A 15th-century illustrated book known as the Voynich Manuscript has rebuffed all attempts to crack its code and remains literature’s greatest mystery.
Where did the Voynich Manuscript come from?
The Manuscript belonged to Emperor Rudolph II of Germany who bought it for 600 gold ducats and it has been carbon dated to the early 15th century.
It became famous when it was rediscovered by Wilfrid Voynich, a rare books dealer based in London, who purchased it in Italy.
A puzzle with no solution
The document contains beautiful pictures punctuated with handwritten Latin letters, Arabic numbers, and unknown characters.
But any attempt to decipher the meaning of the book has been unsuccessful, giving the book an aura of mystery.
Over the years more than 60 experts have claimed to ‘crack’ the code, only to see their solutions debunked and it remains the Holy Grail for cryptologists.
Even Artificial Intelligence couldn’t get the better of the mystery despite the best efforts of scientists from the University of Alberta.
The latest hypothesis for the Voynich Manuscript’s meaning
The latest man to propose a solution is German egyptologist Rainer Hannig, who believes the book is written in a form of Hebrew.
He writes: “The actual translation of the Voynich book will need a couple of years’ work, even if specialists in Hebrew language, who are well versed in mediaeval Hebrew and the terminology of botanical and medical texts, take over the analysis,” Hannig writes.
“The character of the script, the pronunciation which one needs to get used to, the peculiarity and the vocabulary of the period will cause a lot of trouble even to a native speaker.”
However, the Hebrew hypothesis has met with cynicism from other experts in the field who feel there are many inconsistencies.
One insists that Hannig’s chosen translation relies on using Hebrew words that are almost never used and that large sections are nonsensical when treated as ancient Hebrew.
Voynich Manuscript could be a hoax
Some have even suggested that the entire Manuscript is a hoax. This would certainly explain why nobody has been able to make sense of the work and would rate as one of history’s greatest ever pranks.
One thing is certain, however, cryptologists will continue to pursue the solution for many years to come.
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