Voynich Manuscript decrypted?

Das Voynich Manuscript ist ein altes Buch aus dem beginnenden 15. Jahrhundert voller handschriftlicher Aufzeichnungen und Pflanzen-Illustrationen. Das Buch wurde in einer bis heute nicht identifizierten Schrift geschrieben und es war bislang nicht einmal ersichtlich, ob es überhaupt einen sinnvollen Inhalt transportiert.

Jetzt hat Nicholas Gibbs, Experte für Schriften des Mittelalters, eine ziemlich einleuchtende Erklärung abgegeben, laut der das Manuskript eine Rezeptsammlung für Wellness-Kuren für betuchte Damen darstellt. Er hat die Zeichen im Manuskript mit medizinischen Aufzeichnungen aus demselben Zeitraum abgeglichen und einige Ligaturen (Kombinationen verschiedener Buchstaben, „&“ ist zum Beispiel eine Kombination aus „et“ – „und“) wiedererkannt und schließt daraus, dass es sich bei den Zeichen um abgekürzte Worte in unbekannten, spezialisierten Ligaturen handelt, ähnlich wie in einem Rezept heute mit, was weiß ich, 3 EL Zuckerrübenmett, das „EL“ als Superspecial-Ligatur, die Zuckerrüber illustriert, voila, Voynich.

Dazu kommt, dass das Manuskript über die Jahrhunderte natürlich sehr gelitten hat und wohl der Index fehlt, die Reihenfolge der Seiten stimmt anscheinend ebenfalls nicht. Mystery done. (Und das ganze liest sich so ein bisschen wie Umberto Ecos Das Foucaultsche Pendel).

The Times Literary Supplement: Voynich manuscript: the solution (via MeFi)

the Voynich manuscript is: a reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period, an instruction manual for the health and wellbeing of the more well to do women in society, which was quite possibly tailored to a single individual. The script had hitherto proved resistant to interpretation and presented several hurdles. Medieval lettering is notoriously fickle: individual letter variations, styles and combinations are confusing at the best of times. I recognized at least two of the characters in the Voynich manuscript text as Latin ligatures, Eius and Etiam. Ligatures were developed as scriptorial short-cuts. They are composed of selected letters of a word, which together represent the whole word, not unlike like a monogram. An ampersand is just such an example. The design combines the letters “e” “t”; and “et” is the Latin word for “and”. On the strength of this I consulted the Lexicon Abbreviaturarum of medieval Latin (1899) by Adriano Cappelli, sometimes referred to as the medievalists’ Bible. Systematic study of every single character in the Lexicon identified further ligatures and abbreviations in the Voynich manuscript and set a precedent. It became obvious that each character in the Voynich manuscript represented an abbreviated word and not a letter.

From the herbarium incorporated into the Voynich manuscript a standard pattern of abbreviations and ligatures emerged from each plant entry. The abbreviations correspond to the standard pattern of words used in the Herbarium Apuleius Platonicus – aq = aqua (water), dq = decoque / decoctio (decoction), con = confundo (mix), ris = radacis / radix (root), s aiij = seminis ana iij (3 grains each), etc. So the herbarium of the Voynich manuscript must therefore be a series of (“simple”) recipe ingredients with the necessary measures.

[update 11.9.] Aaand debunked: So much for that Voynich manuscript “solution”.

"Frankly I’m a little surprised the TLS published it...If they had simply sent to it to the Beinecke Library, they would have rebutted it in a heartbeat." The Beinecke Library at Yale is where the Voynich Manuscript is currently kept. Davis noted that a big part of Gibbs' claim rests on the idea that the Voynich Manuscript once had an index that would provide a key to the abbreviations. Unfortunately, he has no evidence for such an index, other than the fact that the book does have a few missing pages.

The idea that the book is a medical treatise on women's health, however, might turn out to be correct. But that wasn't Gibbs' discovery. Many scholars and amateur sleuths had already reached that conclusion, using the same evidence that Gibbs did. Essentially, Gibbs rolled together a bunch of already-existing scholarship and did a highly speculative translation, without even consulting the librarians at the institute where the book resides.