A Volcano in the Voynich?

The best way find answers to a tough problem is to ask the right questions, and the right ones are usually new ones. Asking the same old questions, over and over, will get one nowhere, because they usually produce the same answers. In the case of the Voynich, there must be thousands, if not millions, of good questions that have so far gone unasked. In the answers to those questions may be the golden nuggets which bring us closer to the answers we hope for.

About a year ago, Tim Tattrie asked one of those good questions, and got a very interesting, and potentially valuable, answer. He was peering at the Rosettes foldout, as thousands had before him. But Tim wondered what the rest of the mountain, the one in the upper right rosette, might be. He did not assume what it was, he wanted to know. So he wrote the Beinecke staff, and asked them if they would open the fold a bit, and take a picture. Graham Sherriff of the Yale staff quickly sent him the picture. At the time he was told that the new pictures would be included in the online database, but a year or more went by, and they did not get around to it. So Tim asked me to announce the find, as he felt it might be of value and interest to others. I agree.

Under the Rosettes Fold

As you can see, much was revealed “under the fold” of this area. Not only did the mountain reveal that it may, in fact, be a volcano, but also, the ramp like area leading up from the walled-city now shows a few more buildings. I wish I had this when I made my 3D rosettes… and in fact I may add the “volcano”, and found buildings, in a new version.

Is this a Volcano?

Well of course this may not be a volcano. Tim is pragmatic about it, and does not commit to that as an absolute identity. I don’t either, as it could be many things. The Voynich does have various pipes which also seem to “spew” various substances. Are they, and this, meant to be gas? Air? Water? The quintessence? Perhaps this is meant to be a natural fountain, or Artesian well. And the effluent is not red or “fiery” in any way… it is blue, like water. But I have to say that it looks a lot like a volcano to me. One could also assume that this is not meant to be a mountain at all, and that is lies flat, like a drain and so on. I don’t think so. It is illustrated much like the other heights of the rosettes page, and the intent seems to be implying a hill or mountain. The reader is welcome to disagree, of course.

What is that effluent, then?

Of course like many new discoveries in the Voynich, answered by these new questions, this one raises even newer questions. That is all good, I think. And also, when we see this new information, we might have a sense that it tells us something important, in its own right… but frustratingly, we are not sure “what” it is that it tells us! For me, I will not miss the opportunity to point out a couple of implications. For one thing, I note that there have been several real places suggested for the upper right rosette. One of these has been Milan. I think that the discovery of this spewing mountain, probably a volcano, might warrant a re-consideration of most of of the previous speculation of this rosette as various places. If one is going to think of the rosettes as a real place at all, in fact… an idea I wholeheartedly reject, as I think it is a fantasy land.. but if they are going to look at the castles, walkways and towers as real, then one must now look for a place which includes a spewing mountain, or volcano. And if one looks for such a fountain, it better be on a towering mount. And good luck with that.

Kircher's Volcano from "Mundus Suberraneus"

But what might be valuable is to look at the history of volcanology, and also, how volcanoes have been perceived in mythology and fiction. Knowing what volcanoes meant to people, at different times in history, and how they have been illustrated, and for what purpose, will all be potentially valuable to understanding the Rosettes in a new light. I personally feel that Tim Tattrie’s find is a very important one, not only for the actual illustration which was uncovered in this one case, but for what it tells us we must do in the future… that we can’t keep asking the same old questions, but we have to try to look for new questions, asked in new ways. I am certain that many other surprises await us if we do.

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27 Responses to “A Volcano in the Voynich?”

  1. Ernest Lillie Says:

    Thanks for posting this, Rich. This is very welcome as I’ve been trying to find images of the hidden bits of the 9 Rosette fold-out for some time.

    Do you know if the other obscured sections ( upper left, rolled up corner and lower right gutter ) were imaged and will be released as well?


    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Ernest: I don’t know if the Beinecke staff also imaged other hidden portions of this, or other pages. Maybe Tim will let us know if he has seen them, or you could write the staff and find out. Let us know if you find anything. Rich.

