- A Possible Middle Eastern Connection
- CanBooks Copyright April 2003
- This is most likely an oriental manuscript (according to
the style of the glyphs, styles of the illustration, and the
oriental herb driers illustrated in one section.
- While the document appears to be left justified, many of
the characters appear to be best written from right to left
- If the original text read from right to left the back of
the book is actually the beginning
- Several sections of text seem to be right justified.
- It is my opinion that the text may have originally been written
in a derivative of Nabataean Script
(five or six of the letters are still clearly identifiable, as
- This appears to be a scientific book, most likely related
to the scientific knowledge of a particular civilization, or
the accounts of someone on a journey, recording findings along
the way. (The second section of the book seems to describe trade
winds along his route.)
- The European monks/scribes who transcribed the book over
the centuries would not have known the Nabataean language, and
thus it can be assumed that they made copy errors with the text.
These errors were compounded by the next copyist etc. Since the
scribes did not know which of the parts of the individual characters
were important, the characters slowly evolved over time, until
only a small number of them are clearly identifiable. The final
copyist seems to have been a professional, but this says nothing
of the qualities of previous copyists.
- I suspect that the book was recognized as a book of science
during the Middle Ages, albeit somewhat exotic, and thus worth
preservation, even though the scribes did not know the language
of the text. The book lost it's importance with the development
of modern science and the introduction of the printing press
- The scribes who copied the text made several decorative changes
to the text. This was common during the Middle Ages. Thus the
first letter of each paragraph was capitalized and decorated.
Since the scribes did not know the language of the text, the
chose the first (left) letter and made it look special.
- The scribes also aligned the text to the left margin, although
several places in the text the right alignment still exists
- Some of the artwork has been re-interpreted by the artists
who re-drew the drawings during the Middle Ages, and adapted
the clothing and hair style common to their time.
- Many paragraphs are highlighted with stars, typical to the
stars used by the Nabataeans
- The length of the words is too short for European languages,
but seems to indicate an unvoweled text as used in most Semitic
scripts (such as Aramaic in its various forms (including Nabataean),
Syriac, Hebrew, or Arabic.
First Impressions of George Turnbull (Agricultural Researcher)
- The general impression I received is that this a European
manuscript on pharmaceutical plants.
- However it is quite distinct from any other European manuscript
in that it should have common European plants in it. For instance,
dandelions are found in almost all ancient European guides. They
were a "good for what ails you" type of herb. Theirs
and other plants that are absent here is disturbing.
- Perhaps this is a pharmaceutical manual from another location
that was copied and prepared for a European audience.
- Arguments for a Nabataean manuscript
- The presence of Nabataean characters in the character set
- The glyphs in the manuscript are of Roman and Arabian origin,
pointing to a very early date, and a location in Romanized Arabia
- The use of Nabataean stars
- The collection of plants, stories, etc., from many locations
around the earth would have been typical of a Nabataean scholar/merchant
during the Roman Empire.
- The alphabet uses 22- 27 characters. The Nabataean alphabet
has 22 characters
- The words are short, pointing to an unvoweled text. Nabataean
- The presence of a number of plants
that are native to Nabataea
- The existance of a manuscript with
similar script in the country of Jordan.
- The Text
There are several places in the text, where individual letters
are used to head sections. (See page 66r and 76r.) These pages
are very useful in identifying individual characters. The chart
below lists these individual characters.
- These characters and the others found in the book show considerable
likeness to Nabataean characters. The chart below demonstrates
this. (The shadowed rows show the characters with a distinct
- While Nabataean letters do show up in the Voynich Manuscript,
many of these letters are the same as ancient Syriac letters,
or Qumran Hebrew characters. See Chart
- It is possible to view the Voynich Manuscript by visiting
this web page: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dlxc/default.htm.
Type in Voynich and search
- Coming Soon: Second Impressions.
Later: An attempt at transcribing some Voynich text into Nabataean,
and ancient Chaldean (Strangali).