Elevation and keen sight are constant characteristics for these winged figures, whether pictured as avian or anthropomorphically, and are appropriately implied again by the Voynich ‘phoenix’ / ‘Angel of the Rose’ . Unlike the Egyptians’ bennu, the Voynich figure appears to rise from the palm, or from the wings of that ‘Persian Pole’ depicted in the Chronograph of 354 two centuries before Zeno’s ‘Victory’ coin was minted in Byzantium.
Elevation over the earth and mastery at sea are ideas regularly combined in the ancient imagery, and as we see the type evolve in coins made for Sinope, I hope it will be clear why I attribute first enunciation of the Voynich figure to a cultural environment that was Hellenistic, and to a time before the 3rdC AD.
Our first example (below) was minted while the Milesian colony lay under Achaemenid Persian control, governed by the Satrap Ariathes I (365-322 BC). Thewhip-like object (to the left edge of the obverse) is a ship’s aplustre, a symbol of supremacy at sea that Rome would later adopt as mark of its victory over the Carthaginians.
In this and the images following, the bird-and-fish motif is less a sign of opposition than of complementarity, again just in the emblem on f.86v (Beinecke 85v and 86r) where we have the bird above, the ‘fishtail’ below, and both forming a single, almost precisely reversible, whole which is at once divided and united by the ‘mirror line’ of the rose.
Another coin, near contemporary with our first example and made for another Black Sea colony, Sinoe (later known as Istros) shows more clearly the thinking behind these images: this is an idea of complement-and-opposite which is at once dualistic and expressive of symbiosis.
That the makers had so sophisticated a way of thought is proven by the name given another site in this region, the harbour we call Balaklava but which Strabo knew as Synvolon-limen – a name which he supposed meant “the signals harbour”, but it wasn’t quite the original sense of the ancient Greek Synbolon.
Already near-archaic when Aeschylus used it, ‘synbolon’ had meant two halves of a whole, each of which is incomplete without the other. And rather remarkably, that is just how the word was understood by Isidore, writing in seventh-century Spain.. He uses the form ‘symbolon’ to mean an difference between two things near-identical.
He mentions it when speaking of that unseen ‘symbolon’ of the heart, the token distinguishing the true bearer of the message, as he writes in Book II of De Ecclesiasticus Officiis :
“.. this practice [of conferring the symbolon] is also employed in civil wars, because the appearance of the arms being the same, and the way of speaking the same, and [both sides] having the same ways of living, and modes of fighting, so to prevent being taken in by deceit, each leader will give his soldiers different symbolon, [called in Latin either ‘sign’ or ‘proof’], so that in the event of any confusion, the soldier .. may produce his symbolon to show whether he is an ally or an enemy”.
The harbour of Synbolon lay below that promontory on which, even in the fourteenth century, there stood an ancient temple remembered as having been built by the hands of angeloi, ‘winged messengers’ with their tokens, and it was these, rather than ordinary ‘signals’ which we must suppose had earlier been exchanged there. 
With its traveller’s hat, the world-rose below, and an object like a scroll (as symbolon?) in its hand, the Voynich ‘angel’ is informed by a way of thought appropriate to the pre-Roman period and, I’d suggest, to the maritime environment of the Black Sea.
During the 4thC BC, as Sinope passed from Achaemenid to Hellenistic control, Sinopian coins show a sudden change in form, and within a few decades the imagery is affected by a distinctly Phoenician style.
The following century, within the Hellenistic period proper ( Alexander was born in 356 BC and died in 323 BC) now Sinope’s guiding spirit is pictured as ‘nymph’ in a turretted crown – another type familiar from the Voynich manuscript, and particularly its astronomical and allegorical figures. The bird is much closer to the later Phoenix, while its design again hints at that distinction between near-identical halves, as symbolon. in this coin we see what would become a distinguishing mark of Christian Armenian art: the avoidance of any perfect lateral symmetry in forming an image. To use the Latin: difference between sinister and dexter might be small but must be discerned.