  2. James Comegys Says:

    Definitely a volcano on the shores of or visible from a lake. See if you can find the island with the city inside the lake, and if you are very clever the causeway or wier which separates the freshwater portion of the lake from the brackish portion of the lake. James Comegys, Nahuatl Hypothesis

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Jim: Do you mean to say you think there is water in the inner portions of the rosettes map? That the center of the map… the center rosette… looks like an “island within and island” to you? If that is the case, then I have wondered if that is possible, as the artist did draw the (presumed) water portions similarly on the inside and the outside… first, by leaving them blank, then possibly illustrating both with “surf”. I mean, if it is “surf” on the outside, then one would assume it has to be surf on the inside. If that were the case, then one might want to look at the “volcano” laying down again, and as a water source to the inner lake… as you describe. But I do feel you have a location in mind, by your wording. Is that so? Thanks for commenting…

  3. tim t Says:


    Unfortunately, I only managed the one picture. My contact has since left so I’m afraid he cannot help on the other images under the fold.

    Hopefully it will spark some interesting discussions….and hopefully not all restricted to it being a Volcano…if one looks closely at the picture, it appears to have three distinct sections, the top in particular looking ‘constructed’.

    of course…just my opinion.


    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Tim: Your find has already begun to strike up interesting discussion. That is unfortunate there are no other images from the page, but perhaps the image you did get will inspire others to make the request of the Beinecke. Thank you again… Rich.

  4. Ernest Lillie Says:

    Hello Tim.
    If the one image were taken and not shown until someone asked about it, perhaps others were taken as well and just haven’t been made available yet. I would think that once the folio was readied for imaging, it would have been no more trouble to image all of the obscured parts than it was to just do the one.
    I e-mailed the Beinecki several years ago and requested that these sections be scanned before additional damage ruined the gutters, but never heard back. How did you make contact with Graham Sherriff to begin with — perhaps there is another there now who would be just as forthcoming to our requests?

    Should anyone be able to re-establish a dialog with the Beinekci, I would love to see similar images of the Lower Right section of the 9 Rosette folio with its folded over gutter, as well as the Upper Left corner with its rolled up edge covering part of the opening text and image.


  5. Ernest Lillie Says:

    Hello all.

    I just sent an Email to the research request link of the Beinecki asking about additional scans. I’ll post any response I get.


  6. James Comegys Says:

    I have notes comparing the map of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) attributed to Hernan Cortes to a view of the lake which features Voynich Castle. That view is, I believe in one of the rosettes or near it..The small city with Voynich Castle can be interpreted as an island with the mountains in the background as volcanoes. Few lakes of any size have a volcano near them, and fewer still have a city on a lake surrounded by volcanoes so this is naturally a relevant bit of evidence for the Nahuatl Hypothesis. The Lake would be Lake Texcoco or however they are naming it depending on the year.

  7. ellievellie Says:

    This is great! I didn’t see the volcano, but now it will always be there for me.

    I have different idea about the pipes. Early 15th century is when they started to build those big cathedral pipe organ instruments. A lot of engineering went behind those. The King of the Instruments was very fashionable at the time. Can music be one of the things coming out of the pipes?

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Ellie: Of course “who knows?”, but I don’t see why not. In my personal opinion, either sounds or music were the point of these tubes. The Hellenic Greeks were already using pipes to transmit and project sound and voices, and of course musical instruments had tubing long before that. A friend of mine, Greg, did suggest cannon, also. I don’t think they are pipes for fluids, as the other piping in the Voynich pages seem to be. But of course I don’t know. Thank you for the input.

  8. Diane Says:

    Dear Tim:
    “if one looks closely at the picture, it appears to have three distinct sections, the top in particular looking ‘constructed’.

    … I couldn’t agree more.

  9. Ash Says:

    I think this is a map, u can see the waves representing coastal land, wind blowing and the island on the outside.

