A 600-year-old puzzle…
The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious book from the 15th century composed in an entirely unknown language. It is a secret encrypted message? Is it an unknown lost language? Is it just a nonsense book written as a hoax? Linguists, cryptographers, and historians have been agonizing over this puzzle for over 600 years.
The book was donated to Yale University in 1969, where it was catalogued under call number MS 408.
You can view the manuscript’s surviving pages on this site.
First Section: Botany
1v – Leafy plant, two paragraphs
4v – Fern, two paragraphs
11r – Triple tube-rooted plants, two paragraphs
15v – Flower bud
16r – Complex plant
16v, 17r – Flowering plants
33v – Venus flytraps, one paragraph.
33v, 34r – sunflowers, other plant
42v – Tulip, two paragraphs.
43r Daffodils, three paragraphs
43v – Cactus-like plants
44r – Deep rooted plant, three paragraphs.
47r – Cabbage, two paragraphs.
49r – Upright flowering plant, three paragraphs.
52r – 3-fingered leaves, solid roots
56r – orchids? spikey plants
57v – 4 dials – alphabet?, 4 labelled radial women
58r – Pure text, with a few 5,7-pointed stars
58v – Pure text, 4 paragraphs, one ornate star
66r – Block of text with alphabetic bullets, woman
Second Section: Cosmology
67r – Dials with celestial map – sun, stars
68r – “galaxies” – 8-armed spiral with starry tissue, flowered 8-way starry compass, 16-blade 8-path compass
69r – Dial – six-pointed star with letter-labelled points, marked bars (1,2,1,2,1,2), 16 radial sectors
70v – Calendar with women in tubes, fish (2+10+19)
70v71r – Dials with goat, 5 women, 10 women
71v – women in formal attire (lower ones nude), in tubes, goat
72:1r – Dials with goat, 5 flower-bearing women, 10 women
72:1v – Dials with leopard, flower-bearing women
72:2r – Dials with man and woman, clothed, nude women, robed women
72:2v – Dials with robed woman, nude flower-bearing women
72:3r – Dials with scorpions?, nude flower-bearing women
72:3v – Dials, scales, women bearing flowers, naked crux-crowned woman
73r – Dials, dog, nude women bearing flowers (calendar?)
73v – Dials, man with crossbow, 10+16+4 nude women, calendar?
74v, 75r – Calendar, women in pool
Third Section: Viticulture
75r – Women in river
76r – Lettered bullets
76v – Women in tubes
77r – Pipe with two labelled ends and 5 labelled ports
78r – Winemaking – multiple sieves, vine, grape-stomping
79v – Woman with cross, grinder, dogs in pool
80r – Women in sieves, tubes
80v – Women in funnels
81r – Women in vats, wine-stomping?
82r – Tubes, river, labelled women
82v – Women in funnels, 8 labelled women, tubes, sieves
83v, 84r – Women in tubes, balloons? pairs of women in pools
Fourth Section: Marine Plants
86v – Birds in clouds, text squared around center
88r – Chalices, seaweed.
93r – Plant
99r – Labelled specimens, paragraphs
100r – Labelled specimens of plants, sea-creatures, root-systems
101v – Variety of 15 leafy plants, with labels. Two paragraphs.
106r – Text with black/white star-flower bullets
116v – Text only. One paragraph.