“Mysterious Steganography”- A Damning Observation

Of all the elements which make up my circumstantial case that the Voynich is actually a circa 1910 modern hoax or forgery, there is one that I have not explained in depth until this post. I think that it is a piece of evidence that would be difficult or impossible to be satisfactorily dismissed by those holding a genuine and old view of the Voynich.

This evidence based on the difference between what scholars knew, or would have known, in the 17th century, compared to what they knew by 1912. The two are obviously vastly different, I think everyone would agree. A majority of what was considered “mysterious” and “unknown” in previous ages was, by the turn of the 20th century no longer a mystery.

The particular case I want to describe is found in the set of descriptions, said to be of the Voynich, in a discussion by various scholars in a series of letters from the 17th century. This problem is seen in a comparison of what would have been an unknown script and language to 17th century scholars, to what would still be an unknown script and language to the scholarly community of 1912. The latter is of course the year the Voynich was claimed to have been found, and when it was first known to the world.

The writing and characters of this book were discussed in various 17th century letters to or from Athanasius Kircher, Theodorus Moretus, Georgius Barschius, Johannes Marcus Marci and Godefridus Aloysius Kinner. As I have previously pointed out in my post “The Voynich Has No Provenance“, these descriptions not only do not come close to fulfilling a proper description of the Voynich Manuscript we know today, but actually work against the Voynich as being the book they were discussing.

But what I am referring to in this post is an additional and more profound problem with one aspect of the descriptions in the letters.

First of all, let’s look at the ways that these men described the script/language of the book the they saw: Athanasius Kircher wrote to Theodorus Moretus that it was written in a “mysterious stenography” (1639), and Georgius Barschius wrote to Athanasius Kircher that it was a “writing in unknown characters” (1637). And that is it for the writing. Their reference to “chemical symbolism” is not referring to the script itself, but to some of the various illustrations. Calling it a “sphinx” is reiterating the confusion about the work these men saw in general, and of course includes the writing and the illustrations. But the writing  and script is described as “mysterious” and “unknown” to them.

So as hundreds have done before, we read these descriptions and say “yes, of course” they describe the script and writing of the Voynich perfectly, because those, too, are “mysterious” and “unknown” to us. But looking at this more closely, it is actually phenomenally improbable that they were describing the Voynich script at all.

First of all, as I stated earlier, with the progress and advancement of knowledge, most of what was a mystery in earlier ages became fully understood in later times. To the “men of the letters” a great many languages and scripts were baffling, and yet subsequently understood, at least in part, by 1912. As an example, Egyptian Hieroglyphics could not be read by them, although famously Kircher made a bungled attempt at it. There are a great many cases such as this. Here are some examples of languages which would have, and/or did, baffle our men, but which became understood by the year the Voynich was announced to the world:

Egyptian Hieroglyphics: Known of since antiquity, unreadable by the 17th century, then solved in the 1820’s
Coptic: Known but misunderstood by Kircher, solved in the 19th century
– Demotic: Deciphered in the 18th and 19th centuries
– Cuneiform Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hurrian, Luwian, and Urartian: Deciphered in the 19th century.

There are many more like this. Then there are various languages and scripts which I am not certain the “men of the letters” were totally familiar with, although they were still used in other parts of the world. They may have had knowledge and understanding of these, but it is unclear to me how well they  knew and could identify them, let alone read them:

Ancient Illyrian: In his 1639 letter to Moretus (Philip Neal translation), Kircher writes, “Finally, I can let you know that the other sheet which appeared to be written in the same unknown script is printed in the Illyrian language in the script commonly called St Jerome’s, and they use the same script here in Rome to print missals and other holy books in the Illyrian language.” That would be the “Glagolitic” script. Whether Kircher or the others could read this, I am unclear.

– Various Aramaic languages, such as:

West Aramaic: “West Aramaic dialects include Nabataean (formerly spoken in parts of Arabia), Palmyrene (spoken in Palmyra, which was northeast of Damascus), Palestinian-Christian, and Judeo-Aramaic. West Aramaic is still spoken in a small number of villages in Syria.”- Britannica

East Aramaic: “includes Syriac, Mandaean, Eastern Neo-Assyrian, and the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud. One of the most important of these is Syriac, which was the language of an extensive literature between the 3rd and the 7th century. Mandaean was the dialect of a gnostic sect centred in lower Mesopotamia. East Aramaic is still spoken by a few small groups of Jacobite and Nestorian Christians in the Middle East.”- Britannica

– Nabataean languages, Arabic and Aramaic

– Which brings me to Syriac: “… Semitic language belonging to the Northern Central, or Northwestern, group that was an important Christian literary and liturgical language from the 3rd through the 7th century. Syriac was based on the East Aramaic dialect of Edessa, Osroëne (present-day Şanlıurfa, in southeastern Turkey)…”

Would this have baffled our men?

