Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: Missing Codebook

The possibility that the Voynich Manuscript was once accompanied by separate code-book which is now lost is very real (and very disheartening for the text researchers). Example of such cipher during the Italian War 1494/95 is held in the Vatican Secret Archives and is currently part of exhibition (visit here ).



The code-pages belong to Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia). Here is the description of the document in display:

The nomenclator contains various cryptographic systems: two different substitution enciphering alphabets, together with a third substitution option for vowels alone; a grid laid out on three text lines containing verbs, pronouns and articles with their substitution symbols: for example a letter of the Greek alphabet, lambda (λ), for the words “being silent”; a backward “c” (ɔ) for the word “riding”; finally, on three columns, a series of words and phrases (probably the most recurring, the most “delicate”, the most “secret”) swapped with names on the first column and by syllables on the second and third columns; thus, 23 substitutes the word “pappa” (pope), 46 “facto d’arme” (armed clash), “cc” means “the pope’s daughter”, “gu” “the pope’s children”, “nu” “Florentines”, “no” “Venetians” and so forth. The utter secrecy of codebooks, which were often destroyed not to preserve any trace and periodically renewed, still prevents us from correctly interpreting some dispatches, which are destined to remain forever secret.
In short, if the Voynich Manuscript text is result of this kind of cipher then the only chance to read it is if the code book survives to this day in some dusty archive.




8 comments:

  1. I would absolutely agree that this is a possibility, from what this cipher amateur has learned in the last few years. Rich SantaColoma

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  2. Hi Rich, I guess the experts in known surviving code-books did not recognize any that works with the VMs, so it is either lost or hiding - if the case with the VMs is separate code book.

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  3. Ellie (& Rich)

    Take a look at the discussion occuring on Nick's visit with Professor Kahn. ProfK is referring us to the US Gov. files of Brigadier John Tiltman (of which I have translated three of the Vms folios).

    I'm sticking to my reading/translation of Nick's attempts to decode Vms folio 116v :

    Monumentum Ancyranum. Res Gestae Divi Augusti. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. Ferdinand of Austria. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Amasia in Asia Minor.

    Professor Kahn posted, briefly, this morning on Nick's "David Kahn at the Atheneum" discussion pages.

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  4. Rene Zandbergen explained to me that we can be certain that separate code-book is not what is behind the Voynich MS.
    This is, because this method, applied to a plain text, would increase the entropy, while in the Voynich MS it is unusually low...

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  5. Hi BD, I very much agree with Azia Minor translation - it crossed my mind too. I like it!

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  6. Ellie (& Rich)

    Take a look at the discussion occuring on Nick's visit with Professor Kahn. ProfK is referring us to the US Gov. files of Brigadier John Tiltman (of which I have translated three of the Vms folios).

    I'm sticking to my reading/translation of Nick's attempts to decode Vms folio 116v :

    Monumentum Ancyranum. Res Gestae Divi Augusti. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. Ferdinand of Austria. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Amasia in Asia Minor.

    Professor Kahn posted, briefly, this morning on Nick's "David Kahn at the Atheneum" discussion pages.

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  7. Good morning, Ellie!
    I'll try to be brief: I refer you to Crimean Gothic (as written by Busbecq, apparently). There are several on-line sources of discussions BUT no samples of the handwritten documents. I'm hoping you might find some and compare with the script on Vmsfolio 116v. I'm on the fly thru cyberspace. Gotta feed my old man and the cat. A tout a l'heure!

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  8. Ellie,

    I've just found the major website which has facsimile letters of Busbecq to Clusius. I'm hoping this (partial) link will open the relevant files for you:

    https://socrates.leidenuniv.nl/view/action/nmets.do?

    Otherwise, just try for Leiden University's stuff in re Clusius and Busbecq.

    Cheers! :)

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