially surgery). Botany, however, seems to be a rather local inland science (Apuleius, e.g.), not so much an international science.

    5. I think there is enough evidence, that the Voynich Manucript belongs to the central north Italian area, not to some Arab crusade town or China.

    6. The function of the book obviously was an apothecary.


  36. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 6:08 am said:

    Usually, it is necessary to demonstrate the truth of one idea before using it as proof of another.

    So often in Voynich studies, the chain of ideas presented runs
    “IF.(X.). THEN…THEN…THEN…”

    where one might expect “IF.(X).. THEN… ELSE”

    So – if you believe that the crossbowman is drawn literally and to scale, do you believe that the female figures in the manuscript are drawn literally and to scale?

    I do not say that the maker was incapable of precision – there is no evidence for the opposite view – but I do say that the imagery in the Voynich manuscript was not first created in fifteenth century mainland Europe. An accurate copyist copies accurately, whether or not the original material [exemplar] was intended to be a literal, metaphorical or even a deliberately distorted figure. The precision of his hand does not imply ‘realism’ in every image.

    Or do you think that the female figures really had heads so large, features distorted, feet split into only two toes and so forth? An alchemical circus, perhaps?

    Seriously, though, I do expect that pharmaceutical medicine is one subject of the written text. I rather think that the odds are on a particular text.

    No point in giving details.

  37. Diane: “but I do say that the imagery in the Voynich manuscript was not first created in fifteenth century mainland Europe”.

    It may indeed be true that the ideas for parts of the Voynich’s imagery predate the fifteenth century – as a specific example, I believe that art historians once asserted that the drawings in the zodiac roundels were typical of German 14th century almanacks, though doubtless you would disagree.

    But surely trying to claim that the ideas for *all* its images significantly predate the fifteenth century would require a frankly staggering amount of proof?

  38. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 10:08 am said:

    Nick – Indeed.

    I shouldn’t call it a process of proving, since I had not anticipated reaching the conclusion I did.

    I think it was two years or more before I felt in a position even to offer a date range (4thC BC – 3rdC AD) and that isn’t exactly tight dating for the (original) source-works.

    When you say,
    art historians once asserted that the drawings in the zodiac roundels were typical of German 14th century almanacks

    Did they? 😀

    Did they include in that assessment any indication of where and how Germany gained (a) its idea of the almanac (b) its forms for almanac imagery?

    – I know they wouldn’t. That sort of thing isn’t the business of the art historian. That in-depth crossing-borders sort of stuff is the task of art-analysis.

  39. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 10:31 am said:

    I don’t think I was very clear there, Nick.

    If you choose a person whose specialty is the history of western Christian art, and hand them an object saying that it was ‘made in middle Europe late in the fifteenth or early in the sixteenth century’, then the answer you get will be within the parameters you have set so precisely by your choice of expert and the information provided them.

    It’s no criticism of art historians – each has an area of specialisation and unless there are glaring anomalies (which there are, actually, even in the month-roundels) then they don’t expect to do more than locate it within the given limits.

    In this case, it had first to be determined whether the imagery suggested first enunciation in the 15thC, or whether our manuscript copies one or more other sources.

    That question, believe it or not, seems never to have been seriously addressed before 2008, when I was introduced to this manuscript.

  40. Diane: the counter-position would be that, by that logic, one could theoretically trace a line of art-analytic continuity from Angry Birds all the way back to cave paintings (“Angry Aurochs”?), but that doesn’t imply that computer games themselves are 17000 years old.

    To me, it would seem rather more pertinent to look for specific examples of technological detail that suggest an earliest date for the manuscript in and of themselves. That is, to look for dating evidence arising from the history of technology.

    For example, Jens Sensfelder’s 2003 article argued for a dating not before the 14th century based on specific technology details depicted in the Sagittarius zodiac roundel.

    Trying to explain away this kind of very specific conclusion (say, by saying the crossbow detailing must have been accidentally introduced by a later copyist) is not properly tenable in my view. But, as always, that’s just my view, make of it what you will. 🙂

  41. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm said:

    Before we had the C-14 date, the technology angle was a way to know where and when the thing was manufactured.

    The C-14 has given us a date; the parchment(s) can tell us where.

    The issue now is whether or not the content – especially the text – is contemporary with manufacture, and of similar origin.

    That takes analysis a little more subtle, and less localised than one archer. Even if you only take the month-roundels, the explanation has to include all of them, including the form given the scales, and a reasonable explanation for putting rings of naked souls in towers.

    I’m inclined to see them as “watchers” or as the Greek ‘hours’ myself. The archer essay – well, call it a good reading from faulty premises.

  42. Diane: the radiocarbon dating gives an earliest date for the physical manufacture, whereas the crossbow dating gives an earliest date for the content.

    Of course, it is plainly incompatible with the date range that you have assigned for the MS’s content: that’s your choice, and you have your reasons.

    But given that the Voynich offers so few firm examples of things that can be technologically dated in this way, you have to understand that others may not wish to discard this very readily.

  43. Diane: the Voynich has not so much a body of evidence as a collection of small bones – radiocarbon dating is one bone, the crossbow technological dating another, the parallel hatching another, and so forth.

    Perhaps the real story will emerge if we can piece these bones together reliably: but discarding them is not to my taste.

  44. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm said:

    In my opinion, the archer is an up-graded figure of the stock type for the standing (Persian) archer. It is attested from the Parthian period. Its appearance in this instance (only one of many between the 5thC AD and the 15th) is most likely to take its form by reference to the Genoese, who re-introduced the crossbow to the medieval world, and probably obtained it from Persia – with whom the Genoese had close contact in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

    It’s 2am here.

  45. Diane on June 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm said:

    I’m tired, but so must you be.
    “The radiocarbon dating gives an earliest date for the physical manufacture, whereas the crossbow dating gives an earliest date for the content.” is a very silly argument, as I’m sure you know at heart.

    If I point to an image of a crossbowman in a medieval Psalter, would you say that King David could have lived no earlier than the fourteenth century?

    Thanks for ending my day with a smile..

  46. thomas spande on June 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm said:

    Dear all, The zodiac/calendar rondel for Scorpio is one that no one seems comfortable dealing with! I really doubt that this monster, that seems intent on chomping down on an infant, and has four legs and a croc-like snout and tail is in any European zodiac tradition. It surely is no six-legged scorpion. Instead of belaboring that crossbowman who could have come, for example from any of Genoa’s many Meditterranean or Black sea outposts and cannot really be put into any exact, strictly European context per se, what about some royal, smart opinions on that alleged “scorpio”. It seems a more unusual zodiac figure than the others which are pretty typical of medieval zodiacs. I have some indications that it might have been imported from Mesopotamia, from the Euphrates R. area. I have no evidence, however, that it was ever in the sky as a constellation. Would not such a weird thing be more productive of ideas of origin, than getting into fine points on the construction of the scales?

  47. Menno Knul on July 3, 2013 at 12:51 am said:


    One of the problems I have with the EVA-transcription is, that it treats special signs (F, K, P, T) as normal letters instead of ‘markers’. It suggests, that first words of paragraphs start with a letter p or t . I expressed earlier that this cannot be the case, because I cannot believe that in so many cases by accident p or t-words would be used to start a paragraph with unless such markers would mean something like Herba or Erba as is the case in similar medieval herbals. In my opinion such markers indicate a category rather than a letter from an alphabet.
    Secondly I doubt if the F and K signs are really different from the P and T signs or just a writing variant.
    I tried to use the TTF to reconstruct the original texts of the paragraphs. It looks very much Voynichese, but I did not retrieve the same text.

  48. Menno,
    We may not assume a one-to-one relation between glyphs and meaning.
    If things were such simple VMs would have been solved already long ago, I think.

    Especially EVA(k) is a multi-purpose letter with the meaning th,d,z (romanized from Arabic) in that order.
    That behaviour is very similar to that of Aljamiado Arabic, please see here:

    The conversion map according to our research:

  49. Menno Knul on July 4, 2013 at 9:08 am said:

    Joachim Dathe, I have studied your website before, which was an interesting exercise. However, there are two reasons for me, why Arabic would not have been involved. One is that the drawing of a castle with ghibbelines indicates a central-northern Italian origine and secondly the similarities between the Voynich MS and the non-coded Vermont MS 2 are convincing. The Vermont MS is Italian (ca. 1500, Tuscany ?), younger and more elaborated, but uses the same layout, presentation of plants and texts. As for the code the special signs in the Voynich MS, which I call markers rather than letters or numerals, could function in the so called nomenclatura, which was a 15th c. popular Italian coding system, both diplomatic and scientific, especially in (alchemistic) chemistry, botany and astronomy as it was a way to hide real names listed on separate sheets. One can compare the nomenclatura with the drawers of an apothecary.