There must be many more languages that were either totally mysterious to these men, or partially known but not translatable, and then some that if they saw them, they would be completely baffled. But any conceivable language and/or script of their time, that they would have been aware of in the 17th century, other than Linear A and B, had by 1912 their origins and meanings understood. So then in order for one to accept that the book these men were seeing and discussing was the Voynich manuscript, you would also have to believe (and many do) that it was the one language they encountered, which was both totally unknown to them, and then also, still totally unknown in 1912. I believe the odds of that differential are staggering to a level of virtual impossibility.

What is far more likely to me is that a forger in 1910, knowing of the 17th century descriptions in the letters of a book with “mysterious stenography” and “unknown characters”, and being fully aware that anything so described in the 1600’s would, by 1910, have been solved and understood, forced that forger/hoaxer to invent a language and script which would therefore still fulfill the descriptions from hundreds of years before.

The Voynich script could not be Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Coptic, Demotic, Cuneiform Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hurrian, Luwian, and Urartian, Aramaic, East nor West, nor Nabataean, nor any of the real languages and scripts I listed, or overlooked, that would have stumped Baresch, Moretus, Marci, Kinner and Kircher, because they were all partially or wholly solved by the time the Voynich hoax was really being made in 1910. None of them would do any longer, so Wilfrid needed to invent his own unknown script and language, which we are saddled with to this day. But the Voynich script’s false nature is betrayed by the very 17th descriptions which are improperly utilized in an attempt to validate it. Those descriptions actually, on critical examination, do entirely the opposite: they reveal the Voynich script for the modern invention it really is.

Some scripts and symbols mysterious to our men, but later understood

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to “Mysterious Steganography”- A Damning Observation

  1. Hi Rich,
    I’ve done a fair bit of reading about the VMS in the past and reading your posts here especially this latest one, I really feel that your theory about it being an item of fakery is the most valid. The circumstances surrounding Voynich himself really make him look highly suspicious.
    It appears that most of your work has been on the VMS but I was wondering if you also occasionally look at other ciphers. If so would you like to please check out my attempt at solving the Dorabella Cipher. I’m asking you because I see that you think about things very carefully and the truth is I haven’t been able to get much interest at all from anyone online because my solution comes from a very very different direction that most other attempts at solving it come from.
    I think that there are one or two things that I don’t feel 100% about yet but hopefully they will become more clear soon. Anyway, you can have a read of it here: https://jamesmulliss.wordpress.com/the-dorabella-cipher-the-complete-solution/ Thanks very much.
    Regards, James

    • proto57 says:

      Hi James: Thank you much for the interest, and the words of support!

      I am not an expert in cipher, but I have been curious about many others, like the Dorabella. I don’t know if I can help, but I will take a look at your ideas. For what it is worth, I’ll get back to you when I’ve given it some thought.

      All the best,
      Rich.

  2. Elmar Vogt says:

    Rich, isn’t your argument kind of circuituous?
    “The Voynich manuscript, … it was the one language they encountered, which was both totally unknown to them, and then also, still totally unknown in 1912”
    Well, *if* the VM was written in, say, hieroglyphics or coptic, it would readily be readable today, and we wouldn’t waste another thought on it. The simple fact that we still are concerned with the VM is that it is written not in one of the 99 scripts/languages which have in the course since the 16th century been deciphered, but that it is the 100th script that is still not understood.
    The VM is not a script chosen randomly from a pile of MSs that were incomprehensible in the 16th century, but it is the one that remained “at the bottom of the stack” after the others were solved.
    Or am I missing something?

  3. proto57 says:

    Hi Elmar: Thanks for the question.

    What you point is seemingly close to the point, but not what I’m trying to explain. The situation in the post is very different than what you describe. I actually held off for some time because I realized it would be difficult to explain. Although once people “get it” I think there is no turning back. It is like those magic pictures which were a big hit a decade or so ago… people could stare and stare and not see the 3D image for a long time, then suddenly it would pop out at them. Usually.

