It was written 600 years ago. It’s 234 pages long. It’s been studied by cryptographers and codebreakers alike. And yet, we still have no idea what any of it means.
This is the Voynich manuscript.
The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II.
The manuscript has never been demonstrably deciphered, and none of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years have been independently verified. The mystery of its meaning and origin has excited the popular imagination, making it the subject of study and speculation.
The book seems to be divided into six sections of drawings and text, pertaining to: 1) Botany 2) Astronomy 3) Biology 4) Cosmology 5) Pharmacology (like medical herbs) 6) Strange recipes.
The book was put together between the years 1404 and 1438. The author used 14 calfskins to make the pages, and the ink was made from a mix of nuts, eggs, fruit peels, and wine.
Until the early 1900s, the book didn’t receive much publicity, until Polish book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, the work’s namesake, bought it in 1912. After his death in 1930, it was bought and sold several times until landing at Yale University in 1969, where it still sits today.
Some say that it may be an elaborate hoax, since so many have failed to decipher it. Nevertheless, it is intriguing and a mystery that remains to be solved!
As we reach the end of this Gregorian year, I wonder how 2022 will look like. How will it play out – remote work and Corona wave XI? Or recovery and full steam ahead? We don’t know. We didn’t know when we celebrated the beginning of a new decade in 2020, that three months later we would be staring at a pandemic that has changed many aspects of the way we live and work.
Since then, I don’t speculate much on what the coming years hold. Instead, we should resolve to make the best of it. I for one am looking forward to a lot of exciting developments on the personal and the work front. Also a new series, that I will unveil in the coming days.
Life is like this Voynich manuscript. A lot to read, but most of it cryptic. Maybe it’s better to just enjoy the drawings and savor the mystery, rather than trying to solve it!
What about you?