Will Reproducing The Voynich Manuscript Finally Solve The Mystery Of What it Says?

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Click on this image to watch a National Geographic video about the Voynich Manuscript

Click on this image to watch a National Geographic video about the Voynich Manuscript

Hidden away in locked vault at Yale University's Beinecke Library, the Voynich Manuscript is one of the world's most mysterious books. The 240-page text is written in a language that no one knows, or a secret code that no one can break. Add that to the fact that there are detailed illustrations on almost every page, the book dates from the 15th century, and every kind of expert and non-expert has tried to translate it with zero success, and you can see where the mystery comes from. 

It was named after the man who discovered it in 1912, a bookseller named Wilfrid M. Voynich.  According to the National Geographic video on the subject, he spent the rest of his life after the discovery trying to figuring out what it meant. 

Of course, just because no one has been able to decipher the text and illustrations doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of guesses. Some think it is a botanical or scientific text, as most of the illustrations are of plants. "Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red." (sourceOthers speculate it is a book or magic and potions, while there is even theories that it is an astrological text. 

So many people have been trying to get access to the original work to study it, that it was finally decided to give a small publishing company in Spain the rights to reproduce it. The company, Siloe, is known for reproducing delicate and historic manuscripts and they are committed to making 898 replicas that will be exact clones of the text — every stain, tear, and hole in the parchment will be reproduced. 

Each copy will be available for €7,000 to €8,000 ($7,800 to $9,000 USD) and will make this intriguing manuscript available to thousands of more people to potentially unlock its secrets. 

Flip through digital pages of the manuscript here.