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

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Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2009, 06:00:07 PM »
Wow, that's a very solid hypothesis! I hope it holds up! :D

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2009, 05:20:27 AM »
Oops - just noticed I put in the wrong grid for enciphering that message
(too many bits of paper) - corrected it now.

"very solid hypothesis" - it's sweet and simple - explains so much - I really like it !

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2009, 10:52:29 AM »
Having only just noticed that EVA y is also probably a ‘ci’ combination (I had assumed it to be a c with a descender
disguise, but now it seems obvious - this is why its so often at the end and not in the middle)- I did the count again ....

The following count is based on Takeshi transcript replacing EVA n,r,l,m,I with i; o,h,d,s,g,c, with c; a,y with ci; and all
gallows k,t,p,f, with a blank space then counting the resulting combinations (don’t forget to separate the EVA q by
putting a space behind it to ‘count whole words only’)-

       quire  1     2     3     4    total
c             393   283   427   324   1427
cc             61    40    46    51    198
ccc           130    72    92   132    426
cccc           43    19    34    61    157  
ccccc          11     4    11    22     48
ci            251   202   239   132    824
cii            36    18    28    24    106
ciii           11    14    14     5     44
ciiii          46    35    40    32    153
cci           203   155   157   113    628
ccii           68    18    63    33    182
cciii          36    25    19    31    111
cciiii         87    73    84    84    328
ccci          345   264   314   257   1180
cccii          45    10    30    18    103
ccciii          6     9     9    14     38
ccciiii        33    11    23    17     84
cccci         118    53    77   134    382
ccccii         22     1     8    11     42
cccciii         4     1     0     1      6
cccciiii        8     3     7     6     24
ccccci         55    20    30    58    163
cccccii         6     3     1     7     17
ccccciii        5     0     0     0      5
ccccciiii      12     5     8     6     31

This is remarkably consistent throughout the 4 quires – (I have only used the first 4 quires so as not to mix up
Currier A & B which may be due to a switch of language)

Turning the above into percentages and putting in order we get –

VM  german
21.3  18.5
17.6  11.5
12.3   8
 9.3   7
 6.3   7
 5.7   5
 4.9   5
 2.9   5
 2.7   5
 2.4   5
 2.3   4
 2.2   4
 1.6   3.5
 1.5   2.5
 1.2   2.5
 0.7   1.5
 0.6   1.5
 0.5   1.5
 0.5   1
 0.3   1
 0.2   0.5
 0.1
 0.1   


Where German is the nearest match I’ve got but it’s not that convincing – anyone know of a better match? – and
how do modern German frequencies compare with German from 4 centuries ago?? – more counting - Oh the joys
of deciphering!


As I see it the main problem is accurately converting it back to the ci combinations -

Are all EVA Y ‘ci’ or are some just ‘c’
EVA ‘a’ and ‘o’ can be confused in some cases (the ‘o’ being formed by 2 downward penstrokes presumably to
avoid the nib digging into the paper on an upwards pen stroke and splattering ink everywhere – try it and see!!!)
EVA Sh & ch - converting these in Takeshi always gives ‘...cc...’ but some (those with a long ligature should be
‘..c c...’ i.e. parts of separate combinations
Even some EVA ‘d’ and ‘g’ could be ‘ci’ combinations

Lesser problems – those combinations beginning with ‘i’ (these could simply be from a common word list or
numbers)
Direction of writing – there are several instances where it looks as if the previous line was written after the
following one - i.e. a particularly clear instance is f.105r where the 4th group from the end of the second line
is raised to avoid clashing with the group beneath and in the penultimate line on the same page the 3rd group
onwards is raised to avoid the centred groups beneath.

