• Eccentricity

    • A researcher has been able to read a handful of words in this book, which has defied the world's most brilliant palaeographers and linguists .

    The book nobody can read: what secrets does the Voynich manuscript hide? / 

    The Voynich manuscript is one of the most coveted bibliographic treasures, a secret password only the knowledgeable have access to: its origins (medieval according to specialists) have been linked to Leonardo Da Vinci, the Aztecs, the Cathars, the lost tribe of Israel, Francis Bacon, secret orders, Arab telepaths and even alien civilizations. The language that flows through its illustrated pages resembles, in general, many human languages, but so far it has not been translated into another.

    What is the purpose of a book that cannot be read? It is precisely the treasure of the unknown that bibliophiles, collectors and linguists alike have tried to discover in its parchment pages. The fictional solutions of the enigma led Indiana Jones, possibly the most famous explorer to reach the desirable philosopher’s stone of the alchemists, and since the fifteenth century the manuscript has appeared in letters, libraries’ catalogues and national libraries, thus harvesting its quota of impossible and perplexed readers.

    However, a scholar from Bedfordshire University, England, claims he has penetrated the surface of the text just enough to extract a close translation of ten of its words. This event could be compared to the enthusiasm that the first readers of the Rosetta Stone experienced just over a century ago, since it hid the key to decipher the language of Ancient Egypt: the illustrations of exotic plants, the stellar formations and the human representations found in the Voynich manuscript seem to be at the reach of our hands, or eyes, if scholars are actually able to decode the descriptions it contains in its made-up language.

    Stephen Bax, expert in Semitic languages, moved specialists when he revealed a handful of words: “Taurus”, “cilantro”, “hellebore” and “juniper”.

    Is this a shopping list full of luxury goods, an astral catalogue, an inventory of magical plants to conjure spirits? Nobodyknows yet. Bax’ method consisted of identifying names that appear in the text on several occasions, following historical comparatives with Arabic manuscripts written during the same period. In addition to plants, the seven stars of the Pleiades.

    A work of this magnitude requires the labor of more than one man. “My objective is to encourage other linguists to work with me to decipher the sequence… In this way, perhaps we will be able to understand what its mysterious authors were trying to tell us.”

    There is a small glimmer of hope: this is not a hoax or a joke, as many believed for centuries. The Voynich language, as any other code, has rules; understanding these rules will allow us to transit through its jumbled pages as if this was a city we knew by heart. In the meantime, its heavy pages lock secrets as if they were treasures, since its code remains impassable.

    Tagged: Voynich manuscript, books, Eccentricity