Code of ‘world’s most mysterious text’ cracked after more than a century
It’s baffled experts around the world for over a century, but now one expert believes he’s cracked the code of the Voynich manuscript.
The manuscript, which is often referred to as the ‘world’s most mysterious text’, uses an extinct language with an alphabet of strange symbols.
It dates back to the early 15th century, and is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who purchased the manuscript in 1912.
Several well-known code-breakers, including Alan Turing , have attempted to understand the language but failed.
Now, Dr Gerard Cheshire, a research associate at the University of Bristol, believes he’s finally cracked the code.
Using a combination of lateral thinking and ingenuity, Dr Cheshire claims to have identified the language and writing system used in the document.
He said: “Its alphabet is a combination of unfamiliar and more familiar symbols. It includes no dedicated punctuation marks, although some letters have symbol variants to indicate punctuation or phonetic accents.
“All of the letters are in lower case and there are no double consonants. It includes diphthong, triphthongs, quadriphthongs and even quintiphthongs for the abbreviation of phonetic components. It also includes some words and abbreviations in Latin."
Having established the language used, Dr Cheshire has been able to start to understand the content of the manuscript.
He added: “What it reveals is even more amazing than the myths and fantasies it has generated.
“For example, the manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, who happens to have been great aunt to Catherine of Aragon.
"It is also no exaggeration to say this work represents one of the most important developments to date in Romance linguistics.
“The manuscript is written in proto-Romance – ancestral to today's Romance languages including Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Catalan and Galician.
“The language used was ubiquitous in the Mediterranean during the Medieval period, but it was seldom written in official or important documents because Latin was the language of royalty, church and government. As a result, proto-Romance was lost from the record, until now.”
Dr Cheshire now plans to translate the entire manuscript. However, this could take a while, given that the manuscript is made up of over 200 pages!
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