    If interested, you can see the discussion over at the Ninja forums: https://www.voynich.ninja/thread-3808.html

    A few people there didn’t get it at first, but it became clear to several after discussion. I re-phrased it for one commenter, “My point is that… real or fake… most if not all of the unidentified languages and scripts in the 17th century were, by 1912, at least identified if not read. So for any language or characters to be both unidentifiable in the 1600’s, AND then still be unidentifiable in 1912, is staggeringly unlikely. It strongly implies to me that… in order for this to be the case… the 1912 script and language would have to be invented around 1912, in order to fulfill the 17th century descriptions of “unknown” and “mysterious”.”

    So to address your points, if that didn’t do it:

    “Well, *if* the VM was written in, say, hieroglyphics or coptic, it would readily be readable today, and we wouldn’t waste another thought on it.”

    True. But it was not. But yes, if written in one of the languages known to the men of the letters, and was seen by them, it would have been mysterious to them, but not to someone in 1912.

    “The simple fact that we still are concerned with the VM is that it is written not in one of the 99 scripts/languages which have in the course since the 16th century been deciphered, but that it is the 100th script that is still not understood.”

    And this is of course correct, also. Whether written in 1420 or 1910, it would have been, and is, still not understood. This is the basis of the point. Voynichese fits “unknown” and “mysterious” language and script for both eras.

    “The VM is not a script chosen randomly from a pile of MSs that were incomprehensible in the 16th century, but it is the one that remained “at the bottom of the stack” after the others were solved.”

    And this is where you are bumping up against my point. You are contending that it is in its incomprehensibility that we can identify the work seen by these men with the one we have now. It is the one that remained. But here is the nut of the matter, the problem with that: First of all, it was not at the “bottom of the pile” for the men of the letters… they never solved whatever it was they looked at, yes, nor did they solve any of the hundreds of other languages that were similarly mysterious to them. It was not “left over”, it was just one of a great many. If it existed then, it was one of a great many that would have baffled these guys. It only was only in later years, through the efforts of many people over a very long time, that the pile they saw, was solved, ALL SOLVED, supposedly leaving just the Voynich to fulfill the description these men gave.

    All those mysterious and unknown scripts and languages were “chosen randomly” by all the decoders and de-cipherers over the ensuing 250 or so years. Virtually none were left by 1912. For that to happen to be the Voynich, still unsolved, is of an extremely low probability. Almost impossible, I believe.

    Somehow I worry you won’t see this point, again. I note that a basis of your premise is that they were looking at the Voynich back then. We of course don’t know that at first, we only know how they described it. That may help. We do not know it was Voynichese they were looking at, just one of dozens or hundreds of unknown languages. And yes, if the Voynich were written in one of these other unknown languages/scripts, the odds would be hundreds to hundreds… hundreds seen and not understood in 1650, to hundreds seen and understood in 1912. That would be normal, and is when one finds, say, a Copic or Aramaic text. None of these hundreds made it through to 1912 still unknown. All were solved.

    But we have a different case, because (supposedly) one lone language didn’t get solved since then. So the actual situation we are confronted with is: we have hundreds unknown in 1650, to just one single example (supposedly of all those) still unknown in 1912, and that “happens” to be the Voynich.

    Not sure if that will help, but let me know.

    Rich.

  4. Jan Hurych says:

    Hi Rich,
    “long time no see”, I am glad you are still strongly at “The VM mystery” subject.
    As the old saying goes, “the only mystery of SPHINX is that it has no secret, no mystery” :-). Therefore, by definition, if there is nothing that could be solved,it will never be solved.

    By the same analogy: the old fathers of VM legends took mostly the comparative approach, that is to comparethe Vm language with other languages, dead or alive – without considering the possibility the VM has NO language.at all. True, it has some strructure bu tthe real language requires thetrue grammar as well as the true vocabulary. There wwere some attempts that shows the VM text is not random text – but it is childsch to use it as a proof the VMMUST have its language – or any language at all. Second enthropy is at dead end either – how far it got us?. Given some – s o far unknowm – rules, any computer can create in seconds anythng being so mysterious as the VM text is. And what’s more, such text surely cannot be cracked for sure 🙂

    Similarly, such ” mysterious VM manuscript” can be of course created by any man, just add a number of childish pictures, each one having thousand different meanings – that adds add the mystery the lextra flavour.. Simply said, using. mumbo-jumbo approach ( but not random) with hidden rules without any vocabulary of course is the easiest way to create the “mysterious”faake.
    Without any vocabulary, there is no language.

