Voynich Manuscript: Did Bay Area researchers decipher mysterious medieval book?

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It has mystified scholars for more than a century since a Polish collector acquired the medieval book now known by his name, its parchment pages filled with colorful illustrations of plants, stars and bathing women and elegantly handwritten in an unknown language.

Bay Area researchers this week led by a Foothill College anthropology instructor say they’ve now found the key to translating the Voynich Manuscript‘s cryptic text, a first step they say that will allow medieval language experts to build on their work and unravel the manuscript’s mysteries.

“We’ve now unlocked the door,” said Timothy King, a Foothill instructor who earned a doctorate in anthropological sciences from Stanford University. “We can read it.”

An image from “A Proposal for Reading the Voynich Manuscript” July 2019 by Tim King, Alessandra Andrisani, Bryce Beasley and Julian Condo.(Courtesy of Tim King).

But many others have claimed to have solved the manuscript’s language riddle over the years, most recently a British researcher in May, only to have other scholars dismiss their work. The latest research from King is getting a similar reception.

“I can say without reservation that their proposal is not new to Voynich research, and it cannot possibly be correct,” said Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of The Medieval Academy of America in Cambridge, Mass., after reviewing King’s paper.

The origin and authorship of the peculiar paperback-sized Voynich Manuscript, now kept at a Yale University library of rare books, are unknown. The earliest record of its ownership is a 1639 letter from a Prague scholar to a Jesuit friend in Rome he thought might be able to translate a book he said had been owned by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II.

Polish antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid Voynich bought …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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