One of the most mysterious manuscripts every published is the Voynich manuscript. According to experts, it has been dated to the late 15th century or early 16th century, but no one knows who published the manuscript. The name was derived from the person who purchased the manuscript in the early 1900s, Wilfrid Voynich, but the book currently resides at a library on the Yale University campus.
The University of Arizona performed carbon testing on the pages, which dated the manuscript between 1404 and 1438, while the McCrone Institute in Chicago, Illinois, dated the ink at about the same time as the paper.
A letter from 1666 was sent with the manuscript when it was shipped to Athanasius Kircher that showed it was owned by Emperor Rudolf II and was given to head of his botanical gardens to use for research. Under ultraviolet lighting, handwriting becomes visible, which shows the head of Rudolf’s botanical gardens name. But the manuscript was mentioned in an earlier letter from George Baresch, a Parague alchemist, in 1639. This letter is the earliest known mention of the Voynich manuscript.
After Baresch’s death, a friend inherited the manuscript and sent it to Kircher. No mention of the manuscript can be found in any document since that time. For more than 200 years it sit on in an unknown library or book shelf, until Voynich acquired the book.
The 1666 letter proposed that the author of the manuscript was a Franciscan friar by the name of roger Bacon who lived between 1214 and 1294, but this proposal has been dismissed because of the carbon dating done on the paper and ink.
What makes the manuscript so mysterious is the ability of experts to accurately translate the script. Originally thought to be written in northern Italy, the manuscript has been a controversial item debated by linguists and document experts around the world. Some experts believe it was written as an elaborate hoax, but other believe it written in an encryption that no one can decipher.
The manuscript is comprised of approximately 235 pages, even though some pages are missing, and several of these pages are drawings of herbs and plants. The book is small, about seven-by-ten inches, but is very thick.
What is known about the manuscript is that it once belonged to the Petrus Beck, a general in the Society of Jesus. No other script has been found that resembles what language the manuscript was written in. Experts know that it is an alphabetic script, from a language that has either 19 characters or 28 characters, neither of which resemble the English or European alphabets. No apparent corrections have been made in any part of the manuscript, even though it is hand written. Lastly, the writing shows evidence of two different languages, neither of which have been discovered before.
The pages of the Voynich manuscript includes drawings of unknown plants, possible herbal recipes, women that are naked and inside bathtub that are have plumbing designed that look more like anatomical parts than pipes and calendars with zodiac symbols and naked people. No one is certain, but many experts believe is was written as a medieval book of medicine.