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Ancient Cryptography » Ancient Texts » Voynich Manuscript » Lets look at the Voynich

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Lets look at the Voynich
« on: June 05, 2009, 09:09:37 AM »
Everyone under the sun seems to have a theory about this 'cipher' -

It can be found here -

before I give my twopence worth -
Aaron is it possible to download the EVA font to use in here?

You'll find it here -
« Last Edit: June 05, 2009, 09:47:08 AM by tonybaloney »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2009, 03:44:28 AM »
twopence worth - ha - maybe the crown jewels

qokeody okeody - higgledy piggledy - helter skelter - flim flam man

I'm like a kid with a new toy !

eyesights not so good - is that really a crown with sparkling jewels or a cap with glittering bells

can't quite see it all yet , nearly there.....

I really should get out more


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2009, 02:16:20 PM »
Cipher, hoax, universal language, unknown plaintext???

Let’s see if we can find out!!

The standard alphabet of the time –


(J,K,V,W,Y & Z were not included) 2 more characters (abbreviations) were often tacked on the end (‘9’ and ‘&’)

Latin frqcy’s taken from the 1,000 most common Latin words –

I 11.4   M 7.4   L 3.7   B 1.3   

U 10.9   T 7.1   C 3.4   F 1

E 10.6   R 6.5   P 2.9   G 0.9   

A  8.3   O 6.4   D 2.6   H 0.8   

S  7.6   N 5.3   Q 1.8   X 0.3   

(this is only a rough guide as it does not take account of repetition of common words etc. – it will do for now after all it might be in Hindi, Chinese, Arabic, Vulcan or God knows what – it is not in Elgarese!)

Following are the Voynich frqcy’s (I'll do it my way) –

Print out a page of the VM to it’s actual size and see how small the handwriting is – it does not leave much room for the finer details!!

Anyone wishing to follow and help in this should make a copy of the alphabets on p.164 of ‘The Alphabet an account of the origin and development of letters’ by Isaac Taylor – you’ll find it here –,M1

I had to trace this off the screen as it wouldn’t print out?!

Print out –

f. 148v of “Treatises on medicine” 1145 which will be found here -

& this –

isn’t this exciting – more soon   


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2009, 05:30:56 AM »
Hang em high – what are the ‘gallows’ –

Nothing more than 3 letters in a row – first he writes ‘e’ then ‘?’ then ‘t’ and draws the ‘t’ crossbar backwards through the preceding letter ‘?’

So we have e,c and t all looking the same – the combined Latin frqcy of these 3 letters is 21.1% the combined frqcy of all EVA c and h is 20.8% - not only that but ‘et’ and ‘est’ are 2 of the most frequently used Latin words and EVA c & h are the most common combinations in the VM – bingo! So far so good!

It is said that despite all the effort thrown into solving this cipher not a single word has been read – do we now have two?
The very first word on the first page, I believe is ‘Factum 2’ – does that make it three! Lets make it 4 as we can now find ‘este’.
I digress -

Now draw the ‘Irish Unical’ or the ‘Caroline Miniscule’ alphabet (they’re almost identical) with a backwards sloping hand (note the forward sloping hand in bottom half of ‘Treatises on Medicine’ f148v – although this MS is in a different script altogether it clearly shows the difficulty of separating the i’s, n’s and m’s particularly in the sloping hand section – it also shows a likeness to VM f49v with the embellished initials running down the side spelling out another word – I should state here I don’t understand Latin, despite the best efforts of Mr. Sawtell and his cane! it’s the best I can do to make out the odd word here and there – note the middle word in the fifth line up from the bottom ‘ptori’ the little arc over the p presumably is an abbreviation for ‘re’ and the ascender on the end ‘us’ so it reads ‘pretorius’ – the word beneath ‘umdificat’?? the abbreviation above it is to show that this is an ‘m’ imagine continuing that arc down and you have the EVA ‘iin’) more on that later.

Always remember to cross your t’s and dot your i’s

Can anyone tell me what the second word is in the fourth line from the top ‘fe8s’?

Apologies for the quality of the sketches but I haven’t got a scanner and am having to use ‘paint’ & draw with a mouse?!

