René Zandbergen is in my view the world’s leading Voynich manuscript expert. A talk he gave at HistoCrypt 2019 and his website provide interesting pieces of information.

HistoCrypt 2019 in Mons, Belgium, …

Source: Schmeh

… saw many great presentations. One of the best was the talk No News about the Voynich Manuscript by René Zandbergen. I had invited René to HistoCrypt because I know him as one of the leading (or even the leading) Voynich manuscript experts. René’s web-site is, in my view, the best Voynich manuscript source in existence.

Source: Schmeh

René’s HistoCrypt paper

René has summarized his HistoCrypt talk in a paper, which is now available on Academia.edu. If this link doesn’t work (which was the case when I tried it), you can download the paper here.

In his paper, René summarizes the current state of Voynich manuscript research. While the text in this mysterious tome still can’t be read, there has been some progress with respect to the material the manuscript is made of in recent years. As is meanwhile well known, a radiocarbon analysis conducted in 2009 dated the parchment to the early 15th century. A microscopic examiniation showed that the material used (including ink and paint) is consistent with a book created in the late Middle Ages.

In 2014, a few more analyses were made during a Voynich manuscript exhibition in Washington, D.C. These examinations rendered the following results.

  • The parchment of the manuscript is made of calfskin.
  • The parchment is not of very high quality, but it was very well prepared, to the extent that it is hardly possible to distinguish which ist he flesh side and which the skinside of the parchment.
  • The present cover is made of goatskin.
  • The present cover is not the original one. An earlier cover of the manuscript had wooden boards covered by tanned leather.
  • The stitching/sewing of the binding is very old, perhaps even 15th century.
  • The Voynich manuscripts lacks yellow paint, which is very unusual for a herbal manuscript. This apparent lack of yellow paint is caused by the use of organic colorants that have faded over the ages.
  • The clothes worn by the figures depicted are typical for the 1420’s and would be unknown even a few decades later.
  • Additional forensic tests confirmed that no unusual chemical constituents were found in the inks and paints.
  • Multi‐spectral imaging revealed no instance of erased text, beyond the entries already known on the first folio of the manuscript.

In addition, René’s paper addresses the provenance of the Voynich manuscript. Among others, emperor Rudolf II and alchemist Georgius Barschius are believed to have owned the book (both is not proven, however).

 

What makes deciphering difficult

And then, René addresses the many alleged solutions of the Voynich manuscript text (some of which have been covered on this blog). None of these has ever been accepted by the expert community. As René points out, it is far from clear that the text in the manuscript can be decrypted at all. Instead of “what does it mean?” that question asked should be “how was it done?”.

Every answer to this question needs to explain why the text in the manuscript has some unusual properties. Especially, the structure of the words is much more regular than in any known natural language (most of the words can be assembled from a relatively small set of syllables). Such a phenomenon doesn’t appear when one of the ciphers known in the early days of crypto history is applied on an ordinary text.

 

What René believes

If you want to know more about what René thinks is behind the Voynich manuscript, I recommend the page My Views on his Voynich website. According to René, there is no simple answer to the many questions about the manuscript. So, he begins his treatise with the following words:

Do I have a Voynich MS solution in mind? The short answer is a definite no. I don’t have any preferred theory, and as it is, I cannot even think of any scenario that would explain everything I know about the Voynich MS.

Here are some of René’s opinions:

  • The Voynich MS is from the fifteenth century, not a modern forgery.
  • The manuscript is from the Alpine region. The herbals to which it is most similar in style all originate from Northern Italy. The zodiac illustrations in the manuscript fit in a style prevailing in South German manuscripts of the entire 15th century, so it is unclear whether the place of origin is rather North or South of the Alps.
  • The Voynich manuscript is probably the work of one “brain”. There are signs that the text has been copied from a draft. There is even a hint that the copyist did not understand what he was copying, which would mean that the copyist was not the same person as the original author.
  • The Voynich manuscript does not look like a document commissioned by a client. It rather looks like this was someone’s own initiative. The author was familiar with philosophical (scientific) books of his time.

René likes the hypothesis brought forward by Sergio Toresella that the Voynich manuscripts was made by a quack just in order to appear very learned. He could also imagine that the manuscript is someone’s masterpiece, to be used to enter one of the secret societies that existed at the time.

As I am a crypto specialist, not an art historian, my main question has always been whether the text in the Voynich manuscrippt is plaintext, ciphertext, or meaningless. René sees a fourth possibility, namely that there was an original meaning but it has become irrecoverable through the encoding or inaccurate copying process.

René’s answer: “In general, I just don’t know which is the correct or even most likely answer, so I prefer to keep all options open.”


Further reading: A test for checking whether a Voynich Manuscript solution is correct

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Kommentare (38)

  1. #1 yusuf
    Moers
    3. August 2019

    Hallo
    Herr Zandbergen ich habe wichtige hinweise für das Buch Voynich Manuscript.Ich habe denn Schlüssel zu den Schatzkammer.Sie können mich anschreiben.
    mfg

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    3. August 2019

    Wolfgang Wilhelm via Facebook:
    Adma Lira 🙂

  3. #3 Nikolai
    4. August 2019

    There is a key to cipher the Voynich manuscript.
    The key to the cipher manuscript placed in the manuscript. It is placed throughout the text. Part of the key hints is placed on the sheet 14. With her help was able to translate a few dozen words that are completely relevant to the theme sections.
    The Voynich manuscript is not written with letters. It is written in signs. Characters replace the letters of the alphabet one of the ancient language. Moreover, in the text there are 2 levels of encryption. I figured out the key by which the first section could read the following words: hemp, wearing hemp; food, food (sheet 20 at the numbering on the Internet); to clean (gut), knowledge, perhaps the desire, to drink, sweet beverage (nectar), maturation (maturity), to consider, to believe (sheet 107); to drink; six; flourishing; increasing; intense; peas; sweet drink, nectar, etc. Is just the short words, 2-3 sign. To translate words with more than 2-3 characters requires knowledge of this ancient language. The fact that some symbols represent two letters. In the end, the word consisting of three characters can fit up to six letters. Three letters are superfluous. In the end, you need six characters to define the semantic word of three letters. Of course, without knowledge of this language make it very difficult even with a dictionary.
    And most important. In the manuscript there is information about “the Holy Grail”.
    If you are interested in this topic, I am ready to provide detailed information.

