The Enigma of the Voynich Manuscript



9 Questions

What is the Voynich manuscript?

What is the script used in the Voynich manuscript called?

What is the possible origin of the Voynich manuscript?

What is the purpose of the illustrations in the Voynich manuscript?

What is the most likely content of the first section of the Voynich manuscript?

What is the current location of the Voynich manuscript?

What is steganography?

What did Tucker & Talbert claim about the Voynich manuscript?

What did Nicholas Gibbs claim in 2017?


The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex written in an unknown script referred to as 'Voynichese', with its vellum carbon-dated to the early 15th century, indicating its possible origin in Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript consists of around 240 pages, with fantastical illustrations or diagrams, and the text written from left to right. The manuscript has been studied by professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II, but none of the proposed hypotheses have been independently verified. The text consists of over 170,000 characters, with spaces dividing the text into about 35,000 groups of varying length, usually referred to as "words" or "word tokens". The bulk of the text in the manuscript is written in an unknown script, running left to right, with no obvious punctuation. The illustrations are conventionally used to divide most of the manuscript into six different sections, with the first section almost certainly herbal. The purpose of the manuscript is debated, with attempts failing to identify the plants with actual specimens or with the stylized drawings of contemporaneous herbals. The manuscript is held in Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and was published online in its entirety in 2020.The Voynich Manuscript: A History and Authorship Hypotheses

  • The Voynich Manuscript is a handwritten book with illustrations that has puzzled scholars for centuries.

  • The manuscript is written in an unknown script and has not been deciphered despite many attempts.

  • The book is thought to have been created in Europe in the early 1400s, according to radiocarbon dating of the vellum.

  • The first confirmed owner of the book was Georg Baresch, a 17th-century alchemist from Prague who sent a copy of the script to Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher in Rome.

  • Kircher was interested in the book but was unable to acquire it from Baresch.

  • The manuscript then passed to Jan Marek Marci, rector of Charles University in Prague, who sent it to Kircher along with a cover letter that is still attached to the book.

  • The cover letter suggests that the manuscript was once owned by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and may have been created by 13th-century Franciscan friar and polymath Roger Bacon.

  • Many people have been proposed as possible authors of the Voynich manuscript, including John Dee or Edward Kelley, Giovanni Fontana, and Voynich himself.

  • Some suspect Voynich of having fabricated the manuscript himself, but this theory has been largely discredited.

  • Language hypotheses for the Voynich manuscript include that it is written in a cipher, shorthand, or steganography, but none have been proven.

  • The manuscript was acquired by Wilfrid Voynich in the late 1800s and later inherited by his widow Ethel Voynich, who left it to her friend Anne Nill.

  • The book was sold to antique book dealer Hans P. Kraus, who donated it to Yale University in 1969, where it is catalogued as "MS 408".Voynich Manuscript: A Summary of Decipherment Attempts and Theories

  • The Voynich manuscript is believed to contain meaningful information hidden in inconspicuous details using steganography.

  • The manuscript's text reveals patterns similar to those of natural languages, and it is mostly compatible with natural languages.

  • Linguists have suggested that the manuscript's text could be a little-known natural language, written plaintext with an invented alphabet, or a hitherto unknown North Germanic dialect.

  • Professor Stephen Bax of the University of Bedfordshire suggested that the text is a treatise on nature written in a natural language, rather than a code, and translated 14 characters and 10 words.

  • Tucker & Talbert claimed a positive identification of plants and animals referenced in the manuscript to plant drawings in a fifteenth-century Aztec herbal.

  • Scholars have proposed that the manuscript's text does not contain meaningful content and may be a medieval hoax.

  • In 2021, Yale University researchers used the tf-idf analysis and found evidence that the Voynich manuscript contains meaningful text.

  • Some scholars have proposed that the manuscript's text is a case of glossolalia, channelling, or outsider art.

  • There have been several claimed decipherments of the manuscript, including William Romaine Newbold's microscopic markings theory, Joseph Martin Feely's substitution cipher theory, Leonell C. Strong's double system of arithmetical progressions theory, and Robert S. Brumbaugh's forgery theory.

  • John Stojko claimed that the manuscript was a series of letters written in vowelless Ukrainian, and Stephen Bax proposed a provisional, partial decoding of the manuscript.

  • In 2017, Nicholas Gibbs claimed to have decoded the manuscript as idiosyncratically abbreviated Latin, but his hypothesis was criticized as patching together already-existing scholarship with a highly speculative and incorrect translation.

  • Greg Kondrak and his graduate student Bradley Hauer used computational linguistics in an attempt to decode the manuscript.The Voynich Manuscript: Theories, Facsimiles, and Cultural Influence

  • The Voynich Manuscript is a medieval document that is written in an unknown script and has not been deciphered to date.

  • The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912.

  • The manuscript is comprised of 240 pages and includes drawings of plants, astronomical diagrams, and human figures.

  • The manuscript is carbon-dated to the early 15th century.

  • Theories about the manuscript's origin and purpose vary widely, with some suggesting it is a medical text, while others propose it is a hoax.

  • In 2013, a team of researchers claimed to have identified some of the plants depicted in the manuscript as coming from North America, which would have been impossible in the 15th century.

  • In 2017, a researcher proposed that the manuscript is written in Hebrew, but encoded using alphagrams, i.e. alphabetically ordered anagrams.

  • In 2018, an electrical engineer claimed that the script is a kind of Old Turkic written in a "poetic" style.

  • In 2019, a biology research assistant claimed to have deciphered the manuscript in two weeks, proposing that it was written in a "calligraphic proto-Romance" language.

  • The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library made high-resolution digital scans of the manuscript publicly available in 2004.

  • The library and Yale University Press co-published a facsimile of the manuscript in 2016, and a Spanish publisher produced a print run of 898 replicas in 2017.

  • The manuscript has inspired several works of fiction.

  • The manuscript's origin and purpose remain a mystery.


Test your knowledge about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript with our quiz! This fascinating medieval document has puzzled scholars for centuries with its unknown script and fantastical illustrations. From its possible Italian Renaissance origins to its carbon dating and ownership history, this quiz covers a range of topics related to the Voynich Manuscript. See how much you know about decipherment attempts and theories, cultural influence, and more. Challenge yourself and learn more about this enigmatic manuscript!

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