You’re sloping backhand Early Gallic uncial, Irish uncial or  Caroline miniscule (Carol was the name of my first love – 45 years ago – funny how the mind works - I digress) should look like the following –

The second row – sloping back hand
Third row – add a few flourishes
Hey presto – the Voynich alphabet (give or take a couple of errors)

Here’s an example where the scribe is copying the top line -

The second line is his sloping back hand with Latin abbreviations
The third line he adds his flourishes – possibly after finishing the line or possibly as he went along
Fourth line is just the third shrunk down to look more like the Voynich script size (it’s still too large)

Compare MS 1542 – the final line ‘Accepta sit in conspectus tuo’ (I think it says) – I just want to draw your attention to the ‘ect’ in there – also look at the letter R’s – all start below the base line just as the EVA L does, this is why I put it as the R – this MS also shows how a capital letter was used at the start of a paragraph (usually more embellished than here) – what are all those dots with a tick over them, are they some kind of punctuation?? – what is the bar over the bold V near the end of the first paragraph, it struck me that if the bar went under the V it would look similar to the unusual bold red symbol on VM f1?? –

To be cont’d.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2009, 06:51:33 AM »
I’ve convinced myself the foregoing is how the VM was written – it explains the flow of the script etc.
In the alphabet given the D & S (& possibly the B) characters look very similar – the C & E also – I, M, N & U present the usual problems – not sure what he’s done with the H – and some of the flourishes may be ascenders – a C or E with a flourish or ascender can also look like an L etc. etc.

Now can we read it?

For simplicities sake in the following I have replaced all prefix ‘9’ with con (it could be ‘cum’ or ‘com’) and all suffix ‘9’ with ‘um’ (could also be ‘us’)

VM f.1 Factum 2 connai ai amam estor estoi emtici connoi estordum/estorsum loirum entai oium nan etmam estai aic/aie emtai dai/sai ......

Oops – it was going so well!

Several possibilities –
the above may mean something to somebody (it means nothing to me)
it’s gibberish (all made up like the plant drawings)
it contains a simple cipher (such as swapping vowels around etc.)
it contains null words
I’ve got it all wrong

Of the above 5 possibilities, the only one I can discount at the moment is the latter – further investigation needed
To be cont’d


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2009, 09:29:50 AM »
Regarding the plaintext R (EVA L) – this is definitely R as it starts below the base line – I’ve just noticed that EVA R (bottom right first diag) also starts below the base line some of the time – this should also be considered R in those instances

On VM f.67v is a circle divided into 12 (possibly months/Zodiac signs) counting round from the one slightly left of top centre to the 10th segment it plainly says ‘Octobare’ yet the other ones seem to make no sense –

Me thinks this scribe is having a laugh like with the plant drawings?!

He doth task me


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2009, 10:17:11 AM »
Still not seeing the Octobare in that, but, for what it's worth, it looks like there is a similar word on the Libra page (left side of the p 73 spread). It's found three women back from the woman with the crown on the outside circle.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2009, 10:58:14 AM »
f.67v in the perimeter outer circle at 7 o'clock - looks like 'occo8aic' - which reads 'octobare' with the alphabet previously given - I'm not just looking for individual words here and there to fit - I just think the tenth month in the tenth position a bit too coincidental.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2009, 11:07:05 AM »
Yes, I know what you're looking for. If you look at the page across, it looks even closer, with octobar in the tenth position (under a yellow moon). I mentioned the libra "star" (woman) because if there is a correlation between the starting letters and a star name, you might be able to correlate the other stars, thus refining an alphabet.

On that note, the word in the third position of the facing page (under a red moon) could be Martius or some variation thereof.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2009, 11:37:15 AM by Phil_The_Rodent »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2009, 11:58:18 AM »
Phil - exactly which pages are you referring to? please give page numbers


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2009, 12:02:24 PM »
I thought we were looking at page 67.

Hopefully this link will work to show you the pages I was looking at.

I might not have seen your word as your page reference number is different. I was just looking at the corner of the page.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2009, 03:09:51 PM »
Sorry, I haven't figured out how to be automatically notified of new threads and their replies, but notification for this thread is on now. I'll look into the font thing, but I'm not sure if one can choose custom-installed fonts when posting. Usually such fonts have to be installed on the user's machine.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2009, 02:55:33 AM »

Having practised with a quill pen and managed to get ink blotches everywhere ... although leaving a lot to be desired the above is probably nearer the mark than previously given – though I’m not happy why the P is capitalised in the middle of words (think its probably F as well and it doesn’t matter how many loops) & are the ‘gallows’ that start a word the same as those that don’t?? – above clearly shows why there are at least 2 ways of forming the ‘8’ so its no use analysing them as all the same.

