Experts Determine The Age of A Book That ‘Nobody Can Read’ — The Voynich Manuscript

Voynich ManuscriptReally fascinating. I think the conventional wisdom is the book is a prank, but a truly elaborate one. Daniel Stolte writes on PhysORG:

While enthusiasts across the world pored over the Voynich manuscript, one of the most mysterious writings ever found — penned by an unknown author in a language no one understands — a research team at the UA solved one of its biggest mysteries: When was the book made?

University of Arizona researchers have cracked one of the puzzles surrounding what has been called “the world’s most mysterious manuscript” — the Voynich manuscript, a book filled with drawings and writings nobody has been able to make sense of to this day.

Using radiocarbon dating, a team led by Greg Hodgins in the UA’s department of physics has found the manuscript’s parchment pages date back to the early 15th century, making the book a century older than scholars had previously thought.

This tome makes the “DaVinci Code” look downright lackluster: Rows of text scrawled on visibly aged parchment, flowing around intricately drawn illustrations depicting plants, astronomical charts and human figures bathing in — perhaps — the fountain of youth. At first glance, the “Voynich manuscript” appears to be not unlike any other antique work of writing and drawing.

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  • Jojo

    I’ve followed the Voynich manuscript saga for a few years now. It is a truly incredible piece of work and you can download all the pages from Wikipedia if you want. To say that conventional wisdom calls it a hoax is somewhat accurate but cannot possibly be the whole story. The language it is written in has confounded even the most astute linguists for decades, who cannot place it convincingly in any language family. They have analysed the sentence structures and have found that it is not random. Any fool can make up their own language using pseudorandom algorithms. But the Voynich manuscript is something else entirely. It may be a linguistic isolate from the Malay peninsula. Or not. The pictures are extrordinary, and visionary, some have theorized it is a Cathar death manual similar to the Tibetan book of the dead, but this is shaky due to the copious flora and pharmacopeiaic illustrations. There is another manuscript, modern, inspired by it: The Codex Seraphinanus created by an Italian architect. However, the Codex is not a mystery at all, at least in the sense of authorship. It simply creates an atmosphere of total mystery. Douglas Hoftsadter of Godel, Escher, Bach fame has been a big fan of the Codex. Check them both out if you want to be enthralled, speculative, amazed and even somewhat creeped out.

  • Jojo

    I’ve followed the Voynich manuscript saga for a few years now. It is a truly incredible piece of work and you can download all the pages from Wikipedia if you want. To say that conventional wisdom calls it a hoax is somewhat accurate but cannot possibly be the whole story. The language it is written in has confounded even the most astute linguists for decades, who cannot place it convincingly in any language family. They have analysed the sentence structures and have found that it is not random. Any fool can make up their own language using pseudorandom algorithms. But the Voynich manuscript is something else entirely. It may be a linguistic isolate from the Malay peninsula. Or not. The pictures are extrordinary, and visionary, some have theorized it is a Cathar death manual similar to the Tibetan book of the dead, but this is shaky due to the copious flora and pharmacopeiaic illustrations. There is another manuscript, modern, inspired by it: The Codex Seraphinanus created by an Italian architect. However, the Codex is not a mystery at all, at least in the sense of authorship. It simply creates an atmosphere of total mystery. Douglas Hoftsadter of Godel, Escher, Bach fame has been a big fan of the Codex. Check them both out if you want to be enthralled, speculative, amazed and even somewhat creeped out.

  • Synapse

    I don’t believe it’s right to label the manuscript a “prank.” Whoever created it invented, and ingeniously so, a brand new language that (while clearly having a logic to it) has never been deciphered for hundreds of years. It’s too disingenuous to label such a work a prank or hoax imo.

  • Synapse

    I don’t believe it’s right to label the manuscript a “prank.” Whoever created it invented, and ingeniously so, a brand new language that (while clearly having a logic to it) has never been deciphered for hundreds of years. It’s too disingenuous to label such a work a prank or hoax imo.

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