Well that’s as far as I’ve got at the moment – as it’s taken me about 3 months just to discover what kind of cipher
it is – at this rate it’ll probably be another 3 before I arrive at any plaintext at all?!
And God help us if somebody was communicating with ‘angels’ when they wrote it!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 04:25:07 PM by tonybaloney »

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2009, 11:10:33 AM »
Well that’s as far as I’ve got at the moment – as it’s taken me about 3 months just to discover what kind of cipher
it is – at this rate it’ll probably be another 3 before I arrive at any plaintext at all?!
And God help us if somebody was communicating with ‘angels’ when they wrote it!
I'm sure you've already made more progress than most people have made over several years. ;) I agree though, I certainly hope whoever was writing it wasn't high on angel dust.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 11:12:19 AM by Aaron »

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2009, 11:56:11 AM »
The ‘angels’ I was referring to can be found here -
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dee
http://www.john-dee.org/   
being of good character, I’m not quite sure what Aaron is on ...

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2009, 11:56:43 AM »
about

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2009, 12:33:12 PM »
Ah, I can't say I've heard of him. I just know that a lot of cultures have "communicated" with higher powers through the use of drugs.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #27 on: November 15, 2009, 05:44:20 AM »
The ‘gallows’ symbols -
knowing that all the gallows symbols are probably the same (as what is high frequency following any particular one is also
generally high frequency following the others – also in the circular diagram on f.57v that gives 4 ‘alphabets’ the EVA P & F
occupy the same position, hence, are interchangeable) and that 86% of all paragraphs begin with a gallows symbol – it
being extremely unlikely that any letter (or 4 letters) will start 86% of the paragraphs – they must be something else –
Whilst looking at an old manuscript it became apparent to me that the gallows were nothing more than a sort of rubrication
(just lacking the colour!)



‘A’ is from MS Arundell 117 f.109 14th cent.  and is fairly typical of that period – the initial letter ‘O’ is enlarged and
rubricated – the fifth line is the start of a new paragraph and has the symbol marked ‘F’ before it – as does every paragraph!!
C D E F G are all variations of the same – all have the same highlighting function
Compare ‘A’ with ‘B’ – it is my contention that whoever wrote the VM they only intended it to look  like an old MS
‘I’ shows the gallows for comparison (they even look similar)
‘H’ just points out that the rubrication was sometimes written before the letter, sometimes through it in old MS’s

It was the above that led me to the ‘ci’ combinations with which I’ve still to make any progress but I’m positive it’s
a step in the right direction.

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2009, 09:31:09 AM »
Very nice! By the way, have you had any luck with using a word frequency chart instead of a letter frequency chart, according to your new theory of how the letters are written? Perhaps that would give a much better hint at what language it might have originally been.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2009, 03:09:57 PM »
Not got that far yet - did find 4 Peruvian, 4 Indonesian & a couple of African languages that matched those frequencies!!!

Not sure I've got all the 'ci' combinations correct yet - when & if I do it should be easy to find the language by finding the most common repeating 'ci' strings which will be the common words and then try the different languages on them 

Alas the underlying plaintext may be glossalia or just nonsense as everything else is pointing to a fraud.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #30 on: April 12, 2010, 11:36:55 AM »
Needless to say the ‘ci’ combinations led nowhere – since then I’ve been looking at quite a few herbals –
I found the following one quite interesting -



The above is from ‘Livre des Simples Medecines’ – a 15th c. French herbal.
As far as I can make out this bit says ‘Nasturcium est creson cest une herbe assez communue mais item
ya de deux manieres car il en ya qui croist en yaue et lautre es jardins et qu’t trouve es receuptes creson
simplemetre on dit entendre celluy de jardin il est chaut et sec au quart degre aucutres lappellent
gusinium autre anthoneas’



Above (from about 4 pages of it – 870 words) I have listed the letters that take different forms depending
on their position in the word – 1 is the first letter of a word; 2 is anywhere in the middle of a word; 3 as the
final letter.
EVA ‘y’ can be compared to the letter i above as it appears in the VM predominately as a first and final
letter; EVA ‘q’ compared to r or u as it only appears at the start of a word.
Note the r has 2 versions in the middle of a word – it seems to depend on the preceding letter.
On the right above is a comparison of the striking resemblance between some of the VM characters and
those in the LDSM and the letters are represented by them.
Now I’m not saying it’s in French or that this is what these VM characters stand for (they appear with a far,
far greater frequency in the VM than in LSDM) – you may draw your own conclusions – mine – the VM is
a copy of a Greek work translated into Latin by a dyslexic Frenchman who travelled throughout Asia and
ended up in an Italian castle with funny parapets  ???

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2010, 05:55:53 PM »
Yeah, imagine how hard it would be to decipher if the words cycled between different languages!

Very promising lead with the French letters though... the similarities appear to be too close to be a coincidence.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2010, 05:20:36 AM »
The following is a hand copy from a late 15th century herbal (MS 336 f.11) in the Wellcome Library –
You may need to see the original to appreciate the comparison – unless you want to fork out about £6 for
a copy you’ll have to make do with my sketch

The text accompanying it – (I have put in brackets the letter/s I assumed from the abbreviation mark on
the preceding letter  - I may have got some wrong)

Nenufaro e predo i 3° grado e humido i 2° la radice, ela some(n)za restri(n)ge
lo fluxo de la sp(er)ma ch(e) vene nele vig(?)ilie, e cura le piaghe delii(n)testini
elo fluxo de le mestrue beudo co(n) vino, e cura la morfea ofete com
aqua, e la alopecia ofeto co(m)pesa liquida, e la radice beuda co(n) vino
cura lo fluxo antique, e le piage delii(n)testini, e cura lo apostema della
milza efato e(n)plathra de essa, cura lo eldore delstomato, e de la vesicha:-

The above image is to be compared with VM f.2v

On the stem of the VM plant on f.4r is the word ‘rot’ (German for ‘red’) yet it is not coloured in.

On f.72r1 there is a lady with an elongated arm holding a star – the reason for the elongated arm is that it
reaches round a hole in the vellum – this hole must have been there when it was drawn (the ladies on the
reverse of this page (f.72v1) are also positioned to avoid this hole.

I think the above is very strong evidence for the VM being written by a child –
he did not recognise the shoal of fish as a shoal of fish and drew it as a root,
he did not know German & hence did not colour it in but just copied it down,
no scholar would have used a piece of vellum with a hole in it but a child would.

Is it possible that the reason we cannot read the VM is not because it’s not in cipher or a lost language but
simply because a precocious child copied in his own fashion text and drawings which he could not read let
alone comprehend!

I have looked at quite a few herbals from around 1500 and not only from the quality of the drawings but
also the writing some of them were obviously written & drawn by children – perhaps it was a common
training exercise ( something like an ‘alphabet embroidery sampler’ for girls)

If this is so is it possible to reconstruct what he copied from?


Edith Sherwood suggests the VM is the work of a young Leonardo Da Vinci –

http://www.edithsherwood.com/voynich_decoded/index.php

 So I had a look at some of Leonardo’s writing for a comparison and was intrigued by the following bit in
the ‘Vitruvian Man’ –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg



The top line in the above is Leonardo Da Vinci’s backward writing from the ‘Vitruvian man’ (third line
below the drawing)
third line is the top reversed with what it actually says above it,
fourth is a bit of the VM (in  f.108r) just for comparison

If you’re wondering why he wrote backwards – its simply because being left handed it avoids smudging
the ink as the hand moves across the page – (unlike Elgar who only did it once for fun!!)

Whether the VM is by Leonardo or not there are some striking similarities here - & a very good explanation
for the ‘qokeedy qokedy qokeedy’ type sequences and why EVA ‘qo’ doesn’t appear amongst the ‘labels’!

