Home > Characters, Features, Folios, gallows > The Page Positional Distribution of the Gallows

The Page Positional Distribution of the Gallows

Here is a set of images, for each of the folios in the VMs, that shows the positions on the page of the various gallows glyphs. Each image shows a set of lines corresponding to the lines on the folio: the gallows glyphs are coloured in red, other glyphs are coloured grey. Spaces between words are black. (The Java application that generates these images uses the Voyn_101 transcription file as input.)

Are there any tell-tale patterns, or does this just look like random noise?

Categories: Characters, Features, Folios, gallows Tags:
  1. September 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

    This is fascinating.
    Has anyone done a survey to determine the number of glyphs between one gallows letter and the next? Average and range, I mean. If the gaps are fairly regular, it might be that the text is made to a formula. We have another example in the original text for the Tacuinum sanitatis, which is constructed that way (Translations often turn it into more fluent prose,so that effect is lost).

    • JB
      January 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Diane,

      I did look at the inter-gallows glyph count at one point – and it was not at all revealing: there was no apparent pattern. One problem, as always, is deciding what glyphs are compound or not, which critically affects such counts.


  2. December 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    All of this reply has mostly to do with the lack of easily identified punctuation in the VMS. I guess you could say I am trying to get you to use a bit of your time to save me having to use a bunch of mine.

    I have been looking at the gallows glyphs lately and have come up with some questions as to their placements.

    I have also been ruminating about what your beautifully constructed colored representations of the gallows glyph positions on the pages show. I have been wondering whether they might not start to reveal where “sentences” within each “paragraph” in the VMS might begin and end.

    Many VMS pages start with a word initial gallows glyph in the first word in the first “paragraph”.

    A few have really unusual glyphs which connect two words (as if showing a word initial glyph which may not really be a first word initial gallows glyph but to which the glyph’s connecting section actually belongs to the second connected word – does this make sense to you?) – the second thusly connected word does not usually (again not checked) seem to be connected by a word initial gallows glyph but rather one somewhere else in the word. Kind of like a borrowed gallows component for the first word.

    It seems (without checking all of them) that most other “paragraphs” on the pages also start with gallows glyphs.

    Those “paragraphs” starting without word initial gallows glyphs also seem to lack words starting with gallows glyphs for a distance beyond the first word (seemingly usually not the second or third word, or more, in the line).

    In many “paragraphs”, words starting with gallows glyphs (especially the first line), seem to be loosely clumped together followed by words without word initial gallows glyphs. Then the words with word initial gallows glyphs seem to be found in a second clump followed by a second group without word initial gallows glyphs. And so on. (Sometimes the clumps are only one VMS word long?)

    I have a vaguely formulated theory that words with word initial gallows glyphs (as opposed to gallows glyphs in the middle or at the right hand end of VMS words) may be found at the beginning of VMS “sentences” within each “paragraph”. Each succeeding new “sentence” would start where gallows glyphs initial words start to be found again after an intervening word or group of words without word initial gallows glyphs.

    I realize that this would seem to signify that word order within each “sentence” would not be important except for word initial glyphs. Although not easily understandable in regular sentences, this would fit in with my overall theory about most of the VMS being composed of groups of apothecary type formulations for herbs and their amounts, etc., shown at my site at:


    In addition it would mean that the “sentence” word order would be dependent mainly on word initial gallows glyph words being listed at the beginning of each “sentence” followed by the other words that do not begin with gallows glyphs. As a secondary theory I have, it might also show if the gallows glyph initial words in each “sentence” were listed in some sort of alphabetical order.

    I am fairly computer illiterate.

    Since I can basically only use my computer for email, as a WORD compositional device, as a filing system and as a web browser, I was wondering how hard it would be to alter your way of coming up with your colored boxes representations of the VMS folios to show the distribution of word initial glyphs and to differentiate them all with different colors, one each for EVA = f, p, k, t, ck, ct, cfh, ckh, cph, cth? The gallows glyphs in other positions within the words should be left uncolored to ease understanding (although if not too difficult to do, a second group of page representations with all the above gallows glyphs shown in separate colors might also reveal something?). In both sets of page representations other word initial gallows glyphs not included in the group listed above might be shown in an eleventh color (white?) as a group so they are not left out entirely.

    I am not trying to get you to do a lot of work for me, just trying to find out if it might be simple and/or easily done. Only then would I try to impose upon you.

    A second way of starting “sentences” might be when a word starting glyph or sequence of glyphs showing an abbreviation (Table I at my site) might be repeated, each occurrence designating where a new sentence begins. (This might change from the first to second “sentence” and the second to third “sentence”, and so on, but to me it seems possible.) I don’t know whether this might be used in conjunction with the above gallows glyph conjectures or not.

    I will be happy to try to explain any of the above that you may not understand from my convoluted reasoning. I sometimes don’t express myself very clearly. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have or to turn down my request for your time and labor if my requests seem unreasonable or illogical to you or especially if they look like they will take too much time to accomplish easily.

    Thank you,

    Don of Tallahassee

    • JB
      January 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm


      I have not been looking at the VMs for a while, hence the delay in replying. I would be happy to generate the images you need (it is a small change to the software) if you can tell me what colours you would like to use for each of “word” initial f, p, k, t, ck, ct, cfh, ckh, cph, cth ?


      • January 16, 2013 at 7:10 am


        The colors of the rainbow, plus a few, are okay – you pick the order.

        Thank you for doing this for me.

        Don of Tallahassee

  3. Menno Knul
    August 1, 2013 at 6:03 am


    One thing is for sure, that most alineas start with a word on K-, P, T, F (special signs), some of them preceded by o- or qo-. As these special signs occurr in the text as well, they should indicate a meaning that can be applied in both circumstances, e.g. the word Herba of Erba, which may be part of the name of the plant and part of the description.

    Menno Knul

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