    Unfotunately, the comparisons, analogies and old deciphering methods will not lead to any new discovery, -even if the VM DOES HAVE its language .. To use new, advanced approach, is the next step. to get the research forward and moving. As I said several times before, using AI, say neural networks, we may be able to uncover the structure of the VM as well as the fact wheter it is encoded and possible dictionary.

    If thereare no nesuch discoveries found via neural networks, , then there is probably no language there at all – or it is an unknown languge. Hi Rich,
    “long time no see”, I am glad you are still strongly at “The VM mystery” subject.
    As the old saying goes, “the only mystery of SPHINX is that it has no secret, no mystery” :-). Therefore, by definition, if there is nothing that could be solved,e, it will never be solved.

    By the same analogy: the old fathers of VM legends took mostly the comparative approach, that is to comparethe Vm language with other languages, dead or alive – without considering the possibility the VM has NO language.at all. True, it has some strructure bu tthe real language requires thetrue grammar as well as the true vocabulary. There wwere some attempts that shows the VM text is not random text – but it is childsch to use it as a proof the VMMUST have its language – or any language at all. Second enthropy is at dead end either – how far it got us?. Given some – s o far unknowm – rules, any computer can create in seconds anythng being so mysterious as the VM text is. And what’s more, such text surely cannot be cracked for sure 🙂

    Similarly, such ” mysterious VM manuscript” can be of course created by any man, just add a number of childish pictures, each one having thousand different meanings – that adds add the mystery the lextra flavour.. Simply said, using. mumbo-jumbo approach ( but not random) with hidden rules without any vocabulary of course is the easiest way to create the “mysterious”faake.
    Without any vocabulary, there is no language.

    Unfotunately, the comparisons, analogies and old deciphering methods will not lead to any new discovery, -even if the VM DOES HAVE its language .. To use new, advanced approach, is the next step. to get the research forward and moving. As I said several times before, using AI, say neural networks, we may be able to uncover the structure of the VM as well as the fact wheter it is encoded and has possible dictionary.

    If thereare no nesuch discoveries found via neural networks, , then there is probably no language at all – or it is an unknown language. Then you may ve closer to the proof that it is the fake. The most solutions so far just remind me the way Kircher solved hierogglphs or the” pretended Chines” text 🙂 And, at his time, his “discoveries” were even praised 🙂

    Jan

    • proto57 says:

      Hi Jan: I agree with everything you wrote. And there are many ways of looking at the many problems of the Voynich… when all considered, it “dies a death of a thousand cuts”. But then, to defend its supposed authenticity, only one or two of those cuts are looked at at a time, and bandaids are put on them.

      But looked at as a whole, it is to me… and I think to you… an overwhelming circumstantial case this is a fraud, and a bad one at that. People are spending life in prison on less circumstantial evidence.

      As for your thoughts on using modern techniques to find any meaning, if there is any, I don’t know enough about this to give a good opinion. But I suspect that if there is any meaning in it, looking at the Voynich script as a language won’t reveal it. I think any meaning is hidden by steganographic methods. But I don’t know.

      One other thing about this, “By the same analogy: the old fathers of VM legends took mostly the comparative approach, that is to comparethe Vm language with other languages, dead or alive – without considering the possibility the VM has NO language.at all.”

      In the last year or two I read Maurice Pope’s “The Story of Decipherment”. Great book. But the thing which became obvious to me was that for every known and unknown language, there is SOME idea of its geographic and cultural origins, its general era, and its place on the family tree of languages. There are only a smattering of unknown languages… such as the Phaistos disc, for instance… in which these elements are in question. Rongorongo for instance is completely indecipherable… but we know where it came from, who probably wrote it, and when.

      The Voynich is zero, zero, zero. So to compare it to other unknowns is inaccurate. It really stands alone, with no place on the language family tree, no connection to any era or culture, but hinting at many. This is just one of the “thousand cuts”, which either gets ignored, or a bandaid, like all the others.

      Really nice to hear from you!

      Rich.