  4. #4 yusuf
    Moers
    4. August 2019

    Hi Nikolai,
    wo wohnst du?
    vielleicht können wir zusammen Arbeiten.
    Aber was du behauptest steht nicht in diesen Buch.:=)

  5. #5 schorsch
    5. August 2019

    Statements like “The clothes worn by the figures depicted are typical…” are somewhat embarassing.

    I’am by far not intimate with the Voynich manuscript – but assuming that https://archive.org/details/VoynichManuscript_201802 shows the whole manuscripts – there are damned few peoples depicted wearing any clothes but their own skin.

    Lots of stark naked Ladies, lots of plants, a few bucks. Only in the ‘astronomical’ section you find two pictures of clothed people, a very threadbare one of two people (possibly standig for Gemini) and one picture of a marksman (Sagittarius?), wearing a really nice pleated skirt.

    I might have missed a few other occasions – but from this mere scribblings to conclude canonincal that the clothing depicted in the manuscript are ‘typical for the 1420s’ is very, very daring.

    At least I found the very same marksman from Voynich as Knight resp. Varlet, wearing the same nice skirt (the Knight even in the same colors) in the parzival manuscript from 1440 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/Parzival.Lauber.jpg

  6. #6 Gert Brantner
    Berlin
    5. August 2019

    Sigh.. posts about the VMS always seem to attract very similar commentary.
    Anyways, while Renés website for sure is the best compilation of information regarding the VMS out there, he does not “keep all options open”. He especially rules out the possibility of a modern forgery (or machination, as I like to say). All the many, obvious signs for it are ignored, while all arguments against it are debatable. Of course, proof for it is as far away as for any other theory, but this is not a reason for dismissing it entirely.

  7. #7 Nikolai
    5. August 2019

    Yusuf, guten Tag!
    ich wohne in Russland. Ich schließe die Zusammenarbeit nicht aus. Ich bin bereit, Ihnen mehr Informationen mitzuteilen. Bitte teilen Sie mir die Adresse mit, an die ich senden kann.
    Mit freundlichen GRÜßEN, Nikolai.

  8. #8 Richard SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/
    6. August 2019

    Hi Klaus: I swear it is a coincidence that I JUST posted my rebuttal to René’s page dismissing my theory:

    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/

    I had been working on it a couple of weeks, and didn’t see your post here until after I did post it.

    In any case, I do agree that René is unarguably the premiere Voynich Manuscript expert, in that he has managed to compile a great deal of information, popularly believed to be connected to the Manuscript and its history. But at the same time, I agree with Gert, above, in that he in no way “keeps all options open”. It is René’s opinion that the Voynich can only be a genuine 15th century manuscript, and his opinion that it cannot be a modern forgery. It is his opinion that ties the Voynich to the great number of facts one finds on his pages, and in his essays.

    But the Voynich may have little to do with any of that, and not really be tied to the mass of information be presented on the pages of voynich,nu.

    The reality is that the Voynich, and its provenance, is rife with a great many anomalies and anachronisms, which are not represented in the conclusions René offers as fact.

    There would be too many points to go into, but one can, if interested, read my rebuttal to his claims this cannot be a forgery or hoax, which I linked above. And for many of the points which are taken as factual, but are anything but, one can read my page addressing them: https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/modern-voynich-myths/

    On those pages, and the other pages of my blog, I cover many of these issues. I feel it important, because so many people spend a great deal of time with the mysteries of the Voynich, and yet they do not realize that much of what they are told is not actually fact, but opinion, and opinions often based on unknowns, assumptions, and in many cases, demonstrably incorrect information.

    I cannot prove the Voynich is what I suspect it is, and do not propose to tell anyone what to believe. But I do know that the image presented of the Voynich today is mostly an imaginary construct, based on the seed of Wilfrid’s word, which has been nurtured and pruned and grafted by others over the past century plus, until it is really little different than the fantasy plants of the manuscript itself.

  9. #9 schorsch
    6. August 2019

    Motivated by this blog article, I dived down a little into the really strange world of Voynich ‘experts’. Most funny, how they put up a dead serious face – while writing the greatest nonsense. My favorite so far: Tucker’s and Talbert’s satire about the mexican origin of the manuscript.
    http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue100/hg100-feat-voynich.html?ts=1565105610&signature=f1f291de30c327d9f4afb076d01540da

    Great!

  10. #10 yusuf
    Moers
    6. August 2019

    Hallo Nikolai
    Die Sache ist die, ich habe wichtige Informationen über das Voynich Buch.Ich weiß wer der Autor ist.Wann,wo weshalb er das geschrieben hat, ist mir bekannt.Meine Theori ist schon von einen Wissenschaftler bestätigt worden. Ich beschäftige mich zu Zeit mit Rohoncz Codex da habe ich auch paar Anhaltspunkte.
    Brauche jemand der mich bei der Sache unterstützt….Mit Freunlichen Grüßen …..

  11. #11 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    6. August 2019

    Hello Klaus,

    many thanks for this blog article! It was a pleasure meeting you, and a great number of other people, in Mons in June.

    I would like to add just a few comments. I fully agree that we can’t be certain that the MS was owned by Rudolf II of Habsburg. It is highly likely but not certain.
    However, the situation with respect to Barschius is quite different. There really is no reasonable doubt that he owned it, wrote to Kircher about it, and left it in his will to Marci, who later sent it to Kircher.

    To Gert Brantner: I am sorry but you are mistaken. I was open to the idea that the Voynich MS could be a modern fake, even before Rich (and probably yourself …) ever heard about the MS. I have looked at this question very intensively. It is only on the basis of the evidence that I am very confident that it isn’t. Rich’s latest blog posts and comments should provide the links necessary to check this.

