17 February 2011

It Must Be Valuable If a Guy Could Get 600 Ducats from the Emperor for It

The Voynich Manuscript, now in the collections of Yale University, is getting a lot of press because radiocarbon dating has determined it to be 600 years old…or about as old as the historical record would suggest.

The English astrologer John Dee owned this notebook in the 1500s, but didn’t create it since he couldn’t figure out what it said. He sold it to the Holy Roman Emperor. No one’s ever figured out the code that the pages are written in, or how those symbols relate to the elaborate drawings around them.

According to the university, the volume contains:

1) botanicals containing drawings of 113 unidentified plant species;

2) astronomical and astrological drawings including astral charts with radiating circles, suns and moons, Zodiac symbols such as fish (Pisces), a bull (Taurus), and an archer (Sagittarius), nude females emerging from pipes or chimneys, and courtly figures;

3) a biological section containing a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules;

4) an elaborate array of nine cosmological medallions, many drawn across several folded folios and depicting possible geographical forms;

5) pharmaceutical drawings of over 100 different species of medicinal herbs and roots portrayed with jars or vessels in red, blue, or green, and

6) continuous pages of text, possibly recipes, with star-like flowers marking each entry in the margins.
This sounds like a mediocre but financially successful Nicholas Cage movie waiting to happen.


T-Rex said...

Roar! I wonder if in 600 years people will look at this the same way? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Seraphinianus

J. L. Bell said...

Was that art project created in imitation of the Voynich Manuscript?

(Of course, the Voynich Manuscript could have been created in imitation of some previous codex.)

J. L. Bell said...

The Yale Daily News offers more detail on the new testing of the manuscript, as well as a page from a recent Avengers comic book about it. (I’m always glad to see the Vision looking well.)