If any object identification could be considered the most contentious in the whole of the Voynich manuscript, it would have to be the f80v animal as an armadillo. The reason why is momentous: If that animal is an armadillo, the Voynich manuscript is post-Columbus. It would immediately erase the foundational paradigm for the Voynich, so strongly projected and protected, that it is a circa 1420 European Cipher Herbal.
So when the issue of the identity of the f80v animal comes up, it is no surprise that the speculations of what it is become a heated battleground. At all costs, and beyond all reason, the 1420 Paradigm defenders must come up with a reason that it either looks like an armadillo, but still is not one; or doesn’t look like one, and it is meant to be something else. And it is those reasons given for rejecting it that most interest me. And furthermore, the improper methods used to dismiss it are very similar to those used to also dismiss the great many other “inconvenient truths” which are dangerous to the 1420 Paradigm.
The issue has been raised yet again in Koen’s latest blog post, “The Beast on f80v“. To start with, Koen’s initial claim that any New World theories of the Voynich manuscript, and for that matter all other post-Columbian dating, rely entirely on the identification of a sunflower and armadillo in the manuscript, is totally incorrect. He explains,
“You see, the New World theory rests on two pillars: the interpretation of a specific plant image as a sunflower (a New World plant) and the interpretation of the above [f80v] beast as an armadillo (a New World species).”
This is wrong because the New World theories, and any post-Columbian theory including and beyond those, such as my own 1910 Theory, have far more than only two such “pillars”. In fact the very book cited in Koen’s post, Unraveling the Voynich Codex”, by Janick & Tucker, has dozens of comparisons. Many are unique, some are repeated from their previous work, and that of others. They make many convincing comparisons between Voynich plants, objects, and text, to New World plants, art, objects and writings.
And still others have long noted many “New World” indigenous plants, too, such as O’Neil (sunflower, capsicum pepper, others), and Jim and John Coymegys, and more. And then is yet an even greater number of later post-Columbian comparisons made by myself and others, possibly indicating the Voynich could have been created any time up to 1910.
But it would be difficult or impossible to dismiss all the evidence, so instead they focus on two items, and simply pretend the others do not exist.
But that is not the whole point of this post. It is also about the very telling and flawed reasoning used by pre-Columbian advocates to dismiss the inconvenient armadillo comparison. And this becomes even more obvious when we look at the illogical ways attempted to dismiss it:
1) “It looks too much like an armadillo to be one, because the artist was too inexpert to draw one accurately, therefore it is something else badly drawn.”
This was first proposed by René Zandbergen in 2008, in a post to the Voynich Mailing List,
“I know it may sound rediculous [sp], but I would say that it looks too much
like an armadillo that it could be an intentional representation of one.
“Look at the picture from the late 16th C that Rich posted.
Look at any of the first illustrations of newly discovered animal
species. They just never look like the real thing.
“Ergo, it is a coincidental similarity.
I think the problems with this contention are obvious, but simply, any evidence can be rejected in any investigation, by saying it is “too good” to be that thing it most looks like. But then, the worse comparisons suggested must be the correct ones? This makes no sense, or at the very least, instantly renders any comparative evidence useless for any investigator, in any science.
2) “It does not look ENOUGH like an armadillo, because the artist was good enough to draw an accurate one if they wanted to, so it is animal X, Y, or Z (which all look less like an armadillo)”.
So was the artist good enough to draw a “better” armadillo if they wanted to, but not good enough, still, to draw a different animal well enough to NOT end up looking like an armadillo to us?
In both #1 and #2, the artist is alternatively, hypocritically, imagined as selectively better or worse in order to accept or dismiss any desired identification.
On the contrary, one can and should determine the overall talent and practice of the artist, based on their representation of those things we can easily recognize, such as the people, known animals, known plants, and so on. They are our “control”. We should then apply that observed artistic ability as equally as possible to all the illustrations of the Voynich. When we do, we see the representation of the armadillo is well within the talents of this artist… not better, not worse… and is what they most likely meant it to be.
3) “It looks much more like an animal in an illustration it was copied from, but we have not found or seen that source drawing yet.”- (paraphrasing) Ger Hungerdink
This is not really worth repeating, but I did because I am listing the actual arguments I’ve read. We could then say it is a bird, snake, or plane, for that matter… or how about another, even closer, illustration of an armadillo, that we have not yet found?
