It has been called a woman’s health manual, a nature encyclopedia and even an Egyptian sex manual. It has been attributed to Roger Bacon (a 13th century English Franciscan and scientist), Leonardo da Vinci, and, in a variety of comment sections, a 15th century Hebrew schizophrenic.
It has been called an elaborate hoax and at the same time the world’s most mysterious book.
To what am I referring?
The Voynich Manuscript, of course!
Perhaps I should not admit this, but until a few days ago I had been blissfully unaware of a book that has flummoxed countless scholars and cryptographers for decades with its (depending on what you read) undecipherable medieval text. In the span of a few hours, I perused many sites dedicated to either the belief that the book was written by Mayans with a now-extinct language or that the text is void of meaning. Comment sections are filled with a puzzling assemblage of theories, and I found some to be plausible while others were simply nonsensical.
This 240-page manuscript is filled with elaborately drawn plants, mystical symbols and naked women. Some of my limited research dealt with the evaluation of the herb-like plants, and more than one site was run by those who insisted many of them could be traced to plants found in Italy today.
The manuscript gets its name from Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912.
In 2011, radiocarbon dating revealed that the book was written in the 15th century (approximately 1404 to 1438), which would debunk the Roger Bacon and Leonardo da Vinci theories.
Many have recently tried to break the Voynich code (including an electrical engineer and a television writer), but none have held up to intensive scrutiny. Some people believe the only plausible answer to the question of who could write such a book that contains no known language is a simple one.
Note: You can also download the Voynich manuscript from archive.org: