Voynich f57v – the ‘alphabet page’

This page offers discussion and comment on f57v:

f57v

 

This is the analysis sent to me by Darren Worley – comments welcome:

 “I suspect the purpose of f57v (and the text on f58r and f58v) is to describe the use of a kind of Armillary Sphere., which is an astronomical instrument for measuring the celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillary_sphere

In particular, I believe it may be an “al-Bayda”. A kind of mixed [astronomical] instrument combining elements of a solid celestial sphere with others derived from the tradition of the armillary sphere, which received the name al-bayda (“the egg”). [Medieval Science and Tech. p79; ed. Thomas Glick].

It was used was in timekeeping; and was first described by the Arab astronomer, Al-Battini in 911. This would explain the similarities with the armillary sphere diagram, but also suggest an explanation for the differences.

This attribution is based on:

1)      The similarity of the diagram on f57v which is very similar to diagrams describing an armillary sphere.

Here is an example image: www.hps.cam.ac.uk/starry/regioarmillmed.jpg

This image dates from 1531 an appeared in “Scripta clarissimi mathematici M Ioannis Regiomontani de torqueto astrolabio” by Regiomontanus (1436 – 1476).

The important feature of this diagram is the words at the 10 o’clock and the 4 o’clock positions which refer to the polar axis.

2)      Also, looking at the figure in the lower-right hand-corner of f57v – he is holding what looks like a handheld-spherical object – presumably just such a device.

Importantly, f57v also has a word (eva: dairol) at the 10 o’clock position. This I believe refers to the pole-star (Polaris).

I suspect the 4 rings of symbols in the diagram are for aligning the Armillary sphere.”

—————

Thanks to Darren Worley. Comments welcome.

 

 

 

133 Comments

  1. Vera

    I have been following these discussions with great interest. I’m quite new here so forgive me if I repeat information by others before or post in the wrong forum. I do agree with Professor Stephen Bax that the Voynich manuscript were an attempt of encyclopaedia. However, I think that it is an encyclopaedia for the initiated or student of esoterica, hence its cypher like nature.
    Following Darren’s and Marco’s discussion, in particular the Peter de Albano connections I found translation of his work here http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/heptamer.htm What got me excited was the use of incantations in connection with angels of the day and night. This got me thinking that perhaps the repeating words of the Voynich manuscripts are incantations/mantras for the various angels and how to control spirits. For example, the chapter for the exorcism of the spirits of air: Vay, Vaa, Ey, Haa, Eye, Exe, à, El, El, El, à, Hy, Hau, Hau, Hau, Va, Va, Va, Va. I know that the mantras have been pointed out by many others, just putting in my two cents 🙂
    There are twelve angels of the day and twelve angels for night, as well as seven angels of the days of the week. The year is divided into 4 seasons with respective angelic spirit.
    The Spring:Talvi.
    The Summer:Casmaran.
    Autumne:Ardarael.
    Winter:Farlas/Farlae.

    The angels of the day were also associated with their own perfume/herbs and Winds. All this can be found by following the link as it is very exhaustive list of the angels and guardian spirits etc.
    The manuscript below from Peter de Abano: Heptameron. Symbol on the lower right look very Voynich-like.

  2. Ken A
    • MarcoP

      Thank you for this very interesting image, Ken!
      I made a quick search for the word “Arim”, and apparently it is the name of a (mythical?) city that Arabic cartographers considered as the center of the world. The city was also called Aryne, Aren, Arin, Arine. See this paper p.31.
      It’s strange to find the word as a label for the North: I guess the illustrator misinterpreted the text in this case?

      • Ken A

        In this illustration (page 53) in the Astronomicum Caesareum its labeled Spenrio. http://www.univie.ac.at/hwastro/books/1540_apian_ColLow.pdf

        • MarcoP

          Thank you, Ken. That’s an abbreviation for Septentrio, one of the common Latin words for North.

          • Stephen Bax

            Marco, any comment on the interesting clothing of the four compass characters, in the light of your own interesting discussion of other drawings?

            • MarcoP

              Hello Stephen,
              when comparing the two images with the Voynich ms, I think Ken is right: the most striking feature is the round object, possibly a coin, in the hand of the Arim/North figure in the Sacrobosco illustration. The figures on the right in Voynich f57v, f85r2, f86v4 all hold globular objects.

              I cannot really understand either of the two great diagrams posted by Ken. The attributes of the four figures in Sacrobosco’s image are certainly relevant, but I am unable to make sense of them. Oriens/East holds an axe, Meridies/South possibly a torch (?), Occidens/West a hoe, Arim/North a stick and a round object.

              Apian’s illustration is labeled with four “professions” illustrated by the costumes of the four figures.
              Oriens / East – Sacerdos / Priest
              Meridies / South – Astronomus / Astronomer
              Occidens / West – Poeta / Poet
              Septentrio / North – Cosmographus / Cosmographer

              The diagram illustrates a paragraph in the same page, but its meaning is obscure to me.

      • Helmut Winkler

        Marco,
        I would rather think of the Arimaspoi, mythical (?) tribes of the North (like the Hyperboreans, Plinius, Nat. Hist. from Herodot)

        • MarcoP

          Hi Helmut, the 1531 printed edition of Sacrobosco’s Sphaera (166r) has the passage at the top of the British Library ms page linked by Ken. A previous passage states that, according to some authors, the city of Arim is “exactly at the center of the world” (28v) …in quo loco quandam ponunt civitatem nomine Arim sub aequinoctiali situatam et dicunt hanc precise in medio mundi fore collocatam.

  3. One reason why there is no punctuation in VM, could be that these are a series of astrological or astronomical readings. So, it may be a short hand script using various astrological and/or astronomical symbols. The text might read something like “The Moon at 129 degrees rising in the house of Scorpio with Pisces descending”. I notice that the taller characters in VM usually come close to the beginning of each grouping of symbols. Is it possible that these symbols are actually some sort of mathematical cipher grouping, similar to those of the Cistercians? They often included ciphers in their Latin text. The calligraphy in VM is beautiful. I can’t really say that about all of the drawings though. So, the author may have wanted to make the number ciphers just as beautiful and florid as the other symbols. My husband is a calligrapher, so I appreciate the perfection of the symbols in VM.