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2010, 07:03:41 AM »
Even more feasibly, it could have been a book of hastily scribbled school notes on various topics... since the Voynich doesn't seem to be exclusively about plants. I know my notes can be damn near cryptic at times, what with all the shorthand I make up on the fly and fragmented sentences.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #34 on: June 09, 2010, 02:08:41 PM »
Getting absolutely nowhere with this VM – what it reminds me most of is this one:-

S lmpi F. npi npil pil pink C. klmh F. oimg ogq, khq lqkh ikpg ogql, lqoi qoin oing lqkh. hmig C, omgk
F, npi npil qmk. C hgo, F, ploi omnl. qoip C qkin. F oing ihlm, ik, lmhn, C nhgq F, iomn hkom C. okiq F,
mqho, olhi. C, iko. ...........

The above is based on “A code of Signals for the Merchant Service” (it is one of 50+ messages sent,
by his family, to a Captain Collinson searching for Franklin lost in the Northwest Passage via “the Times”)

The capital letters here stand for different sections of the sailors manual – the lowercase g,h,i,k,l,m,n,o,p,q
are substitutes for 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 respectively

So  the message begins - Part V 6528 Part VI 428 4286 286 2847 Part III 7659 etc

Looking these up in the manual this part of a message actually reads:-

 “All are well at Hook and elsewhere – Margaret got another boy on the evening of Christmas day, going on
well – Emily at Hook again – Bernard down for Christmas – Charlotte going to add population – Harriet stay
with Fanny – letter from Benjamin ......

(note - some of the numbers correspond to short commonly used phrases, the majority to single words)

I imagine the capital letters here could be equivalent to the gallows symbols – the lowercase letters to the
Voynich letters/numbers (I still don’t know which?!) – there are vaguely similar patterns

This sort of system explains why every paragraph begins with a ‘gallows’ symbol and can also explain how
lots of “words” only differ by one “letter” etc. – I think it well worth considering

But if that doesn’t take your fancy maybe you can find the key in this compendium of different systems from
‘Trait de la Parole’ by the blind French Doctor of Theology Claude Comiers



Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #35 on: June 15, 2010, 01:01:06 AM »
It always amazes me to see what you unearth. :) That compendium looks pretty cool.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2010, 03:09:44 PM »
Aye, it’s pretty neat – make a lovely poster – there’s a good article on Comiers in Vol 27 issue 4 of Cryptologia

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #37 on: June 23, 2010, 04:18:00 PM »
Is this how the ‘gallows’ symbol came about?




It used to be normal practise for the letters with ‘crossbars’ (1) for the ‘crossbar’ to
be connected to the following letter as in (2) or to both the following and preceding
letter as in (3)
(4) two of the most common ways of writing the letter E which ends up looking like a
modern C when written as small as in the Voynich MS
(5) CT and ST used to be connected forming ligatures
(6) two common ways of writing the combination ESTE
(7) I have not seen an example of the ‘crossbar’ going through the preceding letter to
the one before it but think some idiosynchratic individual may well have done so
(8) the same sequence only written backwards

Now the question is, would it rankle in the mindset of a medieval writer
that this just doesn’t look right, that the S and T must form a ligature

 
(9) if so, what more aesthetically pleasing way of joining them up

(10) !otserp yeH

Aaron

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #38 on: June 23, 2010, 05:36:15 PM »
Nice theory! It brings to mind the old habit of making a stylish s look like an f.

tonybaloney

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Re: Lets look at the Voynich
« Reply #39 on: August 03, 2010, 04:32:54 PM »
It’s a topsy-turvey world
getting somewhere now –
below is the middle portion of f.116r – notice how where the gallows coincidentally line up vertically (circled) the upper 3 lines drift upwards – (other examples can be found on other pages)

[img=http://a.imageshack.us/img217/6886/linesup.th.jpg]http://
Below is an example from f.49v showing  how the tails of the ‘9’ EVA(y) are longer when above a gap between ‘words’ in the line below (examples of this and the EVA(q) tail doing the same can be found on many pages)

[img=http://a.imageshack.us/img440/5009/enlarge49v0001.th.jpg]http://
What causes these anomalies – clearly they indicate that the line underneath must have been written before the one above it –
The obvious thing to do is turn the page upside down – now the aligned margin is on the right and the ragged one on the left indicating it was written from right to left – I thought at first that this must mean it was written backwards – not necessarily so -

[img=http://a.imageshack.us/img294/2161/herbacapillusmaior0001.th.jpg]http://
In the above image I first drew the ‘plant’ in my own fashion, then simply turned the page upside down – writing normally it is simple to leave a ragged margin on the left – to line up the right hand margin is done by simply adjusting the spaces between words or stretching or compressing as necessary – when this doesn’t quite work as in line 4 simply put in a null – I suggest the VM author did this to look like a rubrication mark – it also explains its predominate line position.
Note how the ‘header’ (Edgar Allan Poe), when the page is plant orientated appears in the bottom right as is usual in the VM. (It’s herba Capillus maiore)
Yes, it’s a self portrait – I was a hippie in the 60’s, now I’m a hippie in his 60’s – even painted my old Ford Popular psychedelic – the multi coloured spiral hubcaps used to make the pedestrians dizzy, but worst of all drivers behind kept running in the back of me whilst trying to figure out what the images on the boot were – I’m sure some of them looked exactly like the ‘chinese’ glyphs on f.1r
I digress
I think the above clearly shows the layout, direction of writing and construction of the page -
Now the only question is what does it say – what is his cipher?
I’ve always believed, because of the sheer volume of it & it’s age, that this would be a very simple cipher.
I think all he has done is re-orientate some of the letters (just as he did the page) – some letters he left untouched (there’s no way to change the letter ‘o’ – upside down, reversed, - it’s all the same to me) – some he simply distorted –
I suggest the following key:-

