New theories have emerged that make it the right time to once again go back to an old favorite, the Voynich Manuscript. Since our Voynich Manuscript episode first published, the inscrutable book has been in the news a lot. What are the latest theories?
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Look up there today is one that has been all over the news recently on September fifth, two thousand and seventeen the Times literary supplement published an article called Voynich manuscript,
The solution by Nicholas gives, which propose
led the coded the voyage manuscripts, ok,
We were immediately sceptical for a few reasons. Why
the Times literary supplement bills itself, as quote the leading international weekly for literary culture. But it's not enough.
they journal or otherwise subject to peer review. So that kind of you know they ve, maybe level
but that doesn't always make it a scientifically representative publisher. Grain of salt.
I'm sort of like when discovery is announced as the press release
the tv show terrain example right and another
is that for a purported solution. It didn't really offer that much detail. The Atlantic has a good round up of various other criticisms and we're gonna linked to that in the show notes
for all that we were sceptical because we ve been through all this before our classic ever
today is actually the twenty fourteen update to our twenty thirteen instalment on the voyage manuscripts. So at the start you will get the here s kind of gleefully talk about two completely can't contradictory solutions and airports that had come out with
just a few weeks of each other at that time. So let's go
welcome to stuff. You missed in history class from Housetop works, dot, com welcomed upon Ass, Tom Tracy, bewildered him, I'm home. We try and we are continuing and doing some updates, because I am being slacker and taking time to be at work for a little while, and so we are updating some of our previous episodes to keep things going in my absence- and this is actually not play to an episode of Holland- I recorded together yeah, which, as we know most of
step as within the last twelve months, and so there's not often and a need to update things
so with the voyage manuscript, which has had multiple
aids for updates. Since it originally came out, I was new information yeah. This came out originally in March. Twenty thirteen, which is a little more than a year ago, said the voice its manuscript. If you
missed out on that episode of the two hundred and forty page book full of illustrations and seemingly indecipherable text latin
The people wrote to us after that episode originally came out remind
of the Ex KGB comic that implies
eyes that it was the equivalent of a fifth, a fifteenth
redundancies and dragons manual. I do love,
hey City, I had just forgotten,
exactly and about it too. So yeah. However, there have been other new developments yet
Two months of twenty fourteen, two completely different teams came up with two completely different theories about the maniac
and both of them were kind of allegedly build is breakthroughs, yes, we're both of them. We got many many many emails and tweets and Facebook notes from people saying they ve, cracked, the voyage manuscript and we were sort of like which one are you talking about again, did not just happened three weeks ago
to as on January twentieth, and that's when the American Botanical Council published a paper in its peer reviewed Journal, which is called herbal. Graham, this was written
botanist Doktor, Arthur O Tucker, as well as Rexrodt H, Talbot in the paper focused on the manuscripts Bhutan
go illustrations instead of doing what a lot of people do, which is a straight up time, trying to decipher the text the to compare the
illustration to one's from other manuscripts that had existed at about the same time that the voyage manuscript was first discovered and
found an illustration that looked very similar to a soap plant that was shown in the Mexican Codex crews body on us.
so using this as a starting point, they reportedly identified thirty seven plan six animals and one mineral from the voyage manuscript. That also appeared in
central and south american texts
for they worked up a theory that this manuscript in an extinct dialect of Mexican, indeed
language known as no model
and then on February, fourteenth, say we're gmo less than a month later. The unit
It's of Bedfordshire Linguistics that Stephen, the professor of applied Linguistics menus.
The code on the voyage manuscript in his
protein conclusions were completely different, except that he had also started with the plants
He looked at many evil, manuscripts and arabic and other languages and started trying to identify the plants and the voice, its manuscript, based on the plants in these other texts and once
had pinned down some of the plants, probable names he started working on deciphering the Tec,
kind of using those plant names, as the key were like the Rosetta stone for his right
based on this work, backs claims that he decoded about ten words and fourteen signs in clusters. Any theory,
is the manuscript is a coded version of a near eastern or asian language, so
two. They can't both be right where they could be both right. If that
does not entirely in one language like that's the only way they were. I worked as if, if it's one text written and multiple languages, that would work right, but he we
so many notes from people who were so excited and so hopeful and eight to burst the bubble. But at the same time this definitely seemed like something we should,
It is our duty to update so
take a moment for a word from our sponsor before we turn you back over to us to talk to you from the past about what we
talked about with avoidance manuscript. Before this episode of stuff you missed in history, glasses brought, you buy Norton three sixty with lifelong, let's just say your shopping online with your smartphone. I do too.