And just so, representing the earth’s extent by the axis, and its surface by the Rose, the Voynich ‘angel’ or Phoenix expresses that complementary-but-distinct, symbolon. Not only in its form, but its informing thought, this image belongs to the pre-Christian world.
Roman supremacy makes its presence felt in the Black Sea from the late centuries BC, and brings a predictable replacement of the ensouled animal image with that of an anthropoform figure. The example shown below was minted for Sinope during the 1stC BC and shows the ‘nike’ now as if balanced on one extended foot – just as the Voynich figure appears to do.
It is not my habit to adjust these images, but for readers who may be unable to see the shape within its wings, I add an outline below:
In Christian tradition, wings of this type do not occur, the nearest being the ‘bat-wings’ sometimes given animals or others considered evil, or demonic. I do not think that the first maker of the Voynich figure has intended us to read it that way, and I doubt he was aware of any such convention. It is plainly not an idea produced from the repertoire of medieval Latins art.
The bird’s ‘measuring eye’ was initially implied by its form, but that character and its obedience is represented in the Roman habit by the inclusion of a branch of the Phoenix palm. The example below is another Roman-era coin, this time produced for Tyre, and it is amusing to realise that with coins of this type, Ptolemy’s Marinos may have bought his bread.Notice too the ‘ribbed’ appearance of the bird’s plumage. Such imagery was only seen on Tyrian coins under the Romans ( c.126 BC to c.AD 66) and probably served as propaganda, identifying the Phoenix as servant of Jove, and (on the obverse) the deity Melqart with the emperor.
As symbol of the servant utterly faithful, the palm’s significance was maintained into the Christian era. It is recognisably the Phoenix palm in works produced in England as late as the eleventh century. (see e.g. Bodleian MSJunius II, page 3) .
Before ending this post I might mention another image of the palm and servant ‘angel’ because I believe that an image very like that shown below has informed the emblem in the Voynich calendar which is inscribed with the name of September. [ 3] The organisation and proportions of these images, together with the hat’s angularity, and the elevation of a ‘starry shield’ in each are similarities of content greater, in my opinion, that any difference in presentation, but the reader must decide it they see it, or not.
The medallion was made shortly after Alexander’s death, to commemorate the achievements of Nearchus, Alexander’s admiral and one renowned as a wayfarer by land and sea. He is shown wearing the short skirt that is also given the Sinopian ‘nike’. That skirt had been the master-mariner’s from the time of ancient Crete, and is also seen in Hittite imagery from Anatolia. Cretan by birth, Nearchus is thought to have been of Hittite descent and his reputation as master of the ways saw him worshipped as near-divine in Alexander’s world. What I consider to have been a process of translation, here, results in differences no great than might occur, for example, if a rubbing taken from the original were used as basis for a drawing. But what is required for that ‘translation’ – if such it was – shows just how little was needed to render ancient style and thought into ones more nearly acceptable to a medieval Christian before that “revival of the pagan gods”.
More interesting is evidence of a Semitic language having determined the translation of a shield (‘magen’) to the protective star (‘magen’ cf. Magen David)
We may posit that elimination of the figure’s wings is also a conscious decision – perhaps to make the figure less ‘pagan’ or remove any suggestion of it as unearthly. Despite that, the outline of the wings below the shoulder remains, now made part of the figure’s lengthened gown. As you see, the paint manages to suggest the ridging of the original.
And finally, the single bare leg which would have seemed so incongruous to later minds is covered and the short skirt made no more than a curious inverted scalloping at the front of what is now a wide, gored skirt. The swell of the chest becomes a breast, though whether or not this last translation is intentional or not I couldn’t say.
The image of Nearchus’ shield was probably always meant to suggest the patterns of heaven and earth. Homer wrote of Achilles’ shield:
There shone the image of the master-mind: There earth, there heaven, there ocean .. The starry lights that heaven’s high convex crown’d.
[addition of illustrations: 31-4-2016]
the next three posts in this series were intended to:
(e) consider the early association of Sinope, and Anatolia with imagery of the wayfinder and divisions of the globe. The relationship implied, and stated overtly in some sources, between the form of the globe as precendent to the map. Related imagery seen on coins made for Sinope in the century before Claudius Ptolemy, associated with Kabeiroi/Dioscuri emblems. Discuss certain early astronomical globes and images attributed to origin in Asia Minor from this time to c.2ndC AD.
