The Grolier Codex Forgery

In a recent discussion on the VMs-net List, a concept emerged that I’m only just beginning to explore. The premise was used that Wilfrid Voynich was not an expert in ancient manuscripts, therefore he could not have forged the Voynich. I thought about that line of reasoning, especially since I agree that Voynich was not a ms. expert (although he was an expert in finding, pricing and selling them), and wondered if the conclusion that could be drawn from his inexpert”ness”, was actually just the opposite of that suggested. That is, is it possible that the very wide range of contrary expert opinions on the Voynich, over the years is because it was forged by an inexpert forger?

I wonder if a genuine book does not usually receive as much diversity of opinion, since the content may tend to be more uniform? And then, if forged by one who better knows their subject, as an expert would, the examiners will pretty much agree on origin, age, culture, content? Of course such a book may end up being accepted as genuine, if good enough. But lastly, if a forger is inexpert, will the resulting work tend to have content that is improper, from a wide range of works, and/or eras, and/or in styles, that should not be in there, and therefore the bad forgery will elicit dispute among experts? And so, conversely, could a range of expert opinion on age, content, and/or meaning, possibly be a useful indication of forgery?

grolier_1_to_5

I came across the instance of a presumed pre-Columbian Maya Codex, the Grolier Codex. It was so named because it was on display in the Grolier Club after its discovery in the 1960’s. From the Wikipedia article on the Codex:

“English Mayanist J. Eric S. Thompson cast strong doubts upon the authenticity of the Grolier Codex in his 1975 article The Grolier Codex, published in volume 27 of the Contributions of the University of California. Thompson argued that the codex was a modern forgery and that the unusual mix of styles in the document was not due to the mixing of cultures but rather due to the hand of a forger. Thompson queried the illustration of all four stations of Venus in the codex, noting that other Mesoamerican codices only illustrated the more spectacular appearance of Venus as morning star.”

“the unusual mix of styles… …due to the hand of a forger”. I think it is reasonable to assume that the forger was inexpert in ancient Mayan Codices, or they would not have improperly mixed styles. Furthermore, the Codex’s usefulness is destroyed by the forger’s lack of understanding of the Maya calendar, “In 2002, French archaeologist Claude-François Baudez commented that the codex serves no divinatory purpose and was useless as an aid to a Maya priest; he believes that the document is the product of a forger using pre-Columbian materials but relatively ignorant of his subject.”

grolier_6_to_11

So the forged document appears the way it does, with varied and improper content, due to the fact that the forger was inexpert. It is also interesting to me that there are experts who believe the Grolier Codex is genuine, and so the argument continues. But at least it was carbon dated, so that ought to have put the issue to rest, no?

“The radiocarbon dating of an associated sheet of bark paper had been used to support a 13th-century date [1230 AD, ± 130 years] for the Grolier Codex.”

From this, one might assume that the Codex was genuine. One might reason that since bark paper must have been highly prized by scribes, and very valuable and rare, and also, very delicate and susceptible to the environment, that therefore no appropriate blank bark paper would sit around for decades, let alone hundreds of years, for a forger to use to make a fake Codex. That is the… it turns out, incorrect… reasoning used to dismiss a creation of the Voynich much later than the C14 date of the leaves. But then I read,

“Large quantities of pre-Columbian bark paper have been found in dry caves, so a genuine piece of blank pre-Columbian paper may have been used by a forger as a base for painting a falsified codex.”

Oh well.  The materials were found in some “Cave Libraria”, it seems. And this material sat unused for between 600 and 860 years, blank, before use, and the Grolier Codex may still be a forgery. But the experts still argue about it, and the reasons it has the baffling content that it does. Sound familiar, Voynicherios?

But back to the original concept: I would be interested to see other cases where manuscripts have a wide range of expert opinion as to content and meaning, and if this can be correlated in any useful way to the works of inexpert forgers. Rich SantaColoma

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6 Responses to “The Grolier Codex Forgery”

  1. Helmut Winkler Says:

    Hi Rich,

    I wonder if you have seen the Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch. It is dated by watermarks conclusively to around 1550, but very few experts seem to have seen it and its images look to me (and it seems to some other people) very modern and the script looks wrong. It has no real provenance and so on … It is now in an American private collection [sic] and a German publishing house is doing an expensive facsimile. There seems not to have been much on English web sites, I give you the last German I found, even if Spiegel is not very reliable. Images and so on are easily found in the internet.
    Viele Grüsse
    Helmut Winkler

    • proto57 Says:

      That is an interesting one, Helmut. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I’ve looked at the images, and agree with you that it does not look quite “right”, whatever that is. I am interested in the provenance, and when I have more time I hope to look into this.

      As for the watermark dating, it confounds me that the acceptance of such material dating as being the date of creation of whatever is applied to it. By that standard, every stone house in the world would be the same age, and that would be about 4.5 billion years old.