    • proto57 Says:

      No doubt it is, Ash. Many have seen the “rosettes foldout” pages as a map, and I agree. Look at my page on Utopias, and you will see it has a very similar layout to the maps of them. Also, the sections mimic pretty well the “houses” of the New Atlantis. Thanks, Rich

  10. josefzlatodej Says:

    Hi Rich. Large parchment, not a map !!!

    Detailed analysis of the 86 on my blog. 🙂

    • proto57 Says:

      OK Josef… you are linked, and I wish you all the best. But this is really off topic for my blog post about the signature, so we will leave it at that, for now. Until later, Rich.

  11. Gert Brantner Says:

    Hello Rich,

    Seems like I need to find a different opening line for my (hypothetical) voynich article..

    I hope to have a good question for you:

    If they are genuine, what is the purpose of the rosettes encoding short clips of moving pictures?

    About 8 minutes into the ORF documentary there is a short part showing the rosettes make short clips if rotated and masked. I believe these are digitally animated (by the film team?). While simple to draw they cannot be perceived at all without a suitable viewing aparatus, such as a “Praxinoscope”, a contraption of a rotating drum with mirrors that uses flat discs as media. The Praxinoscope is an invention of the late 1800’s and reached its’ zenith in the mid 1890’s when it was quite common in england and france.
    Ok here’s the pitfall: All Praxinoscope designs I have seen so far use rotating discs while in our case the media would have to rest on the table. I am pretty sure it is possible to modify the Praxinoscope design (I am thinking a planet gear that rotates individual mirrors inside the drum to reflect only one drawing at a time to a central viewing mirror) but until now I was unable to find such. So only a hint that such a mechanism could exist (maybe only “ideally”). Anyways I like to think that most things are created with a purpose, but for hiding an elaborated joke..

    I hope this is interesting and novel enough for you to publish and I would be very glad for your ideas!

    Best Regards


    • proto57 Says:

      I think the answer to your concerns about this would be… well, my answer would be… it was not intended to be animated in the first place. There have been those who, even before the documentary artists pulled this off, thought that this could be the intent of these images. So to some people, they are somewhat “evocative” of these type of moving images. I’ll give you a speculative, and alternative, reason why this might be… off the top of my head, that is, without saying I believe this is the case, in this case:

      I believe the Voynich is modern now, having been made about 1908 to 1912. If you put me on the rack and tightened the ropes, I would guess “1910”. And as created, it seems to contain influences from about the beginning of time, to about 1909. I won’t go into all the items I would use as comparisons, here, but many of them… not all of them, but many of them are on my blog: Optical devices of different kinds, the swimming girdle, puzzle piece root, and many items very similar to microscopic organisms… all very close to illustrations running through the 19th century. Others have seen similarities to anatomy from 19th century books, plants from later books, toilets even, and many other illustrations and items and styles and writing from times long after the C14 radiocarbon results.

      So back to your observation, and my thought, in this context: Say a person was creating this, as I envision, in 1910, and had before them an array of books on optics, along with many others. Might they not see a few Praxinoscope wheels in it? If not, might they not be familiar with such wheels, at such a time, if they generally had an interest in… well, in things in general? And if so, might not those images either consciously or subconsciously “slip in”, and influence an image of a wheel of figures, in the Voynich Manuscript?

      But thinking of your idea, I am going to search through books of these images, and see if anything else in there might have “found its way” into the Voynich. You get full credit for this point, in future discussions, of course! But perhaps, as in the past, it will turn out that more than one illustration found its way into the mind of the artist, from one book… I think there are, for instance, 6 very good comparisons from three 19th and early 20th century microscope books, alone, which strengthens the possibility they were the source of them.

      So perhaps you will find a device which can use these images, but not spinning… I would think maybe not, in this case, although I like the “engineering backwards from the art” thought process, and have tried to do this, myself on occasion with things. Thanks for the feedback, and interesting observations.

    • proto57 Says:

      Part two: When searching for “Praxinoscope”, I did find associated devices which spin ON TOP of the image, as you, I think, hoped… that is, the image remains on a plane, and the devices spin over them, like a top… with disks inside which successively uncover the necessary viewing slots, as they spin. If I have that right: http://books.google.com/books?id=VidRAAAAYAAJ

      They start around page 110.