4) “Even if it looks more like an armadillo than X, Y, Z, it can’t be, because the Voynich is too old for it to be an armadillo”
This one is especially ironic, because I and other who favor “armadillo” are usually told it is we who have a biased, post-Columbian viewpoint. But then, hypocritically, many of the 1420 adherents openly and unabashedly admit that they will only look at pre-Columbian animals:
“Because the identification as an armadillo (like the sunflower) would be against all established facts about the VM, that threshold NEEDS to be higher than when the beast is a catoblepas or a hedgehog or whatever 15th century beast known to pre-Columbian Europe….”- Ger
“So perhaps we should be looking for 14th / 15th century manuscripts within the balneological tradition that include a specific textual mention of a kylion / karabo / catoblepas? That stands a good chance of narrowing the list of possible balneological manuscripts to look at down to as few as one or two.”- Nick Pelling
“I think the imagery has all semblance of being appropriate for the early 15th century. So I’m trying to follow the rules for the study of historic imagery. This means learning as much as possible about the visual vocabulary of the time…”- Koen
“… what I tried to find out is what a 15th century person would see.”- Koen
“Same with an American creature like the Armadillo. No compelling(!) reason whatsoever why it would be in a 15th century European manuscript, even more so when there are (mythical) creatures well known in Europe at the time that could equally well be it.”- Ger
There are many other comments pointing to a biased pre-conception of Voynich dating, which is driving many “non-armadillo” identifications, but I’ll leave it with,
“But there can really be no meeting point between our views. I remain convinced that the VM is a historical, 15th century document and as such it is completely irrelevant what the thing looks like to the modern viewer.”- Koen
To make it clear: Of course there is nothing wrong with looking at the 15th century, or any other era, for illustration comparisons. But it is wrong to reject any image that is post-Columbian solely because of a pre-Columbian bias. We should let the images date the manuscript, as is properly done; and not let our prejudicial pre-conceptions alter our identifications of the images to match those.
5) “It only looks like an armadillo to those who have a post-Columbian Voynich agenda”
Well, see #4. But also, in my experience, to anyone shown the image, who knows nothing about the Voynich, or who doesn’t know nor care about the time frame it was created in, it’s an armadillo. In fact, on the contrary to #5, it seems almost exclusively to “NOT look like an armadillo to those who have a pre-Columbian Voynich agenda”.
6) “It only looks like an armadillo to those who are familiar with one”
This is an assumption, and untested. Let’s assume for a moment that everyone who is shown the f80v animal is first “familiarized” with all the other candidates… wolf, sheep, pangolin, catablepas, sea monsters, ibex, capricorn goat, sea-goat, hedgehog, and so on. Then we would know if this is true. Otherwise, it is an unfounded assumption, and so, a valueless argument.
It also ignores the greater number of point-by-point similarities of the f80v animal still are greater than the contenders: Leg length, snout length and width, curling, ears, etc.
7) “It does look like an armadillo to our modern eyes, but would not, to a 15th century viewer, therefore it is not an armadillo”.
First of all, this presupposes that the Voynich is 15th century in origin, and was even THERE to be seen by anyone. Then, it assumes what that 15th century viewer would make of the animal… something we cannot know. We can, using this “reasoning”, simply say a 15th century viewer thought it was any animal we “want it to be, or not to be”.
8) “If the manuscript included a drawing of an armadillo, [Voynich] would have had to remove the page (especially if he put it in himself). Unless he thought that it did not actually look like an armadillo.”- René Zandbergen
I admit this one took some untangling. But using this level of reasoning, there are many other alternatives we can deduce. I would not use them, but point them out by way of falsifying the above contention:
I) It is an armadillo, but Voynich didn’t recognize it as such, so he left it in.
II) It looked like an armadillo to Voynich, and he may have even drawn it there: but he gambled that people would not “catch it”, so he left it in.
III) Voynich was so honest, that when he realized he had an armadillo in his work, he left it in, because he would never cheat. The letter in which he said this was lost, but it will be found someday (sorry, Ger).
IV) Voynich knew it was an armadillo, and that it would look like one to many people, because he drew it there, or found it there. He later didn’t want it there, when he changed his provenance to Roger Bacon. But he was a savvy guy, and so he predicted that enough people would come along in future centuries defend his very poor forgery for him.
So if I was forced to pick, I’d go with IV, as I seem to be watching it unfold in real time.
9) “It is not technically good enough to be an armadillo, as it combines features from curling and non-curling species, such as not having 9 bands”.
This is paraphrasing René from the comments on Koen’s post. It is ironic, as he has also contended it looks “too much” like an armadillo to be one. Anyway, #9 has several problems. First of all, it demands a higher level of technical accuracy to this image than is reasonably seen in the work as a whole. It therefore allows the unequal application of technical demand to those comparisons rejected and those accepted, by any viewer.
But most importantly, it ignores that this does look like a popular conception OF an armadillo, as most people do see it as one. And those people would not, and do not, stop to say, “Hey wait… that is curling! Only the 9 banded armadillo curls, so I was wrong, it is not one”. As an example, think Micky Mouse. People don’t stop and say it is NOT a mouse, as he has fingers… and only 3 of them per hand, for that matter. No, they know it is a loose conception of a mouse, and an armadillo, each with sufficient accuracy to be easily identified as both.