  2. Helmut Winkler Says:

    Sorry, I forgöt the link

    http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/buch-der-wunder-endzeitstimmung-von-antike-bis-renaissance-a-952540.html

  3. Sukhwant Singh Says:

    My name is Sukhwant Singh and for the past couple of months I have extensively researched in depth on MS-408 better known as the Voynich manuscript.
    I hope, my explanation will lead to resolving the Voynich manuscript once and for all.
    The origins of the VM ( Voynich Manuscript ) lies in 6000 miles east from its current location. The place is in North Eastern Sindh region which is a part of Pakistan right now. The explanation in the VM is copied from an even older original book written in “Brahmi” language about ( 300-400 B.C ). The knowledge and editions of the books were passed through generations of merchants( Known as Mahajan’s with Vedic knowledge ) in ancient Indus valley civilization which also gave the name “Sindhustan”, the Sindh region in particular which was divided into India and Pakistan in 1947.
    The book is divided into 4 parts as mentioned by the author( details below ) written in early 15th century as that’s the time period when Khojki was more prominent.
    The book was taken by the “Holy” man from town to town and based on the knowledge he had( He was the go to guy and first person to approach in case of issues, either injury or some depression, bad dreams, marriage and business, Hex etc. ) , and the facts he collected from the inhabitants/customer. This man would then recommend to-do things. The book also deals with what kind of women she is based on the type of hair she has, what type of clothes she wears, what to expect from the second wife of the husband etc. What to do if someone has Hex on you and how to figure it out and recommendations for getting rid of the Hex.
    The book is not written for others to read and is usually passed within the family from Father to Son or someone more capable whom the Mahajan has taught and guided himself.
    Some background…..
    When the Arab conquered the Sindh region in about early 700 ADs and moved more towards the east they started eliminating learned Sindhi scholars and Holy men, who enjoyed rich merchant heritage and were established in the region. With passage of time, “Urdu” language was forced in the region and subsequently became an official language and in current times known as Sindhi language (Descendant language of Landa script) which is currently written in Urdu script.
    In early 15th century Khojki language was used by many to write prayer hyms and guidance songs. The extended use of this script and the underlining Landa script also indicate that the author didn’t revise his book into the periods urdu language but made it’s knowledge more hidden by superimposing Khwaja Khoji Vowel marks on top of Brahmi languages ( K, Ki, Ku, Kuu, Kay, Kaay, Ku, Kho, KHU, KHUU Gutturals ( Guttural).
    Brahmi language is considered as the main language based on which current northern India languages are based on. It itself is part of Indo-European set of language whose base is Sanskrit in general. This timeline spans 1000’s of years from the period of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
    This VM manuscript is a very important book and will be another key to bind “Roma” people in Europe with their Sindh region ancestry. Most likely this book was taken along with the movement of Sindh’s migrant population 100’s of years ago( as slaves by Arab rulers ) and was preserved in good condition because the knowledge it would provide and likely the person owning it wanted to one day use it to establish the same respect the merchants of the Sindh region held. “Roma” migration from Sindh region resulted in scores of people being moved as slaves into Turkey and then current Europe.
    There has been plenty of scientific tests conducted on the origins of Roma people. The book landed from a Roma person into the hands of Italian rulers as the poor Roma people faced many atrocities in Europe and many times were eliminated by the countries in which they tried to make their settlements.
    The main issue to decipher the VM had to do with the place where it ended first and then later in America. Considering the “Nasal” phonetic words particular to “Landa” language (Ancestor language of Khudabadi, Mahajani, Gurmukhi, Khojki, Sindhi languages) are not spoken in Europe and for that matter in America.
    English does not have these sounds at all. So for that matter it becomes next to impossible to decipher it and all the false theories it has generated, including its origins.
    In America, it being predominantly English speaking world it adds to the problem where from ages researchers started emphasizing that the VM is some sort of minuscule Roman language or some false code system( It is not ).
    That miscategorization has hindered the deciphering of the language for such a long time.
    I have deciphered the alphabet to what I think it is( As I originally belong to Punjab region and I am aware of the cursive writings from the region as well as phonetics ).
    The alphabet contains 4 different character set from languages spoken in same way but written in different form. There was no consistency of a set language in the region.
    The merchants/judicial holy Sindhu men started using 3,4 languages mix in order to hide the contents( depending on the knowledge of the person and area he traveled ). This was done to protect business know-how and maintain superiority at that time. The languages used by the merchants of North western Multan and Sindh were “Multani” and “Landa/Khudabadi/Mahajani” apart from other regional dialects and written words. It was what the Sindhu Mahajan’s( Merchants ) used to do. This kind of book and knowledge was in demand as people relied on auspicious moon cycles and it was part of daily life and it is still in many parts of the world.
    Day and night are divided into 15 “Mahurats” or auspicious times, Year is divided in 12 months based on astrological signs ( Not January February etc.. ) The day and night each were divided into 8 parts each based on Sanskrit astrology ( pages 67v and 69v clearly depicts the division of 8 parts segments around the sun and moon )
    The times, days, years were not depicted as in Roman date forms, nor did they had the same timeline of 24 hours. This book is thus written with calculating moon cycles and the positions of 9 planets and the Vedic astrological knowledge is gathered from the original Brahmi book ( 300-400 BC or even earlier ).
    Some details of which are recorded in India’s archaeological preservations.
    The characters are also intermingled from dialects in the region but they sound and mean the same example
    CH, TA, JJH, K, KH are written in mixed scripts, which makes it difficult.
    The Brahmi scipts usage from which the MS 408 book was copied adds to more complexity, but the words used are common short 2-3 characters found in recent Devanagari language. This book probably had 1-2 readers( at that time, Mahajan himself and probably his son or someone else he took along on his business in various towns There were other people who had similar books but probably not as detailed as this one. Holy men were killed by Arab rulers and their books were burned so that Arab rule could be established in force and almost everyone follow one language, which was Urdu ( like Persian script ). This book most likely was hidden by the author and usually people like him belonged to higher castes who had good people connections as they were respected for their knowledge and guidance. The so called lower caste people were made slave labor and soldiers to fight in wars. It is likely that this book’s author was killed and as this book was hidden was later picked by someone else and taken along as an important document to be used later. The problem occurred to decipher it at that time too, so the Roma person kept for generations hidden in the belongings until it ended in front of some Italian king’s subject.

