Has the Voynich Manuscript Finally Been Decoded?: Researchers Claim That the Mysterious Text Was Written in Phonetic Old Turkish

There are still several ancient languages modern scholars cannot decipher, like Minoan hieroglyphics (called Linear A) or Khipu, the intricate Incan system of writing in knots. These symbols contain within them the wisdom of civilizations, and there’s no telling what might be revealed should we learn to translate them. Maybe scholars will only find accounting logs and inventories, or maybe entirely new ways of perceiving reality. When it comes, however, to a singularly indecipherable text, the Voynich Manuscript, the language it contains encodes the wisdom of a solitary intelligence, or an obscure, hermitic community that seems to have left no other trace behind.

Composed around the year 1420, the 240-page manuscript appears to be in dialogue with medieval medical and alchemical texts of the time, with its zodiacs and illustrations botanical, pharmaceutical, and anatomical. But its script only vaguely resembles known European languages.



So it has seemed for the 300 years during which scholars have tried to solve its riddles, assuming it to be the work of mystics, magicians, witches, or hoaxers. Its language has been variously said to come from Latin, Sino-Tibetan, Arabic, and ancient Hebrew, or to have been invented out of whole cloth. None of these theories (the Hebrew one proposed by Artificial Intelligence) has proven conclusive.

Maybe that’s because everyone’s got the basic approach all wrong, seeing the Voynich’s script as a written language rather than a phonetic transliteration of speech. So says the Ardiç family, a father and sons team of Turkish researchers who call themselves Ata Team Alberta (ATA) and claim in the video above to have “deciphered and translated over 30% of the manuscript.” Father Ahmet Ardiç, an electrical engineer by trade and scholar of Turkish language by passionate calling, claims the Voynich script is a kind of Old Turkic, “written in a ‘poetic’ style,” notes Nick Pelling at the site Cipher Mysteries, “that often displays ‘phonemic orthography,’” meaning the author spelled out words the way he, or she, heard them.

Ahmet noticed that the words often began with the same characters, then had different endings, a pattern that corresponds with the linguistic structure of Turkish. Furthermore, Ozan Ardiç informs us, the language of the Voynich has a “rhythmic structure,” a formal, poetic regularity. As for why scholars, and computers, have seen so many other ancient languages in the Voynich, Ahmet explains, “some of the Voynich characters are also used in several proto-European and early Semitic languages.” The Ardiç family will have their research vetted by professionals. They’ve submitted a formal paper to an academic journal at Johns Hopkins University.

Their theory, as Pelling puts it, may be one more “to throw onto the (already blazing) hearth” of Voynich speculation. Or it may turn out to be the final word on the translation. Prominent Medieval scholar Lisa Fagin Davis, head of the Medieval Academy of America—who has herself cast doubt on another recent translation attempt—calls the Ardiçs’ work “one of the few solutions I’ve seen that is consistent, is repeatable, and results in sensical text.”

We don’t learn many specifics of that text in the video above, but if this effort succeeds, and it seems promising, we could see an authoritative translation of the Voynich, though there will still remain many unanswered questions, such as who wrote this strange, sometimes fantastical manuscript, and to what end?

Related Content:

An Animated Introduction to “the World’s Most Mysterious Book,” the 15th-Century Voynich Manuscript

Behold the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript: The 15th-Century Text That Linguists & Code-Breakers Can’t Understand

Artificial Intelligence May Have Cracked the Code of the Voynich Manuscript: Has Modern Technology Finally Solved a Medieval Mystery?

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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Comments (15)
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  • Karl Reitmann says:

    It’s completely unconvincing. This manuscript was written fluidly, like I’m writing this post, the author didn’t stop at ever second character to think how to “code” his writing.

  • Christopher Ellis says:

    The drawings look like those found in Ottoman works, and the Old Turkic hypothesis seems to have legs. Code is a misnomer. I had a look into the matter some time ago, and this is the front runner, in my opinion

  • Domingo Delgado says:

    I have studied the manuscript for two years and have much information that directly links Leon Battista alberti as the author.I believe it’s written in Latin. Unfortunately, I don’t know who to contact to bring this information to light. Bellow are a few points of the pertinent information I have:
    1)Leon Battista Alberti lived in the exact time period the book was written. (this is a fact that has been proven through carbon dating)
    2)If you analyze Alberti’s hand writing from famous letters that still exist, you would see that there are many similarities.
    3)If you analyze architectural graphics from the manuscript you would see that they correlate to the location and exact time period he lived.
    4)Architectural elements of his own designs are found within the manuscript.

