The mystery of the “Voynich Manuscript”

Voynich Manuscript facsimile

The Voynich Manuscript, is the most mysterious Manuscript in the world.
Its cryptic content has been studied for centuries but neither scientists, historians, palaeontologists and calligraphers have ever accomplished any results.

On the 14 October 2019, in occasion of the donation of the Manuscript’s copy by Yale University to Villa Mondragone, the Rector Magnificent of the University of Roma Tor Vergata has organised a Lectio taught by Alain Touwaide, historian of medicine and sciences and currently professor at UCLA ( University of California, Los Angeles).

240 pages of mystery, bound in kid leather, written in an unknown alphabet and ornamented with illustrations of plants, astronomy, female and esoteric icons.
But even though a kaleidoscope of 25 studies have been conducted over this manuscript, and a lot of scientists thought to be closed to the solution, no one really understood what is written inside or even who wrote it, it is still a mystery.

Until recently, even the periodization of the Manuscript was unknown.
Some currents of thoughts believed that was written by the Easter Island population, a Coven of three Italian witches, or even the Martians.
But a great success has been recently accomplished.
In fact, thanks to the analysis done by using Carbon 14, scientists dated it in the period between 1408 and 1436.

Firstly, it is important to know the origin of its name. Indeed, it is been so-called after the name of the polish antiquarian, revolutionary and bibliophile Wilfrid Voynich, who bought the Manuscript at the Jesuit Villa Mondragone (Monte Porzio Catone) in 1912.

Villa Mondragone, Monte Porzio Catone

Alain Touwaide starting from this date, continued his inverted periodization.
Inside the Manuscript in fact, Voynich found a letter of the 16th century written by the Rector of the University of Prague Jan Marek Marci, to the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher to help him decipher.
Afterward, it has been discovered that it is supposed to be an Herbarium book bought from Rudolf II of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1576 to 1612.

Some currents of thought believe that the manuscript was a fake book created by the English alchemist John Dee to defraud the Emperor, who bought it believing to be a work of the philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon.
Since the recurring presence of figures representing plants and female icons accompanied by the element of water, the theory that is an ancient Herbarium for medical purposes has been and still is one of the most convincing hypothesis.

On the other hand, the idea that the same Sir.Voynich did it, it is still an option to consider. And so, another mystery starts.
The Manuscript, in fact, seems to be written and painted by two or even three different hands, because of the substantial difference between the perfect calligraphy and the very imprecise drawings.
There is also the belief that the same wife of Voynich, Ethel Lilian Voynich, has been a helper on creating it, and just like the famous writer Virginia Woolf cites:“behind every great man there is a great woman”.

But why the hypothesis that the Manuscript of Voynich is a fake is still very high?

As Professor A.Touwaide showed us during the Lectio, all that precision in the writing but at the same time imprecise drawings, seem to be just a result of a great deal of effort in making the manuscript a credible work.

Regardless of what the Manuscript of Voynich is, as the Professor of Modern History Marina Formica of the University of Rome Tor Vergata said, it will always be a great work which has been able, for centuries, to create dismay and mystery.

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