  50. Diane on July 4, 2013 at 10:10 am said:

    You still say,
    the drawing of a castle with ghibbelines indicates a central-northern Italian origin,

    No, it doesn’t. This error has been floating about for years and is fair set to be supposed fact for that reason alone. It is simply NOT true. An accident of history has simply left most our existing examples in that region, where the type had a particularly ”pro-Emperor’ significance, and even then not always.

    … similarities between the Voynich MS and the non-coded Vermont MS 2 of 1500…

    When you have an earlier manuscript (MS Beinecke 408), and a later manuscript (the Vermont), it is usual to suppose that *if* the relationship between them is direct – and sometimes it is secondary – then the later may modify the content of the earlier. You cannot assume identical text.

    And as you say, it is not only nearly a century later, but *different* in content and appearance: what you gloss as ‘more elaborate’.

    It may use closely similar layout, for imagery and text, but that is not sufficient reason to suppose the Vermont a carbon copy of the Voynich, even of its botanical section.

    About your speculations concerning script and language, as always, I do not comment.

  51. Menno, Diane: in my opinion, the swallow-tail merlons are entirely typical of a general period (14th / 15th century) and a general place (Northern Italy) but they do not by themselves constitute a complete proof.

    Similarly, the idea of drawing herbals from nature or from dried specimens (rather than copying them from stylized drawings) was a very 15th century kind of thing. Again, this does not constitute a complete proof.

    Add in things like parallel hatching (absent before 1410) and the radiocarbon dating, and you start to build up a reasonably consistent dating portfolio. Even Panofsky was sure the nymphs could not have been drawn before the 15th century, and who am I to argue with his opinion?

    There are a few things which seem more typical of a fractionally earlier dating (the crossbow technology, the zodiac roundels generally, possibly the wolkenbanden, etc), which I believe would be consistent with parts having been copied or adapted from drawings from a slightly earlier date. Make of all this what you will!

  52. Diane on July 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm said:

    the unspoken predicate to all these statements including that by the deeply respected Erwin Panofsky is

    “… in Europe”.

    if that basic assumption is made, and never questioned, all that follows forms a very logical argument.

    If the assumption is false, the argument remains logical. Just not true.


  53. Diane: for me, a European origin for the Voynich Manuscript isn’t a presumption but a logical consequence of all the evidence I judge to be both reliable and relevant.

    Feel free to hold whatever opinion and draw whatever conclusion you like based on the evidence that you judge to be both reliable and relevant.

  54. Menno Knul on July 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm said:

    Nick, Diane,

    As always I am careful not to use the word ”proof’, but ‘indicate’, In this stadium no one can proof anything; nor did I say, that the Voynich MS has a 1:1 textual content with the Vermont MS.

    The whole problem with the Voynich MS is the general agreement to disagree. If you only take the languages like Armenian, Basque, Arab, Chinese, Hebrew and whatever Aztecs or aliens may have spoken.

    Besides, no one seems to bother, how the Voynich MS came in the hands of the Jesuits of the Villa Mondragone. Why has the Prague University the manuscript returned to the Jesuits ? What else can be the reason than that it was owned by them ? And how did they get it ? In my view they conficated it in 1570, when someone was seized for heresy by the Italian inquisition. I can’t proof it.

  55. Menno: the Kircher correspondence archives contains a whole string of letters clearly referring to the Voynich Manuscript, and clearly linked to Marci’s cover letter.

    Personally, I believe that Baresch’s, Marci’s, and Kinner’s letters were all written in good faith, and I don’t see a shred of evidence that suggests otherwise.

  56. SirHubert on July 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm said:

    I am embarrassingly out of my depth here and hope I’m not wasting everyone else’s time. But there seems to be some terminological confusion here.

    Diane: Please can I check that I understand your position more or less correctly? You seem to be arguing that the plaintext of the Voynich was copied/translated/enciphered from an ancient manuscript, which was physically created circa 300BC – 300AD but which contains material with far earlier origins. This, you argue, accounts for the lack of overt Christian symbolism in the imagery, and also explains the appearance of a number of non-Western motifs including the sun-and lotus. So although the Voynich itself was physically manufactured in Europe in the fifteenth century AD, using Western materials and techniques, the actual text is far earlier – much like a fifteenth century edition of Aristotle. Or, indeed, a mediaeval Psalter showing King David (quite possibly with the facial features of whomever commissioned the manuscript).

  57. Menno Knul on July 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm said:

    Nick, I refer to an earlier period before de Tepenecz (see your own contribution). It is well possible, that the Tepenecz received the manuscript directly through Jesuit channels from Italy instead of through the Roger Bacon – John Dee -Rudoplh II connection. De Tepenecz was a Jezuit himself. The connection between Roger Bacon and the Voynich MS is questioned.

    The letters to Athanasius Kircher from Baresch and Marci date 1634-1665. There is no reason not to trust these letters.

    I understand, that the Prague University returned the manuscript to the Jesuits. I have not seen an accompanying letter or so.

  58. Diane on July 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm said:

    Sir Hubert,
    As to form and materials – codicology and so on, I wholeheartedly agree that manufacture in early fifteenth century Europe is highly probable. I’ll go with that.

    Content is an entirely other thing.

    Because the whole constitutes a collection of extracts – as miscellany or zibaldone or florilegium or commonplace book (whatever term you prefer), so each of the extracts has to be considered not only in terms of where it was made part of the Voynich manuscript, but where it came from and (mainly for likely content of the text) where and when it originated.

    The botanical and pharma sections contain nothing for which a date need be posited later than the 3rdC AD.

    How the plant-pictures are structured, as well as the way they are formed, suggests origins in the 3rdC BC or thereabouts. I’d say probably an origin in the works of Theophrastus rather than Dioscorides (I may be mistaken).
    Stylistic details which affect the *way* these and other pictures appear – especially the containers in the ‘pharma’ section – strongly suggest that the Hellenistic works had been retained not in the Mediterranean, but in regions adacent to the Great Sea (Indian Ocean – China Sea).
    The plants are also (imo) eastern plants, but not just one used in medicine.

    The month-roundels are from a different source; what I’ve called the ‘bathy-‘ section appears to be based in a genre of Egypto-Hellenistic imagery also seen in Roman times and known as the ‘river’ type. But the whole series bar one folio seems meant to be allegorical, or rather simultaneously literal and allegorical. Part of the imagery with ‘nymphs’ speaks pretty clearly to some basic-level chem-alchemy. Nothing stupendous, and mostly about gold.

    In the somewhat-unlikely event that we have still copies of plaintext versions of the various texts used to make this miscellany, I’ve gone into a fair bit of detail about where and when each section appears to have (a) been first enunciated and (b) last affected by revision.

    Trouble is, that there’s no necessity that the text written in by the fifteenth-century writers be exactly the same as what was in the texts they copied. Translation, synopsis, wholly new text is not impossible.

    One does what one can.

  59. Diane on July 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm said:

    Sir Hubert
    in short: Yes.

  60. SirHubert on July 4, 2013 at 8:34 pm said:

    Diane – thank you. I really do think this is important.

    If you are right, this changes the significance of details like the construction of the crossbow, or identifying a palace, or even technical aspects like parallel hatching. These can tell us lots about where and when the manuscript was physically produced, and clearly that’s very important. But it doesn’t tell us anything at all about the language or date of composition of the text which accompanies the illustrations, even assuming that the illuminator had any idea of what that said and wasn’t simply following generic instructions like ‘Draw a crossbow.’

    If you are right, and if this is some kind of anthology of scientific (in the loosest sense) texts whose origins are non-European, might this not also explain several other puzzling features of the text? Because the writings themselves would be rare (at least in Europe) and hence potentially valuable, it would be worth keeping them enciphered very carefully. If someone wanted a translation, they could pay the owner, or course. And if the original texts were written in different languages but enciphered in the same script, would this account for the ‘languages’ identified by Currier?

    I’m very sorry if I’m reinventing the wheel.

  61. Diane on July 5, 2013 at 8:17 am said:

    Sir Hubert –
    About implications for decryption I’m not able to comment. I am curious about why all the comparative statistics rely on orthography, never on phonetic value.

    Month-roundels. If the makers aimed produce original imagery meticulously accurate, scientific and to scale, I can only regret the loss to modern science of the grey-green ‘lizard’. 🙂

  62. I completely accept that certain drawings in the Voynich may have their ultimate conceptual roots in Roman, Hellenistic, Egyptian (or wherever) drawings.

    However, I think that to a very large degree this is true of all drawings, even 21st century ones. So I’m unsure to what degree this is informative.