  5. Elmar Vogt says:

    Rich,
    I tried to give you more of my Valuable Insight(tm) before, but WordPress decided to rather gobble up my comments…
    In any case, I think your depiction that the VM is the only unsolved language mystery seems a bit off to me. We have Linear A, the Indus valley script, the Phaistos disc*), to name a few which we still can’t read or don’t understand.
    Also, there is a huge difference between remnants of a *language*, where there exists a massive corpus of written material which can be put into relation to other finds or a historic context, and the VM. There are thousands and thousands of hieroglyphic inscriptions, and *still* it needed a Rosetta stone to decipher them. The VM appears to be the work of a maverick lone scribe, and is one-of-a-kind, with no cribs, nothing to relate it to, and limited material for statistics.
    Also, while eg the hieroglpyhics were constantly the focus of scholarly attention, the VM was tucked away for most of its time in some obscure archives, and even today only gets a fraction of the research time dedicated to other languages — which is understandable, because it’s “not important”, in all probability just a curiosity, but of no historic relevance.
    So, I still think the mainstream story of the VMs history is completely plausible. Why shouldn’t one mystery stand longer than the others? One *has* to be the last one, and in this case it simply might be the VM.

    *) While the Phaistos disc was unknown at the time of the VMs presumed origin, would it be understood today if it had already been known in the 17th century?

  6. proto57 says:

    Hi Elmar: Sorry you lost your first post.

    “In any case, I think your depiction that the VM is the only unsolved language mystery seems a bit off to me. We have Linear A, the Indus valley script, the Phaistos disc*), to name a few which we still can’t read or don’t understand.”

    Well two things on this point: Yes you are correct, and if I didn’t have the disclaimer “virtually the only one unsolved from the 17th century” I should have of course. But the existence of a handful of these does not substantially alter the point, for one thing. I found it difficult… it would have been quite a project… to research each language/script our men could have known about, did know about, or couldn’t have known about. It was a case of realizing there were many hundreds of examples which fit the parameters of my point, to such an excess as to not affect it detrimentally.

    While on a long ride yesterday, I thought of one way to simplify the point, which may help: “If we compare the Voynich language/script not to the one book described as unknown/mysterious in the letters; but rather to all the hundreds of languages/scripts which were unknown/mysterious to them- which is the reality of the situation, and what must be done- the odds shift from one to one, to one to many hundreds”.

    “Also, there is a huge difference between remnants of a *language*, where there exists a massive corpus of written material which can be put into relation to other finds or a historic context, and the VM. There are thousands and thousands of hieroglyphic inscriptions, and *still* it needed a Rosetta stone to decipher them. The VM appears to be the work of a maverick lone scribe, and is one-of-a-kind, with no cribs, nothing to relate it to, and limited material for statistics.”

    You are actually describing what I consider another damning feature of the Voynich language/script, which I purposefully left out of this post (and described in my response to Jan) for simplicity: That other unknown languages/scripts are known to fall somewhere on the language family tree. One or more elements about them are known: Their cultural or geographic origins, their era, their underlying language, and so on. On the contrary, the Voynich script does not fall on the family tree of languages, anywhere, while elements of it do seem to reflect varied evidence of several times and places.

    I agree it was a “lone scribe” (or two or so), but as you know, I think they worked in the early 20th century. But yes, it is unique, I agree.

    “Also, while eg the hieroglpyhics were constantly the focus of scholarly attention, the VM was tucked away for most of its time in some obscure archives, and even today only gets a fraction of the research time dedicated to other languages — which is understandable, because it’s “not important”, in all probability just a curiosity, but of no historic relevance.”

    In many defenses of genuine, I find, various unfounded excuses creep in to buttress that position. When seen clean, from the start, with no assumptions at all, the process and view changes. For instance, “… was tucked away for most of its time”. We don’t know that. And if used to explain why it was not solved, it becomes a circular argument: Egyptian was solved because more knew about it and worked on it, and the Voynich, likewise, WOULD or COULD have been solved if it were not hidden… therefore can’t be compared to Egyptian nor others of the solved ciphers as I have.

    Another is that the Voynich was what the men of the letters were describing, or that it is old, or that Voynich found it, and many more. These beliefs, stripped away, so that the Voynich is viewed clean and fresh, allow us to look at what we actually do know for certain. All we actually know is that Voynich said he found it in 1911 or 1912, and that is it. Nothing else.

    “So, I still think the mainstream story of the VMs history is completely plausible. Why shouldn’t one mystery stand longer than the others? One *has* to be the last one, and in this case it simply might be the VM.”

    Well of course we completely disagree here, for this (although I apparently can’t explain it to everyone, it is a valid point I am certain), and for many hundreds of other reasons I’ve brought up. The “mainstream story” is to me completely riddled with basic underlying problems, far beyond those necessary to undermine it to the point of virtual impossibility.

    But I appreciate the conversation, the discussion, and I hope you realize fully, your disagreement. I wouldn’t be here were it not for years of disagreement like ours, and I do believe where I am is a very good place.

    Rich.

  7. jan Hurych says:

    Rich,

    I was thinking why people reject at hand the possibiityof the faked VM. And it is peculiar, since with other pieces of art or documnetation it is usually the first step to investigate, in order not to look ridiculous by working only on the fake.
    There are many reasons why it is so, no need to name them all. The main is apparently the general belief that the scolars would not do it :-). Well, good children would not, but Voynich was not a 100 percent good guy neither was he a scholar. So what were his reasons? While Horczicky bragged he himself he invented universal cipher for his own glory, the main reasons for Voynich fake would be was his need for money. He supported the fight of Russian emigrés and apparently got an idea the VMN would sell heavily if it could not be solved. Well it did not sell and Voynich died in poverty.

    As a chemist and antiqque delaer, he had all means at hand to make a good fake ( is there such a thing? :-). And what else would have such value than the fact the VM could not be cracked? It was easy for him then to make public challenge forr eserchers to crack it. if he knew there was nothing to crack Such is the power of advertisement ….! It inicited all new “Kirchers” to try to solve it and
    no wonder the manuscript is named by Voynich.

    All that said, it does not prove Voynich – or his assitant – did it. We only know it did not bring him financial reward. As for me, it does not matter who did i, if the content is mumbo-jumbo. The antique dealers of course could not be fooled: the clumsy insertion of the “rather neutral” letter-provenance into the book – which Voynich probabbly found in in Messr Francisco antique shop – would be the real art of trickery but still not for serious antique dealers.

    Also, I studied the result of the accidental – or puproseful – chemical treatment of the signature , I found it truly suspicious that the graduated chemist did not use the good chemical that will not quickly deterioorated and still is continuing to deteriorate :-). The treatment of course was not even necessary.

    All in all, if I would be the antique dealer I would not buy it. The provenance provided by Voynuich is also still chearfylul copiedbut is of corse the fake for sure.

    And the rest is -or rather was – the history,

    Jan

    • proto57 says:

      Hi Jan:

      “… the main reasons for Voynich fake would be was his need for money. He supported the fight of Russian emigrés and apparently got an idea the VMN would sell heavily if it could not be solved. Well it did not sell and Voynich died in poverty.”

      Yes money no doubt. He wanted over $100,000 for it, and hoped to sell it with the help of Newbold. I found that note to Newbold saying he would pay him 10% of the first $100,000, and (I think it was) 50% of anything over that. He hoped Newbold would be able to cement a Roger Bacon attribute, which then would help to sell it. But it turned out to be a White Elephant, nobody wanted it. But I don’t think it was just money that motivated him. Here is my own speculative list of motives:

      1) Money, as you point out. For himself, but also for his political causes, as you also point out. An interesting thing: He sold the Lives of the Martyrs (Saints) to Pierpoint Morgan in 1916 for $75,000… the equivalent of almost $1,400,000 today… but was broke soon after. Where did that money go? Interestingly, another book dealer, Gruel, tried to sell the same book to Morgan a few years earlier, and could not. Whose book was it? What happened to that fabulous amount of money?

      2) Prestige: Ethel Voynich was the famous one in the family, before Voynich’s “find” was announced in 1912. She was a successful novelist, humorist, translator, political figure, composer, all around socialite. And she came from quite a “pedigree”, too. I think, personally, her and Wilfrid were in a “White Wedding”, much like the one he set up for Philippovich and that wanna be assassin. But I guess they did love each other, too. Anyway, Voynich’s success in the 1902 sale of the 150 incunabula to the British Library was not permanent to his reputation. To be the discoverer of a fabulous and mysterious ancient tome would be… and was… just the thing to rocket his fame above that of his marvelous wife. I think he created it in part to rejuvenate his career and reputation.

      3) To impress Ethel: Ethel loved botany, and color. I’ve read her novels… and I am not alone in noting that the Gadfly uses flowers, and color, to set the mood of many scenes. She also used the culture and “magic” of South America in her prequel to the Gadfly, “An Interrupted Friendship”. I don’t think it is any accident that many have seen flora and fauna of “The New World” in the Voynich. I think it was made for money, fame, but designed to please Ethel. And whether or not that was part of the aim, it did please her… she spent a large part of the remainder of her life engrossed in the work, listing the flowers, musing on its meaning and content.

      4) To thumb his nose at the Establishment: He was a revolutionary at heart, a proletariat, and I don’t think that his nature would disappear all that easily. I suspect that selling this, and other, forgeries was a passive aggressive way of stealing from them, and feeling culturally and intelligently and knowledgeably superior to the “Bourgeois”. He probably got satisfaction in fooling them. This is not an uncommon trait of the disenfranchised, to want to mock the people who would never let you be “one of them”, even assuming he would want to be.

      “Also, I studied the result of the accidental – or puproseful – chemical treatment of the signature , I found it truly suspicious that the graduated chemist did not use the good chemical that will not quickly deterioorated and still is continuing to deteriorate :-). The treatment of course was not even necessary.”

      Yes your work on the “signature” is the best out there, bar none. I agree with your assessments, as you know. As for why it was there, and then faded, I speculate it is because originally Voynich wanted his forgery to look as though it came from the Court of Rudolf II, and was compiled or owned by Horciciky. He later changed his mind as the 700 year anniversary of Roger Bacon was closing in, and decided it would be more desirable if Bacon was the author. Then he made changes… removed pages or whatever… and tried to remove the signature. He could not completely (maybe the stain is a smear?), so it was time to alter course: CONNECT his “Bacon” TO the Court, with a forged Marci letter, in order to explain the faint signature he could not remove.

      Anyway, as always, I am so pleased to hear from you, and your input really makes my day.

      Rich.

  8. Rich,
    I was disturbed by some comments which Koen Gheuens included in a recent post, and which seemed to be personal criticism of you. I now understand it was due more to grammar – creating confusion between the subject(s) of adjacent sentences, and since it’s a fault of which I’m constantly guilty myself I don’t blame him for that.

    What disturbed me was Koen labelled the content of my post using the latest in a stream of ‘meme-words’ which are meaningless and serve no purpose but to convince everyone else to “pay no attention” to Voynich research contributed by he be-memed individual. However,
    the comment I made I’ll repeat here. I said that I’d always found you a decent person, one who honestly acknowledged the sources of his information, and did not ‘blank’ or mis-use or misappropriate original contributions to the study made by other people. This standard of integrity has become far too rare, and is far more important than whether you have a Voynich theory which I think (or anyone else thinks) wrong.

    Since meme-attacks are directed only at people receiving more attention than others wish, I think you’re right that your theory is gaining more acceptance of late.

    Best regards

    • proto57 says:

      Well thank you, Diane, for the kind words. I’m sure I’ve posted concepts either forgetting, or being unaware, of the sources. But if this is brought to my attention I do try to correct the error of omission.

      I’ve replied to Koen’s comment, which was clearly pointing at me, and including me with the distasteful and derogatory phrase “Conspiracy Theorist”. We both know how such terms are used to undermine an opponent in an argument.

      A couple of further points about that blog post: First of all, Koen rightly points out the selective nature in the use of past expert opinion, even whithin the opinions of a single person. He uses Panofsky as an example, I think. Well the same thing applies to the work by Ethel, and it is done here.

      But also, why is Ethel’s opinion any more relevant than any other amateur botanist, from that time, or the many decades since? The name “Voynich”? No, she had no special insights… well, maybe access to the original, but that advantage has long since been obviated with the release of fine images of the work.

      Further than that… and I have seen and read these notebooks, in person, myself, having spent two full days, sans lunch, in the Beineicke reading room… the images shared with Koen are highly selective. For within the notebooks are various comments, by Ethel, in which she seems to question the provenance and content of the Voynich! She questions the word of her deceased, beloved, Wilfrid! In one case, she writes of the Dee and Rudolf provenance, in large letters, underlined with exclamation points, something like, “HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?!!”, or like that.

      The examination, and subsequent reporting, of the contents of the Beinecke Voynich archives has been HIGHLY selective, through “genuine old” colored glasses. No, not a conspiracy… I don’t think anyone discusses this process of filtering that evidence distasteful to the 1420 Paradigm, it is just how paradigms defend themselves, and somewhat innocently, at that.

      Besides the selective photographing and reporting of Ethel’s notebook, there is so much more: No one, until me, reported on the only known pre-chemical treatment photograph of f1r, and the uncomfortable fact that the signature was visible before treatment (as the men of the Carteggio could then have arguably seen it, which is a bit of an “inconvenient truth”). Did other see this picture, before me, with the penciled comment, “Keep- for now”, or like that? Why would such a valuable bit of information even be considered for destruction, by the Voynich’s? That is a valid, and I think, damning, question. But it is not reported, outside of my post on the subject:

      New Look at the de Tepencz “Signature”

      There was much more in there, too… for one thing, a half dozen or more loose “Beckx” labels, with the penned names of the books they had been removed from, along with a half dozen or so Beckx “ex libris” labels. Well isn’t the supposed find of a Beckx ex-libris in the Voynich given as proof that it was in the Beckx library? Isn’t it therefore pertinent to point out Voynich had saved several of these same labels on the side? And so on…

      Yes, I agree with Koen that there is a high level of selectivity, but would point out that the Modern Forgery Theory does not need to do this, to be selective at all: Because every scrap of everything known, and known but not reported even, fits perfectly with this hypothesis.

      • I think Koen was sharing a bit of group-think. I doubt that in the normal way he’d find anything odd about one scholar differing from another on some point in a mutual field, even if one had, and still has, a great and well-deserved reputation. After all, I just think him mistaken about one detail. Others simply ignore everything he said – about the work being from Sicily or somewhere southern; about the month-names being in a kind of French; about Jewish and Arabic influence. No that’s just meme-talk from the back-room coming out. I like Koen; he’s basically a decent sort. I blame theories. (It’s my theory).
        About Ethel – I tend to agree with the points you make on her efforts. No doubt genuine and well-intentioned but from a basis of the same old erroneous assumptions, such as ‘all plant-images want to be literal’ and ‘all plant pictures are related to the herbal genre’ and so on. I can’t seem to get through to people that the basics are stylistics and knowing where and when people drew like that. Not in fifteenth-century Latin herbals. She also makes the old assumption that if she can’t understand something, it’s the draughtsman’s fault – not so much as others, but she does.

      • proto57 says:

        All excellent points, as usual, Diane.

      • Thank you Rich – you are very generous.

  9. About ‘Jercme’s script being Glagolitic. I looked into this some time ago and have twie published on the subject. I think Kircher was referring specifically to a script which had been included, shortly before, in a collection of scripts by (if I recall) the Vatican printer. Glagolitic is attributed to a later person and doesn’t look the same.
    One also has to consider confusions sometimes found between ‘Illyrica’ and ‘Illyria’ – anyway, Jerome’s script is somewhat different from Glagolitic and seems to me more like the scirpt used for medieval Abkhaz or Udi. Voynich studies need more specialists in comparative, historical epigraphy.

    • proto57 says:

      Thank you again, Diane, for the clarifications and corrections.

      In any case, Kircher was not referring to the mysterious manuscript these men saw… but another piece he referred to in that letter. Nonetheless, like many correctable errors, it is still reported in many places that Kircher was comparing the Voynich script to Glagolitic. He was not.

  10. I should have left commenting until I read all your post. 😦
    Having taken Syriac as part of my first degree, I must say you’ve confused spoken for written Syriac. The script you illustrate is the square script – only one of two commonly seen – and it’s actually another in the huge family of scripts descended/derived from imperial Aramaic script, the script and language of imperial Persia. Since some of the New Testament was preserved in Syriac, not Greek, Syriac was quite well known to eastern scholars of the eastern and earlier Christian world.

    For myself, who am not involved in work on the Voynich text, the script appears more like one of the Aramaic family than any other.

    • proto57 says:

      Thank you for the correction and clarification, Diane! Obviously linguistics is not my field.

      However, I believe that the overriding point here still stands, despite my inaccuracies in relating these languages: These languages were of a majority known by 1912, therefore a script needed to be created to fit the “unknown” description in the Letters of the Carteggio by then.

      • Not all the scripts and languages which were known before 1440 have survived, and after investigating so many of the drawings, over these past few years (and it’s my area), I simply cannot believe any one person, in the early twentieth century, could have gained enough knowledge to invent, or even see and copy, what is in the pictorial text. The drawings have typically been looked at, rather than read, and I can tell you honestly that despite years of training and endless reading since then, understanding the origin, purpose and stylistics has involved some pretty solid slog. I don’t believe he could have known enough, seen enough and studied enough to not only fake the images but do it like a native (or rather several natives, because the work is clearly a compendium, copied from several distinct sources). Sorry, Rich. I could almost believe it about he written text, but the pictures – quite impossible. Thats my considered opinion.

      • proto57 says:

        And I of course highly respect your opinion, even though… as usual… we disagree.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s