Mysterious Voynich manuscript is genuine, scientists find
Dec 3, 2009, 15:30 GMT
Vienna - An mysterious unintelligible manuscript that has puzzled researchers for decades has been dated to the 15th century and found to be genuine, according to US studies that were presented Thursday by Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Many historians have so far believed that the so-called Woynich manuscript, which includes illustrations related to natural sciences, is a forgery, and mathematicians and other experts have not able to decode it.
The book is named after Polish-American antiquarian Wilfrid Voynich, who acquired the text in 1912 in Italy.
Researchers at the University of Arizona used the radiocarbon dating method on the 246 pages written in Europe by and found that the parchment was made between 1404 and 1438, said Walter Koehler, an ORF producer who oversaw the TV documentary on the manuscript.
In addition, experts at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago determined that the ink was not added in a later period. The text was likely written in Northern Italy.
Before these findings, 'there was no serious expert who would have dated it to pre-Columbian times,' said Koehler, but rather to the 16th century, when coded texts were in fashion.
Although the makers of the documentary were not able to unlock the mystery of the text itself, the dating now enables researchers to discount later encoding techniques and focus on new approaches, Koehler said.
However, some experts like Germany-based Rene Zandbergen think that the mysterious letters could simply be ornaments that may have been derived from the Arabic.
The documentary about the manuscript that is kept at Yale University is to be aired on December 10.
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