      Edited to add: The term for the flat image type moving device seems to be “Phenakistoscope”. When you google images for this, you will see an array of examples. Many are slotted, and must be mounted in the device, so perhaps I was wrong in thinking the device described in the above book was held above, and rotated above, the image. Not sure…

  12. Gert Brantner Says:

    Thank you for your answer! Lately I tend to gravitate towards your opinion of a +-1910 creation. Many ingenious people were good copyists, or eclecticists for the matter, drawing inspirations from myriads of sources. In an artistic context this would be called the freedom of quoting, blending, remixing.. I think the MS has been attributed with similar features of artistic freedom.
    The Phenakistoscope seems to be a predecessor of the Praxinoscope, a better version of the Zoetrope. So many models and designs may have been lost to time. The underlying technology was widely used for over 30 years and got quite sophisticated in the end. There were models with automatically changing backgrounds and coupling to music machines. The popularity of it could be compared to that of modern cinema, before it declined in less than 5 years with the arrival of cinematography. It was completely gone in 1900. That said, I think while it is still possible we find such an aparatus there may not necessarily have been an actual one for the MS, but the idea of it’s possibility. Comparable to an “easter egg” in computer software, a hidden, visually rewarding feature that can be activated by clever users only. In this case the reconstruction of a needed device, or simply abstracting the process digitally, which the production crew of the documentary obviously already did (which would be boring, because then they would already have found it ;). However, their examples are short & few in number.. either too much work to examine all the drawings OR the theory falls apart with drawings not shown. Who knows (or has the time to check).. After all, why arrange some of the drawings and the writing in a circular way? It is much more effort, you need a gauge screen and constantly have to turn the book, maybe on a rotateable stand..

    • proto57 Says:

      I hope you let me know how your investigations turn out. And if you like, you could subscribe to the voynich.net, which is a mailing list discussion. You may find “out of the box” ideas such as yours… and mine, BTW, are not always met with enthusiasm… while, at the same time, really anything is discussed there. Or, you could lurk! Best of luck, and stay in touch…


  13. Gert Brantner Says:

    Hello Rich,

    Thank you again for your valuable comments. I tried to follow your suggestion re the mailing list but so far the list has not accepted me. In the meantime I started to blog, I hope you enjoy: http://voynichbombe.test.at

    Best Regards


  14. Gert Brantner Says:

    Hello Rich,

    I noticed I have been subject on the the list (thanks for complimenting my grammar, I’m austrian btw.). I did not mean to freak you out and don’t worry, I’m not trying to copy you. I will try and finish an explanatory post today which I was meaning to put up anyways. I hope I can type, all the attention makes me a bit nervous 😉
    In the meantime check out my post about our conversation: http://voynichbombe.test.at/the-voynich-circular-animations/
    And since I’m located in Germany I need to have a proper imprint: http://voynichbombe.test.at/impressum/
    So I’m not that mysterious, after all..

    Best Regards


    P.s.: The blog’s address will stay, I will just move it to a larger server so it won’t go offline when I’m “voynich-listed”

    • proto57 Says:

      Gert! Thanks for clearing up the mystery! I’ll add a link to your blog on my list of links, if you like. Rich.

      • Gert Brantner Says:

        I certainly would appreciate that a lot, thank you!
        I will keep you posted, so to say 🙂

        Best Regards,

      • Gert Brantner Says:

        Btw. in regard to your critic of the finishing paragraph of my 1908 implications post I added a comment to clarify that I was referring to the relevance of my _claims towards the matter, not the issues as such, which are of course very relevant. That’s where you end up with nice-sounding make-shift english..

  15. Primeval Animations and the Voynich Manuscript | Griffonage-Dot-Com Says:

    […] the only discussions of them I’ve seen appear in the comments sections of blog posts here and here.  The former discussion likens the images to mandalas and contains the remark: “either we […]

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