10) “To know the popular conception of an armadillo, we only have to do a Google search. We will see the curling, band-less, f80v animal does not fit the first X number of hits.”
There are many problems with this contention: First of all, no matter what Google image results return, it does not negate the point-by-point similarity of the f80v animal to an armadillo. And two, we know it does fit the popular conception of the animal, because people think it looks like one, without needing to run to Google to check first.
11) “It will look less like an armadillo, and more like A, B, C, or D, if I just photoshop it here, and there.”
Do I really need to address this? OK, it looks less like an armadillo, and more like an elephant if I photoshop it. Or, even more like an armadillo if I so choose.
12) “It does not look like an armadillo”
Well most of those who say this at some point or another, have first either admitted it does look a lot like an armadillo; and/or have been searching for animals with “armadillo-like” attributes. That is a concession of sorts,
“This must be considered together with the fact that other explanations are available for the pose. The beaver curling up do castrate itself, any of the creatures that do an armadillo-like roll to defend themselves… “- Koen
If it really did not look like an armadillo to people, they would not be looking for “armadillo-like” features in other animals to replace it.
A Problem of Context for anti-Armadillos
There is yet another problem in addition to the faulty reasoning used to reject the armadillo: They do not offer any satisfactory hypothesis for the myriad of diverse animals offered in its stead. Rather, the common denominator for “anything but an armadillo” seems to be “Any Animal Known to Europe in Pre-Columbian Times”. It can be fantasy, allegorical, water or land borne, of any species, while being allowed to look nothing at all like the f80v drawing. Well, I’ve heard versions of “compendium”, or “encyclopedia”, which are really excuses, not hypotheses. Ger recently opined,
“What about the “missing” Capricorn?”, then, “So would the f80v be the capricorn from the missing(?) January (and February) page? Please see more examples here: https://hungergj.home.xs4all.nl/catoblepas/capricorn.htm “
Why would the “missing” Capricorn, from a (probably) lost page from the zodiacs, be repeated on f80v? This is a clear attempt to manufacture context for the Capricorn beast, while at the same time, again, making an effort to imbue that choice with an armadillo-like curl, with, “The pose of the Capricorn might be its attacking stance like here.” There is often this somewhat self-conscience difficulty in explaining these armadillo alternatives in the context of any reasonable overall hypothesis.
On the contrary, for New World theories, the armadillo is perfectly at home. There are many existing, and described, but lost, manuscript records of the flora and fauna of the new world. And several of these made attempts to phonetically record the languages of the Native Americans into manuscript form.
The same goes for my 1910 Forgery hypothesis, in which I propose that the Voynich was made to look like a work by Horcicky (who “signed it”, BTW), as a record of the botany, medicine, sciences and collections of the Court of Rudolf II, mainly as understood by a reader of the 1904 Follies of Science at the Court of Rudolf II. New World artifacts and plants were all the rage in the Kunstkammers and gardens of the wealthy, and Rudolf was a premiere collector. In fact, both sunflowers (the first European painting of a sunflower appears in a Stalbemt painting of a kunstkammer) and stuffed armadillos, and many other New World items, appear in illustrations of these collections, from the time a forger would be drawing material from.
The above is just one example, but a search for Kunstkammer, or “Cabinet of Curiosities”, will turn up a great many, and some more showing armadillos, banded and not.
So for all the above reasons, such as the inability to adequately dismiss the armadillo as the best comparison; the failure to find a closer animal in point-by-point comparison to replace it; a lack of any hypothesis which would better explain those substitutes; and the false projection that only one or two items are a problem to it, these all only continue to dramatically represent the inability of the 1420 Genuine European Cipher Herbal Paradigm to defend itself in any reasonable way.
But more importantly, I use this example of the armadillo to remind everyone they should likewise question the many other conclusions offered as unassailable truths by supporters and defenders of the 1420 Paradigm, because similar “armadillo reasoning” has been used to build it. That Paradigm is actually based on a great many similar and unreasonable interpretations, on hypocritical and contradictory arguments, from poor speculations sometimes based on unknown or even incorrect information, using ineffective comparisons and rejecting better ones, with circular reasoning, based on biased pre-conceptions, ignoring contrary evidence, and after all that (or because of it?) it still fails to explain itself in any cohesive, plausible hypothesis.
And yet it is all carefully crafted into a neat, pretty picture, all presented as unquestionable fact. But then, when scrutinized, when debated (when debate is allowed), it is clear that this Paradigm in no way deserves the following it does, and probably does not deserve to exist at all.