A unique rarity, the most mysterious manuscript in the world, which no one can decipher till today, is known as the Voynich Manuscript – book, written in an unknown language, by an unknown author. It is kept in the library of Yale University (USA). It represents a book with size of 22.5 to 16 centimeters. Initially the manuscript contained 262 pages, but 14 of them have been lost. Pages are numbered in a standard way – in Arabic numerals. The text was written by a quill pen in ink, in an unknown language with an unknown alphabet, which comprises from 23 to 30 letters, forming 250 thousand words (about 40 thousand different). Almost every page contains illustrations for creation of which the unknown author used paints of five colors – green, brown, yellow, blue and red. They are still vibrant. The first mention of the manuscript belongs to the XVII century. Special radiocarbon analysis of the parchment dates the paper to 1404-1438 years.
The manuscript has received its name from an American antiquarian and bibliophile Wilfrid Voynich. In 1912 he bought it from the monks of the Jesuit School of Mondragon in the Italian town of Frascati. He found a letter attached between the pages, dated by 1666 year. It was a message from the rector of the University of Prague. It said that Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (who ruled from 1576 till 1612), bought the manuscript for 600 ducats – about three and a half kilograms of gold. What is so valuable hidden behind these mysterious calligraphic texts?
Some letters are similar to Greek or Latin, but most hieroglyphs are hitherto not found in any other book. Various scientists and researchers have been trying to decipher the manuscript. Most various versions were considered – a meaningless pseudo text composed by the medieval alchemist; incredibly complex code of unknown origin; lost language. In 1998 it was created a so-called European Voynich Alphabet, which offers Latin equivalent for each symbol of the document. Thus, there were 25 lowercase letters and 12 uppercase letters. Of course it is conditional alphabet. This helps in the research however, does not provide a reasonable explanation. There is also a hypothesis that several languages form the ciphered text.
Thanks to illustrations, we can say that the book contains several sections, different in style and content. Tentatively there are the following sections – botanical, biological, astronomical, cosmological and pharmaceutical. Scientists have identified 37 species of plants of the 303 painted in the manuscript, 6 species of animals and one mineral. In addition, the document contains numerous drawings of women, diagrams, spirals of stars, images of pharmaceutical containers.
After the death of Voynich in 1961, his widow Ethel Lilian Voynich (Anglo-Irish novelist and musician, author of novel “The Gadfly”) sold the book to another bookseller Hanse P. Kraus. In 1969, when he couldn’t find a buyer, Kraus presented the manuscript to Yale University.
After so many years the book still carries a lot of mysteries – who is its author, what kind of language or code was used, the identified plants couldn’t exist in the time of creation of the book (some of which were described only in the XX century). There is a version that the parchment was really made at the beginning of the XV century, but was used many years later. But these are only versions and guesses.