    For example, even though the Voynich’s balneo section may possibly hark back to Roman baths (if you squint a bit), I don’t see any good reason to place it outside the late medieval tradition of illustrated balneological texts.

  63. Diane on July 5, 2013 at 11:57 am said:


  64. Diane on July 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm said:

    At the moment, for role as compiler of some, or even most of the Vms, I like
    SIMON JANUENSIS: Clavis sanationis sive Synonyma medi- cinae..

  65. SirHubert on July 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm said:

    Diane: grey-green lizards may not be extinct – try an online search for David Icke…

    Nick: I love the idea of Angry Aurochs. If there wasn’t one of these in Frak! then there certainly should have been – and I certainly had a shock when I just Googled that to check the spelling 🙂
    But I digress. The issue here, I think, is distinguishing two things: the underlying subject matter on the one hand and the way the artist has chosen to depict it on the other. So…is it possible to demonstrate convincingly that the illustrations in entire sections of the Voynich consistently parallel entire sections of Classical manuscripts in terms of their content? Never mind if the figures, jars or whatever look fifteenth century rather than third century BC – can the subject matter be shown to be the same for both?

  66. Diane on July 9, 2013 at 6:36 am said:

    Sir Hubert,
    “…is it possible to demonstrate convincingly that the illustrations in entire sections of the Voynich consistently parallel entire sections of Classical manuscripts in terms of their content?”

    For literally dozens of reasons, including fallacies inherent in assumptions inherent in your question, the answer is almost certainly ‘no’.

    Can anyone determine from a third-century Egyptian image of Mary more its time and region of composition?
    Yes, sometimes. However, it would be quite impossible to use it as a way to reconstruct the whole corpus of Marian legends, even if (as we don’t) you had the basic canonical texts in legible form.

    Just so, the imagery in the Vms speaks of its time and culture(s) of origin, while specific stylistic details – and the form of the ‘pharma’ containers – show the imagery affected by subsequent residence in the eastern world. The ornate containers by the way are not 3rC BC – closer to 2nd C AD.

    From related historical matter, I’d say there’s a fair chance that some of the text might come from Theophrastus (often mis-identified as Aristotle), from Aëtius of Amida and.or Paul of Aegina. But it’s just a possibility. We have no idea whether the whole text was newly created for the fifteenth-century recension. If so it’s relationship to the (much older) imagery will be fairly tangential.

  67. SirHubert on July 9, 2013 at 9:05 am said:


    Thank you for your patience. I am sure that some of my questions are painfully stupid, and my analogies probably aren’t great either. Of course it’s impossible to reconstruct an entire corpus of otherwise unknown Marian legends from a single third-century illustration, and I’m not suggesting you can.

    You say:

    “From related historical matter, I’d say there’s a fair chance that some of the text might come from Theophrastus (often mis-identified as Aristotle), from Aëtius of Amida and.or Paul of Aegina. ”

    Can I ask what is it that you are comparing here? It sounds to me as thought you are matching the Voynich’s illustrations with the writings of these authors? Fine – but surely that has to be the subject matter of the illustrations rather than a stylistic element like the treatment of the pharma jars? Or have I misunderstood – are you instead arguing that the jars look like extant 2nd century AD examples and therefore the Voynich must have been copied from a 2nd century original? Surely not?

    The point here is that your studies give tantalizing clues about ways to approach the text, and by exploring this I’m hoping that the formidable army of codebreakers on this site might see a way in. For example, you mention Simon of Genoa, of whom I am happy to admit I previously knew nothing at all. However, looking at the appropriately named http://www.simonofgenoa.org, I read that his lexicon uses a pretty consistent formula for its entries: “The disease/plant v is called w in Arabic and x in Greek. According to source y it is defined by z”. That kind of stereotyping, as you must know, is gold dust for a cryptanalyst. So yes, point absolutely taken about the text (possibly) being modified in all sorts of ways during the transfer from source (whether primary or secondary) to Voynich, but if you with your expertise in art analysis are able to suggest specific prototypes that could be a real step forward.

  68. Diane on July 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm said:

    Sir Hubert
    Sorry if I sounded terse.

    The Voynich is a compilation, not a miscellany as such (imo) and compilations have a purpose, usually to serve a profession.

    Most of it is plants and plant-bits, and as I read them, the great majority of the plants are eastern plants, with mnemonics added to relate them to the Theophrastan corpus. So Theophrastus’ works are a fair place to start.

    but a profession has something to sell, too, so there’s a chance the text has been added to, or changed to bring any receipts into line with changing circumstances and/or customers’ preferences. Most receipts in older Europe tend to refer to Paul of Aegina and the other chap, so their texts are possible. By Bacon’s time, Simon’s glossary was really the standard, and I incline to the idea that the fifteenth century text might be a glossary using the various languages used by the relevant trade and commerce.

    For the whole manuscript.. hmmn.

    If it were me, I wouldn’t start with the plants, but with the month-roundels, and with the much smaller (only a handful) of texts about stones.

    I’m pretty sure that the various observer’s towers (with their observant stars) each relate to some particular type of ‘earth’ or stone. So I’d begin with Theophrastus’ work on stones and see if labels made sense in that vocabulary.
    There’s also Albertus Magnus on stones etc – but altogether not many, and a vocabulary of workable length.


  69. Menno Knul on July 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm said:


    I don’t understand you any more. In one of your comments you wrote that everyone could make the Voynich manuscript, but now you emphasize the professional contents. I agree with that. That’s exactly what I wrote about the scientific community like universities of Miland, Pavia, Bologna and Padua.

    I don’t understand either, that you object to a christian background of the VM. f86v shows clearly towers of churches and a monastery or sanctuary outside the town walls.

    As for the subscript abrillis on f71r (Aries), this note has been written in Spanish/Portugese different from the Latin word aprilis and has been added later on by someone with a different hand and in darker ink.

  70. Diane O'Donovan on July 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm said:

    Menno: you said…
    “In one of your comments you wrote that everyone could make the Voynich manuscript, but now you emphasize the professional contents”.

    I said anyone with the relevant knowledge – meaning that I do not see it as a static, library-kept tome shared only by academics and their students, or wealthy patrons and prodigee artists.

    Everyone had a profession – including people whose profession was trade, or navigation or whathaveyou.

    ‘Profession’ does not imply any university environment in the early fifteenth century. Pharmacists, perfumers, makers of stonework, even artists never set foot in an academic library. Science existed a long time before anyone decided to call themselves a ‘scientist’ or think that nobody knew anything without an academic degree. I’ve no idea when the first degree in engineering was issued, but I’m pretty sure that none of the Roman aqueduct builders or builders of Gothic cathedrals had one.

    I don’t understand either, that you object to a christian background of the VM.
    There is nothing in the manuscript’s imagery characteristic of Latin monotheism.

    f86v shows clearly towers of churches and a monastery or sanctuary outside the town walls.
    Does it? Are you speaking about the roundel in the upper right? I don’t see any crosses on steeple or roof, but perhaps I’ve missed it, Still wouldn’t make the manuscript Latin or Byzantine of course.

    As for the subscript abrillis on f71r (Aries), this note has been written in Spanish/Portugese different from the Latin word aprilis and has been added later on by someone with a different hand and in darker ink.

    Yes, that’s so. Not sure I see any problem with that being the inscription. Thing is the original pictures were not meant for sheep. They’re goats – goats browse; sheep graze. The pictures have been put to a different purpose from what they first had. But that’s ok; it’s very common in Latin manuscripts.

  71. Menno Knul on August 18, 2013 at 5:46 am said:

    Little attention has been paid so far to the paleography of the Voynich MS. Here are some thoughts.
    1. The VMS is written in the so called gothic rotunda (12th -15th centuries), which developed from the Carolingian minuskel and precedes the humanistic uncial script. Peculiarity of the rotunda or round gothic is the rounded form of letters, which can be seen clearly in the VMS.
    2. The current script of the gothic rotunda has been developed in the 13th century in Bologna and is called littera bononiensis, which has been primarily developed for juridical texts. Peculiarity of this script are the numerous abbreviations and ligatures, which makes the littera bononiensis difficult to understand, almost like a coded script. This would support the Montemurro option, that the VMS reflects a natural language written in an unknown script.
    3. The numerals used in the quire notes of the VMS developed from the Arabic script, which originate from Spain/Portugal and which spread to the North of Europe. One can see the medieval Arabic numbers next to the Latin numbers on the famous Oroloj of Prague. The numbers originate from the Devanagari (Hindi). The script is known as the Roger Bacon script and was used by Johannis de Sacrobosco as well and dates back to the 13th century.
    4. The present VMS has been carbon dated 1404-1438. The quire numbers show that someone has planned a publication (first binding), which presupposes that there has existed an earlier manuscript consisting of loose plates and texts, dating back to the 14th-13th century, which complies with the rather primitive designs of people and animals in the VMS as compared to similar manuscripts like the Vermont and Sloane herbals.
    5. The quire numbers of the VMS seem to have been applied to the herbal section only. The combination with the other sections is likely to have been arranged on the occasion of the second binding (with modern folio numbers). The herbal section shows 17 quires (272 pages), which would comply with the supposed number of ingredients on the pharmaceutical pages and the register. This means, that a large number of folios from the original herbal section is missing.