[img=http://a.imageshack.us/img80/3392/voykey0003.th.jpg]
There are at least 3 different kinds of ‘6’ EVA(y) ‘9’ – those with a curved tail – those with a straight tail – those with the loop connected and those without – each may be a different letter – but all have been lumped together by those who transcribed it – the differences may help decide what represents what. Same applies to EVA(d) ‘8’.
Of course it may not say anything sensible – just as the plants are copies of plants from other herbals that have been distorted, recombined etc. the text, if copied may also have been distorted, recombined etc.???
With several (accidentally) lookalike symbols substituting for the same letter it reminds me a little of the of the following cipher where this was done deliberately  –
1821 82374 29 30 84541. 185270 924 184 182 82460. 84314 8842 31 8599420 31 8355 7239241 8218. 726 85400 021 - from ‘The Times’ Sep. 1853
Charles Babbage waged a war against street musicians who disturbed his peace, sending his man after them, taking out prosecutions etc.  – I find it amusing to think that ‘Thou voice of my heart’ (it comes from a popular song of the time) could be being sung beneath his window whilst he was coming up with ‘Thou image of my heart...’ in the above cipher!
I digress again
Back to the Voynich –
EVA(f) & (p) are probably nulls/rubrication
Now as everything is reversed and upside down EVA(iin) is M and is not in cipher (this is the way it was written as the first letter of a word (see previous post on positons of letters from a French Herbal) – as this appears to be in Italian it will hardly ever appear as a final letter – in the middle of a word it must have been abbreviated here. (Incidentally the marginalia read as ‘michiton oladabas...’ beginning with four strokes this has been assumed to begin ‘mi...’ - the first stoke being curved is nothing more than a flourish and I think should be read as ‘ni...’ probably says ‘ni chiton’ (no clothes)? But if the palaeographers can’t even read what a bit of plaintext says, what chance have they got with a cipher – my God it’s just as well I’m here to help!?
EVA(o) upside down, reversed, it’s all the same to me – is now a prominent final just as in Italian
EVA(k & t) think these are both the same and represent L or LL (see similarity with Da Vinci’s L’s in a previous post) though why it is always double L when one would do is a bit of a mystery to me.
EVA(q) I believe this is probably equivalent to the ‘tyronian’ 7 and is just another old way of writing ‘et’ I think it was once written looking like a plus sign or a number 4, I’m sure I’ve seen plaintext examples where it is tacked on to the following word – though here it has ended up on the end of the word.
Those with a mathematical approach may like to recalculate the entropy or word distribution in view of the above 2  
i.e.   qokaiin okaiin otaiin qotaiin are all the same it’s just that 2 of them have ‘et’ tacked on the front – it doesn’t matter whether its reversed for this calculation.
EVA(y) this is the 9 which upside down becomes a 6 – the 6th letter of the alphabet is F (I’ve stated before I think the VM is the work of a child – just someone who thought he’d make his own ‘book’ - of course those who’ve spent years working on this will not take kindly to that suggestion – but this is what I see) – those familiar with old writing will appreciate the difficulty of distinguishing an F from an S written in the old style – the VM author either didn’t or couldn’t  - to complicate matters further, but not deliberately, the old style of writing an ‘I’ at the start of a word can look similar to a 9 so it also appears as a 6 etc.
EVA(d) ‘8’ again this has several varieties – presumably with the flat top it will be the substitute for ‘g’ – otherwise for ‘y’ and middle position’i’ as ‘i’ & ‘y’ used to be equivalent (I think) – I’m a bit confused with this as the ‘i’ was also written like a ‘j’ in first & final positions – not being a palaeographer I’m probably mixing styles from different centuries or countries!! – press on Tony
EVA(l) this stands for D it is either an upside down 4(old style) 4th letter of alphabet is D or it is simply a D that is written in reverse
EVA(e) this is E and is simply written in reverse
 EVA(h) is R written in the old style that looks like a modern number 2 (it will not appear at the start of a word in this fashion as it was written differently in that case - and EVA(ch) is RE another common Italian ending
EVA(Sh) I take in most cases to be RE with the little arc representing an abbreviation for a missing letter - probably M or N
EVA(s) must be ‘e’ with some abbreviation ascender making it ‘er’ ‘em’ ‘en’ ‘et’ – not sure
EVA(a) this is a ‘u’ unaltered or an inverted’a’ – think EVA(o) must also stand for ‘a’ in some cases
Applying the key to f.1v - I very tentatively came up with (line for line):-
tagore do fiore ? fiore dai ferelore too
fiorme tui orelo tori dorme tui il doi dore dallo torne
mai dore fiore dorle dore il dore ifreel dol dorme dollo
fiore d oi doli odoi doi doli serle doi doere ? ??ore do o et
irle ire dod ogore feredoi dallo dorme d orle dore illore
irneorme muolo fiol bere tui duor?e t?ui dorme solo
 fioll ore bereo ? ?ai oellore doi
dui fiorelol irlle s??rnelli imre irleorle irlle oi
fiore tagollo fiolld orei freo to tare seeli
tu turle tare bereldo do magore fenrel

the above does contain some Italian words (some common ones at that) – unfortunately the only language I know is English, so every word I have to look up in a modern dictionary – 500 odd years ago there were no dictionaries, no standardised spellings (In an English MS of that age I’ve noticed the writer spell the same word 3 different ways on the same page!!) – also it’s possibly gobbledygook like the plant drawings - so I turned to have a look at some of the labels to see if I could see a connection twix them and the accompanying image – didn’t have too much success there either which I put down to my lack of language skills, the fact that some cipher characters have multiple alternatives etc. etc. – still I think the system and key are basically sound – perhaps some palaeographer of medieval Italian can make something of it looking at it this way.

Incidentally the very first word (header) on the first page can be read as ‘Marci’ (now that name sets a few bells ringing)

For anyone looking for a precise set of steps to follow to decipher this – please consult the rule book for the game of ‘Mornington Crescent’
« Last Edit: October 18, 2010, 03:50:06 PM by tonybaloney »