Home > 8, ay, Characters, e, f33v, Features, Jim Reeds, Latin, o, oy, Theories, Writing, y > How was the Voynich Manuscript text written?

How was the Voynich Manuscript text written?

I’ve spent many happy hours poring over the text, and am convinced that it is not as “simple” as it appears (i.e. the “words” are not words at all). Here are some conjectures:

  1. The lines look like they are written left to right i.e. the glyphs were written down from left to right, but were not.
  2. The scribe started with the drawing and started writing glyphs at various positions on the page.
  3. The method used for choosing each glyph and for deciding its position involved a mechanical apparatus, perhaps a set of co-rotating cipher wheels that were used to convert each character in the Latin plaintext into a VMs glyph and page position
  4. The apparatus is set to a new starting position for each folio/page (so e.g. Bettony labels on the three folios the plant appears on are different)
  5.  The density of ink is a clue to the order in which the glyphs were written (nib/quill freshly dipped and full of ink, or almost dry)
  6. At some point the scribe finishes writing the needed glyphs, and then fills out the spaces with pseudo-random words.
  7. There is no punctuation because what is seen are not words. What is seen makes no grammatical sense because the glyphs are not ordered and positioned linearly across the page.
  8. Perhaps the secret to unwinding the cipher is in the labels. The labels on one page are constrained to have been produced by the same initial position of the cipher apparatus, and they must come from the plaintext label.

There are so many clues as to what is going on, yet putting them all together is hugely challenging

For example, Jim Reeds suggested years ago that the order in which the text had been written on the sunflower page, f33v:


was first the text to the left of the left stalk, second the text in between the stalks, and finally the text to the right of the last stalk. This is compelling, since the ink density looks different, and the lines don’t line up well across the stalks. It becomes clearer if you saturate the image:

f33v Saturated

And in that image, what jumps out are the glyphs that are darker than the others. Those can be seen more clearly in black/white:

f33v monochrome drop

where the “o”, “y”, “8”, “e” stick out like sore thumbs. Most of those are in the left section, some in the middle, and fewer in the right. Why are these glyphs bolder, why are they inked more heavily? Were these the glyphs initially placed on the page, and contain the real information, and the rest, unimportant and pseudo-random, were all added later to make the text look “normal”?

Categories: 8, ay, Characters, e, f33v, Features, Jim Reeds, Latin, o, oy, Theories, Writing, y Tags: , ,
  1. October 7, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Sir: I have no quarrel with your attempts thus far to translate “The book that can’t be read”. However, I DO wonder: It’s known that until recently much of “medicine” and “magic” was one polyglot mess/mix. I am a pharmacist and amatuer (I stress amatuer) herbalist; it occurs to me perhaps the best possibility at translation would be one in collusion with someone with extensive herbal knowledge, as well as knowledge of so-called “magic” or “alchemy” from the period in question. I have no idea where one would get hold of such experts; this is only a suggestion. I’ve played with (badly reproduced) pages myself, and several things strike me; therefore I can’t help thinking someone whose specialty is the above, may be of help in your translations. Regards, Allannaa

  2. thomas spande
    October 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    JB, I agree with your overall assumptions. I think the VM is in Latin BUT it is encrypted. The key to the encryption is the use of some Armenian glyphs. The 8 and 9 appear throughout the VM and are not those numbers but are based on the Armenian numbering system where 8=e and 9=t and “89” is pronounced et and that is used then as the Latin “and”. The ampersand appears also and is used not as “and” but as the letters et at the start, within and end of words. The glyph that looks like a “tipped question mark” is not a y but is ch; the inverted gamma is not an e but is “n”. Every gallows glyph stands for one letter. The c-c combo is “i”. I have more work to complete the decript but it cannot be done without bringing in the Armenian connection. That crazy looking mirror image of & is the Armenian “f” and is used as such so one finds “8a&*” where &* stands for that treble clef like glyph. The l is missing and this is a complication. You are right in that the VM is just chopped up text. Many of the little words are just Latin “eans, ions, etc”. The loopy inverted “S” is an s and the o’s and a’s are used as those letters in Latin. I think there is no numbering with so-called Arabic numerals at all in the VM. The Armenians had no “0” but instead used “o” so folio numbers with “0” have that funny little “o” that looks out of place. So why is the VMso weird? I think it was created by Armenians to look like something else, maybe something in Arabic. Furthermore I think it was created in connection with an Italian city state, either Genoa or Venice in what is now the Crimea. Could be Kaffa which had 46K Armenians of a population of 70K in 1470. I think maybe a careful analysis of the Latin will show it’s date of creation. I lean to thinking it was early in the 16C rather than the 15C, as just too many & which Armenians did not use until much much later. No one used it much even in Italy except for printing. It was not commonly used in cursive. Cheers, Tom

  3. Dave Sharp
    December 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    It was my idea to look at Tibet as a source for the VM, as the entries I made at Nick Pellings site will show. This research led me to Armenia after talking to an Ancient Medicinal Botany expert, Dr. Dorjee. At the time I didn’t know how Armenia fit into the equation, but now I do, Coptic. The wood cuts from this book may be the source for the Voynich.

    “The story of Coptic typography begins with a pilgrimage from Oppenheim to the Holy Land in 1483 by Bernhard von Breydenbach, Canon of Mainz and Dean of its Cathedral. Bernhard von Breydenbach was accompanied to Jerusalem by many nobles, among them the Dutch artist Erhard Reuwich who produced a series of impressive woodcuts of the places they visited along their jouney, people and beasts they encountered and oriental alphabets. On the conclusion of their pilgrimage, Breydenbach and Reuwich published an account of their journey in 1486 entitled Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam. First published in Latin and printed in Mainz, it was the world’s first illustrated travelogue and such was its popularity that it went on to be printed in several European languages. Among the alphabets Breydenbach and Reuwich produced in woodcut was the first printed Coptic alphabet (Fig 1).”


    • Ricardo
      June 13, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Also look at cursive form of the Glagolitic alphabet – many of the Voynich characters can be found.

  4. Gregory
    January 24, 2014 at 9:31 am

    As far as the Voynich Manuscript , the vast majority of researchers focused on trying to decipher the code letter. Great respect for them. According to me , the text is intentionally used a hoax aimed to engage readers in a fruitless search for the code of the manuscript just as deliberately scattered like puzzle Centuries of Nostradamus. I am in my searches focused on the symbolic meaning of illustration. For someone who has only a scientific look at the issue of encryption , all suggest it may seem too unreliable , not falsifiable . Therefore, please be patient – larger amount of illustration only confirms my theory that talked about that: Manuscript , namely the part of Herb is , according to me , a compendium of knowledge about the Evolution of Life on Earth – from its cosmological aspect , through Human Evolution (Theory Darwin ) to the Prehistory , History and Contemporary . In the following section, the author Herb encrypted all the important events of our common history with such precision that many a textbook of history might have envied accuracy. For more detailed information I put on the page : http://gloriaolivae.pl/

  5. Ricardo
    June 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I believe that this means the exact opposite. When using a quill and ink well, the ink actually gets darker as the well gets lower. It thickens toward the bottom making it stick to the quill better as well as darker in color. You’re able to pick up more ink and lay down more ink. It’s a subtle change but one that can be noticeable.

    • Ricardo
      June 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Of course this only happens with natural inks. Synthetic inks are a different story.

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