Secret of Voynich Manuscript, an Ancient Book Written in 'Alien' Code, Partly Revealed





...Found in a chest of books outside Rome by a dealer in antique books, the Voynich manuscript is among literature's great mysteries. The book of aging parchment is written in alien characters, some resembling Latin letters, others unlike anything used in any known language, and arranged into what appear to be words and sentences -- except they don't resemble anything written or read by human beings....

"Is it a code, a cipher of some kind?" asked Greg Hodgins, a physicist with the University of Arizona. "People are doing statistical analysis of letter use and word use -- the tools that have been used for code breaking. But they still haven't figured it out," Hodgins said....

Because the parchment pages of the Voynich manuscript were made from animal skin, they can be radiocarbon-dated. Hodgins, a chemist and archaeological scientist, used radiocarbon dating on tiny bits of the pages extracted with a scalpel to determine that the book dates back to the early 15th century, making it a century older than scholars had previously thought.

Carbon-14 dating places the book's creation to between 1404 and 1438, in the early Renaissance. It's not the oldest book in the world -- that would be The Diamond Sutra, a seven-page scroll printed with wood blocks on paper in China around 1,300 years ago. But it's older than the Gutenberg bible, the first book printed with modern presses, which rolled off the line in 1453....



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