Saturday, January 5, 2019

The perfect code

“The Voynich Code: The World´s Most Mysterious Manuscript” is an interesting documentary about a peculiar old book discovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish national living in Britain.

The book, originally believed to be from the 16th or early 17th century, is written in an unknown language. Many researchers assume that it´s a code of some sort, but so far nobody has been able to crack it, not even expert cryptographers active during the world wars. This has led some to suggest that the manuscript is a hoax. One prime suspect would be Voynich himself, since the volume contains a letter claiming that the famous 13th century British polymath Roger Bacon is the author – obviously, a previously unknown work by Bacon would be worth a fortune.

A more charitable view is that the Voynich Manuscript was forged during the late 16th or early 17th centuries. There *is* a prime suspect: none other than Edward Kelley, the fake medium (or perhaps on-off fake medium) who worked with magus extraordinaire John Dee. Both Dee and Kelley were connected to the occult milieu around Habsburg emperor Rudolf II´s court in Prague, and evidence points to the Voynich Manuscript being in the emperor´s possession. Did Kelley write it in order to get ready cash from the gullible Rudolf? If so, the “code” is really gibberish.

The documentary ends with a surprise: carbon testing of the manuscript shows it to be from the early 15th century, much too early for Kelley to have produced it. On internal evidence, the manuscript is from Northern Italy. The researchers interviewed feel that the pictures look more “medieval” than early modern, which also points to the time-period mentioned. Unless it´s a hoax, it could be a work of herb lore and natural magic, encrypted to avoid the prying eyes of the Inquisition or competing scientists/magicians.

Personally, I find it fascinating that still today, in the internet age, nobody has been able to read this particular material. A good reminder that we don´t know everything, and probably never will…



    A recent attempt to decode the manuscript, claiming it´s written in Turkish.

  2. This proves God exists. Or something.