Is the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Written in an Extinct Mexican Language?

Fold-out page from the Voynich Manuscript

Debate has long raged over the provenance of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, a document filled with strange illustrations and text written in a language that has never been decoded. Though the codex has been dated to around the time of the Renaissance, it first came to modern attention in 1912 when it was purchased by antique book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, whose name has been attached to it ever since.

Theories about the Voynich Manuscript have ranged from it being a prank by a Renaissance artist, through to an artefact given to Roger Bacon by future time-travelers, and decoded by an alien held at Area 51 (sounds legit!). The latest in the long list of Voynich theories is the claim, by a botanist and retired information technology researcher, that the Voynich Manuscript contains illustrations of plants native to Mexico, and that the text is likely written in an extinct form of the Nahuatl language:

Previously, many researchers assumed that the manuscript must have originated in Europe, where it was found. But botanist Arthur Tucker of Delaware State University in Dover noticed similarities between certain plants in the manuscript and illustrations of plants in 16th century records from Mexico.

Tucker began collecting copies of Mexican botanical books out of curiosity about the history of herbs there. "Quite by accident, I ran across the Voynich and it was a Homer Simpson moment of D'oh! Of course – this matches my other codices and the artwork of 16th century Mexico."

The most striking example was an illustration of a soap plant (xiuhamolli) in a Mexican book dated 1552. Tucker and Rexford Talbert, a retired information technology researcher at the US Department of Defense and NASA, connected a total of 37 of the 303 plants, six animals and one mineral illustrated in the Voynich manuscript to 16th century species in the region that lies between Texas, California and Nicaragua. They think many of the plants could have come from what is now central Mexico.

On the basis of these similarities, the pair suggests that the manuscript came from the New World, and that it might be written in an extinct form of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Deciphering the names of these plants could therefore help crack the Voynich code.

It's worth noting, however, that the pair are not the first to suggest that the language might be related to Nahuatl - in a 2001 book, James Comegys claimed that the manuscript was "a medical text in Nahuatl attributable to Francisco Hernandez and his Aztec Ticiti collaborators".

And it's definitely worth keeping a healthy dose of skepticism at hand, as there are a number of valid objections to their Voynich theory. But it's all good fun = you never know, the final answer to the mystery might surprise us...

(h/t Delaiah)

Link: Mexican Plants Could Break Code on Gibberish Manuscript

Source Paper: "A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript "

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red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
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16 hours 41 min

To think that in some remote Mexican mountain, there may live an elderly curandero or bruja who could actually translate the damn thing... if someone bothered to ask him or her.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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Kat's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
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31 weeks 2 days

Where is don Genaro when you need him? At his little shack in the mountains, or tackling his ally in another dimension?

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
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2 days 10 hours

One of Genaro's allies probably wrote it and is laughing his ass off about right now.

Even if this manuscript is fake or the manic doodlings of a madman it is just as interesting from that standpoint.

Kat's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
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31 weeks 2 days

>> One of Genaro's allies probably wrote it and is laughing his ass off about right now.

You've studied coyote medicine?

emlong -- multi-talented, that one! ;-)

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
2 days 10 hours

Does this count?
www.orgonia.bigcartel.com