Professor Lechner’s talk at the Mondragone conference

Professor Lechner has made his Powerpoint presentation from the Mondragone conference available through the mailing list, by Rene’s good offices.

I hope that I’m not breaching copyright or confidence if I offer a brief abstract, as points. (If so, please leave a comment on the post).

Prof. Lechner points out that:

*plants were depicted differently in Europe in earlier times, with the parts considered most important being emphasised, sometimes by exaggeration.

* Lechner assumes the plants in the Voynich manuscript are meant for medicinal plants of Latin-, Persian- and Arabic texts and that, therefore, that any parts emphasised will be ones  important in those medical traditions.

* Lechner refers to Dioscorides’ herbals as the [European] ‘text book to the sixteenth century’.   In fairness I must add that we do find European botanists complaining even as late as the early eighteenth century about having to rely on root-cutters for plant identifications, and  Theophrastus’ texts were still just as widely quoted, even if not always correctly attributed.

* Lechner sees the depiction of plants in some western medieval herbals as similar to those in some Persian and Arabic herbals – something which is undeniably true.

* Lechner argues that the ‘bathy-‘ section together with the astronomical section is a unified reference to Islamic baths known as Haman or Hamam.  He reads the female figures and the fluids (both blue and green) literally,  likening patterning in those drawings to elements of design in Islamic architecture.

With this last argument I’m sorry to say that I must disagree in general and in particulars.

However, I don’t think anyone could possibly differ with Prof. Lechner’s concluding remark that  a Voynich  ‘Rosetta stone’ would be a very good thing to find.

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