(f) return to Chioniades’ work in Persia and in Trebizond in relation to updating Ptolemy’s data. Follow the non-Latin line of transmission through the Aegean to the western Mediterreanean, considering particularly astronomical works produced for and/or by Jews. The former MS Sassoon 823 (MS Schoenberg LJS 057) is, for many reasons, of signal importance to our study in my opinion and has been referenced in earlier posts here, including by way of Elly Decker’s article footnoted in the present series (III-c, note 2).
(g) recap other items in the manuscript which informed my conclusion that the early Hellenistic era, rather than the time of Claudius Ptolemy, saw first enunciation of imagery found in this manuscript. These items include imagery of the “Drioscuri” in the Greek tradition, and the “Kabeiroi” in the Phoenician. A second and noticeable chronological stratum I have dated to about the 1st-3rdC AD. I continue to attribute the present form of the roots in the botanical section to the mid-twelfth to mid-thirteenth centuries, though in this I believe I remain alone. I attribute making of what forms our current manuscript – what I term its ‘manufacture’ to c.1427 and the region of the Veneto. I continue in the opinion that it is compiled from works which had not previously been part of the Latins’ corpus, and while I am able to agree in theory that the main body of text was written by Latin scribes, I do not find sufficient evidence to suggest that idea proven.
Unfortunately (from my point of view) recent events and other pressures of work make it uncertain just when I will be able to find time to write up more of this material for the online ‘Voynich community’.
I would again make the point, because I understand from Stephen Bax that an idea circulates that I merely “tie threads together” that this notion is deceptive. What is written up here is all a product of original research, tying together my past and present studies. Because I have spent most of the time on this project working from non-Voynich academic studies, I have been eager to hear of and to acknowledge any Voynich writer who earlier reached a conclusion, or made an informed point, agreeing with my own. This has often, necessarily, taken the form of a retrospective ‘comment’ added by me as postscript after a post was published here.
Whether or not that earlier writer’s work was known to me or had any effect at all on my work, I have always added a note acknowledging those of which I later learned. My only condition is that the writer showed some evidence of having done his or her resarch, and took responsibility for the conclusion. Kite-flying is so often and so wrongly called ‘theory” among Voynicheros, and passing moments of day-dreaming used as a means to claim credit, that these conditions are necessary. A frivolous comment made decades ago on a private mailing list or a vague ‘idea’ never followed up or written up elsewhere, is not in my opinion sufficient reason to lay claim to use, or co-opt another’s research conclusions without proper citation and acknowledgement – as is regularly done by one or two of the ‘Voynich community’. Having an ‘idea’ is not the same as forming conclusions after research; the history of ideas is not the record of idle speculations.
Before I formed and published an opinion here, days or weeks of research were required. In some cases, what I publish in a short sentence may be informed by both research and my professional experience. In that sense only, my posts “tie threads together”.
Those noticing what they consider errors of fact are very welcome to leave a comment or send me an email.
 a tremissis.
 Herodotus, Histories 8.98
 The important contributions to readings of the Voynich calendar’s month names have been made, first, by Jorge Stolfi who suggested Occitan; then Shaun Palmer in 2004, and by Nick Pelling who followed -and acknowledged- the original works correctly in his own book of 2008, adding to the investigation. Next, in my opinion, is the view of Artur Sixto, who argued for a Judeo-Occitan or Judeo-Catalan, then the investigation by Thomas Sauvaget, who differed from these on some points, and finally the very interesting discovery, recently, by Don Hoffmann that the orthography is closely matched by that on certain astronomical instruments made in northern France. Other bloggers and keepers of web-pages habitually repeat the content of these original researchers, some correctly assigning due credit, but many others preferring to cite only those agreeing with a theory they prefer. One or two who espouse the ‘central European’ idea have shown themselves especially prone to omitting, minimising, or disparaging work which runs counter to that hypothesis.