Voynichese related

Derek Abbott is an electrical engineer with an interest in mysteries of various sorts, including the Voynich manuscript.  He has a Voynich research plan – proposal – at the University of Adelaide website (here);

and  a pdf of the final seminar.

There’s a YouTube video too, though I haven’t checked that.

Irena Hanzíková was mentioned at ciphermysteries last year (September 9th., 2016).   English-language Voynicheros haven’t had much to say about her, but the German and Czech sources have.  She says its Old Czech and that over the past several years, she has completed the translation of forty pages.   One recent article (in Czech) dated 6.5. 2017.  Here.

Milanese ‘monoalphabetic cipher’ 1401.

I’m a little confused about names here.   Pelling says (July 6th., 2016)  “At the beginning of the 15th century, however, things started to shift (slightly) in the world of codemaking. 1401 was when a secretary at the Duchy of Mantua produced the following cipher alphabet for corresponding with Simeone de Crema..” (He adds a picture of the cipher).

Pelling seems to be the only one who credits a secretary of the Duchy of Parma Mantua (sorry), though I daresay he has the right of it.  Everyone else credits de Crema himself, perhaps because the secretary’s name isn’t known and there’s no record of his rubbing elbows with the higher nobility.  Even da Crema’s biography is a little hard to find, so I’ve linked to an Italian dictionary of Biography.

Pelling seems not to realise that cipher’s basis is the atbash –  which a fifteenth-century Latin scribe/secretary might have learned from contemporary Jews or – conceivably – from his own higher theological studies .

The Maths department of Freibourg notice it  (here) though  attributing the ‘Milanese’ variation to da Crema.

How likely is it?

Rudolf …nobility… courts… diplomats… alchemy … spas.  yada yada.

Even a brief acquaintance with  the sort of works which were produced for or collected by members of European courts should tells us how very unlikely it is that they would have been interested in our manuscript.  On that point – below a reprinted comment from the old “Bad post-card” blog.

Something Pelling wrote about that same time summed up the doldrum years after the end of the first mailing list (before the start of voynich.ninja).

“the extraordinarily productive collaboration its early days saw was largely down to the small number and high calibre of the participants (Jim Reeds, Jim Gillogly, Jacques Guy), most of whom left the [mailing] list long ago. Really, the collective wisdom of the crowd very much depends on the crowd you happen to be dealing with”.

Pelling’s post was entitled, ‘A Tale of Two articles’.


To be honest, not even Voynich.ninja can make stupid people less so.  One bright spark is said to have responded – to a protest about re-use of orginal research without reference to its author  – with the ingenious excuse that “it would have been discovered sooner or later”…

  • yep!  Not all geniuses yet. But the story may be apocryphal, like the Mnishovsky rumour..

But then again … dang! A man with that sort of philosophy could claim.. well say the WIles solution – and just by failing to name Wiles add .. what.. half a million pounds to his credit.   We’d all nod along, wouldn’t we? –  “It would have been discovered sooner or later”.

For some of us more serious types – who have troubled to study cryptography, iconographic analysis,  codicology and palaeography, and academic studies of medieval history and art… you know, the normal things..  that little manuscript in the Beinecke is as fascinating and genuinely worth spending time on as Fermat’s last was for mathematicians.

So – all the clever-bobs (and you if you’re thinking the same) here’s some solid advice.  Drop the smart-not excuses and stop drake-ing about in borrowed feathers and either do the work yourself, or credit the work done. The study has moved on – we’re past the Sudoku stage.

And just think –  one day some one might cross-examine you on exactly how you reached that point of view: to show your working-out.  And if you haven’t got the nous even to understand the difference between research conclusions and a bit of vague hypothesising, or a body of solid research and a little drawing, then you’re going to look a dam’ fool when asked explain proofs and reasoning in detail. Think about it.

Lucky cryptographers, though.

They’re a pretty decent bunch  – minds on the problem; able and willing to do their own work, and fair-dealing in using each others’.  Lucky sods.









  1. Yes, that particular cipher was based on an atbash-like cipher, but I’d point out (as does Kahn) that the innovation there is the alternate ‘homophonic’ letters for the vowels. For more detail, you’ll have to wait for my paper on this. 🙂


  2. Hello Diane!
    You have been working on the manuscript for several years and I am sad to see that you are shaking your mind by seeking recognition from bloggers. Bloggers, by definition, goes and comes and a lasting recognition can only come from a publication. Do like the others, publish a book with your results, this book will remain a legacy for your descendants, as your blog will disappear.
    Best regards


    • Ruby, I was approached by an academic press some time ago to prepare my research for publication; one volume of essays initially, but consideration of the first led to the offer of a second volume. As I’ve been working on them – the particular topics selected by the scouts and peer reviewers, who chose those as entirely original contributions to the study and ones likely to be of lasting value – we’ve seen each in turn suddenly appear in distorted or garbled ‘alternatives’. It’s not simple cut-and-paste plagiarism, and it isn’t the efforts to write ‘alternatives’ either. The issue is the constant, and apparently determined refusal of acknowledgement for the precedent work – the original study. In some cases, it is clear, that the actual writers are innocent parties. So not simple plagiarism, or efforts at imitation. The key seems to be deliberate farming out of my conclusions in the form of an ‘idea’ which the innocent party is encouraged to ‘explore’. So more like a kind of fraud I suppose, where the thief cheats two parties rather than one.


  3. Nick, about the ‘novelty’ of the homophonic vowels… I’ve just remembered that I invented the same cipher – reversed alphabet and scrambled vowels – at the age of eleven, when wanting to keep my diary safe from siblings. I’m sure it was ‘invented’ many times, and before the secretary thought of it. In fact, you also find altered vowels and vowel-order in Bibilical texts that are provided with pointing. This preserves the custom of avoiding naming the unspeakable – whether these were the names of persons, cities, empires, other being or name.


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