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go to Norton dot com, slash history, that's Norton, Dotcom, slash history for twenty five percent off. Ok here here is our original. From back in March, twenty thirteen observed on the voyage manuscript. Remember them out one of those great history mystery. Yet that's persisted for hundreds of years, which I was one of those because you know once its it just remains a mystery for x amount of time. It's
probably always gonna, be a mystery, and even if it gets solved, I think there will always be detractors, which makes a kind of her, and I it's one of those things that I always am a little bit annoyed at the unintelligent industry, because I wanted to know the real story. I dont know that we ever can cause. There will never probably be an accepted version of the real story right I every a universally accepted. Yes, there would have to be some kind of new discovery on this one. I think so. Yes,
over time. Today is a document called the voyage manuscript you may or may not have heard of it, some sort of code. Breaking fans have have done. A lot of study on at some historians are really into it, but what it is it
No one can wreak yes, it is,
an unknown language d ass, most people consider it to be a cypher text of some sort. Perhaps
could be that it could also be nonsense.
there are the outliers that, like to say aliens brought
but there's some scientific evidence that that is not really the case. So for some basic background Mona, it's actually named after a fairly modern person, Wilfred Voyage, he was an ain't korean bookseller that acquired the text in nineteen twelve
He was polish American and he found it in a Jesuit library, near Rome and purchased at their two hundred,
forty pages long
and written an unknown text, yet it's kind of
pretty and will be to look at. It is a very curly. Its flow
script, it's very pretty and colorful. Yes,
currently housed at Yale and we'll talk about that a little bit later, but they have this great descriptor in their page. About eight, where it says, is drawn in ink with a vibrant washes in various shades of Green brown, yellow blue in red niches, sound, so sweet and quaint the way they describe it as this, and when you look at it, it's both quaint and weird, because.
Illustrated threw out, there are a hundred and thirteen unidentified plant species drawn in there.
Astronomical and astrological drawings. There are basically drawings of some sort of like the botanical slash scientific variety. On almost every page of the thing
some of which is not immediately
No there that's one of the ways that people have tried to approach. It is by identifying some of the plant life that drawn in it and turn
accords engineer in that way, but that hasn't really paying out. There are also some interesting female nudes in its yes, it's interesting. I looked at some of these pictures and I couldn't tell they all have swollen ab demands, but I can't tell if it's trying to depict pregnancy or just the more sort of round body type that has been popular throughout history at certain points lay a little bit hard to know for sure. When I love the Yale description of it, miniature female needs most with swelled AB demands, immersed or waiting in fluids, and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules yeah. I think that's part of what is causing people to want to
attributed to alien origin. It is a little bit
it's all right, freaky, it's odd and just from that description brings up sort of connotations of weird fertility,
something strangeness year, people being strong together. It's it's a little bit weird there also nine Cosmo, logical, medallions and their many of those are huge in their drawn across folded, folio pages and in some cases they may be depicting geographical elements, but,
smart again, I was clear we haven't correct. This
Medicinal herbs and routes which are considered separate from the plant was busy right
and there's no byline. No, we we don't know who wrote it is part of the mystery, so it is currently how's the eel university in the eye pronounced by Nicky rare book and manuscript library and its listed as Emma S, four eight dollars apiece
cool page at Yale that that gives,
information about it and we will link to it from the standards we have started doing with this podcast year like to have a look at more detail about what it looks like it was in their yet they did a wonderful job of breaking down and describing really every element of the book from a minnow and unbiased, pretty neutral standpoint. Just kind of I once more
in a library as doing acquisitions and cataloguing assistance, so their perfect, basically
and yet there are cataloguing is
like an ideal version that you would catalogue, something that you don't understand right, it is, it is a very fascinating marine. There is also linked from there and a chemical analysis of the book itself and with the pages are made even with the answer made a year, which is what kind of
should any of those alien origin theories. Sprayer identified elements from our planet to yes, and we have also scientifically we being other researchers,
divide, the approximately when it was created. There was a two thousand nine University of Arizona project. Researchers.