    I have been working on a table of astrological/astronomical/cipher symbols that I think might make excellent matches for the Voynich script. Note: I am not a calligrapher.

    This is all speculation on my part as I am also not an astrologer nor an astronomer. However, as a musician I have been reading a universal language most of my life. I am trained to read symbols at a very rapid speed and as accurately as possible. According to Professor David King, the Cistercians could read their mathematical ciphers very rapidly. I am only guessing at how the VM script could be using a veiled form of cipher math disguised by beautiful calligraphic strokes. I will post what I have so far, but please to not judge me too harshly on my artwork. I have also included a few of the cipher stick figures at the end of my table for comparison. If I missed any obvious period scientific symbols, please let me know, so I can add them to my table. Thanks! I am re-posting this comment, as I added it to the wrong discussion, and my table of astrological symbols did not upload.

  4. MarcoP

    Some Indian words seem compatible with Darren’s idea of EVA:dairol (the word at 10 o’clock on the border of the diagram) meaning “pole” or “Polaris”. The label could read something like turash.

    Hindi: H ﺪﻫﺭﻭ धुरू dhur’ū; A. qutb, n. m. S. ध्रुव Pole (of the earth). Dhurū tārā. The polar star.

    Hindi: धुरा dhurā axle, shaft

    Marathi: धुरु dhuru m (Corr. from ध्रुव S) The polar star.

    Tamil: துருவம் turuvam – immutability, stability, அசையாநிலை; the pole of a circle; the north pole star;

    All from Digital Dictionaries of South Asia, a page that Stephen linked months ago.

    • Darren Worley

      Hi Marco – Thanks for the comments. The “pole-star” interpretation is one of several suggestions I’ve made over the past couple of years.

      I thought it would be interesting to see if any Romani words also share similarities with the Indian words you’ve suggested. I looked for words with this approximate form : beginning with either t or d, possibly followed by a vowel, an r, then another vowel and further letters.

      I used the ROMLEX Lexical Database which has a good user interface and a comprehensive word-list in 27 Romani dialects.

      Here are what I consider to be the best matches:

      Burgenland Romani (eastern Austria)
      doronga n f-i/-a- pole

      Prekmurski Romani (Prekmurje, a region comprising eastern Slovenia and western Hungary).
      doronga n f pole, bar

      Dolenjski Romani (Slovenia, south of Austria)
      drogo n m pole
      drugo n m pole

      These dialect all seem to originate from an area in the region bordering Austria/Slovenia/Hungary. There were no close matches amongst the other 24 Romani dialects.

      • MarcoP

        Hello Darren,
        Romlex is an excellent resource, thank you for sharing it!
        The words you list seem rather close to the Sanskrit: very interesting.

        Here is one more observation about the labels of the four figures. Three of the labels have similar suffixes:
        EVA:oparairdly (right)
        EVA:olkchdal (or olkeedal?) (bottom)
        EVA:otardaly (left)

        I think the first two could be variants of the last one, omitting one letter. So the complete suffix could be EVA:-daly (possibly reading tushun).

        It would be interesting to find a set of four-fold entities (ages of man, cardinal directions, seasons, temperaments…) having a similar suffix.
        The leading EVA:o could be an article, unrelated with the “core” of each word.

        As a first attempt, I considered these words:

        * The suffix tushun could be related to the Sanskrit “deśanā” (direction )

        * o-parair-dly -possibly reading a purur t(u)shun– Sanskrit “purā” (East)
        * o-lkch-dal or o-lkee-dal -possibly reading a shkh tush or a shky tush or a shkoo tush– Sanskrit “dākṣa” (South)
        * o-tar-daly -possibly reading a gur tushun or al ur tushun– Arabic “al gharb”, Persian “dabūr” (West wind). The Sanskrit “aparā” does not seem to be a good candidate in this case.
        * o-todarod or otodarag -possibly reading al aturat or a gaturat– Sanskrit “uttara, auttara” (North)

        I am not particularly confident of these ideas (the matches are poor) but maybe an analysis of the -daly suffix could provide some better hypotheses.

        • Derek Vogt

          A way to avoid writing that “sh” sound with two characters so your transliterations can be letter-for-letter and this sound is distinguishable from an “s” followed by an “h”… plus how the same tip works for various other special characters…

          There are codes for some special characters, which websites like this one will convert to the special characters when you post. They begin with “&” and end with “;”. One set that this works for is the Greek alphabet with the letters’ names spelled as they usually are spelled in English, with case-distinction:
          Ω → Ω
          ω → ω
          Σ → Σ
          σ → σ
          ς → ς (sigma final)

          For Latin letters plus diacritical marks, the code format is simple: first the basic letter, then the name of the mark you’re adding. For example, for the sound that most English-speakers would spell “sh”a caron:
          š → š
          Š → Š
          …although some don’t work, at least not at all websites. For example, here, I can add a caron to “s” or a vowel but not “c”, “z”, or “g”.

          And it works for some other basic diacritics, to:
          ô → ô
          ò → ó
          ó → ó
          ç → ç
          Strangely, “macron” (a straight horizontal line above the letter, usually a vowel) doesn’t work, at least not for “u”.

          Also noteworthy for writing Voynich stuff, it works for tildes (at least on “a” and “o”; this will be my first attempt with an “e”):
          ã → ã
          õ → õ
          &etilde; → &etilde;

          There are even two for the defunct English letters eth and thorn:
          ð → ð
          þ → þ

          • Derek Vogt

            Is that really what happens with “grave” or did an acute sneak into that line?
            ó → ó
            ò → ò

            OK, it works like I thought it would.

            (Also umlauts: ö → ö, Ä → Ä)

        • Darren Worley

          Marco – if the labels refer the cardinal points, then the common suffix (EVA: -daly) might be a word for the “sun”.

          The Westerly-direction was synonymous with the “Setting Sun”, and the Easterly-direction with the “Rising Sun”.

          This idea would explain this suffix for 2 cardinal points, but perhaps not a third. So I was curious if either North or South direction were named after a sun-related word in other languages.

          This does appear to be the case, for example, the word given to “South” in Latin is derived from a sun-related term. The Latin word “australis” for South is derived the PIE root *aus- “to shine, dawn”. (It possibly shares a common root with East).