  12. #12 Richard SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/
    7. August 2019

    Hi René:

    There is little doubt that Barschius did own “a” manuscript. But there is little evidence to identify it as the Voynich manuscript we have in front of us, today.

    I feel there is every reason to doubt this is the manuscript discussed by Baresch/Kinner/Marci/Kircher. I hope, if that manuscript does still exist, it is someday found and identified.

    As for your having looked at the modern forgery question, “very intensively” in the past, then rejecting it… do you have other reasons for doing so, different than those on your current “nofake” page? If not, I’d say the question is very much still open, and at deserves consideration by everyone, because that page clearly does not settle the issue.

  13. #13 René Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    7. August 2019

    There are countless unlikely theories about the Voynich MS, such as Gerard Cheshire’s proposed solution, the proposed meso-american origin, the Wilfrid-faked-it hypothesis, the Kelly / Cardan grille proposal, and indeed many, many others.

    The proponents of each of these theories will of course argue that all the others are wrong but theirs is right and it is very important. I found that it is possible to have reasonable discussions with some of them, in particular Gordon Rugg and Jules Janick, but these are exceptions.

    I decided years ago, that I don’t want to spend much time on arguing about such theories, but instead focus on exploring and finding more evidence. I am practicing that to my best capability. And in principle, all new evidence found will help to settle these questions, if not to the originators of the theories/hypotheses then at least to the informed public.

  14. #14 Christian Reinhard
    8. August 2019

    Hi René:
    You are literally arguing that theories of others are unlikely by default, that reasonable discussions about the Voynich manuscript are nearly impossible anyway and that only the evidence you have found is correct and very important to the informed public. Is this really what you mean?

  15. #15 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    8. August 2019

    Christian, of course not. Beside the countless unlikely theories I referred to, there are even more reasonable theories that, while they are hard to prove, they certainly have a chance of being true. The majority of people interact reasonably. They listen to others and progress. Just have a look at the Voynich Ninja forum, and numerous other blogs.

  16. #16 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    8. August 2019

    Sorry, another important point. Much of the evidence I am presenting isn’t “mine”, so it is hardly fair to argue that I only care about my own opinion.
    Valuable opinions have been presented by a large number of authorities in relevant fields, like Erwin Panofsky, Sergio Toresella, Ewa Stolot, Abigail Quandt to name a few. Just take the analysis of prof. Ewa Stolot. She identifies the zodiac as German, 15th century. This is valuable information and such a zodiac does not belong in any of:
    – a (fake or real) work by a 17th century alchemist
    – a (fake of real) work by Roger Bacon
    – a Spanish/mexican work of the 16th century

  17. #17 schorsch
    8. August 2019

    Rene,

    I think your blind spot is that you take it for granted, that the VM is not a modern fake. But if it is a modern fake – and there are several very good reasons to assume this – than much of or mostly all your proofs are worthless. Take for example Ewa Stolots View: She takes one single aspect out of the huge work (or botch – Machwerk, as some may prefer) and shows clearly – as you cite – that this aspect is inconsistent to several more weird theories about the manuscripts origin. This is, for itself, an absolutely legitimate and convincing point.

    Ewa shows, that this aspect discredit certain theories. But she don’t show, in any way, that this aspect credits any other theory – until you take it for granted, that the VM is not a fake. But if it is a fake – might she be an expert in her profession beyond all doubt – than her testimonials are absolutely worthless in the question of the manuscripts provenance.

    And so is a lot of the evidence you produce or cite. Thatfor the first thing you should prove, beyond reasonable doubt, is that the VM is not a modern fake. Unless you can prove that, all your facts and evidence are not much more than intellectual gibberish. As a (naturalized) Palatine I love to talk such gibberish – but I wouldn’t seriously invest my time in it.

    I think there are few different ways, you could convincingly proof the ‘no modern fake-theory’.
    – the age of the ink. Prove that it was mixed more than 110 years ago
    – fingerprints. If the manuscript is no fake, every page should be spilled with tons of unaccountable prints.
    – decrypt the code! If it is a modern fake, the code either shouldn’t be decryptable, or it should contain useless junk like copies of newspaper articles, letters, bills…

    Or you could try to proof, that the manuscript contains _any_ meaningful content. A modern faker must either completely have avoided identifiable meaningful content, or he must have been dead sure, that none of this content would justify suspicion.

    What I have seen from you so far, is in my eyes not more than weak indications, which don’t proof nothing, as long as you can’t proof with hard facts the real creation date resp. a creation date of more than some 110 years ago.

  18. #18 yusuf
    Moers
    8. August 2019

    Eine Frage an euch Experten.
    Was wäre, wenn ich sage ich habe die Lösung?
    Die Lösung die Welt noch nicht gesehen hat.
    Dieses Buch ist kein Kopie oder irgend was anders.
    Eins kann ich euch Versichern,es stammt aus Europa im Mittelalter.

  19. #19 Dampier
    8. August 2019

    @yusuf

    Was wäre, wenn ich sage ich habe die Lösung?

    Schreib sie in ein Blog (gibt’s umsonst, dauert keine 10 Minuten, eins einzurichten).
    Dann können die Fachleute sie beurteilen.

  20. #20 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    8. August 2019

    Schorsch, and all other readers and commenters,

    I have no intention to discuss the pros and cons of the “Voynich faked it” theory here or elsewhere. I have already done that for more than a year, around 2014 or so. It led nowhere and I won’t repeat it.
    Everyone is free to form their own opinions. To do that, one can read what has been written on the topic, at Rich’s blog and at my web site.
    And possibly other places that I don’t even know about.

  21. #21 schorsch
    8. August 2019

    I have one question left, but I’m sure Richard (or someone else) can answer it as well: Let’s assume – just for the sake of an argument – that the Barschius letter and the VM are directly related. Than it could be assumed, that one of Voynichs customers had knowledge of this letter, that he ordered Voynich “Bring me that book!” and that it was this letter, which stimulated Voynich to create such an work!

