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There are several aspects to 'the creation of the Voynich Manuscript' which should be considered in understanding how and why it was made - from how medieval manuscripts in general were made to how the document itself was put together and the script developed.

From tests the vellum of the VM dates to the first part of the 15th century, and it was written on in the same time period. (One category of fakes, it should be noted, involves vellum/paper of the period and inks prepared as they would have been in the period - so this is excluded for the VM.)

There were a number of ciphers in the Middle Ages - such as the Alphabetum Kaldeorum (Wikipedidia page [1]), found in a manuscript of 1428 but of earlier provenance. It may be that the VM has to be considered in the context of cyphers and related texts.

Whatever its functions and whenever it was created the VM appears to have been created as 'a complete document' - so the vellum and other materials would have had to be fairly readily available.


Superficially at least, the VM appears to belong in the Western European type of manuscript - rather than, for example, Cyrillic texts.


Materials used in creating the Voynich ManuscriptEdit

The following is merely a brief selection from a much wider range of material.

  • Vellum - dated to the first part of the 15th century - more information on the Wikipedia page [2]. An article on preparing vellum is here [3].
  • Ink: various black inks were available in the 15th century, including ones derived from tree galls, and mixtures of carbon (such as 'lamp black') and glue. Analysis indicates that iron gall ink (Wikipedia page [4]; Traveling Scriptorum page [5], Iron gall ink website [6]) was used, applied with a quill pen (Wikipedia page [7]).
  • Colours would have come from various organic materials and mineral sources. One of the most expensive pigments was ultramarine blue, derived from lapis lazuli, at the time only available from part of what is now Afghanistan (Wikipedia page [8] refers.)

There is much information on the preparation and use of vellum/parchment, inks, pens and other materials, and also calligraphy and drawing is available in print and online. There are a number of websites on the creation of medieval manuscripts, such as [9].

A website on the pigments used in medieval manuscripts is [10]

Ellie Velinska's blog on the use of brass inkwells and mortar for writing the VM [11].

The Wikipedia page on Manuscript culture is [12].


Constructing the manuscriptEdit

The script used has a passing resemblence (to a casual viewer) to European scripts:. It seems to have a natural running flow, rather than being constructed with a view to the significance of particular words or symbols.

Given the nature of the script there would have to be 'rough drafts' and 'layout drafts' - which might have been on wax tablets, paper (coming into use from the mid-late Middle Ages) and 'fragments of vellum' to get the layout correct (as there is little evidence of correction on the manuscript). No examples of this draft material survive. John Tiltman makes this point in his articlee on the VM.

It could be argued that the 'absence of draft documents' is one of the more interesting aspects of the VM.

There is evidence of the vellum sheets being bound in the wrong order, and a number of sheets are missing: at what point the binding and the losses happened is not clear.

The pictures were added to the manuscript first, and then the text was written around them.


In 2009, University of Arizona [13] researchers performed C14 dating on the manuscript's vellum. The result of that test put the date the manuscript was made between 1404 and 1438.

The McCrone Research Institute [14] in Chicago found that the paints in the manuscript were of materials to be expected from that period of European history. It


See also

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