carbon baited it to the early half of the fifteenth century. So there's a ninety five percent probability that it was
between one thousand four hundred and four and one thousand four hundred and thirty eight I mean that's the basic description of it. So then we're kind of onto
this thing I don't know, and everybody has theories and because it's never proven out everything
their theory might be the right one. Some people think it could be a book of secrets.
its alchemy or some other secret knowledge, and that it is in fact a medieval cipher text that is intended to hide and
prevent others from getting this secret. My lunch
Some have even suggested that it's actually a record of inventions and discoveries of Roger Bacon, who was a fire and scholar in the twelve
its, but that theory has mostly been discounted. There was a very circumstantial thing of there are things in here that he was interested in. So maybe he made this and that's view
is definitely a lot of circumstantial evidence around and all of it every theory about it.
The remnant of an ancient language theory.
doesnt really hold a lot of water. It's one of those things that when you hear linguist experts end cryptography talk about, they immediately will say when you first look at it, it looks like something we should be able to read. It looks like a text, it looks like you know and alphabet, but the
deeper. They get into it the more they realize they can't write. It become sort of more elusive, the more they study it right kind of fats and that's one of those ideas. It's pretty captivating, because languages do go extinct. There are definitely written languages that we have not been able to decipher until we have found some other text that has led us to cypher it. So
I think that's one of those ideas that have a lower to it, but that has not really pan out.
Yeah and one of the one of them.
that kind of discounts. That theory is that normally in any language, the most common words are normally quite short, like the repeated words just like in English would be. You know your,
goal? Are the Gauls propositions, etc? They tend to be compact short little words, and in this particular document the most common words tend to be very long and sort of complicated in comparison to the rest, which
kind of breaks the rules of language, which is one of the things that people who are fond of the Gibraltar theory like to cite
This doesn't make sense as a language. It's probably not
and people of internal decrypting, since at least sixteen hundred we know
Even in or war too army code breakers were just sort of taking a crack at it on the side, and they couldn't make heads nor tails of it. They could
really lake even
You know sort of a toe hold him to be like we think we might now. We have no idea again,
done almost seems suspicious to me that nobody in four hundred plus he hears of trying to analyze this document could really get any sort of.
Positive affirmation that they were on the right track right. They all kind of in depth, throwing up their hands and shake their heads, and I dont know here's one
my favorite. Is it behoves theory? It is John D in case anybody does not recognise. That name was. Is
can a most famous as being the astrologer and an adviser to Queen Elizabeth First and
some people attributed it or want to support the theory that it's actually a hoax that he perpetrated
Remember hearing scholar on this particular tech, say you know
common for, just as its common now for people in business or people of wealth to purchase goods
art. To show
our culture, they are
this time it was similarly popular for people too.
Haven't illuminated text in their home to show that they were cultured, and so it could have been like a money making scheme like about put together a freak look and document that looks like a really cool women, aided text and will do so it to some businessman who wants people who think he's smart.