  • Lars Andraschko says:

    Once you use a cypher for a few months it becomes second nature and you no longer have to stop and think about it.

  • A. Dabra says:

    I agree with Lisa Fagin Davis: it does look relatively convincing. And the translation does look to make sense.
    Let’s hope they manage to translate this whole text so we learn what’s in it!
    Great!

  • Troy says:

    Everyone who solve the puzzle
    Would become famous,
    300years on and the mystery has been unsolved
    It will be another 300years of mystery
    It is like the mystery of Pyramide

  • Matthew Murphy says:

    I’ve read over it probably less thoroughly than anyone who has had the opportunity to sit down and ‘study’ it or whatever y’all do, and no, I don’t believe it is correctly decipherable in any one-set linguistic understanding of modern text – nor even past script. I believe that the ‘code/meaning’ behind the true intention (whatever it may be) of the writings within the Voynich Manuscript(s) is totally and completely based off of a more/less philosophical set of wordings/standpoints of true HUMANITARIAN understanding.

  • Matthew Murphy says:

    He had no good or bad intentions when writing this. I agree with you 100%. This was written in, and by, his own belief system and set of ideals. It is highly detailed and I’m sure that it has more information than maybe even today’s society as a WORLD would find hard to fit their head around.

  • Matthew Murphy says:

    My last reply was meant in response to the comment posted by Karl Reitmann.

  • Tony M says:

    Nice family and solid theory but I agree w top comment, Voynich looks fluid. Most likely a variety of Ancient Macedonian script, birthplace of Hermetica. Not “Greek” or “Coptic” BS they always tell us. Original works all stolen by Medici and the like, almost certainly still in the Vatican library. Too much hidden history but truth always prevails.

  • Monica says:

    the Voynich Manuscript was, my theory, written by Turkic Jews (Khazars) who were exiled in Greece before the fall of Constantinople, and i believe this is their lost language. It is not in code, but an agglutinative language. You can utilize Hebrew root words to gain an understand of what was written. It is not the Hebrew of today. Check for yourselves. The only codes are hidden letters in plants, angelic alphabet, alchemical, and some circular charts.

    https://www.academia.edu/38089630/The_Voynich_Manuscript_Medicinal_Herbology_Translation_and_Identification_updated_2_12_19?source=swp_share

    https://www.academia.edu/38476745/Voynich_Manuscript_Alphabet_Alchemical_and_Angelic_alphabet_usage.pdf?source=swp_share

  • Joshua says:

    The only problem with radioactive carbon dating dating is that it’s completely dependant on the atmospheric presence of the carbon atom C-14, and it’s degradation. If the manuscript was found in a wooden chest in Southern Europe, as Wilfrid Voynich claims, how could it be accurately dated seeing how it would have been closed off from normal atmospheric carbon?

  • D.N.O'Donovan says:

    It’s a pity the Ardics haven’t given more details of that journal. John Hopkins University publishes several – some in print, some online.

  • D.N.O'Donovan says:

    Josh
    I hope you are not the ‘Josh’ who commented about radiocarbon dating. The atmospheric carbon which is tested isn’t contemporary ‘fall out’ but the levels within the material being tested – this reflecting the atmospheric levels at the time the animal or plant was alive.

    It is often said, I know, that
    “… the manuscript appears to be in dialogue with medieval medical and alchemical texts of the time, with its zodiacs and illustrations botanical, pharmaceutical, and anatomical.”

    but it’s all guesswork and speculation, much of it repeated just because it has so often been repeated. No expert in medieval works in any of those subjects has found any correspondence to medical, alchemical, botanical, pharmaceutical or anatomical works, and in most cases the experts have flatly denied that the Vms is of that sort. These myths don’t bear scrutiny; many (like the ‘anatomical’ idea) are out-and-out anachronism and truth be told, there’s not any certainty that the content originated in western Europe.

    The reason this manuscript remains a mystery, I’d say, is that we have had too many people who began by thinking they already knew the answers to questions they hadn’t even begun to investigate… just like those before them.

    Yes, I know the same tired old ideas are found everywhere, but ask for the research which first resulted in that conclusion and… there isn’t any. ‘A bloke told me’ is about the level of preliminary evidence. After that, believers have tried to justify their own pet theory.

    Sorry to sound cynical, but there you are.

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