          I think this provides a possible reason why three of the labels share a similar common suffix. Is there a known-language that uses a suffix in this way?

          • Neticis

            In Latvian South “dienvidi” has two roots: “diena” (day) and “vidi” (middle) making together “mid-day”, but North “ziemeļi” has common root with “ziema” (winter), making something like “winterly”. So, neither has direct relation to Sun.
            As far as I understand EVA “daly” could be spelled “t/daš(a/u)n”, which is similar to Latvian “gaiša” (pale/light) (If it seems correct, we can speculate, that night could be “tu(m)ša” (dark) for night/North.)
            In Latvian “aust” (to dawn) root is used for East “austrumi” (dawns), similarly West “rietumi” is something like twilights. Common archaic words are “rīti” (mornings) for East and “vakari” (evenings) for West.

            • Neticis

              P.S. Considering Voinich language features, Latvian “tu(m)ša” in Voinich would probably be spelled as “t/d(a/u)š(a/u)n”.

        • H

          I ran a search through the text for EVA:daly and found only a single occurrence of it not being used as a suffix. It appears as word in 22 lines. I’ve attached an image showing my results.

          • MarcoP

            Darren, Neticis and H, thank you for your further comments and suggestions. I agree with Darren that “the Sun” could be one of the possible meanings of the -daly suffix (if it really is a repeating suffix with “accidental” alterations).

            Here is a voynichese.com search on the lines of H’s analysis: EVA:daly as a stand-alone word is highlighted in pink; as a suffix, in yellow. Each case provides exactly 30 matches.

          • Darren Worley

            Marco – If these labels are marking out the cardinal directions, then I think another good candidate for the EVA: -daly suffix would be a word for “day”.

            I think it is significant that 3 out of 4 labels appear to have a common suffix, which gives reason to think that it might not be a word meaning direction, since if this were the case then all 4 labels would have the same suffix. Can you offer any ideas why only 3 share this suffix?

            As Neticis pointed out, South is synonymous with mid-day.

            East is closely associated with dawn, or day-break.

            West is closely associated with sunset, or terms meaning “the-end-of-the-day”.

            Again, this might explain why 3 of the 4 terms have a similar suffix, again North is the exception in not following this pattern, which is also the case in the VM labels.

  5. H

    I have been comparing f57v, f85r2, and the following chart (which shows the four seasons): http://www.astronomicalimages.group.cam.ac.uk/database/detailed/File889.jpg. I also compared Marco Ponzi’s discussion of the four seasons with respect to page f85r2 (on this website).

    I found an exact match in the labels corresponding to spring on the figures on f57v and f85r2. I’ve attached an image showing this correspondence. I also found similar terms for summer and autumn in both figures. I searched this website but didn’t see where anyone else had made this observation.

    • Stephen Bax

      Fascinating! That is really interesting and worth further examination. Well done to you and also to Marco for these fascinating insights.

      • H

        I noticed that I had the equinoxes and solstices rotated ninety degrees from correct. I’ve corrected it below. I am also wondering if the word in Taurus near the line could be “winter.” Would that make any sense?

        • Stephen Bax

          Thanks H. The only thing I would be careful of is assuming too quickly that one Voynich word might be the same as another one, without evidence. For example the words you circled in black as Autumn/Fall do not look identical. Also the word identified as Taurus and the word you identified as possibly winter are also apparently very different. So we must be careful not to jump to conclusions.

          By contrast, the words you circled in red and green as possibly Spring and Summer do seem rather closer.

          • H

            Agreed 🙂

      • Darren Worley

        Thanks for your post. Great find. Very interesting.

        Do you know the title/author of the book that you linked to?

        • H

          Thank you. According to the website where I found it, it’s Oronce Fine, De mundi sphaera, sive cosmographia (Paris: Michael Vascosanus, 1555), 10r (http://www.astronomicalimages.group.cam.ac.uk/database/entry.php?entry_id=500)

          • MarcoP

            Hello H, thank you for sharing Oronce Fine’s diagram and your thoughts about these Voynichese labels. Your ideas point to a number of new lines of research: very helpful!

    • To “H”
      thank you for your comment of July 2, 2016 – 3:38 am

      One of the most interesting comments I’ve seen made in a good while.

      In case you find it of interest, my own, earlier, investigation of these two folios can be found in a fair number of posts at voynichimagery.wordpress.com (use the search to find the folio number).

      However, I think the directions are not those you identify in your drawing. In the drawing (your right-hand detail: folio ), the chap in the jacket of Mongol cut, holding the ‘flower’ aloft signifies the ‘east’ and thus equates with Spring, not summer; the one you label “Fall” (Autumn) is actually the figure for North.. and so on.

      Like most medieval Latin European imagery, the form taken by the figures in that diagram, their assigned characters, associated emblemata etc. are all reflecting standard ideas and written text. Fortunately, that diagram belongs to the latest stratum of the manuscript’s imagery – designed in the late thirteenth to mid-fourteenth century in my estimation – and so the figures can be interpreted fairly easily. Unlike most of the Voynich ms’ imagery which did not originate in that environment at all.

      But this is a small adjustment. Your noticing the correspondence in these labels is hugely interesting and if anyone had done so before, I’ve never seen it mentioned or referenced. So kudos to you. 🙂

      btw – the city the Arabs called “arin” derives from continuing memory of Ujjain’s earlier importance, another point I’ve discussed already, and more than once, in connection with the manuscript’s astronomical folios. The name is sometimes spelled “Ujain”).

      Nice to see that point being brought up again, but as ever, it seems a pity that so much time is wasted in re-discovering things already covered by earlier Voynich research. This is a chronic problem, and due not least to a lack of any objective standard record or guide. Lack of formal training in appropriate citation of work used (or re-used) is another bad old habit, but as better-educated newcomers arrive, the standards are certainly improving, so perhaps we’ll see fewer failures on that score in future. 🙂

  6. The author of the Voynich MS was most likely an astronomer and a monk of some sort. So he/she needed to use symbols that could be easily recognized by other monks, who were also astronomers/astrologers. I have been reading a very interesting book by David A. King entitled “The Ciphers of Monks: A Forgotten Number Notation of the Middle Ages”. He talks about the Cistercian monks of the Franco-Flemish era in the Middle Ages, who used both a horizontal and vertical ciphers for numbers. Since there are a lot of astrological charts in Voynich, it is possible that many of these words are actually numbers for various astrological or astronomical star readings. The author may have used a fancy script for the Cistercian cipher numbers. He/she may have also combined various astrological symbols with Arabic letters in order to create his coded alphabet. This way it was easier for him to read his notes.