Frequencies – considering the ‘9’ will represent 2 letters as a suffix & 3 letters as a prefix – and the ‘gallows’ probably 4 letters – & EVA ‘sh’ 3 letters, 4(qu) 2 letters – the percentages all change – promising is that Q now falls around its correct 2% mark but O is still double what it should be!! (some early ciphers only altered the vowels)

Aim at the moment is to try and decide what the characters actually are when the flourishes are removed – what is a flourish, what is an abbreviation mark etc – only then can we decide if it’s a cipher or not – if it is I think it will be of the simplest form as others from the period are – just need to get rid of all the confusion.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2009, 07:48:28 AM »
I dug a bit deeper into the document over the weekend, and noticed that there may be something on this page:

If you look at the second ring, you have a string of 16 characters -- all different -- that repeats four times. At the very least, it does draw out some continuity in that you can see some character variations.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 09:30:31 AM by Phil_The_Rodent »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2009, 09:16:12 AM »
Yes it's very curious - almost as if he's writing out his alphabet for us - but what has he done with the EVA 'a', 'i' , 'n' & 's'?  - also writing the 4 sets under one another 2 of the 'F' characters have a loop left and right and 2 have only one loop (strangely enough I had just come to the conclusion that the F & P might be the same for reasons based on frequency and here it is again) - I had looked at this page only briefly before - it is certainly very informative.


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2009, 10:26:18 AM »
Yes I noticed that too. I'm wondering if the box-edge would flourish that way naturally. Going from a 90-degree angle to a rounded flourish like that seems like it could be a natural hand-movement. It's also interesting that the fourth-line "h" gallows has the same type of flourish which would identify it incorrectly as a "ll/ls".

The more I look at it, it looks like both gallows glyphs are penned from the bottom of the right-side and wrapped up and around.

Also of note is that "2" character is repeated again in an extra position on the fourth-line which might give away an extra substitution.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 11:10:57 AM by Phil_The_Rodent »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2009, 06:58:34 PM »
...and with any luck...

Woot. That's got it.

These glyphs are taken directly from the text and were just cleaned up a bit.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 07:01:35 PM by Phil_The_Rodent »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2009, 02:44:58 PM »
Upon further consideration –   â€“ thinking the Voynich has too much repetition, too close together , ‘words’ repeated several times in the same paragraph, certain ‘letters’ only occurring at start or end of ‘words’, words or parts thereof that look like numerals etc –
could it be similar to this:-

STAR. – Isa. ii., 1-5; iv.-vii., 14-16; ix., 1-7; xvi., 5; xi., xxii., xxv., 6-12; xxvii., xxviii., xxx, to lxvi. Jer. xxiii., 5-8. Hos. iv., 17. Matt. xxvi., 26-28. Gen. lix., 10. John xviii., 31; xix., 15. Matt. xxvii., 24-25; xxiii, 37-39. Luke xix., 41-44; xxiii., 27-31. Mark xiv., 53-64. Heb. iv., 15. Isa. liii. Gen. xiv., 18. Psa. cx. Heb. v., i. to xiii. Psa. ii., xxii., lxix., xvi., xxiv., xiv., lxviii., lxxxix. Cant. Acts i. to iv. Rom. i. to xi. Rev. Exo. xix., 1. Cor. x. Num. xxiv. Deut. xviii-xxxii. 2 Sam. vii. Job. xii., xix., xxiii. Prov. iii., 30; xiv., 10; xx., 24. – 1. The Book.

Or this -
Both from that wonderful book ‘The Agony Column Codes & Ciphers’ (still sells about 1 book per month – sales yet to reach 3 figures!!)
I think something along the above lines would certainly have characteristics like the Voynich and would explain why all the sophisticated computerised attacks and analysis thrown at it have failed to solve it
So I went to the library in search of how they used to write Bible references etc. – Pope Sixtus seemed a good starting place . . . and stumbled upon . . .
ADD 39660 ‘Satirical History of the Popes’ 1464 –
below is the reign date given on each page for each Pope (sorry, can’t afford photo copies but I think it’s a pretty accurate representation)

