Voynich Manuscript

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The Voynich Manuscript is a series of papers found in an Italian castle in 1912 and is attributed to Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk who died around 1294. It seems to be written in Medieval Arabic lettering of a Latin and Greek script. It covers biological topics and has diagrams of cell structures well ahead of it's time.

It should be noted that the Voynich Manuscript is a real manuscript that has never been translated and is presently housed in the Yale University.


An illustration from the cryptic Voynich Manuscript

The book has 116 pages which feature it's odd writing and many biological drawings of roots or plants. It also had sketches of amazingly detailed cell structures and microscopic organisms, despite the manuscripts age.

The lettering of the book appears to be in a cypher, but with closer study this "shorthand" is actually a result of the ancient ink flaking off the page. The actual letters are in Medieval Arabic that is transliterated into a mixture of Greek and Latin.

Newbold Translation

Professor W. Romaine Newbold translated the cypher under the incorrect assumption that it was in a cypher, and found the text to be a scientific treatise on cell structures and microscopic organisms. Written by Roger Bacon it seemed to be amazingly before it's time. After Newbold's death it was discovered that the papers were not in a cypher after all, so his translation was discounted.

Lang Translation

Around the 1960s Paul Dunbar Lang had the manuscript photographed in color and was able to complete the lettering, for the first time. Paul Lang took five months to complete the lettering, and began translating the lettering from the Arabic. It was Lang who theorized that the book was written by an Arabian physician writing in Greek and Latin. It was then that he found the title page, in clear Greek, Necronomicon. The manuscript was a fragment or digest of that greater text.

The book professed to be a complete scientific account of the universe: it's origin, history, geography, mathematical structure, and hidden depths. It contains advanced scientific theory mixed with medieval magical theories. It is not the whole original work and may be authored by more than one person. The manuscript itself is simply a summary of the main work and the author refers to himself as "Martinus Hortulanus", or Martin Gardener.

Newbold's theories of highly advanced scientific writing were not completely incorrect, the text mentions fragments of quantum theory, and human genomes, and it also mentions Azathoth. Further supporting the theory that this is the work of Roger Bacon are allusions to occult and contemporary texts. Next to an illustration of a spermatozoon is a reference to the Sefer Yezirah the Book of Creation in the Kabbala. The Ars Magna of Raymond Lull are also referenced. (Ratmond Lull was another Fransican monk who died in 1315.) Other references include: Hermes Trismegistus and the Emerald Tablet, Cleopatra's book on gold making, the Chrysopoeia, the gnostic serpent Ouroboros, a planet or star called Tormantius, and the "Khian language." The Khian language is mentioned by Arthur Machen.


The Voynich manuscript was found by Wilfred M. Voynich in Italy in an unnamed castle. It was brought to the United States in 1912. With it was found a letter asserting it's ownership of two 17th century scholars and that it had been penned by Roger Bacon, a monk.

It's cypher piqued the interested of American scholars for nine years until Prof. W. Romaine Newbold announced he had cracked it in 1921. With an intensification of publicity Prof. Newbold announced the contents. Apparent;y Roger Bacon had invented the microscope some four hundred years before Leeuwenhoek, and had made some amazing scientific discoveries with it.

But, after Prof. Newbold's death in 1926, his friend Roland Kent, who continued his work, discovered that the cipher was in fact a result of the flaking of the dried ink. Scholastic interest waned and the Voynich manuscript sunk back into obscurity.

It is housed in the University of Pennsylvania's library.


  • Wilson, C. P. "The Return of the Lloigor." Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. New York: Ballantine Pub. Group, 1998. N. pag. Print.