    It makes sense that the star charts were necessary in order to determine when botanical medicines should be administered. No sense in giving your elixir when the moon is in the house of Venus if the proscribed time is when the moon is in the house of Mercury! Ridiculous nonsense. It has to been done properly by an expert.

    I have two thoughts about the naked ladies in the baths. During this late 14th century and early 15th century there were several hot springs that were being opened to the public for healing purposes. It is possible that they used botanical remedies in these baths, and needed to know the right astrological times to administer them. In both Medieval European and Asian art, healing waters are often painted green.

    The second thought is that the author was trying to diagram the inner system of the various plants, and explain the turger pressure inside the plants as a type of feminine energy. In astrology, all celestial energies have a masculine and feminine aspect. Plants would probably have been viewed as feminine, hence naked ladies floating in a green bath. The pipes would be sections of plant’s stem. All of this is speculative, but I hope to give a new perspective for us to ponder.

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      Carolyn,

      Nick Pelling mentions the same book (8 July, 2010)
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2010/07/08/david-a-kings-regiomontanus-acrostic-theory

      I had reason to mention it (December 15, 2015)

      and if you g/gle “voynich” and “ciphers of the monks” you’ll see a list of others between those two.

      Which is not to say it’s not one of the “must-have” books of all time – it surely is, only that if Nick Pelling, who is a cipher-phile, (unlike me, who am a cipher-phobe), as well as all the cipher prone people who read his blog religiously have none of them found that text to offer any crib to the Voynich text, then if it does contain such a crib, it must be awfully hard to recognise.

      I thank my stars it can’t drive me nuts – I like picture-books. 🙂

      • Thank you so much for your reply D.N.,

        I am so glad to hear that more people have found this enchanting book by Professor King. I am a musician, so I was fascinated by several manuscript examples of music notes used as ciphers. Musicians can be so sneaky sometimes, especially when they want to slip a favorite bar tune into their mass when no one is looking! I am just wondering if the author of the Voynich MS disguised the Cistercian ciphers with a rather florid calligraphy? Hmm?

      • D.N.

        Can you take a look at my table of astrological/astronomical/ciphers that may match the VM script, and let me know if I missed any period symbols? Please do not judge me too harshly on my artwork, as I am not a calligrapher. I suspect that the author of VM was using a short hand for astrological readings by using astrological and astronomical symbols. His ciphers could have been veiled in beautiful calligraphy strokes. See the taller VM symbols that could be vertical ciphers. I posted this in another discussion on this site. I included the Cistercian stick cipher numbers for comparison. I am only guessing at the meaning to the VM symbols. I am a musician, so very used to reading a universal language rapidly. King said that the Cistercians could read their math ciphers rapidly and often included them in with their Latin texts.

        Also please take a look at the manuscript example in David King’s book on ciphers from MS Erfurt WB Amplon 180 fol. 115 Wissenschaftlich Bibliotek. I saw some very interesting script that is similar to VM, but I could not get a good look at this page as I was viewing it online, and it was sideways! Thanks so much.

  7. MarcoP

    A diagram of the four seasons / elements / cardinal directions (Cava de’Tirreni, Bibl. della Badia, ms.3 S. Bedae, de temporibus XI Century, F. 203). I find the postures of the four figures partially comparable with those of f57v.
    http://www.lascuolamedicasalernitana.beniculturali.it/getFile.php?id=213

    • Ellie Velinska

      Interesting image. My personal opinion is that the drawing is based on iconography of Judgement day. It has the only person in the whole manuscript shown from the back – very similar to some French 15th century examples that later served as base for the French Tarot Judgement day card – a man a woman and a person shown from the back. Often God is shown with an orb and a sword, so the forth person in the VMs – the one holding something roundish maybe that. It is just a speculation, of course.

    • Darren Worley

      A very nice find Marco. It would be interesting to find if similar images are found in other versions of Bede’s De Temporibus. (Especially, in copies contemporary with the creation of the VM.)

      I find the possibility of a medical and/or astrology theme running through the VM quite possible. The “herbal” section may well be describing the medicinal properties of each plant, the zodiac section could be describing the optimal days to receive medical treatments (for example), and the “bathing” section could have some iatromathematic (medical astrology) purpose.

      I notice you found this image in a guide about Salerno Medical School. Do you know why this particular manuscript is mentioned? Is it to illustrate a typical medieval manuscript, or does it have some special significance?

    • MarcoP

      Hello Ellie and Darren,
      I think it is possible that the image is related with the resurrection of Christ. The figure holding the globe appears to be a solar symbol (also this other image), which of course also applies to some aspects of the Christian cult (and the resurrection in particular).

      The Italian paper does not explain why that Bede image is included, but the manuscript is from the same time and space as the Salerno Medical School (Salerno, XI Century). I agree that the medical interpretation as the unifying theme of the Voynich manuscript is appealing. A beautiful and more recent Bede manuscript was mentioned by Stephen here, but its diagrams are more abstract and do not include personifications.

      In my opinion, what makes f57v particularly interesting is that its inner circle features two clear sets of four labels each. The comparison with other four-fold diagrams makes it possible to formulate hypotheses on the meaning of the labels.

      • MarcoP

        In De Temporum Ratione, Bede makes the same sign / month associations as the Occitan / French inscriptions in the Voynich manuscript:
        * Pisces / March
        * Aries / April
        * Taurus / May
        etc

  8. In a number of cases, it looks to me as if late additions have been made using a folio the back of which was blank.

    Unlike the great majority of images in the VMs, which appear to be well and accurately drawn (e.g. the botanical imagery), and others which appear to have been deliberately and consistently distorted – mostly maintained by our fifteenth-century copyists – those on f.57v are just awful drawings. They’re bad in a way no others are, and I puzzled over this for a couple of years, reluctant to complicate things by suggesting that any of the Vms images are post-1440.