    Has that hypothesis ever been thourougly checked?

  22. #22 Peter
    Zürich
    9. August 2019

    Fakt: Das VM ist mittlerweile seit ca. 100 Jahren öffentlich bekannt. Ein Fälscher konnte damals nicht wissen welche Möglichkeiten heute zur Untersuchung vorhanden sind. Das VM wurde mit soviel Technik untersucht wie wenige andere. Alle Details stehen mit den 14. Jahrhundert überein. Er muss also auch ein hohes Wissen über das Mittelalter gehabt haben. Was schon interessant ist, da erst heute langsam Licht in diese Zeit kommt. Dazu kommt das heute Museen wissen wie viele Kulturleichen sie im Keller haben, dank den Test’s. Auch wenn sie es nicht gerne zugeben das man sie mal über’s Ohr gehauen hat. Alle Hinweise bilden einen nicht zu durchbrechenden Ring.
    Wer jetzt noch gegen jedes heutige Wissen von Fälschung redet, braucht mehr als nur eine Theorie. Da sind Fakten gefragt.

  23. #23 Peter
    Zürich
    9. August 2019

    Wie finde ich 100 gleiche Pergamente von 1400. Welche Tinten und Farbmischung passt dazu. Und was soll ich jetzt noch 100 Seiten aus dem Mittelalter zeichnen. Und das vor 100 Jahren. Und das so, dass es modern technischen Hilfsmittel.standhält.
    Aber Hallo !

  24. #24 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    9. August 2019

    Schorsch, yes.

    The Barschius letter, and also the letters from Kinner that were written after the Marci letter, were in a collection that was completely hidden from sight, for anyone except a very few Jesuits. There is no chance that any outsider ever saw it.

    The Kinner letters confirm that Marci had just sent an illegible book to Kircher, and he is asking for progress in the translation.

    The only way anyone could have known about the existence of this book was exactly through the Marci letter. But Rich contends that the Marci letter is also a fake by Voynich, and by this he completely cuts the link with the past.

  25. #25 schorsch
    9. August 2019

    Der Autor des VM hat keine “Seiten aus dem Mittelalter” gezeichnet, er hat vielmehr peinlichst genau vermieden, irgendeine datierbare, irgendeine in anderer Form verwertbare Information in das Dokument einfliessen zu lassen.

    Die analytischen Fähigkeiten der Chemie waren vor hundert Jahren bereits enorm, und ein Chemiker wie Voynich dürfte sehr wohl gewusst haben, mit welchen Mitteln und Methoden solch ein Dokument untersucht werden würde. Was damals nicht vorhersehbar war, war die Methodik der Radiokarbondatierung – und da könnte er schlicht Glück gehabt haben, dass seine Tinten bislang offenbar nicht nach dieser Methode untersucht wurden oder sich möglicherweise, aus welchen Gründen auch immer, dieser Methodik entziehen.

    Die Pflanzenzeichnungen haben keinerlei stilistische Ähnlichkeit mit anderen Herbarien jener Zeit, sie machen vielmehr einen arg dahingehuddelten Eindruck, während die Herbarien des Mittelalters offenkundig mit großer Sorgfalt gezeichnet wurden. Das gleiche gilt für die ‘Sternkarten’ und ‘Tierkreiszeichen’, die jegliches Wissen über Astronomie und Astrologie so peinlich vermissen lassen, als hätte ein Kretin ohne jedes Wissen um ihre Bedeutung sie aus der schwächlichen Erinnerung nachgekritzelt.

    Das einzige, was mit dem 15. (nicht 14.) Jahrhundert nachweisbar übereinstimmt, ist das Alter der untersuchten Pergamente – und das schwankt, wie Richard anführt, um immerhin etwa 150 Jahre. Auch das ist ein starkes Indiz dafür, dass das Manuskript zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt verfasst wurde.

    Das alles ergibt in der Tat einen sehr schwer zu durchbrechenden Ring. Letztlich verbleibt ein kulturell wertloses, aufgrund der möglichen Verschlüsselung jedoch immerhin recht interessantes Werk (oder Botch, wie mancher es zu nennen vorziehen mag).

  26. #26 Peter
    Zürich
    9. August 2019

    Bis jetzt hast Du aber noch keine Fakten aufgezeigt, es sind nur Annahmen und Theorien, und das noch nicht mal gute.
    Die Pflanzen haben sehr wohl ähnlichkeiten aus anderen Büchern, und sie sind sogar sehr genau gezeichnet. Sie sagen sogar etwas über die Herkunft aus. Bei der Astrologie sieht es gleich aus, da habe ich schon schlimmeres gesehen. Bei den Sternzeichen sieht es auch nicht anders aus. Und im ganzen stimmt sogar der Zeichnungsstil des 1400.
    Sicher wird sich nichts Weltbewegendes aus dem Buch lesen lassen, auch keine Wunder sind zu erwarten.
    Aber, ich warte auf Fakten.

  27. #27 Richard SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/
    9. August 2019

    Hi René: Christian was, I think, actually very accurate in his assessment, in his summary formed as a question,

    “You are literally arguing that theories of others are unlikely by default, that reasonable discussions about the Voynich manuscript are nearly impossible anyway and that only the evidence you have found is correct and very important to the informed public.”

    You say, in part (anyone may read all your comments, above), “I decided years ago, that I don’t want to spend much time on arguing about such theories, but instead focus on exploring and finding more evidence. I am practicing that to my best capability. And in principle, all new evidence found will help to settle these questions, if not to the originators of the theories/hypotheses then at least to the informed public.”

    Well René, doesn’t a lifetime of not being able to resolve the mystery, despite “all the new evidence”, suggest that you are looking in the wrong places, based on the wrong foundational premise? And about “informed public”, if you mean “informed” by the current 1420 European Cipher Herbal paradigm that you promote, then I would say they are to a large extent, uninformed, kept in the dark as to the actual, very problematic nature of the Voynich Manuscript. I have been vetting that paradigm, critically examining it, this past decade or so, and despite your objections, many are starting to understand that this is the case.

    You continue to claim that important questions have been resolved, when they certainly have not. You do this everywhere, but even on the comments here, you say, “I have no intention to discuss the pros and cons of the “Voynich faked it” theory here or elsewhere. I have already done that for more than a year, around 2014 or so. It led nowhere and I won’t repeat it.”

    Well René, it “led nowhere”, because you could not actually address serious questions and concerns about the authenticity of the Voynich, nor how you came to many of the conclusions you claim are unassailable… on your site, on various blog comments like here, and in print, such as the intro to the Skinner book, and even in the Yale publication. This issue was not, and still is not, resolved. In Skinner, you incorrectly claim that forgery was “dis-proven”. Of course it can be your opinion it is unlikely, but anyone reading that book would believe you, that it is impossible, and has been adequately explored… it has not, because you leave the conversation, before it resolved. You doing that again, here… using a combination of claims stated as absolutes, while suggesting you are about to leave the conversation again. As for this,

    “Beside the countless unlikely theories I referred to, there are even more reasonable theories that, while they are hard to prove, they certainly have a chance of being true. The majority of people interact reasonably. They listen to others and progress. Just have a look at the Voynich Ninja forum, and numerous other blogs.”

    What is “reasonable” to you? I challenge you, ask questions, and you take it personally, telling me that I am using, for instance, “ad hominems”, and using “politics” to push an agenda. In effect, you label me “unreasonable”, by doing so. You dismiss my questions, without answering them, or at most, by giving answers that are not satisfactory, or can be shown to be logically or factually flawed. I do not use ad hominems, I don’t ridicule nor insult you or your ideas, I don’t use politics. But by your claiming I do, you shut off the conversation, and leave the debate. That is not “progress”. Progress would be working toward actual understanding of your theory, not telling others to blindly accept it.

    Your responses here are a microcosm of the problem as a whole, so I’m going to address them. For instance, you write, “The Barschius letter, and also the letters from Kinner that were written after the Marci letter, were in a collection that was completely hidden from sight, for anyone except a very few Jesuits. There is no chance that any outsider ever saw it.”

    This is a frequent claim of yours, which, if it has any basis, you have never given it. You used to say the letters were under “lock and seal”, or some variation of that. You also have said that even the Jesuit scholars were not privy to the letters. Now, I see you have modified that to accept that “a very few” Jesuits could have. That is “progress”, but still not necessarily a complete picture. As I wrote on my “Modern Voynich Myths” ( https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/modern-voynich-myths/ ),

    “Claim: The Kircher Carteggio (letters) was under “lock and seal”, so Wilfrid could not have seen it”: Not known, in any case. There is no evidence that the Jesuits did, or would have, treated the Letters any differently than the Voynich (if they ever owned it, which is also not known), or the other books they sold to Voynich in 1911. In fact, the Villa Mondragone… where both the Voynich and the letters were stored… was a popular and respected college, which took students from the general (even non-Jesuit) population. In the summer it was a retreat for high ranking Jesuits, and even, a tourist attraction. Really anyone could get permission to visit. The photographer who took pictures of it for a 1912 tourist book was the same photographer who took pictures of Voynich’s bookstore in 1908. And Voynich was close friends with Father Joseph Strickland, the head of the Mondragone. And also, considering the great importance of Kircher to the Jesuits, it is implausible to consider they did not have some interest, and probably studied, his letters… while in their care.”

    Since writing that, in May of 2015, I’ve found at least a couple of other cases in which individuals have had access to the Carteggio (which I will be adding to “Myths”). But even without such references, it seems to only be your opinion that there was “no chance” that any outsider ever saw it. It is also a “straw man” argument, because there are many other, reasonable, ways in which Voynich could have become aware of the correspondence of Kircher. This man was of a course of great interest to the Jesuits, and this was an active college, with active classes, and to think that the Jesuit professors simply ignored these papers is hard to swallow. With Wilfrid Voynich actively, and admittedly, poking around in all the dark corners of the Continent, it is easy to see how reference to the Baresch Manuscript could have been relayed to him, through Strickland, or other.

    “The Kinner letters confirm that Marci had just sent an illegible book to Kircher, and he is asking for progress in the translation.”

    Yes, and none of the letters adequately describes the Voynich. In a Modern Forgery context, it is perfectly reasonable that the mentions of this missing manuscript, in the Letters, was the “seed” for creation of the Voynich manuscript. Countless forgeries are created from such “seeds”, sometimes short mentions, sometimes entire books. These sources give instant, but false, provenance. From “Myths”,

    “The Letters of the Carteggio describe the Voynich: The 1639 Baresch letter describes a manuscript, but it is too incomplete and poor a description to be known that he meant the Voynich. The other letters to not make a physical description at all, while are describing whatever Baresch saw. But the Baresch description only mentions “plants unknown to the Germans”, “stars”, “unknown script” or language, and possible chemical symbolism. This would describe many other herbals and pharmas of the time, in many of the languages unknown to these men, at the time. Left out are the Zodiac, the baths, the nude women, the weird animals, the strange cylinders, and really hundreds of other features that would have been of great interest and importance to anyone trying to impart even a hint of what the nature of the Voynich is. Could the Baresch Manuscript be the Voynich? Yes. But stating it is the Voynich is incorrect, and based on poor evidence.”

    In counter to this, in your “nofake” page, which I rebut at https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/ , you write,

    “So, could Voynich have seen the letter from Barschius and faked the Voynich MS accordingly? This highly speculative option has a number of severe problems, that basically fall into two different categories: the first is that it is highly unlikely that he could ever have seen the letter, and the second that, even if he had, the resulting fake should have looked very different.”

    This is a tacit admission by you, that the letters DO NOT adequately describe the Voynich manuscript… while repeating the unfounded claim that he “could not have ever seen the letter”.

    “The only way anyone could have known about the existence of this book was exactly through the Marci letter. But Rich contends that the Marci letter is also a fake by Voynich, and by this he completely cuts the link with the past.”

