The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and it may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912
Some of the pages are missing, with around 240 remaining. The text is written from left to right, and most of the pages have illustrations or diagrams. Some pages are foldable sheets.
The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II No one has yet demonstrably deciphered the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. The mystery of the meaning and origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified.
In 1969 the Voynich manuscript was donated by Hans P. Kraus to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where it is catalogued under call number MS 408.[
The weird document has been considered one of the most mysterious documents known. Considered a hoax by some, copies of mysterious Voynich Manuscript were published in 2016 for the first time in hopes that someone would crack its code,
Computer scientists have now been able to decode the manuscript using artificial intelligence. The result was beyond surprising: according to algorithms employed by the Canadian researchers, the text appears to be written in Hebrew with letters rearranged.
“It turned out that over 80 per cent of the words were in a Hebrew dictionary, but we didn’t know if they made sense together,” said Professor Kondrak who led the research.
While they noted that none of their results, using any reference language, resulted in text they could describe as “correct”, the Hebrew output was most successful.
The scientists approached fellow computer scientist and native Hebrew speaker Professor Moshe Koppel with samples of deciphered text.
Taking the first line as an example, Professor Koppel confirmed that it was not a coherent sentence in Hebrew.
However, following tweaks to the spelling, the scientists used Google Translate to convert it into English, which read: “She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.”
“It’s a kind of strange sentence to start a manuscript but it definitely makes sense,” said Professor Kondrak.
The result of the work of decoding can be found here.
The possibility that the Voynich manuscript’s secrets will soon be entirely revealed is certainly beyond thrilling.