  72. Minutiae. Round and round, in dizzy circles, cross-currents of rivers of unnecessary, convoluted, arguments, which many times leads Nick to a dead end. Is there not one other person who contributes to Nick’s various puzzling presentations in re the Boenicke 408 manuscript’s WRITING (aka: CIPHER). Take a number, any folio number which is NOT accompanied by an illustration. Work on deciphering it. Get around the roadblocks of argumentation and focus on finding other manuscripts which HANDWRITING is similar. There are at least six folios of nothing but handwriting. Each star/flower/asterisk/bullet which begins each paragraph of handwritten dialogue is referring to a particular illustration elsewhere in the manuscript.
    Yes, those elaborate “P” shapes are usually the beginning of a particular discussion. If botanical, one mentally adds “Es”-Pecies” and continues to translate the rest of the discussion. Dioscorides will not appear as Dio-scorides, but as “Scorides”. This is because one will not find a combined character for the syllable “dio” or “tio”. Kinda interesting from the point of view of worshiping “Dio”. No?

  73. Heads up Nick:
    I refer you to a comment, dated September 16, 2013, made by Diane, on your “A Visual Map….” . I’m not going to repeat it on this page, but to say that I found it very insulting, not just to all of your correspondents and contributors, but also to you.

  74. Furthermore, friends: Herein I am addressing a cipher which appears infrequently in Boenicke 408. Folio 55v is the water lotus. The mystery cipher to which I am referring is the very last word of the second set of six lines: that little-seen cipher is the syllable which can be spoken as either tius, tious, or deus, or dios. My translation of the last word of the second paragraph gave me positive proof of identifying the member of the aquatic plant “oll-a-teus”. Also known as the water lotus (lotus nelumbo). Only in the last few centuries of botanical nomenclatural development, did the the water LOTUS become a classification of its own: “Nelumbo”. No, that cipher is not Tironian.

  75. Further explanation of how I arrived at this translation: The difference between the aquatic lilies and other aquatic plants, was the mention of “The sacred BEAN of Egypt”. The water lotus is a member of the bean family, as opposed to the look-alike oll-il-ium. Other water plants, besides the lily and the lotus, were often included in discussions of “sagitae”.

  76. One more not-so-aside comment: Busbecq returned to the court of Ferdinand I with some 240 manuscripts which were deposited into the imperial library in Vienna. (Forster-Roider, forward p. xiii). Not long after Busbecq finished his service with Ferdinand I, he spent some time in Rudolph II’s court before he attempted to return home.
    Nick, I can only reiterate that you can gain a *whole lot” of understanding of “Boenicke 408’s” contents from this small paperback edition of The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. (Originally published by OXFORD:Clarendon Press, 1927)

  77. bdid1dr: while I’m happy for you that you obviously get so much enjoyment from reading about all things historical, please understand that telling me what to read or think about the Voynich Manuscript, Busbecq, Rudolph II, Kircher, etc isn’t a good use of your time. 😐

  78. Oh, of course not. I certainly have much more time in which to indulge in solving mysteries. I’ve just returned from the pages of medieval scripts and abbreviations presented by the University in Nottingham. See you later. I promise no more referrals/references to toppling piles of files, books,manuscripts, and/or other discussions. x my ‘eart!
    Sincerely yours,
    bidi (a tiny cigarette) though I don’t smoke.

  79. SirHubert,

    I think the simplest is to say that, close to the end and much to my surprise, it struck me that Baresh’s letter is perfectly compatible with the internal evidence.

    and with the opinion, given by Panofsky in 1931, that the imagery is not part of the western Christian tradition in art.
    P’s specialty was exactly that – mainstream western Christian imagery.. His opinion is therefore so much more important than what Mnishovsky is said to have said etc. etc.. I am unable to suggest why his assessment has overlooked.

  80. What I’m still looking for is the evolution of the various forms of archery. Apparently the Ottoman emperors had whole segments of their armies, archers who could use their modified short-bows, while on galloping horseback and shoot six arrows a minute, or less. Apparently the boys started learning when about six years old. The discussion doesn’t mention how accurate this kind of archery would have been. So, does Panovsky discuss this phenomenon?

  81. From my North American aspect, I compare depictions of scorpions, lizards, alligators, and crocodiles. Which would be most likely to end up in a medieval European/Asian/Indiaman/Ottoman manuscript as either an astronomical or astrological symbol? Most often I find scorpions in my kitchen or bath sinks, but the very first one I spied, out of the corner of my eye, was at my eye level on the wall. I got a very good look at it b4 I smashed it with a book. This is a true story, X my heart. By the way, when I was a small child, I had a pet horned toad.

  82. James W. Allan, ‘Metalwork of the Turcoman Dynasties of Eastern Anatolia and Iran’, Iran, Vol. 29 (1991), pp. 153-159.

  83. bdid1dr on October 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm said:

    Nick, SacTech, & Dave:

    Dave’s solution needs to have only “K” added to the Lepto-levels to arrive at the message that thieves or kleptomaniac levels were high.

  84. bdid1dr on October 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm said:

    My references to numeral 8 representing the written syllable “aes” apparently requires a little more explanation: An example I will use is the name of a well-known story teller: Aesop

    What has puzzled me is that I’ve never found a pronunciation for that gentleman’s name: Is it “ee-sop”? Is it Aee-sop”? Is “sop” pronounced as in sob, or as in soap? Amazing how many people can’t comprehend the difficulty with pronunciation of even some of the simplest syllables — if the speaker happens to be hearing impaired, or even fully deaf.
    All my life I’ve read books with a stack of dictionaries at my elbow. Not necessarily to gain definitions, but to learn to pronounce the words.
    Some other time, maybe (if I get any encouragement at all), I’ll tell you of my experience at Club Med, Moorea, Papeete, Tahiti.
    A tout a l’heure!

  85. SirHubert on October 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm said:

    In modern English, he’s pronounced ‘EE-sop’, with ‘sop’ rhyming with ‘sob’. In Classical Greek he’d be Aisopos, pronounced ‘eye-SOAP-oss’.

  86. bdid1dr on October 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm said:

    Sir Hubert: Thank you. Gracias. Merci Beucoup. Epharisto. T’Chu’Kran. Funny, my spell checker red-lined all of the above expressions but the English!
    beedee eyed wonder-er

  87. bdid1dr on October 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm said:

    A short ref to Nick’s ‘nymph small’: Several months ago,I found several white human nymphs having a bath in a courtyard black-tiled pool. The ‘Met’ was presenting a “slide series” of the works of Nizami and other manuscripts from Ottoman controlled territories. You may still be able to view the Met’s offerings.

  88. bdid1dr on October 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm said:

    Dear anyone still interested in “swallowtail merlons”: Fr. Kircher identified that structure as being “Vellitrae”. Vellitrae was historically known to be the “home town” of many conscripts of war for the Roman armies. Vellitraen speech and writing was similar to Oscan. I don’t know how literate Vellitraean citizens were. Today, they have a museum, but not much of its contents appear on the W W W.

  89. bdid1dr on October 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm said:

    ps: Most likely the name “Vellitrae” would have been spelled “Oelltrae”

  90. bdid1dr on October 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm said:

    Dear anyone, I am puzzled as to how Villa Mondragon was ever associated with the medieval “Roman School”. Villa Mondragon was only a favorite “garden-spot hangout” for the Pope. The Roman School was in Frascati proper. The Roman School was eventually remodeled and added onto, by the Pope Gregory who also reset the calendar. Fr. Kircher talks about having to dodge Swiss soldiers while on his journey to his new post in Frascati. Another tidbit I discovered several months ago: Athanasius Kircher’s father was a teacher/lecturer at a Benedictine monastery near the Kircher’s home village.

  91. bdid1dr on October 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm said:

    Nick, I’ve promised not to recommend/suggest any more reading for you. I am suggesting, however, that Voynicheros-at-Large can benefit hugely from a paperback written by Joscelyn Godwin: “Athanasius Kircher – A Renaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge.”
    Godwin’s bibliography is fairly comprehensive in itself, insofar as it refers to sources still available in either hard copy or on the WWW.
    Philip Neal’s archive is also packed with “goodies”.
    From Mr. Neal’s archive, I extracted and translated a recipe for making colloidal silver. When Kircher read the letter, he wrote with a very shaky hand, the word “alchemy”, one alpha character at a time on the several sentences of said document. I was unable to identify the name of the person who wrote the letter. Perhaps Mr. Neal might know?

