education">Hoax, gibberish or perhaps even the work of aliens, the Voynich manuscript has been baffling scholars for years. But now a botanist says he has unravelled the mystery of the untranslatable document, claiming that the medieval text is written in a language from central
Looking at the plants illustrated in the manuscript,
"Both depictions have a large, broad, gray-to-whitish basal woody caudices with ridged bark and a portrayal of broken coarse roots that resemble toenails," write the scientists in a paper published in the journal of the
The enigmatic manuscript, which is dated to the 15th or 16th century, is filled with botanical, figurative and scientific drawings accompanied with undecipherable text. Running to more than 200 pages, it was bought for 600 gold ducats by Emperor Rudolph II of
Previous Voynich researchers have assumed the manuscript has a European origin, but after studying the plants, Tucker and Talbert suggest it might come from
In total, they believe they have linked 37 of the 303 plants drawn in the Voynich manuscript, six animals and one mineral to the geographical region "from
They say the style of the drawings in the Voynich manuscript is also similar to 16th-century codices from
The botanists have met with some scepticism.
But Tucker believes the identification of the viola bicolor is crucial: he says the distinction between the viola bicolor and tricolor was only clarified in the 20th century, and meanwhile the Codex Cruz-Badianus was not discovered in
Tucker says his paper "was primarily written to propose a new paradigm, since over a hundred years of fiddling around has not deciphered one word that matches the plants, and the plants that have been identified by others suffered by the a priori assumption that this was European".
"Right now we are pursuing other lines of evidence that will be more definite and not subject to interpretation as identification is," he said. "However, there is still the main text to decipher, and until this is deciphered, we have not truly unlocked it."
In their paper, Tucker and Talbert acknowledge that "because we have been trained as botanists and horticulturists, not linguists, our feeble attempts at a syllabary/alphabet for the language in the Voynich manuscript must be interpreted merely as a key for future researchers, not a fait accompli. Much, much work remains to be done, and hypotheses will be advanced for years," they write.
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