Voynich Manuscript- an undecipherable Secret writing or a Hoax

Voynich manuscript is not a secret document. It is a historical book which is freely available for the general public. You and I can easily view it online completely. However, we can’t read and understand it as we do with other books. Actually, nobody can. None of the cryptographers, none of the knowledgeable historians, and even none of the famous code breakers were able to decipher it. That is because Voynich manuscript was written with the alphabets that nobody has seen before.

A page from the Voynich Manuscript
                                             A page from the Voynich Manuscript

The mystery and lack of knowledge lead to several speculations. Some scholars say the Voynich manuscript is a hoax, so they do not spare the slightest portion of their time. At the same time, there are scholars who genuinely believe that Voynich alphabets are ciphers waiting to be discovered, so they keep trying to decipher them restlessly. The book from aliens and the language of lost culture are some among many speculations.

Shortage of rock-solid facts keeps adding more mystery, confusion, and more speculations.

General description of the Voynich Manuscript.

Voynich manuscript is the book with 240 remaining pages (some pages are missing). Each page includes lines of scripts that nobody can read. Pages are illustrated with the images which appear to be plants, stars, humans, creature, and various unknown objects.

Scripts were handwritten from left to right. All of the illustrations were handpainted.  So far, nobody knows who wrote this mysterious manuscript, and why.

Who discovered the Voynich Manuscript?

Wilfrid Voynich, an antiquarian book dealer, discovered the manuscript in 1912 (some sources say 1911). Therefore it is called the Voynich manuscript. But, there is a group of scholars who believe that Voynich did not find the manuscript, instead, he created the book for a personal gain. They believe that Voynich alphabets are no more than fake ciphers that mean nothing in reality. However, the carbon dating test conducted in 2009 by the team of researchers at the University of Arizona refuted such claims. The test’s outcome was unexpected. Results suggested that the Voynich manuscript originated in the early 15th century, which was even a century older than researchers had thought.

                                  Wilfrid Voynich working with his books

Where did Wilfrid Voynich find the Manuscript?

According to Wilfrid Voynich himself, he found the manuscript in an ancient castle in Southern Europe, but he refrained from telling the exact location. He gave two reasons to explain why he kept the exact location in secret.

In one of his letters, Voynich mentions that reason of his secrecy is the promise he made to the previous owners of the manuscript. In another letter, he wrote that he was planning on purchasing more manuscripts from that location.

His wife, Ethel Lilian Voynich, wrote a letter which she asked to be kept unopened until after her death. When the letter was finally opened in 1960, 13 days after her death, new information about the origin of the Voynich manuscript came out. According to E.L Voynich’s letter, Wilfrid Voynich bought the manuscript in Frascati, which is the town in Italy. She also mentioned that the Voynich manuscript once was a property of the Vatican.

Another information about the location came 30 years after Wilfrid Woynich’s death. This time it came from Hans P. Kraus, the person who acquired Voynich manuscript in 1960 after the death of Ethel Voynich. He announced that mysterious place where Voynich got the manuscript was Villa Mondragone in Frascati.

                                  A drawing of Villa Mandragone

Nowadays, most scholars agree that the Villa Mondragone in Frascati is the place where Wilfrid Voynich hold the manuscript in his hands for the first time. (Although some scholars still debate on it)

Who is a current owner of the Voynich Manuscript?

Yale University’s Beinecke rare book and manuscript library is the current owner of the Voynich Manuscript. Hans P. Kraus donated it to Beineke library in 1969.

By Arslan Batyrovich

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