Dating an Armadillo

I have no problem with the possibility that the majority opinion of Voynich dating (that it is a 1400 to 1460 herbal), could be correct. And if the upcoming carbon-14 results show this, then those who hold such a dating have a stronger case. But one thing I have learned is that the dating of the Voynich this early is an opinion, not fact. Even the experts seem to have doubts about it, which I call the Nagging Sense of Newness. So while I think it could be from 1460, for various reasons I believe it is from much later. I really like my optics for one thing, and they imply a later dating. And I think there is a sunflower in the Voynich. But also, I think this (from f80v) is an armadillo:

When I showed this image around, I got some interesting and insightful feedback. From those who feel the Voynich is definitely pre-1460, most reaction fell in one of these categories:

1) It is not an armadillo: It is a pangolin, a wolf, or a dragon.
2) An armadillo may have floated up to Europe before 1460.
3) It looks too much like an armadillo to be one, because the Voynich is never accurate in depictions.

Contrasting with this is feedback from those who did not care a bit about the date of the Voynich… including a group of people who knew nothing of the Voynich, and were presented the image by an interested party… the feedback was overwhelmingly “it’s an armadillo”. The remainder were a couple of pangolin and one wolf identifications. What does this mean? Of course, a million people can think it is an armadillo, and that will not make it one. So it is not the numbers alone which intrigued me. What did strike me was that the majority of those who thought this could not be an armadillo were the same people who believe the Voynich was pre-Columbian. This strongly implies that the “expert opinion” of Voynich dating is colored by it’s own prejudices and projections, and should be taken with some reservation.

The armadillo fascinated Europeans. It was an iconic representation of the mysteries of the New World and it’s inhabitants, much as the sunflower was. And the sunflower is one of the most recognized Voynich flowers… of course, it is not an exactly perfect representation of a sunflower. But like the armadillo, the sunflower would date the Voynich to post-1492. Ironically, the sunflower has been critisized for looking too little like one, to be one.

So in these illustrations, if they are what I believe they are, an armadillo and sunflowers, it implies that the Voynich was created post 1492, and more likely, mid- to latter sixteenth century (as their images were not prevalent before then) at the earliest, and with New World influences and associations. This would fit my theory, as I believe it was created 1610 to 1620, and might be expected to have New World influence, as the (fictional) inhabitants of (fictional) Bensalem were transplanted Native Americans.

I have a page, linked here, of armadillo types, and armadillo references, descriptions, and earliest representations.

pangol_inn

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9 Responses to “Dating an Armadillo”

  1. proto57 Says:

    Nick Pelling believes this is an image of a catoblepas, but, “Could it simply be that some 17th century owner (for whom the catoblepas was probably never part of their conceptual landscape) thought this picture somehow resembled an armadillo, and emended it to strengthen that resemblance? I think that this is very probably precisely what happened here.”

    You can read the entire post, here.

  2. Elmar Says:

    This strongly implies that the “expert opinion” of Voynich dating is colored by it’s own prejudices and projections

    Well, I would word it differently… let’s say, people will try to put the image in “context”. If I assume the VM is pre-columbian, then identifying the creature as an armadillo would make no sense.

    OTOH, if you quiz a number of Americans about the creature, they will more readily say armadillo than pangolin, because the armadillo is what they are more familiar with. Methinks you’d get the opposite result if you asked a few Malay people…

    In any case, I opt for pangolin for the simple reason that the creature depicted seems to have pangolin-like scale armour, not rings as are characteristic of armadillos.

  3. proto57 Says:

    Well, I would word it differently… let’s say, people will try to put the image in “context”.

    I suppose it can be worded many ways (and I would agree your wording is accurate), but the meaning is the same. A pre-conception of what that context is, i.e., pre-Columbian, is clearly driving the opinion “it’s not an armadillo”. Since this needs to be done so often with the pre-Columbians, in such imaginative ways, my opinion is they ought to look hard at the preconceived context which demands it. It reminds me of the old joke where the woman finds her husband in bed with another woman. He says to his wife, “What are you going to believe, me or your eyes?”.

    …seems to have pangolin-like scale armour, not rings as are characteristic of armadillos.

    If you look at my page of armadillo images, you will see that they are not all ringed. The scaling of some is quite close to the f80v animal. Could it be a pangolin? Sure. I don’t know… but the point is, I, along with most of those open to all dating, think it is an armadillo.

    Elmar: I edited this to add, in response to:

    OTOH, if you quiz a number of Americans about the creature, they will more readily say armadillo than pangolin, because the armadillo is what they are more familiar with. Methinks you’d get the opposite result if you asked a few Malay people…

    I absolutely agree with you on that. And the number can be raised or lowered by choosing the group. But as I said in the original post, the point is that in these two groups: Pre-Columbian and all others, the pre-Columbians universally either say it does not look one, or ascribe a reasoning to explain why it looks so much like one, and which still avoids newer dating. All of those reasons are off the chart, IMO. For everyone else, they usually think it looks like an armadillo. But also, again, none of this makes it an armadillo or not… it is what it is. It’s the response I’ve gotten which is the treasure in this, to me.

  4. Mitch Says:

    Those sunflowers look a bit like maize.

    Could the “armadillo” be a visual interpretation of a fossilised trilobite?

    The strokes in that image remind me of some of the doodling of Leonardo da Vinci.

    • proto57 Says:

      I like your idea, too, about the fossil. Of course fossils have long fascinated mankind, probably since pre-history. The Greeks may have based some of thier mythology on it. I’ve seen representations of fossils on Hellenic pottery, and fossibls have been found buried under temples. On the latter, I understand they were first dug up and discarded, by early archeologists, in a great case of “The Purple Cow Syndrome”. As for Da Vinci, you should check out the work of Edith Sherwood, if you have not already. She believes a young Leonardo may have been responsible for the Voynich… although like all theories, there are many detractors, I will not be a Purple Cow farmer. There are only one or two theories I believe, absolutely, would be wrong, and I always keep the other million or so in mind when pondering on this.

  5. Joaquin Says:

    Hi, I just found this site while looking for armadillo´s images. Perhaps you already know this, but in Oviedo´s “historia general de las indias” (1535) there is an image of an armadillo (drawed by the same Oviedo). The description is the same one than in the “sumario”, but now he added the image. You can find the image in “Historia natural de las Indias,” book 12 chapter 23. I have also seen the image in Kathleen Myers´ “Fernández de Oviedo’s Chronicle of America. A New History for a New World”

    Hope this helps you.

  6. ellievellie Says:

    I’ve never heard about pangolin before. For a second there was doubt in my mind :) However, it looks more like pangolin that the New World creature :) On other hand that sunflower reminds me of corn…

    • proto57 Says:

      I had never heard of a pangolin before I posed this question, either. I know many feel it is one. Not to be argumentative, but one reason I favor armadillo is the tail… the pangolin has a fatter tail, as more an extension of its armor, whereas the armadillo has a slender tail. Also, I do not believe pangolins “curl up” like armadillos do, and as the voynich image seems to suggest.

      http://www.santa-coloma.net/voynich_drebbel/armadillo.html

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