    This is illogical, except in the context of your unfounded, undefended claim that the letters were “under lock and seal”. Whether or not the 1666 Marci letter is a forgery or not (I do not “contend”, or conclude, it is my opinion that it is most likely a fake: https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/the-1665-marci-letter-a-forgery/ … a forger would not need it to “have known about the existence of [the VMs]”.

    But I do not, and would not, want the “albatross” of that letter, as genuine, around my neck. And the list of problems, with that letter, are not explained by you, although you have tried… at the Ninja’s: https://www.voynich.ninja/thread-755-page-2.html This is yet another case of your not being able to explain, or simply ignoring other, serious problems with that letter, while coming here, and elsewhere, and insisting that the matter is solved, the letter is genuine, and we should all just accept your word on this. One excerpt of yours, from the above Ninja page, which to me shows an inability to come up with a good reason that letter could be genuine. Supporting the 1665/6 Marci letter as genuine, you reason, “We know that the Voynich MS was sent by Marci to Kircher in 1665. How do we know? We know from the Marci letter.”

    That is practically the best definition of circular logic (which you often accuse me of resorting to, so it is fair to point this out), that I have ever read. But one should read our back and forth there, linked above, and my page on my reasoning the Marci Letter is at best, highly suspicious, above that.

    Continuing, you reply to Christian, above,

    “Sorry, another important point. Much of the evidence I am presenting isn’t “mine”, so it is hardly fair to argue that I only care about my own opinion.
    Valuable opinions have been presented by a large number of authorities in relevant fields, like Erwin Panofsky, Sergio Toresella, Ewa Stolot, Abigail Quandt to name a few.”

    Yes, but in many cases these are selective, only choosing those opinions which now “match” the C14 dating, and leave out those opinions which run counter to it. Not to mention the great many observations of others which undermine the veracity of the 1420 Paradigm. Look at O’Neil, Janick, Talbot, and so many others, who make good comparison to many New World plant species. Not on your list, simply dismissed. And they are a drop in the bucket… there are literally hundreds of good observations and comparisons which challenge the 1420 Paradigm, but you simply ignore them, or say they are unfounded, without ever actually addressing most of them. You continue:

    “Just take the analysis of prof. Ewa Stolot. She identifies the zodiac as German, 15th century. This is valuable information and such a zodiac does not belong in any of:
    – a (fake or real) work by a 17th century alchemist
    – a (fake of real) work by Roger Bacon
    – a Spanish/mexican work of the 16th century”

    Why? Well, no, not in a Roger Bacon, but that is a moot point, because no one believes the Voynich is either a real or fake Roger Bacon (although you continue to falsely contend that I do, despite frequent corrections by me). But this idea that a forger would never copy, or use as an influence, older works, is demonstrably incorrect. It is, in fact, EXACTLY what they do. So fine if professor Ewa Stolot is correct in her assessment of the Zodiac… That does not obviate either a real or fake work from a 17th century alchemist, nor a Spanish/Mexican (MesoAmerican) re-using it, nor Wilfrid Voynich copying it out of his vast archives and stock. Similarly, in the OP, one of your opinion is given as,

    “The clothes worn by the figures depicted are typical for the 1420’s and would be unknown even a few decades later.”

    Why is that a problem for forgery? Again, that is exactly what forgers do, they copy old stuff. So I disagree with your logic here. And besides, it again ignores the vast number of comparisons between clothing of the Voynich, used in dates later than 1420… sometimes, hundreds of years out.

    There are other problems with your claims in the OP, but they were also used by you on your “nofake”, and have been addressed in my rebuttal, above.

    This very long post is still only touches the surface of the problem demonstrated, René: The fact is that many of the claims by you and others, used to project the image of the Voynich as a respectable, genuine work from the 15th century, are either foundation-less, and indefensible, or at best practically pure speculation, fervently promoted as factual, scientific conclusions and even, proofs. And you continue to state these things, while withdrawing from any real discussion that would commit you to explaining the problems with the Voynich, and the reasons you stand by it as genuine.

    I contend this is not because you genuinely believe Modern Forgery is impossible, but because you do realize these problems are serious ones. It would explain why you seem at peace with most other theories, which you and I both feel are easily dismissed, while you so passionately, and specifically, single out Modern Forgery for this special treatment. I am gratified that more and more people “get it”, as evidenced by the increasingly frequent interjections of others around the web, when the Modern Forgery issue is raised. You’ve clearly noticed it, too. Whether or not the Voynich is real or fake, old or new, it is clear to many that the 1420 Genuine European Paradigm, as expressed and defended by you, is not the rock solid foundation we ought to take for granted. I deserves to be questioned, and questioning it, examining it, is increasingly fruitful to knowing the truth of the matter, whatever that turns out to be.

    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/the-modern-forgery-hypothesis/

  28. #28 Richard SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    9. August 2019

    Peter, this is not correct,

    “Alle Details stehen mit den 14. Jahrhundert überein.”

    There are a great many anachronisms and anomalies in the Voynich, it’s composition, construction, and backstory. It is only be selectively only looking at those things which support 15th century genuine, that 15th century genuine becomes the only possible.

    If you want “facts”, wonderful… check out my blog, linked above. And read, critically, the Yale book, which in fact points out many anomolies, although in a somewhat “couched”, and even apologetic way. Also, read the McCrone ink report, and note the “unusual” copper and zinc, the “titanium compound”, and the gum binder that they didn’t have in their database, which they said needed further examination.

    The point is, much of what you think is true about the Voynich is not so: It is based on the biased opinions of a select few, who have chosen only those things that support their preconception, and ignored a great many good comparisons and observations that do not support it.

    As for a “good knowledge” of the middle ages: First of all, the book does not come CLOSE to reflecting, accurately, anything known from the middle ages. Secondly, even picking those things that are considered appropriate, that match the C14 dating, they were readily available to a forger in 1908 to 1910, not the least of whom, Wilfrid Voynich.