    However, in a copy of one of Athanasius Kircher’s works, I found what appear to be his drawings, made into plates, and there I found precisely the same awful drawing – most noticeable in the way arms and hands are drawn.

    Added to this, Richard Santacoloma pointed out quite some time ago that the folio as marks of a pricking tool – probably a compass. In fact, there are two centres, as he noticed, and we find ‘two centres’ in an astrolabe. THAT connection had been noted earlier by Nick Pelling (ciphermysteries).

    How the two factors (Kircher/Astrolabe) may interact, I’m still wondering. I wanted to link to Rich’s post, but I’m getting a repeated error message, so for want of better source, here’s the post where I talked about his and Nick’s ideas together.

    https://voynichimagery.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/f-57v-a-nice-link-up/

  9. I’m jumping in with both feet here. This seems important to me now.

    Building on what the people above have said:

    Recently I’ve come to the realization that our language is imperfect. The latin derived languages are following an alphabet that is very much one dimension. Engiish has A – Z you can slide left and right and that’s it. Word are just a letter to a specific precision. So the word apple is A to the pple place. Like math. 3.1415 is pi. Apple could be represented as A.pple. It’s 1d.

    This language is likely 3d. Which is why the sphere mentioned above is needed as the code wheel. A very very complex code wheel. So to find it, we need to try and identify the author, or the time or some anchor. Because that person had to have the device. It could be disguised as anything. A regular looking globe perhaps. I’m going to pour my problem solving skills into this one.

    My background is basically process engineering. I break things down into base components and then create a solution.

    Another thing that strikes me odd… what about the book its self? A popular method for hiding pictures in books sometimes was right there along the edge of the book. Fully closed it just looks like gold leaf, but if yous stretch it out a bit, an image becomes visible. I’m not explaining it well. I just saw a short movie on it. Sorry for long url but…Google Image – hidden pictures in the edge of books

    It’ll take someone with some charisma to convince the owners to allow someone to inspect it further I imagine.

  10. Faith George

    Another newbie jumping in with randomness. Some of these pages remind me of drawings I ran across online of Plato’s description of Atlantis in Critias and Timaeus – where water, fountains and public baths are detailed as well as trees, gardens and plants. Sorry if someone else has mentioned this somewhere, it’s fascinating! A good site I found containing the text and a drawing of the city (concentric circles!) is at http://ascendingpassage.com/plato-atlantis-critias.htm

    • Stephen Bax

      Well, we were all newbies once! In fact I haven’t heard that link before…. thanks

    • Linda Snider

      Hi Faith, I have come across this idea too, although not this particular link, thank you for posting it. This line from the link might be the most pertinent: “there have been, and there will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes”. I think the manuscript outlines several of these. Also, those I believe may be involved in the creation of the manuscript were Neo-Platonists and so there may be that connection as well.

      Regards,

      Linda

  11. MarcoP

    A few Mithraic artifacts dating to Roman imperial age. The first represents Mithra born from the rocks. I could not find much about this sculpture. I think it was found in Heidelberg, Germany, and that it dates to the 2nd Century CE.
    See the similar image (top left) in this relief also from Heidelberg:
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mithrasrelief-Neuenheim.JPG

    Finally, a detail from the stucco Zodiac ceiling of the Ponza Mithraeum (Southern Italy, 3rd Century CE). The detail has been tentatively interpreted as a wind-god: a reasonable hypothesis in my opinion. Still I wonder if this figure could be an instance of the “orans” iconography discussed by Darren.
    http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/mithras/display.php?page=supp_Italy_Ponza_Mithraeum
    http://www.mithraeum.eu/doc/mitreo_ponza.pdf

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869594960389/
    (PS: Many thanks to Stephen for fixing the image upload problem!)

    • Darren Worley

      Marco – I like your creative ideas on this subject, but there seem to be clear differences between the figures shown in f57v and the Mithraic child-statue. In similar depictions this figure is described as Mithras as a child, with the orb signifying some royal princely connection. The figure in f57v looks like an adult, not a child, and the object being held appears to be quite different in scale. In f57v it look like an object somewhere between the size a golf and a tennis ball, whereas in the statues it looks to be a bit bigger, somewhere between a tennis and a football sized object, even allowing for the fact that the holder is a child.

      I notice you’ve posted similar images to you Pinterest channel, and these also seem to depict a young boy holding an orb. (Mithras as a child.)

      However, the association you’ve made is interesting. The Roman cult of Mithra is described as a Romanized version of the Persian religion of Zoroaster (Zoroastrianism). I think the Persian connection is more promising, given the evidence already discussed in this website. The significance of the Bull in Mithraism is also paralleled with the possible significance of Taurus on this page. The Persian Mithra became the Divinity of the Sun, and again, the welcoming of the sun at sunrise has also been proposed as a possible interpretation of this page.

      There are also associations between Mithraism and Manichaeism. Mani, the founder of this Gnostic religion was , according to some sources, initiated into the mysteries of Mithras and incorporated Mithraism in his doctrine.

    • Darren Worley

      This is a follow-up to Marco’s earlier post about f57v and figures-holding-orbs. I found another example, this time its an adult male figure holding an orb.

      This image is contemporary with the reference Marco reported earlier, dating from the 4th century CE and is located at the ancient synagogue of Hamat Tiberias in modern Israel.

      The figure depicted in the central area holding an orb (celestial sphere) is Helios or Sol Invictus, the Sun God.

      Quote: In the center of the large mosaic is the Sun god, Helios, sitting in his chariot holding the celestial sphere and a whip. Nine of the 12 signs of the zodiac survived intact.

      I find it rather strange that a synagogue would contain a depiction of a Sun God – clearly Hellenistic Judaism differs somewhat from its modern form.

      Interestingly, this figure is also associated with the Sun – as is Mithra/Mithras who Marco previously suggested as a possible attribution of the f57v figure. [quote: in Zoroastrian/Iranian tradition, Mithra became the Divinity of the Sun, ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithra ]

      It seems quite possible that the figure depicted in f57v holding an orb, has some connection with the sun.

