THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT: FIRST BOOK OF THE AMERICAS – Q & A


You said the tapir was used to make the vials for mixing the herbs. What animal was used to make the parchment on which the Voynich manuscript was written?

Similarly to how the tapir was depicted at the end of the section on herbal medicine, the animal used for parchment can be found on the last page of the manuscript (folio 116v). This is it:

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a marsh deer allegedly used for parchment

This is a marsh deer, distinguishable by virtue of the black coloring of the lower legs. They inhabited Venezuela during medieval times and today they are still extant further south.

The Cathars were vegetarians, which makes me reluctant to suggest that they hunted deer for food. However, finding themselves unable to farm land in the swamps, they may have made an exception to the rule. Of course, if they ate venison, it would become easy to explain how they managed to accumulate enough hides to produce more than a hundred pages of parchment.

Another possibility would be that they sold their herbal medicines and painted vials to the indigenous peoples in exchange for hides, but on folio 76v it looks like the girls were not shy about skinning animals themselves:

Voynich Manuscript drawing of the hide of a spotted jaguar

I'm not sure, but I think she is holding the hide of a spotted jaguar, and her right is raised as an expression of triumph over the predator animal.

The process of making parchment was complex, so at least one of the Cathars who made the transatlantic crossing had to have had the needed skills.

Parchment required elements like lime and chalk, often hard to find in the Amazon region, but apparently available on the Caribbean cost of Venezuela (not far from the Morichal swamps) in the form of shellfish deposits.

Note that the majority of the glyphs frequently seen in the manuscript are not of original design. Many of them resemble numerals that were used in the Near East, and others resemble symbols that were employed in medieval alchemy (essentially chemistry). Familiarity with alchemy would increase the chances that they knew how to extract lime from sea shells.

You say they drew the marsh deer to indicate that this was the animal used for parchment. Do they also portray the manuscript's authors?

Yes, of course. We see the proud author here:

Alleged female author of the Voynich Manuscript

This gallant female presents herself directly under the drawing of the deer and is the last thing we see in the Voynich manuscript (folio 116v).

Why are all the women naked?

That's a silly question. In the rainforest we still see naked people today. With high heat, high humidity and frequent rainfall, clothing can be more of an annoyance than a necessity.

Indeed, the fact that these women are naked is another reason for believing that the Voynich manuscript was compiled in a rainforest and not in Europe. As far as I know, there were no nudist camps in medieval Europe.

But at night, the temperature in the tropics can drop considerably and it can feel even colder due to all the dampness.

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a rainforest female wrapped in a blanket while sleeping in her tree hut

On folio 82r, we see one of the girls wrapped in a blanket, peacefully asleep in her tree hut under the stars.

With such strong evidence for the tropics, why do scholars think the Voynich manuscript was written in northern Italy which is hardly tropical?

Let's have another look at the drawing of the Montségur fortress following folio 86v:

Voynich Manuscript depiction of a fortress suspected to be Montségur

Note the frontal defenses known as M-shaped merlons. Such merlons have been found on castles in northern Italy. I checked them out myself: only two of them predate the fall of Montségur in 1244, but at one point or another those castles were enlarged or destroyed and rebuilt. In brief, so far, I have found no proof that any Italian M-shaped merlon predates the fall of Montségur.

The Cathars lived in both southern France and northern Italy. Catharism in France came to an abrupt termination in the 13th century but continued to survive in northern Italy until the early 14th century. I suspect that the Italian Cathars introduced the M-shaped merlons into Italy in remembrance of those who died at Montségur.

In any case, please note that the Voynich drawing also displays a cone-shaped tower, similar in design to the towers found at the Carcassonne fortress in France (another place where the Cathars lived). Those medieval cones can still be seen today:

Coned towers at Carcassonne, France, public domain photograph

As you can see, towers of conical design are the product of French, not Italian, architecture. Moreover, unlike Montségur, most of the Italian castles have survived to this day, and none of them look like the fortress we see in the Voynich manuscript.

Have you identified any of the Voynich plants other than the freshwater plant that you showed us?

I have found several candidates, but many plant species have similar looking leaves, similar looking red berries or whatever, and not being a botanist, I have no wish to speculate in this area. I am, however, confident with regard to the Morichal plant as it has no branches or leaves that can confuse the matter.

It has been pointed out that the Voynich manuscript depicts sunflowers (see folio 33v) which are native to the Americas and were unknown in Europe until Columbus brought them back.

Voynich Manuscript drawing of a sunflower

A noted university professor has commented that it is impossible for this to be a sunflower because the manuscript has been dated to pre-Columbian times. Perhaps if the sunflower were the only evidence of an American connection, his comments would be reasonable. But, as we have seen, there is a lot more evidence ranging from the Morichal plant to the South American tapir. Keep in mind that medieval boats were quite capable of crossing the Atlantic and that the Cathars, being hunted down to extinction in Europe, had every reason to take their chances at sea.

Beyond the sunflower drawing, there are reports that other drawings have been associated with plants found in Central America but I do not know if they also explored the plants of Venezuela.

In any case, I believe that the vast majority of the plants shown in the manuscript are now extinct and hence can never be identified. In a rainforest environment, plant species can appear and disappear every year. It's a miracle that our freshwater plant managed to survive across all those centuries. Being protected by the surrounding water is probably responsible for its long-term survival.

The Voynich manuscript is dated near the beginning of the 15th century and then appears in Europe in the 17th century. How did it get from A to B?

First of all, let's note that there appears to be no historical record of the Voynich manuscript, or of any similar manuscript, anywhere in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. It would not be unreasonable to suspect that, during those centuries, the manuscript resided elsewhere.

