The Voynich Manuscript has been described as "the world's most mysterious manuscript", it is a work which dates to the early 15th century, possibly from northern Italy. It is named after the book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912.
240 pages of illustrations and words, most of the drawings depict what seem to be herbs and medicinal plants, yet of no known species. Furthermore the writing remains indecipherable; keep in mind that this is a document that has been poured over by every known Linguist and historian for a hundred years.
There are astronomical elements of the manuscript also, and the general consensus seems to be that this was a text of medieval medicine and alchemy. Very little is agreed upon however and many theories exist about the origins and subjects of the text.
Some believe that the strange illustrations are not astronomical but rather the view of cells through a microscope. Others are interpreted as galaxies as seen with a telescope.
In 2009, University of Arizona researchers performed C14 dating on the manuscript's vellum, which they assert (with 95% confidence) was made between 1404 and 1438. In addition, the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago found that the paints in the manuscript were of materials to be expected from that period of European history. It has also been suggested that the McCrone Research Institute found that much of the ink was added not long after the creation of the parchment, but the official report contains no statement to this effect.
Due to the lack of success in the decipherment, a number of people have proposed that the manuscript is a "hoax". The manuscript could either be a 16th century forgery, to be sold for a hefty sum to emperor Rudolf II, who was interested in rare and unusual items (Brumbaugh, 1977, deriving from earlier unpublished theories), or a more recent one by W. Voynich himself (Barlow, 1986).
The latter is effectively excluded both by expert dating of the manuscript, and by the evidence of its existence prior to 1887.
One problem with the earlier hoax theory is that, as will be shown, certain word statistics (Zipf's laws) found in the manuscript are characteristic of natural languages. In other words, it is unlikely that any forgery from 16th century would "by chance" produce a text that follows Zipf's laws (first postulated in 1935).
Now, almost 100 years later, the Voynich manuscript still stands as the most elusive enigma in the world of cryptography. Not a single word of this 'Most Mysterious Manuscript', written probably in the first half of the 15th Century, can be understood.
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