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The Ancient Manuscript that Was Never Deciphered...

The Voynich manuscript is one of the biggest riddles in the entire world, and has remained unsolved for centuries.

The manuscript is bound in calfskin vellum. After it was carbon-dated, experts determined that it was created in the early years of the 15th century. They also believe it came from Northern Italy. It is about 240 pages long, some of which cleverly fold out, although it is believed that some are missing. 

But what is truly amazing about this manuscript is its content. It is written in a script indecipherable by any living soul, despite basically using the Latin alphabet. It also features illustrations of what seem like fantastical plants (or are they?) on many of its pages. Experts have tried to unravel the mystery of this script for centuries without success. Thousands of cryptographers, including Allied code breakers during both world wars, tried and failed. It is believed that the number of characters used may be anywhere from 15 to 40. 

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Ancient Manuscript

Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University

Faced with repeated failure, some have hypothesized that the manual just cannot be deciphered, and is actually a very complex hoax. However, many point out that the text obeys numerous laws of real language, including Zipf's Law, a statistical rule on the frequency of words used in a natural language, where the most common word appears twice as often as the next most common word, etc. 

 
Ancient Manuscript

Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
According to the illustrations, the manuscript can be roughly divided into chapters:

 
Ancient Manuscript

Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University

~ The herbal chapter shows unknown plants with text surrounding the drawings.

 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript

Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University

~ The biological chapter contains a lot of text together with depictions of nude women in pools connected by pipes.

Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript

Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
~ The pharmaceutical chapter shows specific parts of plants with labels, presumably to be used for medicinal purposes. 

 
Ancient Manuscript
~ The astronomical chapter shows celestial diagrams, including common zodiac symbols.
~ The cosmological chapter shows esoteric circular diagrams. Some of these fold out.
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
 
Ancient Manuscript
Image: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library/Yale University
Experts aren't any closer to deciphering the manuscript's mysteries today than they were three centuries ago. What do YOU think this book is really about?​
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