I kind of love that one yes and another suspect implicated in that is Edward Kelly, who was a hanger on in the Court of Elizabeth One and became very close with John D. Alot of people dismissed him as a charlatan in a fake but John D for some reason really formed an affinity and a close friend
with him one of the things that makes people think that maybe this theory is the right one is that there are no scratch outs or erase yours and, in the whole, entire
the book no, which even
you're copying if you're making a copy of something you have already written out MIKE. I will do that. Sometimes, if I'm writing a letter to somebody with a pen on paper, they'll be copying out something that I've kind of drafted another page. Even then,
I'm point. You made a mistake and yet to either scratch it out or erase it, and there is none of that at all, so it it does not seem like somebody was actually trying to make an accurate set of words on the paper. Thea
you would eventually hit something where you would have to
get rid of it or clarify right in some way. The big proponent of this theory is Gordon Rug and his head of the knowledge modeling group at Keel University in Staffordshire England and he's done some interesting, almost a third of computer science approaches to analyzing and recreating similar documents where he lays out letters on a grid and
created this little like a card that you can lay on top of the grid and it has three cut out, and so in that grid he's put in Ito character similar to the ones in this document and just by moving that card around and writing out in order. Whatever characters happened to land in your open spaces, you can create this gibberish. That looks really realistic and really like a language
and he kind of believes this supports again the the jib
this theory, rather than being a cypher that seen a well thought out. Yes, this episode of stuff, you missed in history classes, brought to you by Norton three sixty with lifelong, wealthier shopping online with your smartphone. Its super feels like ear. Personal information is just right there in your hand, but that's not always the case, because, as soon as you hit submit, your personal information could start going other places. In fact, whenever you shop Bank or browse online, your personal invoking get out of your control, and that can we be vulnerable to cyber criminals. More threats demand more protection. That's why Norton and life lot are now part of one company Norton. Three sixty with lifelike is an all in one membership for your cyber safety that gives you device security, identity theft, protection and a VP end for online privacy. No one can prevent all cybercrime and identity theft, but Norton three sixty with lifelike as your ally in today's connected world, because your information is out there sign up for Norton three sixty with lifelike today and save twenty five percent or
or off your first year go to Norton dot com, slash history, that's Norton, DOT, com, slash history for twenty five percent off another moment theories about us. There are, and what I mean we could go on for days and days about all of the theory, sewer kind of hitting the high notes on this one. Here there is, there is a prayer book theory about you know in some kind of germanic, slash romance creole. Do you have
like what what has led to the idea of the prayer. Bettina, I think it's because it has ever been decrypting. They kind of holds popularity with people that want to think it is a cypher text and that its upper book of the catheters, the somehow man
to survive the inquisition when everything else was being burnt sea because everything else was burnt, there's nothing else to possibly give us the key to the grip this right. So that's that's not a very popular one. I just thought it was interesting.
and at one point people were even kind of suspicious that
he himself had assembled the book to create a foe, valuable for his antiquities collection but carbon dating because the the paper is from the
The fourteen hundreds hundred and the banks are outdated further back here,
to really be scientifically pretty magic, also full arrive so that it
If he had dried do. If there had been a forgery, they would have been a
using information he would not have had really at a time, and what truly interesting is that it's changed hands quite a number of times, the first one that
will mention is actually one of those circumstantial things so allegedly owned by John D. We talked about earlier yeah and it was-
from D. We know by Emperor Reed off the second of Germany, so the holy roman emperor, four six hundred gold took it switches, roughly thirty thousand dollars into
its economy just makes me annoyed thinking that it was potentially the writings of Roger Bacon and the circumstantial evidence that supports this idea that he bought it from d and not from someone else. Is that their accounts that mention de having come into a sum of money? That's just a little bit bigger than this. I want to say it six, six hundred and fifteen or six hundred and eighteen, and I believe it's Johnny son that wrote some of those at least so it's kind of like well. We know that it was purchased for this amount around this time, and we know that suddenly, this guy had this amount of money in his pocket at this time, right that that reminds me of one of them
please proceed? Roll Chen? I have the person in the room and they're like okay. We know this guy bought these documents for thirty thousand dollars, and you magically have a thirty thousand dollars bank deposit
exactly it's that is as far as we can get in terms of veracity with this one, and then it appears it.
Emperor Rudolf gave the manuscript Jacob s horse
keep the tap annex am. I may be mispronouncing any of that and then
Strange is based on an inscription. That's visible in the document in the on Folio one are, but you have
Read it with ultraviolet light. So that's ink that has faded off and that's all sort of left is the the
Michael shadow right. That was one of the things that they found and documented during the chemical analysis that we are talking about a little bit earlier. One of the things that I read in that analysis that oppose Nicole was that an acid wash had been used on the pages, possibly to bring out the vibrancy of the ink, but that that may have then why
away other riding in the book. So it's
it's not really that, but that was written in an ink.
Required ultraviolet light to see at a time it's ink that has made the point that that's the only way to see it,
destroyed through time an era treatment through the ages.