  92. bdid1dr on October 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm said:

    Several weeks ago I referred to an artist who was at Istanbul at the same time as diplomat Busbecq. The artist, Melchior Lorck, had access to Suleiman’s wife, “Hurrem Sultana”. Lorck’s engraving of her aspect was, apparent to me anyway, “true to life” inasmuch as showing her beauty as well as her “thoughtful” appearance.
    So, there was at least one other European “on the scene” at Istanbul before various diplomats had to scurry home. Suleiman laid siege to Vienna just a month or so after the various diplomats/artists, and traders, returned to their homes. History in a “nutshell”? Or maybe history in a “silkworm cocoon”? Boenicke 408, folio 11v, is all about the care and feeding of chopped mulberry leaves (pabulomox) to “sericinae” (silk caterpillars). Morus alba is briefly referred. One last very obscure latin word is “blattae”: “moth-eaten”.
    If spinners and weavers wanted to get at least a mile or more length of unwound cocoon thread, they killed the insect inside the cocoon before it could eat its way to freedom and flight.
    Both France and Italy eventually developed their own silk factories. I’ve done more research on the European silk factories.

    I “wonder” no more about this particular item of the “Voynich” manuscript.

    beady-eyed wonder

  93. bdid1dr on October 6, 2013 at 12:39 am said:

    BTW Nick: If only you and your nymphet friend could reach to each other’s shoulder pad, you would be dancing the “Hasapiko”! If you have a long line of dancers linked by their shoulders, you could all be dancing a “Hasaposerviko”! The shoulder hold is most often seen in the Tsamiko, when the men take turns doing some strenuous and often dangereous gymnastic variations. OPA!

  94. bdid1dr on October 6, 2013 at 12:50 am said:

    Nick, I probably have the memory of an elephant. Do you recall Jim Reed’s comment in re: “Whoever solves the Voynich will probably not be remembered any more than the name of Elizabeth Taylor’s last husband”. My quotation here, may not be word perfect, but I remember your response — and I sympathized with you: Partial excerpt of your response: “like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen…”
    I couldn’t agree more with you, Mr. Pelling!
    beady-eyed wonder (who is recovering from a pneumothorax)

  95. bdid1dr on October 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm said:

    Nick, I’m not sure where to post an item I came across while doing my usual cruising through google’s offerings. Did/do you already know that the “Pirate” Barbarossa was in the employ of Suleiman I? Should I be referring this item to your other (LeBuse) discussions? Note I am not referencing other’s reading material, etc.

  96. Phoenix Lyon on October 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm said:

    Just learned about this incredible document. Now, just ‘cuz I’m the curious type, has anyone determined if it represents 12, or 13, months? Gregory changed the calendar all right. He also dropped a month, recall. Consequently, there were 13 zodiacal signs until the Gregorian Calendar came into being. I’m sure, (as it isn’t mentioned) you have all taken that into account. I may have missed it, but if Gregory pre-dates VMs, or they are contemporaries, my apologies.
    LOVE your site, Nick!
    Adios, all.

  97. bdid1dr: errrrrm…. (1) yes, (2) no. 🙂

  98. Phoenix: from the Voynich Manuscript’s page layout, it seems almost certain that the original had only 12 signs, and that the leaf we’re missing contained roundels for Capricorn and Aquarius.

    The history of the zodiac signs and the history of the calendar are very largely independent, so there isn’t really anything much to work on here, sorry!

  99. bdid1dr on October 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm said:

    Nick, I may be a tad confused with my latest pondering: Did not some of our earliest philosophers/poets/mythologists have a name for nearly all of the constellations in the night sky? My favorite (Pleiades) seems to have not figured in their “astrology” musings. Did the various star patterns have different names depending upon which part of the world they were being viewed?
    It interested me greatly when I was translating some of the B-408 folios which led to the various bath-houses/temples/sacred groves folios (73-83 ‘r’ and ‘v’). Some of the various territories from which captives/slaves were obtained were described as being from where the “evening star” arose (or set). A good example is B-408, folio 56r. I’m circling back to a comment I made on your “That which brings your website to its knees” blog-page on 30 April 2013.

  100. bdid1dr on October 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm said:

    I’ll be re-visiting a W-site which gave a synopsis of the mythology associated with the Pleiades constellation. I’ll see if there is any discussion in re Capricorn and Aquarius. By the way, I hope your “oxygen-level” is improving. 🙂

  101. bdid1dr on October 22, 2013 at 12:59 am said:

    Nick & Diane (& any “nymphs” who might be hanging around):Today I found another presentation, written in Nas-ta-liq) of Nizami’s Kamsah (Quartet): The story line is the tale of the lovers Layla and Magnun. This time around, the lovers meet in a palm grove. The Wiki writers’ commentary is particularly interesting because it mentions the text being written on the back of the “folio”.
    I’ve placed this comment here because earlier I referred you to New York’s Metropolitan Museum and its holding of another of Nizami’s same folios which displays the “nymphs” playing/fighting in a black-tiled pool of water. Now I’m going to attempt to translate Nizami’s beautifully illustrated story and compare it with the Boenicke 408 captioning/discussions.
    Remember, Nick, when we were all trying to interpret the architectural drawings/math required to tile the walls of Col. North’s turkish bath? I mentioned that the logo appeared to be an adaptation of “Nastaliq”. I’ve come full circle once again. So, probably if you were able to find a reader/writer fluent in N’as ta liq, and is fluent in Latin, we may be making progress in “leaps and bounds” throughout B-408. Maybe then you would be able to take in a huge amount of oxygen and release a long sigh of carbon dioxide. (humor: I’m not talking “hot air” here.) Ever respectfully yours!
    beady-eyed wonder

  102. bdid1dr on October 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm said:

    Nick & Diane, do you recall several people who have attempted to identify one of B-408’s drawings as being a banana tree? Well, Nizami’s Kamsa offering of the lovers Layla and Magnun portrays them under tents near a grove of palm trees. Note the shape of the “tents” also. Interesting.
    Apparently a large museum in London has a huge archive of “Muslim” manuscripts, many of which predate the Kamsa by a century or so.
    My vision is still deteriorating, and I am no longer a candidate for cataract surgery. So I apologize in advance if what I see doesn’t appear to be relevant to the “Voynich” puzzle discussions.
    Sincerely, bd (who can no longer climb hills and mountains above 3,000 feet)

  103. Bdid1dr
    Edith Sherwood identified folio 13r as a banana.
    Without knowing that i identified it as a portrait of several species of ‘banana’ including ones which modern taxonomy places among the plantains, notably the red-leafed blood-bananas used in parts of the African continent to brew beer.

    I really can’t see how more this drawing could be more precise and in this case wouldn’t consider the identification ‘attempted’ – independently made by a trained pharmacist-herbalist and an iconographic analyst. I think any rejection is more likely because it stands as such a powerful argument against any entirely European provenance – an idea many are reluctant to abandon. Formal texts of European botany wouldn’t depict the plant with anything like the same fidelty for some centuries after the vms’ radiocarbon dating.

    But rejecting evidence which doesn’t fit a preferred theory is not unusual, and offhand I can think of none immune from the habit, including me.

  104. bdid1dr on October 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm said:

    Before I became aware of Nick’s blog, I had contacted Edith when her blog was still open to discussion. Besides the gold mine (El Mina) and the bronzes, we discussed the palm trees, which, to my eyes, appeared to be “oil” palms.
    I think it was right around that time that I found your discussion of tarot/playing cards. At that time I didn’t have a printer.
    Anyway, my last eight years or so of employment were in the field of records management and research. So, I now have about three linear feet of folders in my file cabinet dedicated to the translations of the B-408 manuscript. Not just Nick’s pages but also downloads from UC Berkeley and Stanford for my research on the Spanish missions in California. I even have some material on Sir Francis Drake, General Vallejo, and the displacement/enslavement of our native Californians. Jim Reed in San Jose has probably donated to Nick’s various discussions ‘now and then’ .

  105. bdid1dr on October 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm said:

    Oh, one last mention of European invasion of California: Fort Ross and the Russian otter skin traders who enslaved the native population. Recently, the Russians made a deal with the California governor to operate the concessions at Fort Ross (a several million-dollar deal).