I do not know the answer to your question, but parchment manuscripts were durable and it seems plausible that a Spanish profiteer of the 16th century could have encountered the manuscript and brought it back to Europe for personal gain or other motive. Transactions of this type are often not recorded in the history books.

Curiously, the Incas claimed to have been in possession of a book. Wikipedia cites the historian Pedro Sarmiento (1572) on the creator-god Viracocha: "a man of medium height, white and dressed in a white robe like an alb secured round the waist, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands."

It seems a bit incredulous that the pre-Columbian Incas, a people who did not know how to read or write, could have imagined a "book" (or even a white man) in their mythology. Perhaps this was intended to refer to the epoch of Viracocha Inca, the king who ruled from 1410 to 1438, dates that correspond quite well with the radiocarbon range given for the Voynich manuscript: from 1404 to 1438.

Why did the Cathars decide to go to Venezuela and not somewhere else?

They may not have planned to go anywhere specific. West of northern Africa they would have encountered the north equatorial current, which runs east to west toward Venezuela.

It is unknown where and how they got the boat. The Cathars had some friends among the Knights Templar (who operated a fleet from the west coast of France) and also among the cabalists (another persecuted sect) in Girona, which was located roughly two hundred kilometers southeast of Montségur on the other side of the Pyrenees. I think it most likely that they crossed the mountains (in 1244) to reach Girona. At that time the leader of the cabalists was Nachmanides (1194–1270), whose Hebrew writings express familiarity with a text that could have been the sacred text of the Cathars.

While the escapees of Montségur may have planned to die at sea, in peace, praying (and then woke up one day to see the Americas!), there is reason to believe that their sacred text implied the existence of undiscovered land, suggesting a dedicated effort to cross the ocean. In that case, they may have been joined in this effort by a cabalist or two. Decoders would be well advised to consider encryption techniques employed by the cabalists including the interchange of letters and numbers.

Also note that Girona was a city of Catalonia, so it becomes easy to spot that the Voynich manuscript makes use of accent marks and abbreviation markings that are found in the Homilies d'Organyà, a work written in the Old Catalan language.

What ever happened to the Cathars in Venezuela? Why didn't the Spanish see them when they arrived there?

Wikipedia states the following about the Cathars:

"… reproduction was viewed by them as a moral evil to be avoided—as it continued the chain of reincarnation and suffering in the material world. It was claimed by their opponents that, given this loathing for procreation, they generally resorted to sodomy."

This aversion to procreation is symbolically depicted on folio 80r of the manuscript:

Voynich Manuscript depiction of Cathar aversion to procreation

It is easy to see what this young man (no beard) wants, but notice that the girl is literally running away from him.

No other males are seen in the manuscript. Possibly the men went out to explore the rainforest or to hunt for food and never returned, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Another possibility would be that the women we see in the manuscript are extremely old (one can imagine that their herbal concoctions helped to extend their lifespans) and the men had already passed away.

The notion that those women are old (other than the girl we just saw who perhaps went on to become the virgin author of the manuscript) is reinforced by depictions of the sacrament of consolamentum, which was intended to be administered as close to death as possible (it could be given only once in a lifetime) so that the recipient would remain cleansed when entering the afterlife.

Above all, notice that no infants or young children are reflected in the Voynich manuscript. Hence, there is no need to speculate on a demise due to disease, headhunters, or mass suicide. It looks like they perished from natural causes: the lack of offspring. Although there are reports that indigenous peoples of northwestern Amazonia have been found with blonde hair and European DNA, there seems to be no way of knowing if this results from events that occurred before or after 1492.

Evidently, their small settlement in Venezuela survived for less than two hundred years, from the middle of the 13th century to the first half of the 15th century. Many sections of the manuscript could be a copy of research undertaken decades earlier. The general lack of corrections (crossouts and insertions) in the text is more suggestive of copying than original writing.

As for the young male (and the only male) depicted in the manuscript, one can only wonder if he became the white man who brought a book to the Incas during the time of Viracocha (Inca), as reported by the historian Pedro Sarmiento de Gambo. There are many reasons to believe that Sarmiento himself took the Voynich manuscript along when he traveled from Peru to the city of London in 1584.

Can you prove your theory that the Voynich manuscript was written in Venezuela and not in Europe?

I do not like calling it a "theory" because that word is often used to refer to ideas based on weak evidence.

The Voynich manuscript has 112 folios that depict plants that have never been identified with any plant seen in Europe; there are 20 folios depicting every aspect of life and survival in swamps that are nowhere to be found in Europe; there are 34 folios related to herbs (roots and leaves) none of which, as far a I know, have been identified with herbs used in Europe; and there are drawings of animals like the tapir and the marsh deer that are nowhere to be found in Europe.

It is abundantly obvious (the Voynich manuscript is in and of itself the evidence) that certain Europeans decided to go elsewhere during medieval times. A hundred years ago discoveries like mine, especially if made by a noted botanist or historian, would have made newspaper headlines. Today, Earth has become a planet inhabited by zombies largely incapable of rational thinking. For them, there is no truth and no reality except what is programmed into their minds by television and radio.

Anyway, as I was saying, they used the skin of the marsh deer to make parchment. In medieval Europe, people used calves (cows), sheep and goats to make parchment.

It is my understanding that a dermatology expert with a magnification device should be able to determine, without damaging the manuscript in any way, if the parchment is made from deer skin or from the skin of one the European animals. For sure, that would resolve the matter.

But none of this means that an examination of the parchment will be undertaken anytime soon. Cooperation from the current proprietors of the manuscript – Yale University – is somewhat doubtful given that it took years of pressure before they would allow radiocarbon testing of the manuscript. My efforts to convince their library to also consider the source of the parchment have failed.

Thus, to answer your question succinctly: Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Voynich manuscript will forever remain a document written by Italian monks.



Continued here.




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