  12. Dominique Northeast

    Apologies if this has already been noted. Looking at f57v today with a colleague who speculated that, if, as suggested, the diagram is a representation of an Armillary Sphere then might the glyphs in the 3rd ring from the middle (see image below) be numerical?

    They are repeated 4 times in a sequence of 16. The characters are commonly used throughout the rest of the manuscript so this begs some questions.

    1. Are the same characters being used to denote numbers as well as sign / sounds?
    2. If so, is their use as numbers contextual?
    3. Are the characters in the diagram purely numerical in which case is the rest of the manuscript text numerically coded?
    4. What is the relevance of a sequence of 16 numbers?

    • Dominique Northeast

      Edit: sequence is 17 characters in length rather than 16 as stated.

      • Stephen Bax

        It’s worth noting that Arabic letters (and Hebrew too) have long had specific numeral values associated with them (Alef = 1, Ba’ = 2 and so on, as you can see here), so you could be right – these could be the Voynich letters being used as numbers.

        • darren worley

          My present idea, is that these symbols are symbolic representations of the stars (angels) that mark out segments of the sky.

          I’ve noted the idea of the four “Archangel stars” that mark out the 4 key stars in the heavens.

          Quote: [These are:] Michael (Aldebaran) watcher of the East. Gabriel (Fomalhaut) watcher of the South. Raphael (Regulus) Watcher of the North. Oriel (Antares) Watcher of the West. At one time they marked the two Equinoxes and two Solstices. [ref: Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889]

          Perhaps the idea of associating stars and angels, has been extended to cover other significant stars in the heavens? So, why 17 symbols?

          According to the Babylonians [in the star list VI in the Mul.Apin series] they recorded that there were “17/18 stars/asterisms in the path of the moon”. Maybe the symbols represent asterisms [star patterns] that divide the sky into 17 sectors.

          One of the symbols (one that looks like a sun next to pyramid) is similar to a symbol in the Mandaic alphabet that is associated with Gabriel, so perhaps this symbol indicates an asterism containing Fomalhaut, watcher of the South? (Fomalhaut is in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus that has fish associations.)

          Why this sequence of symbols is repeated 4 times I’m not sure – perhaps it indicates the 4 Archangels or a 4-year cycle of some kind?

          • MarcoP

            Hello Darren, I agree that the two symbols (Mandaic “ga” and Voynichese “10”) look similar. The fact that the triangular character (corresponding to “a”) is in different positions, could be explained by the different direction of writing. I also find the idea that the 17 symbols are numbers very interesting. I am looking forward for Stephen’s announced post about this subject!

            • Stephen Bax

              Ok, Marco – point taken 🙂 I’ll get on with it!

            • Darren Worley

              Marco – thanks for posting this image which illustrates the similarities very clearly.

              This is quite a complex symbol, it’s not like the casual similarity between say a Greek lowercase rho and the Latin lowercase p. This symbol (the halqa) is a comprised of a triangular shape, a circle and the vertical dash, all seem quite deliberately positioned. As you’ve mentioned they do look similar. I would go further and say they look very similar.

              How would you explain or interpret the appearance of a Mandaic symbol on this page?

              There are similar glyphs in Syriac, so I think this is evidence that the Voynich script appears to have borrowed or been influenced by symbols found in the in Mandaic/Syriac alphabets.

        • Barney

          Incidentally, Greek has the same system. So Henry VIII is Ερρίκος Η΄ in Greek, because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Actually it’s the seventh because Greek dropped “F” in prehomeric times, so Henry VI is Ερρίκος ΣΤ΄instead of Ερρίκος F΄

    • Dominique Northeast

      Darren, your idea that the symbols might be representative of stars (angels) is a valid one, however, as I have no knowledge in that area I’m going to pursue the idea that they might be numeric as all of the images of amillary spheres and astrolabes I look at contain rings marked with numeric scales.
      I can envisage a system where four sets of numbers with a marker or start line, as this diagram has on each ring, might be used, in conjunction with the other rings, to predict star positions, eclipses &c if one knows what calendar is being used.
      I have printed off and assembled a cardboard version of this diagram with each separate disc moveable so that I can have a play with it and see if it makes any more sense.

      • Dominique Northeast

        I have been pondering whether the sequence of characters, if numeric, would be more likely to start with a 0 or a 1.
        I felt, on balance, that it is probably 1 as that is a more useful number to start a sequence with although it is tempting to assign the the Voynich character ‘o’ to a ‘0’ I think it is more likely ‘o’ is representative of a single object (i.e. a single stone?).

        • Darren Worley

          Hi Dominique – thanks for your new ideas on the f57v diagram.

          I’ve attached a new Armillary Sphere image – this time from a Jewish source. If anyone can translate the Hebrew annotations – it’d be interesting to know what they mean (especially if its noticeably different from similar Latin examples).

          I’ve been thinking more about why there might be 17 symbols. A possible explaination would be if a quadrant were sub-divided into 16 and the numerals started counting from zero.

          There is some logic in dividing into 16 – it’s quite easy to mark out on a chart, or in the sky, simply divide in half, then into quarters, eights and then sixteenths. The symbols could therefore represent zero, one-sixteenth, two-sixteenths – through to – sixteen-sixteenths. Covering all seventeen symbols.

          Perhaps rather than representing numerals, they might represent fractions? The first in the sequence might be zero, and the last in the sequence would represent unity.

          However, there are some differences from other Armillary Sphere diagrams – in all others that I’ve seen the numbers increase as you move away from the polar axis. This isn’t the case in the f57v diagram – the sequences just seem to repeat themselves in each quadrant. (Is this possible evidence that it’s not an astrolabe diagram?)

          I still think the more likely explanation is that they represent angels/asterisms dividing the sky into segments. Stephen correctly mentioned that symbols often represent numeric values – but there is evidence that this idea was extended to words, gods etc. This practice amongst Jews was known as Gematria and amongst the Greeks as Isopsephy.

          Furthermore, Jewish mystics developed a complex hierarchy of angels, so the idea of ordering them into sequences seems plausible.

          Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that the source of the diagram I’ve attached, came from “Introduction to the World of Kabbalah” by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi. It should perhaps not be too surprising that a diagram about Armillary Spheres is found in a book about Kabballah (Mystical Judaism) since the main purpose of Armillary Spheres, was not predicting eclipses, but seems to have been used for marking out celestial positions, for example, marking out the lunar mansions for use in astrology, divination and for astronomy.

          Regarding your comment about calendar systems, internal evidence from within the VM Zodiacal section suggests that the VM calendar system might be based on 12 months of 30 days. This is based on the fact that each zodiacal sigh has 30 nymphs/angels associated. Its possible that there is also an intercalculary month too – but essentially there seems to be a 30 days in most months.

          This is quite an unusual, archaic calendar system – most calendar systems have months of varying lengths (28, 30 or 31 days per month).

          Some example of possible (30×12) 360-day calendar systems (this is not an exhaustive list)

          1) Old Avestan calendar, used by Zoroastrians

          2) Coptic calendar used by Copts in Egypt

          3) Ethiopic calendar used by Ethiopic Christians

          Also, the solar calendar used in the Book of Genesis follows a 360 day cycle [Genesis 7:11, 24; 8: 3-4 ref: Calendar and Chronology, Jewish and Christian: Biblical, Intertestamental and Patristic Studies By Roger T. Beckwith]

          A good summary is given here : http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-ancient.html#anchor-ancient-new-year

          In summary a 360 day calendar, of 30×12 days, seems to have Zoroastrian or early Judeo-Christian origins.

          What do you think? Please post the results of your Armillary Sphere research whatever the outcome, I look forward to reading your findings.

  13. Darren Worley

    I’ve been looking at links between the VM and other Hebrew mystical texts.

    I’ve found this intriguing manuscript – it’s called the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh [Sepher Maphteah Shelomo] (Book of the Key of Solomon). It’s reputed to have been written by the Jewish King Solomon, although this is disputed (and unlikely).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_of_Solomon

    One of the illustrations looks very similar to the diagram shown on VM f57v – the alphabet or (better) the cosmological page. I’ve attached a copy below.

    Fortunately, the book this image comes from, is out of copyright and can be downloaded here, with all its illustrations.

    https://archive.org/details/sefermafteashelo00golluoft

    However, the pages are unnumbered and although there is a contents pages, its difficult to tell precisely what this diagram is trying to describe. Can anyone explain?

    The script is also very unusual. It is written in “cursive [Sephardic] Hebrew of an Italo-Spanish” character, although the introduction mentions that it contains spellings from Old French. It appears to have been copied in Amsterdam in the 17/18th century – perhaps when the Netherlands was under Spanish control.

    I also understand that there are other manuscript copies of this text. Has anyone got any images from the British Library copy, or seen any others?

    In an earlier posting from July 2014, I suggested that I’d identified other words on this page, and I hoped others would verify the text. Unfortunately no-one did.

    The other words I identified were that of Jewish demons. This seemed a bit strange, but the fact that I’ve since identified other Jewish links elsewhere in the VM makes me think that this perhaps isn’t so strange after all. I didn’t realise at the time but the Deities I did report are spelt in the Hebrew form. (eg. Athorath, rather than Asherah). Can anyone else verify the words in the central section of this page? I used the “standard” Bax prounciation mappings to make this identification.

    • Darren Worley

      Here is a sample of the script from this manuscript (Sefer Maftea Shelomoh). It is very different from the regular Hebrew square-script and goes to show the great variation in Jewish scripts.

    • MarcoP

      Hello Darren, pages are numbered on the top left of the recto (numbering goes backward from what would be the last page in Western books). If I understand correctly, the diagram you attached is 40a.
      A Latin version here:
      http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/heptamer.htm#part16

      • Darren Worley

        Marco – thanks for the interesting link.

        I wanted to expand on the points of similarity between the f57v diagram with both the diagram in the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh (a Jewish mystical work) and the diagram in the Latinized version.
        Incidentally, the text in the link, also mentions the parallels between these latter sources.

        Besides the Jewish connection, other points of similarity include:

        1) The divisions of the centre section into four quadrants
        2) Various names of Deities/Angels within the outer rings (I’ve previously identified the word “Abathur” (a Sabian Mandean Deity) in the f57v diagram, similarly, the Latin version gives lists names of Angels).
        3) An important feature at the 10 o’clock position that seems to identify a Gateway or Door. (The f57v text [EVA: dairol; th/o/u/r/a/l] appears to be close to the Greek word for door (thura) and the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh, also has what appears to be an important symbol/feature at this same position.)

        The Sabian Mandaeans are thought to have their origins in an early 1st-century breakaway Jewish sect. They identify with many Old Testament (Jewish Bible) figures including Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem (who all figure in the Book of Genesis) and with “John the Baptist” from the New Testament.

        Given the already noted Jewish connection, this made me wonder, could the f57v diagram be a re-interpretation of a Jewish Bible story? Or perhaps a synthesis of a Jewish Bible story with some other early (possibly Greek) astronomical ideas, maybe in relation to the astrolabe? (see my earlier post on this.)

        In astronomical diagrams descrbing the use thse of the astrolabe, the polar axis, or pole star, is also often shown at the 10 o’clock position. The astrolabe was first developed by the Greeks (c150 BCE) and continued in use in the Greek-speaking world throughout the Byzantine period. Later, Severus Sebokht, a Christian bishop who lived in Mesopotamia, wrote a treatise on the astrolabe in Syriac in the mid-7th century, indicating that metal astrolabes were known in the Christian East well before they were developed in the Islamic world or the Latin West. (ref: wikipedia)

        Some of the identifiable themes of the f57v diagram are:

        1) A male figure, in each 4 of the central quadrants, holding what appears to be a stone in right-most one.
        2) A Door or Gateway having special significance at the 10 o’clock position.
        3) A description of some kind of ascent to the Heavens, or descent to Hell/Underworld. (I’ve previously indicated the names of Jewish angels and demons, also in centre of the diagram, and the pole-star, in the outer part of the diagram, was regarded as the most important star in the heavens in many cultures and had special significance to Mandaeans).

        I initally thought this diagram might have some link to the Biblical figure Nimrod, but I think a better fit is the story of the Jewish patriarch Jacob and Jacob’s Ladder. This story is recounted in the “Book of Genesis” and the “Book of Jubilees” (and in other Jewish apochrypal works).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob%27s_Ladder
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob

        Below is the key passage from Genesis 28:10-22. I’ve marked in bold what I believe are the important sections for possibly interpreting this diagram.