  29. #29 Richard SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    9. August 2019

    And Peter, as to this:

    “Wie finde ich 100 gleiche Pergamente von 1400. Welche Tinten und Farbmischung passt dazu. Und was soll ich jetzt noch 100 Seiten aus dem Mittelalter zeichnen. Und das vor 100 Jahren. Und das so, dass es modern technischen Hilfsmittel.standhält.
    Aber Hallo !”

    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/old-blank-vellum-sitting-around/

    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/but-who-would-use-vellum-anyway/

    Also, mixing medieval or other inks has long been a staple of forgers. Voynich was a chemist, and his friend Sidney Reilly (spy, double agent) is known to have taken out formulas of medieval inks from the library, in any case. It is on record.

    But in short, the history of forgery shows that there is nothing in the composition or makeup or construction of the Voynich that would be beyond their skills, and in fact, many points about it that show problems pointing TO forgery.

  30. #30 Peter
    Zürich
    9. August 2019

    Richard, vor 4 Jahren hat alles noch etwas anders ausgesehen. Aber mittlerweile ist vieles dazu gekommen. Dieses Puzzle besteht aus 100 Teilen. Jedes Teil wurde mit dem Wissen vor 100 Jahren hergestellt und muss der heutigen Technik stand halten. Ich spreche nicht nur von Messtechnik, sondern auch die Möglichkeit des suchens. Internet macht es möglich. Früher musste man sich das Wissen noch hart in Bibliotheken erkämpfen.
    Aber denn noch ist die Aussage Fälschung zu verstehen. Wenn ich alle Lösungen und Theorien wo ich bis heute schon gelesen habe berücksichtige, dann muss das VM eine Fälschung sein.

  31. #31 Peter
    Zürich
    9. August 2019

    @Richard
    Ich habe Deine Aussage auf Deiner Seite gelesen. Das meiste ist Spekulation. Die Briefe Kircher, Bacon, oder wie auch immer, würden nur die Echtheit bestätigen wenn wirklich über das VM geschrieben wurde, nicht aber eine Fälschung.
    Des weiteren schreibst Du, “So during this time, and very possibly at the Libreria, I believe Voynich created his magnum opus of forgery, the Voynich Manuscript, using some blank folios he found there.”
    Wir sprechen hier von 100 Blatt, und wenn er sie nicht aus einem zeitlich deklarierten Buch hat, wie will er wissen wie alt das Pergament ist. Es war sicher kein Pack, mit der Aufschrift ” Pergament aus 1420 ”
    Und wenn er das nicht weiss, wie soll er die Farbmischung festlegen, Zeitliche autentische Bilder und den chronologischen Ablauf. Und das soll noch der überprüfung standhalten.
    Das war auch der Punkt wo ich aufgehört habe weiter zu lesen.
    Tut mir leid, aber es ist für mich keine überzeugende Theorie.

  32. #32 schorsch
    10. August 2019

    Hello Rene,

    I have a proposal to you: If the VM is a modern forgery, then the forger had no intention to write any decipherable text. If this is true, then each, or at least some of us should be able to take up the position of the forger and create a quite long text of absolutely nonsense, but with similar characteristcs as the VM.

    That is, I think, basically the same approach, as Gordon Rugg tried two years ago. But Gordon came from a very unfavorably position – he came up with his solution absolutely coverless, and then the VM experts rummaged statistically through his solution and declared it as ‘statistically unconvincing’.

    Maybe it was. Maybe not. Why not balance the chances and make it a fair challenge?

    Can you name the criteria a text must comply, that you accept the hypothesis, that this text was written by the same, or an equivalent algorithm as the VM text? How long the text must be, which statistical characteristics must it comply with, in which time must a page be written and which auxiliary means are allowed…

    If somebody is able to create a text with similar characteristcs, and if she can show, that her algorithm is a) fast and b) mechanically reproduceable – then we would have no proof for absolutely nothing. But one of the most apparent arguments against a forgery – hey, it’s not possible for a nineteenth/early twentieth century man to forge such a long and complex text without the help of computers (besides – a remarkable dumb argument. The egyptians couldn’t have built the pyramides – they had no caterpillars), would fall.

    On the other hand – if nobody is able to reproduce a text with comparable characteristics, it would be a very strong indication against a forgery.

  33. #33 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    10. August 2019

    Schorsch, if we assume for a moment that the Voynich MS is a fake by Voynich himself, then there are still two possibilities:
    – it could be a meaningless text
    – it could be an encryption of a meaningful text
    We don’t know and we should not assume that it is one or the other.
    But of course, in this scenario, Voynich knew exactly which of the two it is.

    Now Voynich secretly offered money to Newbold in case Newbold could translate the text. This suggests that there should be meaning.
    However, Newbold did not succeed, so Voynich did not give him any hints.
    While Rich mentions this point as an argument that the MS is a fake by Voynich, I think it shows exactly the opposite. But you and everyone can form your own opinion about this.

    I do not wish to get into any argument on Klaus’ blog about this, as I already wrote.

    People more interested in this question have a lot of reading to do. There is a lot of material at Rich’s blog, and also these two pages at my web site as a starting point (but they have links to other areas):

    http://www.voynich.nu/extra/nofake.html
    http://www.voynich.nu/extra/nofake_a.html

    The above point was also covered (briefly) at the second page.

    I will really refrain from further discussion and point everyone to these pages, which are representative of my interpretation.

  34. #34 schorsch
    12. August 2019

    If is it possible to show, that a simple machine, a simple algorithm is able to create a huge work of absolutely nonsene, which but bears the same characteristics as the Voynich manuscript – then we have a very good indication, that the VM is exactly that: absolutely nonsens!

    But before such a test will be made, somebody should in advance authoritative and bindingly define, which criteria have to be fullfilled, that such an attempt is successfull.

    And whom shall we name authority enough, to set up the rules? Whom but a committee of experts – of whom you, Rene, are the leading one! At least according to Klaus.

  35. #35 Richard SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2019/08/05/rebuttal-to-nofake/
    12. August 2019

    Hi René: This is not correct:

    “Now Voynich secretly offered money to Newbold in case Newbold could translate the text. This suggests that there should be meaning.
    However, Newbold did not succeed, so Voynich did not give him any hints.
    While Rich mentions this point as an argument that the MS is a fake by Voynich, I think it shows exactly the opposite.”

