First words in mysterious Voynich Manuscript decoded
We’ve got to hand it to the persistent and determined researchers who have not given up hope of decoding the enigmatic Voynich manuscript despite dozens of studies over the last few decades, many of which have provided clues, but none of which have solved the mystery. Could the latest study finally bring us one step closer to understanding this mysterious text?
The 15th Century Voynich manuscript is considered to be the most mysterious text ever uncovered as it has never been deciphered despite over a century of attempts to uncover its meaning and more than 25 different analyses from top minds around the world. This has led some to claim that the Voynich manuscript is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. The 240 page book, which uses a cryptic language and numerous illustrations depicting astronomical, biological, cosmological, herbal and pharmaceutical themes, was discovered in 1912 by a Polish-American named Wilfrid M. Voynich. While the manuscript appears to be written in an unknown language, latest finding supports the hypothesis that there are meaningful words and messages within the text.
Latest research also supports this perspective. Stephen Bax, a professor of applied linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire in England, says he's deciphered 14 characters of the script and can read a handful of items in the Voynich text, such as the words for coriander, hellebore and juniper next to drawings of the plants. He says he's also picked out the word for Taurus written beside an illustration of the Pleiades, a star cluster in the constellation Taurus.
"I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script," Bax said in a statement.
"The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants," Bax added. "I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at medieval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results."
Bax’s research is the second study in the last month to investigate the enigma of the Voynich manuscript. A couple of weeks ago, we reported on a study which found a link between illustrations of plants in the manuscript and depictions in 16th century records from Mexico of plants native to Central America, suggesting a new origin for the text.
Bax notes that the manuscript is still a long way from being understood, and that he is coming forward with what he's found thus far in the hopes that other linguists will work with him to crack the code. For now, he thinks the book is "probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language."
Mr Bax has explained his findings in the below video: