Q: Don’t you realize that the Voynich Manuscript is no newer than 1586, and most likely from much earlier?
A: The Voynich has been dated to many times between about 1300 and about 1550. These various dates have been determined by experts who compare the plant illustrations to those in other herbals and pharma, to the style of dress, the style of the artwork, the type of lettering, and many other features of the Ms. Of course the 1665 Marci letter repeated the anecdotal opinion that “Bacon” had written it, and he died about 1294. But despite the often repeated stance that the Voynich is known to predate the mid-16th century, it is actually never been certainly proven. There are several problems with the dating. First, most experts disagree with each other. For instance, there are experts certain it is a circa 1450 herbal, who argue vehemently with those who “know” it is a 1550 pharma. If the experts cannot agree within a hundred years, why should I or anyone accept that they know it must be pre-1586? Secondly, many experts have publicly and privately voiced reservations about the look of the Voynich, that is, that although they “know” it is an older work, they have a nagging sense that it is newer… several times that newer time has been “early 17th century”. And third, the oldest we can say it is, using the name De Tepencz written on f1r, would be about 1620. But if that is not a signature (and I agree with Jan Hurych that it probably is not), then the date can be moved up to about 1639, when Marci first writes of the Ms. That is, if it is this manuscript he is referring to in that letter. And everything in his letters is heresay, written by him years after the events took place… so we don’t know, for instance, if Rudolf even ever owned the Ms. In sum, there is no proof that the manuscript existed pre-1620, or for that matter, pre-1639. Could it be from 1420 or 1550? Of course it might, I do not know.
Update: Well now we do know… the results of the testing of the age of the vellum was revealed, in Dec. 2009. The date range was between 1404 and 1438. How soon after the vellum was prepared, the ink was applied, is not known. But the dating does render my theory unlikely, as someone in that time would probably not have used 170 year old vellum to create it.
Q: Those ain’t optics!
A: Well they certainly may not be. This is subjective, and one is welcome to look at my comparisons, and decide for themselves. But I would caution that rather than simply accept the usual and time-untested alternatives: Herbal and pharma jars, marjolica and so on, one might want to actually see those alternatives side-by-side with the Voynich cylinders I think reflect optics. Another intresting point is that some of the established experts, who are certain the Voynich is older than I am surmising, have looked very hard to find optics which are in their, earlier, time frame! So my optical comparisons seem to be compelling to some, but only if they can be neatly excised from my newer, and hence more optically friendly period.
Q: Why would they put optics near cut herbs?
A: First of all, it is very unscientific of you to assume those are “cut herbs”. But nonetheless, look at 17th and 18th and 19th century optic and microscope books: Things seen through the devices are, and are not, on the same pages as the devices.
Q: All you have are the microscope comparisons.
A: The seed was my noting the comparisons of some cylinders to optics, yes. But then this led me to Drebbel, to Prague, to Bacon, and then to his New Atlantis. And I was led there, because there are a myriad of illustrations in the Voynich, besides optics, which evoke the New Atlantis: there are grafted plants, unidentifiable plants, unidentifiable animals, people in baths, seemingly tinctured baths, fountains, a walled city on an island, with a central palace, and much more. I strongly believe that the f80v animal is an armadillo (and I’m not alone in that), and I and many others believe the f33 flower could be a sunflower, too: Both are iconic to the European perception of the New World- and remember, the island of Bensalem was peopled by Native Americans. I feel the comparisons between the contents of the Voynich, and the contents of the New Atlantis, are far more numerous in actuality and in style, than any other work I have seen. Most other theories have to make exceptions for some content of the Voynich to fit the type of book they propose, and some even go as far as to say styles and content are changed to hide it’s true origins and purpose. But my New Atlantis theory accepts every style, every illustration, just as it is… because in this case it would encompass much, and project it all in unique, original, mysterious and imaginative ways. That is the nature of science fiction and fantasy, and that is the nature of The New Atlantis. The content, people, time, motivations of my theory all support the theory, far beyond simply relying on the optics.
Q: Why would anyone put cipher in it, if it were meant to look like it came from The New Atlantis?
A: The use of cipher in this case would make sense for effect, because: The books given to the Bensalites were in a universal language, and the Book M was in cipher. The expectation of those contemporary to the NA would have been that an ancient mysterious text would have also been in a unique mysterious code.
Q: But still, why in cipher? Wouldn’t that just make it harder know what it is?
A: This question assumes two things. First: That it was intended to be read by multiple people; when in fact it may have been intended to be read by only a small group, or even one person. After all, it is a unique manuscript. Therefore, if it were made as a one-off artifact by someone close to Bacon, or at Bacon’s request, or even by Bacon, then maybe only Bacon and the author could read it. Second: It has not been established that anyone would have cared if the VMs could be read at all, or even, that it is readable. It’s readability is a presumption made by others, not me. But the effect as a mock book of Bensalem would really be just as profound if it were unreadable… perhaps even more… because the effect of a mysterious book, of arcane, forgotten knowledge, from an advanced, alien culture, could only be enhanced by making the lore of that culture look unfathomable, just as the VMs is to us now.
Q: But why would they make it look so old, if really made in 1610 to 1620?
A: The reason it would be made to look old is simply to better reflect a book of lore from the House of the Six Days Work, which would have been old. The premise of NA is that the inhabitants are Native Americans who emigrated from North America long ago, and settled Bensalem. When the supposed Deluge destroyed their high culture on the main Atlantis (which Bacon theorized was North America), New Atlantis survived intact. And this culture was very old. This is a major premise of Bacon’s mythology, so if one were to create a book meant to look as though it was a book of lore of Bensalem, it would have to be made to look old (to someone in circa 1613) to look “right”.
Q: Any theory about it coming from Atlantis or ET is nuts, you know.
A: Well you may be correct, but this theory has nothing to do with either Atlantis or extra-terrestrials. It has to do with Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, a science fiction work, a utopian mythology, possibly written between 1610 and 1624, and published posthumously in 1626.
Q: But if you are correct, why would they spend such time and money creating it?
A: I do not know, exactly, the specific reason someone would have created it: Maybe as a gift, a tribute, a souvenir/artifact of literature, a hoax, or a prop. But history is filled with fictional books made for all these reasons. And my circle of suspects would, in my opinion, had the motivation to create such a thing for one of the above, just as they created many other types of fictions, filled with imaginative descriptions and illustrations.
Q: Why won’t you compete with me, and then see who is the “winner”?
A: This is not a competition, and no one can create the truth of the Voynich. The truth is out there, and there will be no “winner”, whether this theory or any other is correct. I would hope that we all help each other, and that no one works against anyone. This is important, because none of us knows the answer, and we all must expect it may lie in unexpected places. We should all cheer on any other attempts to solve this, and I shake the hand of anyone making the effort… whether they agree with my ideas or not. Support, don’t compete. It might be frustrating to be wrong, but it will be far worse to never know.
Q: Why don’t you stop insisting your theory is true, and the only possibility?
A: I never have done that, and never will. This is a theory, not a proposal of fact. This well may be a 1420 herbal, I would not be all that surprised. Well, a little surprised, but I could believe it. I like circa 1550 a bit better. But I am open to most dates from about 1300 to the day Wilfred Voynich found it in 1912. The plausibility of my theory I will stand behind, until I have convinced myself otherwise… but what the Voynich actually is, I would not deign to tell anyone, as I myself do not know.
Q: What is the consensus opinion on the Voynich?
A: Consensus plus a $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee.
H. Rich SantaColoma