    The languages used in MS 408 are ( Yes, there are multiple languages, but their pronunciations are almost same ).
    Landa, Khojki and Brahmi are used throughout the book.
    1. Landa ( Which later became Sindhi, Khudabadi, Khojki )
    2. Brahmi ( 300- 400 B.C ) Which gives a reason to believe that MS-408 is copied from an original book
    3. Multani
    4. Mahajani
    5. Khojki
    6. Gurmukhi which is also a descendent of Landa script ( Words which cuts at the end and sounds individual standing separately ). Gurmukhi usage is very minimal, which tells that the book was written prior to the era in which the Gurmukhi was main stream in Punjab region around 1430 AD.

    The last page 116V is written by someone else other than the original writer as it contains characters from Sarada and JaunSari scripts from mountainous region of Southwestern Kashmir as those few lines are similar to later on what became Kashmiri Dialect and scripted language.

    First paragraph from 1r goes like this.

    “Many 100’s of years desire tradition and as requested by the cultivator from his pouring knowledge in under increasing guidance
    To accomplish it this promise of the interrogation of field subjects and about those manner for eating about their power learning from oneself condition about
    under ongoing sufferings about stuck in those conditions which has already affected them learning from them in self-help either called for taking care during taking care or
    When called by the messenger one about trees provided information in parts and about desire….”

    17x7epchEQY

    voynich-manuscript-landa-khojki-scripts-sindhi-mahajans-book.net

    • proto57 Says:

      Dear Sukhwant… you have a very elaborate and detailed theory about the Voynich, I see. I don’t personally see the influences and content you percieve, but that is not to say that I can explain it any better than you can. That is the nature of the problem: It is so absolutely enigmatic, that it is open to being many diverse things to many different people.

      One thing I would want to set straight for you: While it is true that people with a European background and understanding predominate in Voynich research, I would not assume it that group is majorly English speaking. There are many Germans, Asians, Italians, and many others, who have studied the work. And also, there are several Arabic and Middle Eastern theories… that differ from yours, and from each other… so the idea has in general, been proposed and explored. Off the top of my head we have suggested: English, Walloon, Chinese, Latin, Korean, various Arabic dialects, various Native American dialects, such as Nahuatl, and Algonquin, and others.

      It has been believed to be from the countries represented above, and also from Northern Italy, and Spain, and others.

      So really, anything has been proposed, and anything is possible. For your individual take, I think it could be proven by you if: You can explain the language system in it, as you describe, to some knowledgeble person. If they:

      1) Come up with the same translation as you do, for the same block of text, AND
      2) That block of translation has reasonable meaning to it

      Then you have solved the Voynich. However, if you need to tell me at this point that you see it, but others will not and cannot… something I’ve seen a dozen times, by a dozen others… then you do not have the answer. But maybe you do. You only need to run the test, and you will have the answer. All the best of luck to you, and take care… Rich.

      • Sukhwant Singh Says:

        Dear Rich,
        I understand your position. It would be very difficult for me to change the already preconceived lines of thoughts and people who have devoted their entire lives onto this.
        This Sindhi manuscript has been undermined for generations just because it was found in Europe doesn’t mean it has to be European. I have explained a whole paragraph word by word ( I admit that I would have to involve more researchers from Sindhi background ). This is not a cipher. It is a language whose Vowels has stand alone meanings just as other current Indian/Pakistani languages.

        I am trying to setup a pool of Sindhi researchers from Sindh University, to add to my explanation.
        Not anyone can come up with the same translation unless I share the alphabet with them ( Because the current Sindhi is written in Urdu( persian like script )). Since almost 1000 years.
        I have explained in detail on the you tube video I put out.

        At this point, looks like I am on the ground and others who have already published their views are on high horses. But’s that’s okay, sometimes people have to objectively reason with the mysteries and come down from high horses( not saying to you, as I am not sure if you have a theory or not ) 🙂

        I have seen numerous people claiming everything and trying to come up with a decipher, The point is ” it’s not a real cipher”.

        Thanks for your time,
        Sukhwant

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