The History

The Voynich manuscript is a book believed to be written in the 15th century. It consists of 240 vellum (mammal skin) pages, most with illustrations.

Many believe the book to be a code or ciphertext, but it has yet to be decoded. The author, script, and language are completely unknown.

In 2009, the University Of Arizona performed a C14 dating test, which determined the book was most likely written between 1404 and 1438.


Voynich ScriptCredit: Heritage-Links

Inside The Script

Although the language is unknown, some information can be learned from the text. The text was written mainly from left to right, with a somewhat consist right margin. Some text is organized in paragraphs or blocks, while some is written in bullet or star form. There are over 171,000 individual symbols and glyphs throughout the manuscript.

There is six main illustration types throughout the manuscript that give a indication on the purpose of the book.

  • Herbal - Many pages contain hand drawn pictures of plants and herbs, with some text below them. None of which are identifiable to any known plants.
  • Health/Pharmaceutical - Many plant roots and parts through smaller diagrams.
  • Space/Astronomicall - There are certain diagrams which contain moons, planets, stars and the sun. Even a couple constellations are depicted, along with the 12 major zodiac signs.
  • Biological - A few pages contain people bathing, and some animals.
  • Maps/Informative Diagrams - One map is a six page foldout drawing of a full map. Nine islands, a castle and a mountain or volcano are all present.
  • Recipes -  Many pages with short paragraphs, often in bulleted information.

Previous Owners

The overall history of the book is for the most part, unknown and full of gaps. There is 240 pages, but there was originally 272, meaning that 32 were torn or ripped out before they were read. Wilfrid M Voynich is the only known owner, who acquired it in 1912 as a book dealer. It is now named after Mr. Voynich.

The manuscript is currently owned and stored by the Beinecke Rare Book And Manuscript Library of Yale University.


Although the mystery of the manuscript has never been solved, there has been many theories to it's origin and purpose.

Hoax: Many believe the book was written simply to trick others, or just as a fantasy book. Basically random strings of symbols and glyphs.

Code: There is a few experts who believe the book is a complete code, most likely translated into a European language. Although nothing has been even near decoded, or deciphered.

Extinct Language: There still lies the small chance that the book was written in a rare language that is not yet known, although this is very unlikely.