  106. bdid1dr on October 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm said:

    Just a little more about the significance of the palm trees: The palm trees near Benin were “oil” palms. Spain and Portugal, in particular, were in competition for that oil. It was used for lamps, but was also sought after for the making of soap. Further into the semi-desert regions and full desert regions, a primary source of sugar was the date palm.
    When I was living in sub-tropical Key West, my neighbors were oblivious to the date palm, the plantain palm, the papaya tree, and the sapodilla trees which roots heaved our sidewalks. My younger son, however, was permitted to browse the grounds of the elderly woman whose mansion included a “captain’s Walk” on its roof. She was so impressed by his good manners that he was the first person (under the age of fifteen) she had ever permitted to enter her property. Key Lime pie. The tree is called Key Lime because for many years that species of lime grew nowhere else. Key limes are so sour that they are most often used only as the ingredient in Key Lime pie (lots of corn syrup needed to balance the flavors).

  107. bdid1dr on October 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm said:

    One more comment about California’s historic places. Not too far from Fort Ross is a bay called “Drake’s Bay”. The legend has it that Sir Francis Drake made landfall there.
    On other of Nick’s pages I’ve mentioned Acadians in New Brunswick (?) Nova Scotia (?) migrating far south of the Canadian border into what eventually became “The Louisiana Purchase”. Some Cajuns in the bayou country still speak the lingo, and can trace their family history all the way back. Cubans in Key West also have their brand of “Spanglish”.
    I won’t bore y’all with my family history and the earliest mention of Ybele or Ibele names in central Europe.

  108. bdid1dr on October 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm said:

    A bit more about the “oil palm”. The soap was called “castile soap” … at least in Spain. So, I shall venture back to b-408,
    f-13v, to see what I can read, and maybe fully translate. The brand-name for castile soap, here in the US, is “IVORY”. I’m sure the manufacturer’s of ” Ivory” soap had no idea that they were referring to a location on the African coast, not too far from Benin and El Mina.

  109. bdid1dr on October 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm said:

    Addendum to “oil” tree discussion: I’ve tried to confirm my observation of more recent history for that part of the African coast but apparently it is a very sensitive issue — A Shell Oil facility now occupies that stretch of coast. I’m pretty sure it is not “soap oil” they are exporting.

  110. bdid1dr on November 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm said:

    One more comment in re sugar refineries in Hawaii: recently, here in the US, I’m finding ‘raw sugar’ obtained from the sap of the palm trees. “C and H” Sugar has had a monopoly on cane sugar refining and shipping for over a hundred years now. By the way, the palm sap sugar is pretty “blah” compared to the brown sugar or white sugar produced from sugar cane. So, today I shall wander “afield” with google to see what kind of history is developing in ‘our’ state of Hawaii.

  111. bdid1dr on November 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm said:

    Note that I have not gone into a detailed discussion of the Dole plantations in Hawaii (pineapples). Nor much discussion of Liliuokalani.

  112. Ruby Novačna on November 20, 2013 at 11:34 am said:

    Impossible de commenter sur votre site ?

  113. Ruby: not impossible, just a little difficult. I’ve had so many attempted troll invasions here recently that I had no choice if I wanted to let people leave comments at all. Just one of those things, sorry. 🙁

  114. bdid1dr on November 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm said:

    Nick & Ruby: I apologize if I’m monopolizing the conversation on the newly re-organized pages of Nick’s blog. It interests me that you chose to pose a query rather than donate to the (so far one-way) current discussion herein. Breathe, Nick, breathe!
    I’m amazed that even some doctors describe a repair of a pneumothorax as being the process of punching another hole in the affected lung with a tube meant to suck the air out of the lung. That is NOT the case. The tubing is inserted into the pleural tissue-lining of the pleural cavity itself and removes that excess air which would otherwise cause the lung to collapse/compress entirely. The relevance of my commentary, here on this page, is the similarity of this technique to some of the earlier centuries’ battlefield surgeries being done using the smoke of burning mandrake root. Probably the opium poppy would have been in the medieval surgeon’s bag also.

  115. B4 I forget, already, my latest discovery which I’ve extracted from a google search I’ll give my primary reference to the Treaty of Nymphaeum of the thirteenth century (1261) and the family of Guglielmo Boccanegra of Genoa. (Key reference is that Boccanegra was a “supporter of the GHIBELLINE factor.
    A very interesting and revealing discussion of his exile in France, also.
    Encyclopedia Britannica has some discussion of the Bocaneggra family also. Diane, have you already “been here, done that”?

  116. bdid1dr on November 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm said:

    The word “mnemonics” written in Vms characters:

    2-barb hook, 1-barb hook, 2-barb hook, 1-barb hook, smaller numeral 9 (if indicating the plural ending ks or x). No need to insert vowels.


  117. While skimming the conversations on this page, I briefly glimpsed discussion of stones. There may not be much I can add to the conversation except to pose a question I made several days/weeks ago (before ThomS got contacted by S. Bax): Is there any connection between “lemnium earth” and “ani clay”? Both of these soils have been referred to as having “curialim” qualities.
    Some of the discussion I’ve recently seen here seems to be on the edge of a “lava” field; of which we have plenty. 😉

  118. Bd1dr

    You asked: Diane, have you already “been here, done that”?

    I mentioned the treaty in passing, some time ago, but not the Boccanegra. Interesting possibility.

  119. bdid1dr on November 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm said:

    Boccanegra apparently gained fame as a fortifications builder (Casteletto), and in France (Aigues-Mortes), the construction of its port of call. This note comes from a brief wikipedia translation.
    There is a lot of material on the Guelph and Ghibelline factions (mostly on Wikipedia), translated from the Italian.
    I’ll be trying to find online pictorial elements of the above-mentioned fortifications. Fun! There is also mention of the Swabian dynasty which began with Frederick Barbarossa.

  120. thus becometh ‘central Europe’ ‘somewhere southern’ eh?

  121. bdid1dr on November 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm said:

    Yup! 😉


  122. bdid1dr on December 2, 2013 at 2:06 am said:

    I’m now 1-dering if the Frederick Barbarossa I mentioned earlier on this page was in any way related to the pirate Barbarossa who was the commander of Suleiman’s naval operations.

  123. bdid1dr: nope, not related at all. Rather, they both had red beards. Errrm… though to be precise, I think it was the Turkish Barbarossa’s brother who had a red beard, not Barbarossa himself. History is like that. 🙂

  124. bdid1dr on December 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm said:

    Dear Nick, I just watched the video of Castel del Monte. Though I was not able to listen, even with my amplifier on high, much of their presentation seems to be following up on various discussions on this blog page. Their overlay of B-408’s folio 55v (Lotus) showed the dried seedpod which is the “key” to deciphering/translating that folio. I 1-dr if they’ve been following the discussions here on your various pages. The very last word on folio 55v translates to “ollotius” lotus.
    I mentioned this translation several weeks ago.
    They also briefly showed the sun symbols which appear diagonally opposite each other on the “Nine Rosettes Page”, which I mentioned several months ago were probably indicating the East/West orientation of that drawing. At the time I posted to the discussions, I also mentioned the ships which appear on the water at the base of the cliff and castle.
    So, you now know why my frequent refrain has been “sailing-sailing…..” Maybe you remember some discussion in re “sabir”?
    Thank you ever so much for keeping us informed of recent developments!

    Consider yourself X’d and O’d (kissed and hugged)! xxooxxoo…..!

  125. hodOr hOdoR, HOdoR, hoDoR, hoDOr, Hodor, HOdOr, hoDor, HOdor hoDoR, HODOr, hODOr, HoDOr HOdoR, HODor, hodOr, hOdoR hODoR, hoDor, Hodor, hOdoR, hodOr, HOdoR, hoDor Hodor, hodOR hodor, hOdor, hOdor, hodOr, HOdor, hoDor, HoDOr, HOdoR hodor, HoDOr, HOdor hodor, hoDOr HoDoR, hoDor, HodoR, hodOR hODor, HOdOr, hodor, HOdor hodOr HOdor, hodOr, HOdor. HOdoR, HODor, hoDor, HodoR, hoDor hOdor, hoDor, HodoR, HOdoR, hodor, hodOr, HoDOr, HOdOr, hodOR hodOr, hOdoR hOdoR, hODOr, hoDOr, hoDor HoDoR, hoDor, HodoR, hodOR hodOr, HoDOr, HOdoR, hoDor, HodoR, hoDor, hOdoR, HOdoR, hodOr, HoDOr, hODor hOdoR, HOdoR, hoDoR, HoDor, HoDor HODor, hoDor, HodoR, hoDor. HOdoR, HODor, hodor, HoDOr, hOdOr, hOdoR!

