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Candidate Carrots and Castor Oil

March 26, 2010 7 comments

Here is a set of plausible coincidences, or strong evidence (depending on how gullible you are) that VMs words beginning “ok-” are enciphered from Latin words beginning “ca-“.

Evidence 1: Acorus Calamus – Sweet Flag

In my last post I referred to several labels in the VMs that appear on different folios. In particular,  “okoe89”, “okae89” and “okae9”. The question was “what do they all have in common?”. Two of the three “okae9” labeled objects are roots with distinctive shapes, strongly suggestive of “Acorus Calamus” (Sweet Flag):

Conjecture: “okae9” = “Calamus”

Evidence 2: Carrots

The three “okae89” labeled plants show similarities. The one on f101v2 looks very much like a carrot, and the other two could also be carrots:

Conjecture: “okae89” = “Carota”

Evidence 3: Castillum

And what about the third label “okoe89”? There are five objects labeled by this word. Three look like plants/roots, one is some sort of funnel (from the balneological pages) and the fifth is obviously a castle:

Castle in the Rosettes folios

Conjecture: “okoe89” = “Castellum”

From this evidence, a simple conclusion is that the prefix “ok” enciphers the Latin prefix “ca”.

Evidence 4: Castor and Pollux

If the “ok” prefix is enciphering “ca”, then we can search for labels beginning with “ok” and see whether there are any obvious matches to the labeled objects with words beginning “ca”. It turns out that there are.

On f68r3, which is popularly supposed to show the Pleiades star cluster, one of the map segments has a pair of stars labeled “okoy9” and “ohos”. These seem likely to be the famous pair Castor and Pollux. Moreover, in the opposite segment is a group of four stars, one of which also has the “ok” prefix, and is labeled “ok98*”. This is possibly the Behenian star Capella in the constellation of Auriga. (Note: if this is indeed the Auriga constellation, then one of the other stars should be “Alnath”. The star next to the Pleiades is supposed to be Aldabaran, and is enciphered as “81oe8a9”. The star next to Capella is labelled “8ayaee” – perhaps this is Alnath, and the VMs prefix “8-” encodes “al-“?)

Conjecture: “okoy9” = “Castor”, “ok98*” = “Capella”

Castor, Pollux, Capella and the Pleiades

Evidence 5: Castor Oil

Following on from the identification of Castor and Pollux on f68r3, we look for other instances of “okoy9” i.e. “Castor” and find one labeling a plant on f88v. The leaf of this plant looks very similar to that of the Castor Oil plant:

Summary

VMs Word Latin Word VMs Prefix Latin Prefix VMs Postfix Latin Postfix
okae9 calamus ok ca ae9 lamus
okae89 carota ok ca ae89 rota
okoe89 castellum ok ca oe89 stellum
okoy9 castor ok ca oy9 stor
ok98* capella ok ca 98* pella