A breakthrough on the Voynich Manuscript?

A couple of botanists have published a paper comparing various illustrations in the manuscript with flora and fauna native to northern Mexico. They claim the language is Aztec. To my layman’s eye, they make a pretty good case. Thoughts?

Very interesting! :cool:

Too bad It’s Aztec and not Mayan. If it was it, would be further proof that the world is going to end 2 years ago, because they know things.

Huh. Interesting. It would take me a while to go through their paper and be convinced. Herbalgram.org does not seem to be a reputable scientific peer-reviewed publication so it is questionable that other north/central American botanists or experts in central American dialects have weighted in. I think I will wait for confirmation from people who know more than I.

I take it back, I guess Herbalgram is peer reviewed. Other botanists are looking at this essay with interest. Time will tell I guess.

Fascinating. I hope the Nahuatl speakers at Yale are all rushing for the manuscript as we speak.

That is super cool!!

A criticism of this report, to present the other side.

Fantastic critique.

Well, kind of. Pelling presents a list of arguments for the manuscript being Fifteenth century, not Sixteenth, but he doesn’t elaborate or cite his sources (Or even explain why a Sixteenth century writer might not be using older vellum or stylistic flourishes). And mostly he’s annoyed that the botanists in the OP didn’t survey every single other theory about the manuscript ever published. And, while he doesn’t mention it, Pelling’s trying to sell his own book on the subject with his own theory.

Oh and he refers to the Voynich Manuscript as, “The Voynichese” which all by itself earns him a swirly, imo.

None of which supports the OP authors’ theories, of course. I’m just saying.

Merneith: the central point of my post was that the authors of the HerbalGram article downplayed the importance of any other kind of evidence apart from the herbal similarities which so excited their imaginations.

Yet we have the vellum radiocarbon dated to the first half of the 15th century, and it has 15th century handwriting written on it, which makes the idea of a 16th century dating questionable at the very least.

There’s a whole lot of basic information here, together with plenty of links to individual areas: http://www.ciphermysteries.com/the-voynich-manuscript

“Voynichese” is the name for Voynich script.

Obligatory XKCD link.

Just a comment here – “15th century handwriting” loses its force of conviction when you consider that the manuscript is written in an unknown script and language. The strongest thing you can say is that it resembles a 15th century handwriting (How closely, I have no idea, having not studied either the manuscript or 15th century calligraphy). Likewise, the “parallel hatching” at best gives a lowest date, and doesn’t peg the time period – it was used a long time afterwards, and is still being used. The most significant point is the age of the vellum itself, which suggests a much earlier date that the new article suggests.

I thin that the critique is right in pointing out the lack of reference to more recent efforts to explain the manuscript and to recent scholarship. But I’m not familiar enough to know how significant that is – what sort of evidence do the earlier suggestions of Nahuatl language rest on? Are the suggestions of Chinese plants as convincing as the North American plants look to be?

  1. The authors (Tucker & Talbert) are botanists and they published the paper in a botany magazine. Of course they focused on the botany.

  2. The authors are correct when they say that other branches of inquiry have not been very fruitful because, in fact, we don’t know where or when or by whom the manuscript was written.

  3. I still think. upon rereading both, that your article is too quick to dismiss them for not having exhaustively compared their theories to other theories which they may or may not even know. I also think your article doesn’t really address Tucker & Talbert’s actual claims, not the stuff you think they should have discussed.

  4. Again, this should not be read as an attempt to support the article in the original post, but to criticize an article posted in critique.

Don’t just cite your personal website. Cite the actual peer-reviewed papers about the dating of the vellum or the handwriting (and then provide cites that explain why it’s impossible the 15thC vellum couldn’t have been used or reused in the 16thC or that the handwriting couldn’t have been taught to someone at any time but then).

Wait - do you mean here that it is the handwritten font or language in which the manuscript is written? Because on rereading the article linked above by Leaper, it seems you use the word “Voynichese” in various ways. For example, this paragraph here:

You seem to be using the word to refer to either the manuscript or the language. Similarly, when you say,

It’s not clear to me that you were using the word, “Voynichese” to refer to the manuscript’s handwriting and not to the manuscript itself.

Nonetheless, as a courtesy to a new Doper, I have called off Swirly Team Six, for now.

If the vellum is conclusively carbon-dated to the fifteenth century, all that really tells me is that the manuscript itself dates to the fifteenth century or later. There’s no reason the author couldn’t have been using old vellum, and I understand such was actually fairly common.

Standing down. :frowning:

If they had, there’d be traces of older writing under the text. The reason vellum was recycled was that it was labour-intensive to make and therefore often in short supply, so it strains credibility to think that someone would have kept it unused in storage for over a century.

The authors in the OP do make a passing reference to the possibility that the manuscript was written on re-used vellum:

Ah, I had missed that, but it would certainly make sense in the eventuality that it was written at a later date.

OK…wassa ‘swirly’?