    — Hodor


  127. Yes, well, I never implied that it would be challenging 🙂

    Seriously though, I’m impressed that you didn’t immediately delete the message as spam (although given the context of the website I hoped you wouldn’t but couldn’t be sure.) I think that you not jumping to the conclusion that it was spam says something about your attitude (and prompted me to bookmark your blog, by the way, as it suggests very strongly to me that you have an open mind)

    I’m also impressed that you solved it in at most 20 minutes based on the message timestamps. Assuming that you didn’t see my message straight away I’ll divide the 20 minute maximum by 2, giving a reasonable time of 10 minutes. I’m guessing that it’s quite possible you took even less time than that! Even given it’s simplicity that’s pretty fast.

  128. Craig: it took me about 2 seconds to recognise it as a biliteral cipher, a minute to realise that it wasn’t actually Bacon’s (because each set was back to front, and because he only used the first 25 of the 32 permutations), about 5 minutes doing replaces in a word processor to turn it into a nicely-formatted set of letters, about 10 seconds to solve that using WinDecrypto, and a couple of minutes to post a comment. 😉

    In fact, I was thinking about biliteral ciphers a few days ago, because there was a TV programme that claimed that a particular prison gang communicates using bilateral ciphers (which seemed particularly unlikely to me).

  129. Nick: Thanks for the detailed breakdown of your approach and thought processes. It’s always great to “see into the mind” of another person’s approach towards solving a problem (and how they recognise it as a problem in the first place.)

    As you know, the way *I* might solve a problem is very likely to be substantially different to your way, or any other random person’s way. I try to look and recognise problems in weird and whacky ways but this is obviously easier to state than put into practice.

    I actually find that reviewing other people’s approach to problem solving is often more intriguing and informative than the problem itself!

  130. Gregory on January 17, 2014 at 9:48 pm said:

    Hi Nick.
    Quite recently I came across on the web on your blog. The subject of your research is very similar to mine, because I am also interested in the mysterious ciphers. Last mainly deals with an attempt to decode the prophecy of Nostradamus. I am the author of the website, which posted excerpts prophecies of Nostradamus ( Almanacs, Predictions ) with my interpretation. (link ) – http://gloriaolivae.pl/
    There is one drawback. I only write in Polish, so the google translation translet is certainly imperfect. When it comes to Manyskrypt Voynich, it also have some interesting ideas. More than that, I think that I managed to find the right way to decipher the manuscript. If you meet it with your interest, it soon on your blog I am ready to decode, describe each of the parties manuscript.
    My entry is in the fact that I would attempt to share with my interpretation of the Voynich Manuscript of the widest circle of stakeholders. Therefore, Nick, if you have an opportunity, I would ask you, would you my interpretation presented for example in the media.

  131. bdid1dr on January 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm said:

    I’ll be brief, Nick: Have I offended you or any of your other guests? I’m getting error 500 message from my server (whichever of your latest blog entries). I surely hope not! But, if so what behavior or language may I be able to correct or amend?
    Sincerely ‘at a loss’, beady-eyed wonder. Will you be ‘cluing me in’ via my email?

  132. Benny on March 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:

    Hi Nick!
    Can you please change the color of the links on top of your page. It looks terrible over that background picture and is hard to read. Or is it meant to be like that, as a cipher?

  133. Benny: I meant to do it a while back, but couldn’t see where in the (many) menus the colour was. I’ve brightened it up now, though: better?

  134. Benny on March 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm said:

    Thanks Nick, it looks much better. I still have some links going over the counter thingy but I must give you credit for a quick change. 🙂

  135. bdid1dr on March 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm said:

    Nick, I’ll try to be brief: He (you know who) may be doing a lousy job of translating/decoding via EVA, but he actually is right on the mark as far as identifying the specimen on B-408 as the castor bean plant. When I lived in Key West I had a huge castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) right at my back kitchen door. I made sure that my boys would not even touch it, much less the very shiny black bean pods.
    I have found references in the B-408 folio (3v? 6v?)which make the identifying discussion in Latin terminology.
    Hope you had a fun St. Pat’s Day!

  136. Hello Nick, I am a Dutch artist. I would like to add a link to the page of ‘Carta marina’ and the description on the beasts on the map on my new website(it is in the make). I wonder if that is O.K with you? I am working on an art project i call Carta Marina based on the discoveries of Olaus Magnus. I couldnt fina a mail adress but send my question this way.
    Have a nice day Greetings,

  137. Mia: that would be absolutely fine (though the original Carta Marina page was nothing to do with me, I just thought it was cool and worth sharing). Drop me a line when your site goes live! 🙂

  138. Lordtrumpalot on September 3, 2014 at 8:55 am said:

    Hi Nick

    What do you think John Dee had to do with the VMS?


  139. Lordtrumpalot: for what it’s worth, I think John Dee had a lot to do with cryptography, but basically zero to do with the Voynich Manuscript. I currently believe that the VMs most likely arrived at Rudolf II’s Imperial Court during 1609 or so (which was a long time after Dee had gone ‘ome), travelling via Switzerland.

  140. Darklolrd on September 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm said:

    This is the most plausible explanation I’ve found so far…
    What do you think?

  141. Darklolrd: I think I covered it reasonably comprehensively here – http://ciphermysteries.com/2014/01/21/brand-new-new-world-nahuatl-voynich-manuscript-theory – but let me know if there’s anything I missed. 🙂

  142. Darklolrd on September 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm said:

    Thanks Nick for pointing me to it, my fault it’s me who missed it

  143. bdid1dr on October 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm said:

    Nick, my old computer crashed. So this comment is a test drive with new computer. So, I’ll now try to access the Folger discussion. Cya soon (I hope!)

  144. Hi, Nick!

    A pleasure reading your adventures trying to find a document in Barcelona that can confirm or deny the Joan Roget story.

    As I understand it, now you don’t know if Simón de Guilleuma changed the dates of the testaments on purpose or was a strange multiple mistake. I don’t know if you have news about it or you still are in the dark, as me 🙂 What do you think of Girolamo Sirtori’s claims that he found the real inventor? Do you believe it? By now, do you believe anything about Roget’s story?

    Sorry for asking but I am searching information for an article that I will write about Roget, I found your blog and I couldn’t resist contacting you! 🙂

    Congratulations on your good work and best!

    Oscar Garcia, from Barcelona

  145. bdid1dr on March 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm said:

    Nick, I am so perturbed (aka ‘rattled) by the latest news concerning the Winter Gardens at Greenwich University:
    They are selling that part of the University’s property to real estate developers (housing).
    One of your friends (Brian) was first to respond to the news. I sure hope you give a d…n , and might even be able to follow the action, and keep us posted! There is little chance for me to attend (not even a ‘slow-boat’ would get me near enough to speak my piece)!
    Oh dear! To me this is as bad as what ‘they’ did to Sir Thomas More’s remains and separated head! Explanation marks galore still don’t express my indignation! But who am I to complain from my North American aspect?
    Sincerely sad……

  146. Just wanted to post to say that I enjoy reading your blog and also receive the Voynich News. There’s always something of interest. Gives me tons of inspiration when designing the crypto puzzles for my challenges. cipherprize.com.

  147. I think the link in my previous comment was incorrect. Please try this one (second tower image):


    Thank you.

    Don of Tallahassee

  148. Oscar: sorry for not replying sooner, your comment slipped into a crack from which I have only just extricated it. 🙁

    I am indeed still completely in the dark about Simón de Guilleuma’s claimed finds. As I recall, I was able to find other documents signed by pretty much all the specific notaries he named: but given that I searched diligently through the correct folders indicated for those notaries in the archival indexes and yet found nothing matching what he described, I’m reluctantly forced towards one of four conclusions:
    (1) that he made the whole story up
    (2) that he was completely genuine, but asked for all the papers to be filed together somewhere (but nobody knows where)
    (3) that he was completely genuine, but then stole all the papers (and they’re still somewhere in his family’s possessions).
    (4) that he was completely genuine, but then stole all the papers (and they have since been sold, dispersed, or lost).

    If you find anything that helps you personally choose between these, please let me know (because I am at a loss as to which is true). 🙁

  149. bdid1dr on July 14, 2015 at 7:41 pm said:

    Nick, I’m appearing on this page because I see that a lot of people (including Rene and Diane, in particular) missed my full translation of the contents of B-408, folio 11v: illustration of a single mulberry fruit (six lines of discussion on your ‘Stephen Bax Voynich….” discussion page on March 14, 2014. Things seem to be getting ‘more and more’ confused when trying to identify that very strange fruit on folio 11v.
    Have I already mentioned (on other of your “Voynich” pages) another use for the mulberry tree (which Sahagun’s scribes and illustrators portray themselves manufacturing mulberry and/or fig tree – bark paper …. on the last folios of Fray Sahagun’s “Florentine Codex” ….?
    If I could, I would post this on either Diane’s or Rene’s pages.
    Thank you for your consideration!

