Watch: Is the Voynich manuscript the most mysterious book in the world?
Is it an encyclopedia? A cipher? Or just a hoax?
Cryptic language has always intrigued us – be it in the form of military communications or love letters. The need to unravel the truth drove many to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Japanese “Purple Code” and Germany’s “Enigma” (remember Alan Turing in The Imitation Game?).
Yet, there’s one book that has defied all attempts to be decoded. The Voynich manuscript is centuries-old, written in an unknown language.
Cryptographers and scholars have spent their lives puzzling over the mysterious book that now sits at Yale University’s Beinecke library. The 200-page manuscript has over 170,000 unknown symbols, along with delicate illustrations of plants, astrological charts, and what look to be formulae for alchemy.
What is somewhat known, though, is its early ownership. The book is named after Wilfrid Voynich, the Polish rare book dealer who bought it around 1912 from a collection of books belonging to the Jesuits in Italy.
The fascination to uncover its origins has led to many conspiracy theories, with some believing that the past may hold answers to the present. The video above follows each of the theories, which even include the involvement of aliens. Perhaps, as The Guardian says, the only person to have solved this conundrum is the fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones.