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Voynich Manuscript – The 240 page script written in Unknown Language

There has been a buzz around the Voynich manuscript for years with people not knowing what kind of script this exactly is. This manuscript is nothing but an illustrated codex note which is handwritten in an unknown system. All the code in this system is written in a language that has never been in existence. However, when the vellum on which it has been written is tested, it is carbon dated to the 15th century (1404-1438). The manuscript has been composed during the Italian Renaissance period, back in Northern Italy. It is officially named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer belonging to the Polish-Samogitian period and is purchased in 1912. When the script is tested, it is said that few pages have gone missing with only 240 pages remaining. The text of the script is written from the left to the right and most of the pages have diagrams, illustrations and foldable sheets in the picture. This manuscript has been studied by amateur and professional cryptographers including the British and the American codebreakers from World War II and World War I.

Cryptography of Voynich Manuscript:

Till day no one has deciphered the text and this is why it has become a famous case in the cryptography history. The mystery, meaning and the origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imaginations of people not only in making the manuscript but also in revealing the subject of speculation and as well as the novel. Many hypotheses that came around the scripture that have been proposed over the hundred years have been verified individually. In 1969, the script has been donated to Yale University to be included in Beinecke’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Hans P. Kraus where it has been cataloged under call number MS408.

The codicology, the basic characteristics of the manuscript has been studied by the researchers. It measures 23.5 by 16.2 by 5 cm in which hundreds of pages have been collected into 18 quires. The 240 pages which have been found are the unusual foldouts that are measured and counted. The quires are actually numbered from 1-20 in various locations, using the numerals that are consistent with 1400. The top right-hand corner of the page has been numbered between 1-116 using numbers of the later date. From the numbering gaps in the pages and the quires, it seems that the manuscript has around 272 pages that are listed in at least 20 quires altogether out of which some are missing when Voynich has discovered this script back in 1912. There is an evidence that says some of the bifolios in the book are recorded at various stages of the history which is why the page order can be different from how we number them, today.

History of Voynich Script:

The Voynich first appears in the historical record in the late 16th century, as Davis writes on her blog Manuscript Road TripRudolph II of Germany purchased the book for 600 gold ducats, believing that it had been written by the 13th-century English scientist Roger Bacon. It then passed into the hands of Georgius Barschius, an alchemist from Prague, who referred to the book as “a certain riddle of the Sphinx” that was “uselessly taking up space.”

When Barschius’ heir, Johannes Marcus Marci, inherited the manuscript, he sent it to an Egyptian hieroglyphics expert in Rome for help decoding the text. “[S]uch Sphinxes as these obey no one but their master,” Marci wrote in an accompanying letter, according to Davis.

The manuscript then disappeared for 250 years, only to resurface when it was purchased by Polish book dealer Wilfrid Voynich in 1912. Voynich refused to divulge the manuscript’s previous owner, leading many to believe that he had authored the text himself. But after Voynich’s death, his wife claimed that he had purchased the book from the Jesuit College at Frascati near Rome.

Radiocarbon dating of Voynich Script:

The Radiocarbon dating samples which have been written today are from different parts of the manuscript which are performed in 2014 revealing that the parchment has been made from calfskin. The multispectral analysis of the script has shown that it has been created as a parchment. The samples that are taken have been taken and tested, saying that it lasted between 1404 and 1438. The protein testing in 2014 has been revealed that it has been made from the calfskin. This has been treated with care, with adequate deficiencies and the quality has been tested as average. Some folios are usually thicker than the usual thickness, like 42 and 47. The calf-skin binding and covers are not original, as the date to the possession by the Collegio Romano. Many insect holes are also found in the first and the last folios of the script in the order and suggested that a wooden cover is present before the later covers, discoloring the edge points to a tanned leather in the cover.

Many pages have substantial charts or drawings which should be colored with paint. Based on the analysis using the light microscopy, it is determined that an iron gall ink and quill pen can be used for the figures and text outlines, the colored paint can be applied to the figures as well as the text with the date. The ink of the text, the page and the drawings along with the quire numbers having microscopic characteristics. EDS, also known as Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The ink that has been used contains high amounts of sulfur, potassium, iron, carbon, copper, zinc and traces of calcium as well. EDS doesn’t show us the lead presence, the XRD which is identified with potassium lead oxide, syngenite and potassium hydrogen sulfate in the samples. The similarity between the text ink and the drawing ink suggests a contemporaneous origin.

Paint of Voynich Script:

The manuscript contained blue, white, green and red-brown paints which can be analyzed using EDS, PLM, and XRD or scanning electron microscopy. The pain is proved to be made from azurite with traces of copper oxide cuprite. The pain is a mixture of egg white, calcium carbonate, and the green paint is characterized by copper-chlorine resinate, copper and crystalline material which is acclaimed to be atacamite or cooper-chlorine compound. Analysis of the red-brown paint that indicates a red ochre with the crystal phases including iron sulfide or hematite is also found. Minor amounts of palmierite or lead sulfide are present in this paint and the pigments are indeed considered of low cost. Retouching: Jorge Stolfi, the famous computer scientist at the University of Campinas has highlighted the parts of the drawings and texts that are to be modified using a darker ink which has been fainted. The evidence for this script is visible in various folios number from f1 to f7.

Text & Retouching of Voynich Script:

Each page in this manuscript only contains text, in an unidentified language. When asked about which language it is in, it is said that it has been written extraneously in the Latin script. The bulk text in this 240 pages script runs from left to right, like Urdu. Most of the characters in the text are composed of either one or two strokes. There are many disputes which say that certain characters in this script are distinct with characters ranging from 20-25 which would account virtually for the entire text. There are exceptions where you would find around a hundred dozen characters at max that occur once or twice without any punctuations. The punctuations in this script are also entirely different when compared to others. Most of the text is written in a single column with a right margin/paragraph divisions with stars on the left margin. Other texts occur either in charts or in labels associated with various illustrations. There are no major indications that speak of the errors of the corrections, made in the document. The ducts of the texts flow smoothly while giving you the impression that none of these symbols are enciphered and there is no specific delay between the characters, as expected in the encoded text.

AI trying to decipher the Voynich Script:

William Friedman, the cryptologist known for breaking the code during the WWII spending years to decipher the manuscript, according to Washington Post’s Sadie Dingfelder. He has concluded that it is an early attempt to construct the universal language of the prior type. The origins of the Voynichese remain murky without appearing on the gobbledygook. In the year 2014, Brazilian researchers have used complex modeling techniques as well. If you were compiling a list of objects – just the stuff that human civilization has expelled over the millennia. You would have to leave the room somewhere for the Voynich manuscript. It is only 600 years old, written in a language that none can read. It has diagrams only few can understand. It is a world class mystery full of genuine diagrams, bonafide programs and presumably newsrooms around the world. There has been a news which said that the voynich script has been decoded by the artificial intelligence of people as they leap through opportunities. Except, it did not. According to the experts, the manuscript is inscrutable as ever. The understanding says that the new research fails to decode the text while adding annals of Voynichology with a value. It emphasizes on the manuscript, making it an odd cookie.

Decoding Anagrammed Texts of Voynich Script:

The research has sparked the coverage that is named as “Decoding Anagrammed Texts Written in an Unknown Language and Script”, which is published in 2016. It is presented at the conference last year, as picked by the journalists. Greg Kondrak, a computer science professor and Bradley Hauer, a graduate student has together found a method for finding the source language of the ciphered texts turning this method on the manuscript itself. Some of them have come to the conclusion that it is written in Hebrew before encoded in the current form. If what they have claimed is true, this manuscript would be a glacier breaking the ice. The 240-page script has been a mystery for years now. It has some unidentifiable and scattered illustrations of plants, doodles, diagrams, dragons and castles which are listed out in an odd section showing naked women bathing in pools which are connected through tubes. It makes a map of ancient water parks as scholars suggest that it is either a medical or an alchemical intent.

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