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The Voynich Manuscript: Coded Secret or Nonsensical Hoax?

The Voynich Manuscript: Coded Secret or Nonsensical Hoax? 1

There are few documents in the world that are surrounded by as much mystery as the Voynich manuscript (see the documentary above).

Named after the Polish-American antiquarian Wilfrid Voynich – who owned it from 1912 until his death in 1930 – the true origins of the manuscript remain hidden: both its author, and the language it is written in, are unknown. In recent years, there has been a growing suspicion that the manuscript was created as a hoax, or perhaps a fraud used by a con-man, and is created out of a nonsense arrangement of glyphs with no meaning. However, a recent analysis suggest that there is some order in the chaos, and therefore that the Voynich Manuscript may just hold meaning after all:

The Voynich manuscript has remained so far as a mystery for linguists and cryptologists. While the text written on medieval parchment -using an unknown script system- shows basic statistical patterns that bear resemblance to those from real languages, there are features that suggested to some researches that the manuscript was a forgery intended as a hoax. Here we analyse the long-range structure of the manuscript using methods from information theory. We show that the Voynich manuscript presents a complex organization in the distribution of words that is compatible with those found in real language sequences. We are also able to extract some of the most significant semantic word-networks in the text. These results together with some previously known statistical features of the Voynich manuscript, give support to the presence of a genuine message inside the book.



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