  150. Cryptodude on August 31, 2015 at 8:06 pm said:

    If anybody is having trouble cracking a cipher, let me take a look at the ciphertext! I can help out and I recently developed an interest an interest in cryptography and unsolved ciphers.

  151. Kenneth Bauman on September 1, 2015 at 3:41 pm said:








    Cryptodude: If you wish to write me….


  152. Hello. Good day to you.

    I am knew to cryptography, finding it fascinating. I’ve decided to try encoding as a hobby, and I wondering about something. Perhaps you could answer it for me.

    Would there be any practical value for a cipher capable of encoding any length of text into a single symbol (while also being able to decode this one symbol into the original plaintext)? For all I know, this system of encoding already exists, or it’s impractical.

    Hope you can help me find an answer. Thank you!

  153. Rich: technically, that’s a code – a cipher system applies a given process to one letter at a time, while a code system applies a transformation to a block of letters (e.g. a word or phrase). This isn’t absolute (there’s a fair amount of leeway for systems that combine aspects both of codes and ciphers), but it’s a fairly good starting point.

    In short: ciphers are weak if you can reengineer the underlying transformation, while codes are weak if you can reengineer the code book. 🙂

  154. Nick: thank you for the prompt response! Seeing your answer, that leads me to another question, if I may? If what I had described originally could technically be considered a code, would it still be a code if it’s based on an underlying system that controls the transformation? I ask just so I may get the concepts of code and cipher understood.

    Also, if such a system like this could be implemented, would it be practical? I ask this because I’ve read the concept behind the “one-time pad,” and it would seem that a one-symbol (or perhaps better said ‘one-letter’) system would have just the same benefits since it would be practically immune to all forms of frequency analysis. That’s if I understood the notion of “one-time pad” correctly.

    Thank you, again!

  155. Rich: it’s not about an underlying system, it’s about how you block letters together on the way into that system. If you do them one at a time, it’s a cipher; and if you block large groups of them together, it’s a code. All codes and ciphers are (or, at least, should be) systematic transformations in one way or another.

    One-time pads (OTPs) promise perfect security… if you can keep the pads secure, and/or not reuse large chunks of them in your one-time pad factory (e.g. VENONA). 😐

  156. Luis Manuel on December 30, 2015 at 2:49 am said:

    You refer in one video that some or the voynich letters (4o, for example) also exists in an italian book about ciphers.
    Can you identify such book?
    Is it available online?

  157. Luis: I discuss this in my book “The Curse of the Voynich”, pp.175-179. When I wrote it in 2006, I identified the 4/4o cipher trick in four different ciphers from 1440 to 1456.
    * 1440 – Leonello d’Este
    * 1450 – Tristano Sforza
    * 1455 – Orfeo da Ricavo
    * 1456 – Nicolao Maoleone Ferrarien

    The 1440 cipher is to be found in the Urbino cipher ledger (Codice Urbinate 998), one of only a small number of pre-1500 cipher ledgers still extant. I posted scans of images from Luigi Sacco (1947) here: http://www.nickpelling.com/voynich/codiceurbinate998.html The other three ciphers are to be found in the “Tranchedino” cipher ledger from Milan: I’m not sure if there’s an online version of this, sorry.

    Also: Aloysius Meister’s 1902 “Die Anfaege Der Modernen Diplomatischen Geheimschrift” lists a Modenese cipher dated 23rd June 1435 “In Milano” where “4” enciphers ‘Q’ and “4o” enciphers “Qua”. [“Canc. duc. Arch. Proprio Mappe II. Nr 1.”] [p.35]: while for Florence, Meister includes the Cifra di Galiotto Fibindacci da Ricasoli 1424, where “4o” enciphers “Q” [p.50].
    Meister’s book is available online here: http://sammlungen.ulb.uni-muenster.de/id/3075984

  158. Luis Manuel on December 30, 2015 at 2:14 pm said:

    Thanks a lot

  159. nathanael on January 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm said:

    it is possible that the autor of this book is Rambam ??

  160. nathanael: Rabbi Moses ben Maimon may well have hid a secondary (and far more esoteric) layer beneath the topmost layer of his works. But personally I don’t see any obvious detail, link or connection that could even tangentially bridge between Rambam and the Voynich Manuscript, sorry – please feel free to say so if you disagree. 😐

  161. Rick A. Roberts on January 25, 2016 at 11:42 pm said:

    To Nick and all,
    I recently came across an article on the internet about ” The Copper Scroll of Treasures ” (3Q15) Dead Sea Scrolls , found on 14 March, 1952 . It was found in Khirbet Qumran Cave 3 . The scroll was made of copper and ten percent tin. It lists the location of items of gold and silver and where they are supposed to be hidden or buried . The scroll is written on in the Hebrew Mishnah Language. What does everyone out there know about this ?

  162. Dianna on February 4, 2016 at 3:08 am said:

    Forgive me if you’ve seen this, but as someone who enjoys your debunking of various theories, I thought you’d enjoy this, well, creation: https://www.safaribooksonline.com/blog/2014/11/08/nanogenmo2014-procedurally-generated-mysterious-codex/

  163. Dianna: nice, though I wasn’t sure about “iirotllos” as a page title. 😉

  164. Gale Garrett on March 17, 2016 at 8:49 am said:

    Good morning, Nick,

    I have been a fan of your excellent website for several years but this is my first question. Is the Ancient Cryptography Forum link correct? My browser takes me to a blank page at http://www.aerobushentertainment.com/crypto/index.php?

    Solving the word puzzle at http://www.puzz.com/ancientcryptographysociety.html
    directs me to the same blank webpage.

    Many thanks,

    Gale Garrett

  165. Gale Garrett: the last snapshot of the Ancient Cryptography forum in the Wayback Machine was September 2015, so it would seem to have died since then. But even so, nobody had posted anything there since April 2015, so the forum as a whole would seem to have withered on the vine for some time before then. 🙁

  166. Nick,
    There appears to be no wordpress ‘follow’ option, and no ‘subscribe’ button – none visible on my version of windows.

    Is this intentional?

  167. Diane: the follow / subscribe buttons got lost in recent WordPress theme changes, and I’ve been trying (without success, obviously) to find time to reinstate them. The problem is that interesting books keep landing on my doorstep, and what’s a guy supposed to do when that happens, eh? 🙂

  168. Diane on April 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm said:

    – send for more, of course. got to do our bit for the posties.

  169. Diane: ah, yes… though when the 5000-page 1935 collection of Revue des Deux Mondes arrives in the next few days, I suspect the Communication Workers Union may lodge a formal complaint against my book-buying practices. 🙁

  170. Franklin Stöver on November 15, 2016 at 10:39 am said:

    You need to include the Cipriot cipher.

  171. Franklin Stöver: sorry, but I don’t know of any such thing – I do know about the Cypriot syllabary, but that’s not a mystery as such.

  172. I think I figured out the Somerton man code then came an ID.
    I sent an email to the media about it. The “Code” is an engineering algorithm for figuring cut points or stress points, nobody is going to understand the math unless they are a scientist/engineer, but the x on the “plane” gave it away. Research led me back to the B-36 design & secretary of defense Mr James Forrestal and people associated with him. So what happened to him? He was let go, then admitted to mental hospital & while there committed suicide. (Right, he probably had someone get him the heck out of the us. Anyway reading his diary now. Interesting stuff. I really believed this was going to be govt related. Wow.
    I may be wrong…

  173. After Dathe on January 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm said:

    Joachim Dathe have the answer for You.

  174. Jackie Speel on February 6, 2017 at 4:38 pm said:

    Can I mention the Voynich Manuscript/facsimile review piece on page 82 of the February 2017 edition of Prospect.

  175. Nick, I just learned today of Timothy Rayhel’s passing, and was very sad to hear of it. I I was looking to contact him about a shared interest in the Northumberland Manuscript. Would you please email me directly about this?

  176. Mark Knowles on November 23, 2017 at 8:24 pm said:

    Nick: How would you recommend I best browse your posts so that I can easily find those that are of interest or relevant to my research? I tend to use the Search facility, but I could have easily missed some posts that are helpful.

    There appears to be no way to filter so that only Voynich posts appear, which makes it somewhat more laborious looking back over old posts.

    Alternatively, are there posts you might recommend that I may not have spotted that given what you know about my research you might think are relevant? Or our there old email chains you might recommend?

    Sorry for the nuisance.

    Many Thanks

  177. Mark: I would strongly suggest using the Google search hack site:ciphermysteries.com to only search pages on ciphermysteries.com. You can use this same trick for just about any site (add the site name or part of it after site: e.g. site:.au will only search Australian sites etc).

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