That does not in any way support the secret or alien theory right there's. There are some gaps in the timeline of where it's been.
but we do know that
It was given to
Athanasius culture in sixteen sixty six by Johan US, Marcus, Marcy of Cromwell End and then there's another little kind of we're, not sure what happened there were or where the book was. We do know that during some of these trade offs, people were trying to get people to de crypt this text. So that's why we say for more than four hundred years, people have been trying to figure it out,
It seems send us because it's the first time we hear about it again. After again, there were many other things happening ass after a gap of tuna to fit a year. Yeah then, when it found it in the less I set a Jesuit college near Rome
and then in nineteen, sixty nine. It was given to the Beneke Library by an Hp Kraus who had purchased it from these
of voyages widow.
It had passed her and then her
secular ended up so
yet to this person now, basically,
the today near in December, twenty eleven, a finnish business men may named Vigo all at Viola I may have missed, pronounced that
claim that he was a profit of God whom he had been given divine insight into the contents of this manuscript, probably
not true, well
People question his
since May, of course want some back up on this.
Never happens. He has an associate named Arica Toller, who is pretty much handling pr for him.
and his statement in an interview is that Mr Latvala said that no no one normal human can decode it, because there is no code or method to read this text. It's a channel language of prophecy and the basically God had told him what it meant and that there is no way to decrypt it. There is no cipher for it.
To trust him that God told him this right and he
he says it's a bought me journal, basically, which
it's kind of funny that that's kind of a mundane thing to say after gone told me it's about me journal. I had a divine revelation of this extremely organ.
a website that maintained around him, but he really. This is
trees. You mention in December of twenty eleven and then he really hasn't gotten much press pass them like nobody's, really paid a whole lot of attention to his claims anymore. So that's where it stands still a mystery. It still at Yale, I think, to see it. You would have to jump through some hoops
Parliament special collection, often the case with special collection, yet any really difficult to get actual physical access to the manuscript. Unless you have a reason to me there yet, but the Good NEWS is there are lots
scams and voters of online. So, if your curious about it, you can really easily find pictures of it. Yes, we'll put there's an hour sure nuts also yet find them, and it's interesting, because it's one of those things to me that, even if it is a hoax, it's now become really historically significant. In that
one just the idea that it could be a hoax perpetrated by a fairly famous historical facts.
kind of makes it interesting in and of itself
but also just that. So many people have spent so many
trying to decipher it and reveal its meaning.
Kind of has a meaning in and of itself. For me, like it, says a lot about our desire to just crack unknown
things and sort of our our persistence. In doing so, so you will see if there's someone who magically cracks it, I will be a front and say I tend to favour favoured the debrief theories
in all of that will change, there would have to be sort of errors, as raised rose at a stone
could come to light in all that will change. It would have to be sort of errors at us. Raise Rosetta stone for thou in its main is yes to really figure out. If it says anything should be awfully cool, it would be both coolants. Add one
opposite to what I said at the beginning of unsolved. Mystery is getting a minor, yet that sort of thing that I've noticed doing research on this is it even when there are pretty solid you, no peace,
I don't say evidence, but pretty solid. Supporting
the man who has been able to replicate pretty similar gibberish texts, people don't
really want to accept it. There are entire message boards and
online group surrounding this manuscript, because it is so sort of engrossing in engaging for people that love Cypher
Exton in the idea of a mystery and it's interesting to watch them debate and some of them will be like yeah, I see in his methods or sound and then I'll make sense, but I don't believe it
like they. Just don't want to believe it reaches its destiny,
because nobody wants can lose the mystery. I think at this point right after its after on on four cemetery, hundreds of years, it's kind of way giving up a good friend of coupling pay. Since these episodes that we're sharing our past classics, wearisome, updated information that will supersede the context up. You ve heard before you, wanna email us are email address. Is history, Podcast House works, dot com and you can find us across the spectrum of social media. As Mr History, you can also find us at missed in history, dot com and you can visit our parent company house to works at Housetop works, dark hot for more or less had thousands of other topics. Visit has stuff works, tat, calm, the future is closer than you think, and it all starts in the palm of your hand. You may have heard the news five g is coming in this new. I hot series this time tomorrow, presented by team above a business join me, as will ocean
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