In 1 we have EVA ‘ch’ – in 2 & 3 EVA ‘Sh’ (well very nearly) – in 5 EVA ‘qo’ (also a mix of Arabic & Latin numerals as in the Voynich quire numbers)

For beginners – the final ‘i’ of a number is written as a ‘j’ to avoid an extra ‘i’ being added by some devious person – what looks like a backward sloping ‘b’ in 5 is the way they used to write ‘v’ – in 6 it says ‘annus primus’ (year first) & in 7 ‘usque’ (until)
For experts - If anyone knows what the little marks in 2, 3 & 4 above the m,cc & x mean please tell me – in the meantime I assume they merely designate them as numbers as opposed to letters with which they could be confused (in certain circumstances!?)

Opening a medieval book you only have one page number for the 2 pages in front of you – generally each page is divided into 2 columns of text – so any type of book reference would have to include at least the page No. and column No. (i, ii, iii, iiii)

The number 40 seems to have many religious meanings -

to be contd.....
next time the connection between the suggested later date for the colouring in and the gallows


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2009, 04:00:41 PM »
Ah, neat! I definitely agree that there's a lot of grouped up characters in the manuscript. Who knows, perhaps it's some kind of roman numeral math book on calculus and astronomy. Or just a very lengthy way to encipher messages.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 04:01:17 PM by Aaron »


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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2009, 05:22:19 PM »
I now believe the VM to have been composed in the following way -

     |     |  \  | \\  | \\\ | \\\\
c    |  a  |  b  |  c  |  d  |  f  |
cc   |  e  |  g  |  h  |  k  |  l  |
ccc  |  i  |  m  |  n  |  p  |  q  |
cccc |  o  |  r  |  s  |  t  |  v  |
ccccc|  u  |  w  |  x  |  y  |  z  |

Iv'e just amended the above grid -(I put in the wrong one before) - boon

In the first stage above the author writes his message in cipher using only 2 letters the ‘c’ & ‘i’ –
in the second stage above (highlighted in red) the author cunningly disguised it to resemble an old manuscript -
the gallows substitute for rubrication (this is why one appears at the start of each paragraph); the EVA q is a
modification of the forward slash that appears in many old MS’s (I’ve used it as a word divider in the above but
I think it was originally used more in the sense of a comma??); the other ascenders, serifs, ligatures etc. represent
different abbreviations –
In the third section I’ve just removed the coloured highlights to show how much it resembles the VM!!!

Although I’ve shown it written in a grid above, from the frequencies it seems more likely to have been written as below -

             quire 1 qty   Italian expect
c          a        200      170
cc         b        112       13
ccc        c        151       65
cccc       d        126       54
ccccc      e         79      171
ci         f         39       14
cii        g         18       24
ciii       h          2       22
ciiii      i/j       18      163
cci        k         95        o
ccii       l         73       94
cciii      m         38       36
cciiii     n         98      100
ccci       o        180      142
cccii      p         35       44
ccciii     q          5        9
ccciiii    r         31       92
cccci      s         54       72
ccccii     t         31       81
cccciii    u          8       44
cccciiii   v         17       30
ccccci     w         12        0
cccccii    x          8        0
ccccciii   y          5        0
ccccciiii  z         14        7

I did the above on quires 1 to 4 - only about 6% of the groups did not conform to one of the above combinations
The above match leaves a heck of lot to be desired but note the l’m’n’o’p’q comparison!!! (a keyword may have
been used)

Obviously I’ve gone astray with the ‘e’ somewhere – it is not clear to me yet exactly in what way the enciphered
message should be divided up – we have too many cc, ccc & cccc and not enough ccccc – it also looks as if the ‘k’
should be another substitute for ‘i’

This all resembles a version of a Baconian biliteral cipher – although not published until 1623 Bacon invented it
in 1576-9 whilst in Paris – if the VM is by Bacon or a contemporary to whom he may have shown his cipher then
the alphabet will be one used around 1600 and will not look exactly like the one given above the main difference
being the last 5 letters – probably u doubling for v and w and depending on the authors native language.

Still some way to go – I haven’t abandoned all hope just yet!
All the above tends to indicate it was a fraud perpetrated on the King knowing he would pay a tidy sum for an old
MS – which begs the question – what if anything could be the underlying plaintext that wouldn’t lead to a swift
beheading if deciphered?

« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 05:08:28 AM by tonybaloney »