Apr 23, 2005

The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

"New analysis of a famously cryptic medieval document suggests that it contains nothing but gibberish"


Through the forums at this wonderful site I came across an article about a mysterious medieval cipher manuscript. I've taken the liberty to rewrite the beginning to give you a general idea of the problems and interests at hand:

"In 1912 Wilfrid Voynich made the find of a lifetime: a manuscript some 230 pages long, written in an unusual script and richly illustrated with bizarre images of plants, heavenly spheres and bathing women. Voynich immediately recognized its importance.

During the 1600s, at least two scholars tried to decipher the manuscript, and then it disappeared for nearly 250 years until Voynich unearthed it.

But despite 90 years of effort by some of the world's best code breakers, no one has been able to decipher the script.

The failure of the code-breaking attempts has raised the suspicion that there may not be any message at all, and the manuscript may simply be an elaborate hoax."

I find this both entertaining and interesting. Particularly the conclusion: That the reason we have not cracked the code is because it does not exist - AHAa!! Brilliant. It might even be right.

Also this part is brilliant:

"Most people who have studied it agreed that the text was too complex to be a hoax. I found, however, that this assessment was based on opinion rather than firm evidence. There is no body of expertise on how to mimic a long medieval ciphertext, because there are hardly any examples of such texts, let alone hoaxes of this genre."

From this I will conclude that the reading of medieval ciphertexts is a highly difficult matter to move about in. And quite amusing. Hours of fun. So, dear reader, there's just one thing to it - go explore...


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