The Voynich Manuscript

By Deane Barker on June 21, 2004

Voynich Manuscript: The geek quotient is very high with this one.

The Voynich Manuscript (VMS) is a mysterious illustrated book of unknown contents, written some 500 years ago by an anonymous author in an unidentified alphabet and unintelligible language.

Over its recorded existence, the Voynich Manuscript has been the object of intense study by many professional and amateur cryptographers — including some top American and British codebreakers of World War II fame — who all failed to decipher a single word. This string of egregious failures has turned the Voynich Manuscript into the Holy Grail of historical cryptology; but it has also given weight to the theory that the book is nothing but an elaborate hoax — a meaningless sequence of random symbols.



  1. There’s an interesting article on the Voynich Manuscript in this month’s Scientific American. An online copy of the article is also available on their web page:

    The author of the article, Gordon Rugg, comes to the conclusion that it’s all an elaborate hoax, albeit a 500-year old hoax. I’m not so sure. Some of his conclusions seem to be summarized as “I couldn’t break the code, so it must not mean anything.” =)

  2. The problem with Rugg’s notion, like all reconstuctive archaeology, is that it shows how something could have been done, but does not in any way prove that is how it was actually done.

    Besides, the complexities that Rugg’s method mimics are not those of the Ms itself but those of the EVA transcription system, which does not even remotely mirror the complexities of the Ms.

    As for the Ms being a hoax, I doubt it very much because ALL hoaxes, in the entire history of the world without exception perport to be something the “mark” wants it to be, and very obviously so. The Voynich however does not obviously perport to be anything ! If a hoax has to use logic or argument to convince the mark that what they’re looking at is what the hoaxer wants them to think it is then it’s a failed hoax. .


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