2010年12月04日

Voynich mini-FAQ

December 8, 1996 by Dennis Stallings

In 1912, Wilfrid M. Voynich (a book collector) bought a medieval manuscript (235 pages) written in an unknown script and what appears to be an unknown language or a cipher from the Jesuit College at the Villa Mondragone, Frascati, in Italy (near Rome). However, despite the efforts of many well known cryptologists and scholars, the book remains unread. Since 1969, it is at Yale University, at the Beinecke Rare Book Library with catalogue number MS 408.

It is known (from a letter of J. M. Marci in 1665/6) that the manuscript was bought by Emperor Rudolph II of Bohemia (1552-1612) for 600 ducats (an exorbitant sum in those days). The manuscript somehow passed to Jacobus de Tepenecz, the director of Rudolph's botanical gardens (his signature is present in folio 1r) and it is speculated that this must have happened after 1608, when Jacobus Horcicki received his title "de Tepenecz". Thus 1608 is the earliest definite date for the Manuscript.

The Voynich Manuscript, as it has come to be known, contains many drawings of plants, but the plants have not been identified, nor have the drawings been identified with known fanciful or distorted drawings of plants from the Middle Ages. There are what look like astrological drawings. There are curious drawing of little nude women bathing in baths with convoluted plumbing; nothing else like these drawings is known. The persons and costumes look generally European. The script seems to have been developed from early Arabic numerals and medieval Latin abbreviations, but composed of these elements in a unique manner; no other examples of the script or any like it are known. Nothing else about the Manuscript is even this definite; it is a completely unique artifact.

Computer analysis of the Voynich Manuscript has only deepened the mystery. One finding has been that there are two "languages" or "dialects" of Voynichese, which are called Voynich A and Voynich B. The repetitiousness of the text is obvious to casual inspection. Entropy is a numerical measure of the randomness of text. The lower the entropy, the less random and the more repetitious it is. The entropy of samples of Voynich text is lower than that of most human languages; only some Polynesian languages are as low.
posted by ぶらたん at 20:46| Comment(0) | その他
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