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.

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Quality control operator of the Spanish publishing outfit Siloe Luis Miguel works on cloning the illustrated codex hand-written manuscript Voynich in Burgos on August 9, 2016. The so-called Voynich Manuscript, a small unassuming book usually stored in a Yale University vault, is one of the most mysterious books in the world, that a small publishing house in northern Spain has finally secured the right to clone. The precious document containing elegant writing and strange drawings of unidentified plants and naked women is believed to have been written six centuries ago in an unknown or coded language that no one — not even the best cryptographers — has ever cracked. / AFP / CESAR MANSO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MARIANNE BARRIAUX – (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

SPAIN-VOYNICH-BOOK-MYSTERY
Luis Miguel quality control operator of the Spanish publishing Siloe working on cloning the ‘Codex Voynich’ Yale University, in Burgos province on August 9, 2016. The ‘Codex Voynich’ is an enigma in a book of 234 pages and since more than 50 years ago this on the shelves of the Beinecke library at Yale University in waiting for someone to solve its mystery. The so-called Voynich Manuscript, a small unassuming book usually stored in a Yale University vault, is one of the most mysterious books in the world, that a small publishing house in northern Spain has finally secured the right to clone. The precious document containing elegant writing and strange drawings of unidentified plants and naked women is believed to have been written six centuries ago in an unknown or coded language that no one — not even the best cryptographers — has ever cracked. / AFP / CESAR MANSO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MARIANNE BARRIAUX – (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

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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