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The enigma of the Voynich manuscript

A mystery resurfaced

History guides us in understanding the enigma of the Voynich manuscript. In 1865, Villa Mondragone came under the ownership of the Jesuit Fathers. Following the unification of the Kingdom, a portion of the Library of the Roman College’s collection was transferred here to prevent losses from the massive confiscations carried out by the Italian state against ecclesiastical properties.

In the first decade of the 20th century, the Jesuit college faced severe economic difficulties. They decided to discreetly sell precious texts from the library.

The Voynich enigma

It was 1912, when the wealthy New Yorker Wilfrid Voynich arrived at Villa Mondragone. He was a prosperous dealer in ancient books. Presented with a crate full of old texts, he quickly analyzed them with an expert eye. While flipping through the pages, he encountered a manuscript with astonishing characteristics: written in an unknown script, accompanied by grotesque and mysterious images. Voynich understood that this text could be worth as much as the entire library, but he was shrewd enough to conceal his enthusiasm. He casually tossed the parchment-bound book into the pile of other volumes that interested him, paid the agreed-upon amount, and swore to the Jesuits never to reveal the source of the purchased books. He then returned to the United States.

The world’s most mysterious manuscript had resurfaced.

This text consists of approximately 250,000 characters, with a dozen of them identical to Latin abbreviations used by scribes between the 13th and 15th centuries. The illustrations—when viewed in rapid sequence—form genuine and peculiar animations.

Numerous attempts at interpretation have been made since Voynich’s time, including modern studies at Yale University, but none have succeeded in providing a coherent reading to solve the Voynich manuscript enigma. Every presented translation of text excerpts appears as a disconnected string of words. Many researchers have dedicated their entire lives to trying to make sense of the Voynich, all ending in failure.

For further exploration: Villa Mondragone

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