    Voynich did not offer Newbold ANY money to translate the text. He offered him money on the condition that the manuscript was sold as a Roger Bacon manuscript. There was no stipulation, that I know of, or ever saw, requiring Newbold’s “translation” to be done, or accepted. I do not think it was even implied.

    For two reasons your implication does not work:

    1) As above, no translation was required of Newbold, to be paid, only a sale as a Roger Bacon

    2) Even if Wilfrid DID require a translation by Newbold, it does not mean that the work has meaning, or meaning AS a Roger Bacon work. For instance, if it is gibberish, then really Wilfrid would, in your hypothetical, not have to ever pay him.

    So (surprise!) we disagree. But I do appreciate, genuinely, your suggesting people read all we and others have to say about this.

    Rich.

    (For those not aware of what René is referring to, Wilfrid offered William Newbold 10% of the first $100,000 if realized in a sale of the manuscript, plus 50% of anything over $100,000. Newbold was notoriously incorrect in believing the Voynich was a manuscript by Roger Bacon, and did propose failed translations of it).

  36. #36 Richard SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/modern-voynich-myths/
    12. August 2019

    Hi Peter: I appreciate and respect you do not agree with my 1910 Voynich Theory. But to clarify a point, so that you do understand the basis of the elements it is built on. You write,

    “Wir sprechen hier von 100 Blatt, und wenn er sie nicht aus einem zeitlich deklarierten Buch hat, wie will er wissen wie alt das Pergament ist. Es war sicher kein Pack, mit der Aufschrift ” Pergament aus 1420 ”
    Und wenn er das nicht weiss, wie soll er die Farbmischung festlegen, Zeitliche autentische Bilder und den chronologischen Ablauf. Und das soll noch der überprüfung standhalten.” Which Google translates as,

    “We are talking about 100 sheets here, and if he does not have them from a chronologically declared book, how does [know] how old the parchment is? It certainly was not a pack [of parchment] with the inscription ‘Parchment from 1420’. And if he does not know that, how should he define the color mixture, temporal authentic images and the chronological sequence [?]”

    The reason people now say and believe that this is a problem for forgery, is because the gradual alteration of the history of Voynich research in this area, to “match” the C14 dating results. First, you will note that René uses only two early experts in his comment, above, “Valuable opinions have been presented by a large number of authorities in relevant fields, like Erwin Panofsky, Sergio Toresella, Ewa Stolot, Abigail Quandt to name a few.”

    But the thing is, over 14 other “pre-C14” experts, looking at the content, style, text… actually thought the Voynich was from very different dates, far off from the eventual 1404 to 1438 date range given after 2009. As I wrote in “myths” (linked below my name):

    #9: “When the dates were revealed, it showed that the experts were correct about the age of the Voynich: Incorrect. Tallying the expert opinions, pre-C14, the majority of experts… I think it works out to about 14 out of 16 of them, by D’Imperio’s book, were dead wrong. In fact this was noted soon after the C14 was announced, in the 2009 ORF documentary, and its surrounding promotions: the results were touted as toppling the previous expert opinion, and being a total surprise. It was a surprise. But in a very short time, this reality morphed into “The experts got it right”, by using the two or so experts who did happen to have opinions near or in the C14 range, and ignoring the majority that were wrong. This new mythology is often used to support the false premise, “It cannot be a forgery, because how could a pre-C14 forger have happened to choose the ‘right parchment’?”. The thing is, they did not choose “the right parchment” for the work they laid on it, if forged.”

    So what happened, post-C14, was that all expert opinion from what was considered “the wrong dates” was thrown out, and gradually, only those things that fit the C14 date range would be included, acceptable.

    In my opinion, this is the opposite of how such an investigation should work. We should not fit our opinions to a pre-conception, rather, we should allow what we observe to drive our investigation.

    Another point: As I also point out on “Myths”, the actual date range of the samples is much wider than the 1404-1438 range, which was created by “assuming” a short term of creation, and then “combined” into that neat range. But if one even looks at the much wider range implied by the actual C14 results, of the samples, that then will take in several more of the early experts.

    But in any case, “no”, any potentional forger would not have needed to know the date of the parchment, because the date of the parchment actually does not match very well the investigators who came before the invention of C14. If forged, the forger actually “got it wrong”. If they wanted what many experts saw pre-C14, and if they could predict the invention of the process, they would have picked 17th century parchment… and, for that matter, not assembled the Voynich from pages 50 to 60 years apart in date.

  37. #37 Richard SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    12. August 2019

    Hi Schorsch: On this point,

    “If is it possible to show, that a simple machine, a simple algorithm is able to create a huge work of absolutely nonsene, which but bears the same characteristics as the Voynich manuscript – then we have a very good indication, that the VM is exactly that: absolutely nonsens!”

    That is a good point… and I’ve also made the related point, for a long time, that we really cannot know that a person, if spewing out random nonsense with invented, meaningless characters, will not in doing so, create text that would mimic the statistics of actual language content. I do not think this has ever been done.

    There have been a couple of cases in which random speech… Glossolalia… has been seen to be reminiscent of the background language of the speakers. So I personally think it possible with text, too, thus fooling the statistician into thinking there must be underlying meaning there.

    I mean, I’m not sure that we know an algorithm, or machine, would be necessary to create the text, if meaningless. Maybe a person could reel that all off…

    Not that it matters, but I actually think the VMs text may have meaning of some kind… but considering all the evidence, I think it would be hidden by steganography, not any cipher, code, or constructed language.

  38. #38 Rene Zandbergen
    Hessen, Germany
    15. August 2019

    Just a few days ago, an insightful article about the Voynich MS was published in the “Washington Post”, by the well-known medievalist and Voynich connaisseur Lisa Fagin Davis:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/14/why-do-people-keep-convincing-themselves-theyve-solved-this-medieval-mystery/?tid=ss_tw