        Jacob’s Vow at Bethel

        10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.
        11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.
        12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
        13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
        14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
        15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
        16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
        17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven
        18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the ,stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.
        19 And he called the name of that place Bethel;[a] but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
        20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on,
        21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.
        22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

        I think the division of the central diagram into 4 sections could be related to the cardinal points mentioned in line 14 and/or phases of the day (line 11), since sunrise and sunset are also synonymous with east and west.

        The stone-holding figure could be a reference to Jacob (line 11).

        The word relating to Door or Gate, at the 10 o’clock position, could be refering to line 17.

        The concentric rings from the earth to the heaven, possibly mirror the steps of Jacobs ladder, for ascending to heaven (line 12).

        I think there is one other significant geographical reference in line 10. Haran is the location where the Sabians lived, and was the location where Jacob, grandson of Abraham, resided.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harran
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabians

        Perhaps this geographical connection with a Biblical figure explains why this story about Jacob may have had special significance to them?

        My hypothisis is that the f57v diagram, is a synthesis of the story of Jacob, mixed with (Hellenistic) cosmological ideas describing the structure of the earth and heavens.

        This kind of mixing of Jewish and Hellenistic ideas was practiced by the Alexandrian philosopher Philo but I also can imagine this mixing of Hellenistic (Greek) and Jewish ideas would have been practiced by the Sabians. Early Muslim sources refer to Sabians as Syriac-speaking Pagans and Greek immigrants. (ref : Gündüz, The Knowledge of Life, p.131-32, p. 51, p. 37).

        I indend to follow-up this post with some further ideas the Hellenistic influence in this diagram.

        Does anyone have any thoughts on the links with Nimrod in this diagram? Can anyone suggest what the text and/or the triangular figure in the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh diagram represents?

        • Darren Worley

          I’ve found a new image describing Jacob’s Ladder and a “celestial” ascent. This seems to follow a pattern with other images that I’ve posted.

          I’ve attached a composite image that I’ve compiled and annotated, listing the key features in each.

          Here is a summary:

          1) Image from f57v.
             -centre section is divided into 4 quadrants (cardinal points?)
             -four images of a man, in one quadrant he is seen holding a stone to his head, this seems to correspond to Genesis 28:10-22. (Story of Jacob’s Ladder, aka the Stairway to Heaven)
             -concentric rings with text and symbols within (names of gods?)
             -Text at 10 o’clock position suggests a link to Gateway or Door in the “celestial” sphere.

          2) Image from the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh.
             -centre section is divided into 4 quadrants
             -concentric rings with Hebrew text within
             -triangular symbol at 10 o’clock position

          3) Image from Peter de Abano, Heptameron (1496) (thanks to Marco for finding this)
             -centre section is divided into 4 quadrants
             -concentric rings with Hebrew names of god and angels within

          4) New image of Jacob’s Ladder (from unknown source).
             -centre section is divided into 4 quadrants
             -concentric rings with symbols within
             -triangular symbol at 12 o’clock position

          To recap:

             -Four quadrants : common to 1,2,3,4
             -Concentric rings containing symbols/text : common to 1,2,3,4
             -Triangular symbol : common to 2, 4
             -Feature at 10 o’clock position : common to 1,2 (possibly 4 – the apex of the ladder is here)

          I think these similarities suggests an underlying theme linking these images – and this is the story of Jacob’s Ladder from Genesis 28:10-22.

          One further similarity between f57v and the Genesis passage, that I didn’t notice before, is the sun. I suspect the central “bulls-eye” represents the sun.

          The pages following on from f57v are two purely textual pages. I think it likely that these pages accompany the diagram, and may possibly contain either:

             1) Passages from Genesis chapter 28, describing the story of Jacob
             2) A Judeo-Christian pseudepigraphic writing relating to this story, possibly from the Ladder of Jacob that was written c150 CE and recopied and redacted by subsequent writers and copyists.
             3) A Jewish midrash (commentary) on the Story of Jacob
             4) A Sabian Mandaean re-telling of the Story of Jacob

          The last image numbered (4) came from an internet image search – can anyone identify the published source?

          • MarcoP

            Hello Darren,
            I agree that EVA:dairol (tu?rash) is an excellent candidate for interpretation. Its position in the diagram is quite prominent. In addition to the diagrams you attached, we could also consider f43 of the Tratado de astrología (a diagram of the winds) that we discussed a couple of months ago. I think it is relevant because it includes a single special marker outside the diagram (the constellation of “carro” -bier- marking the North).

            I looked for candidate matches for EVA:dairol, but I could find nothing convincing.

            * Ursa Major: Hafturengh / Haptoring / Haftoreng / Haptoiringa (the Seven Bears or Seven Thrones) is the classical Persian name of the constellation (“the General of the North”, in the Zoroastrian cosmogony).
            “-turengh” is comparable with “turash”, but the initial sounds “haf-” are completely missing. If I understand correctly, the word is made up of two shorter words: haftu+reng: it seems unlikely to me that only half of the first word was kept. “Usturash” (I guess from “turash”: cutting) is a Persian word for “plowshare” and Ursa Major is also known as “the plough”, but I don’t know if this word was ever used as a name of the constellation. Identifying EVA:dairol with Ursa or Polaris would be nice: it would fit both the parallel with the Regiomontanus engraving you proposed in this page and the parallel with f43 of the Tratado de Astrologia. But, as you see, the linguistic support that I could find is very weak.

            * Libra: the Persian name of this constellation is “tarazu” (I think this could be the meaning of Star #63: EVA:darall turushsh in f68r3). According to Emilie Savage-Smith “The concept of the asterism as a balance or scales, which was a later introduction, calls to mind the equality of day and night at the autumnal equinox, which occurs at the break between the House of Virgo and the House of Libra”. That one of the axis of a cosmological diagram corresponds to the equinoxes is to be expected, but the starting point should be Aries (the spring equinox) not Libra (the fall equinox).

            * Cancer: in the Bundahishn, “taraha” is the 8th mansion of the moon. The 7th mansion “Rad” corresponds to the summer solstice, so “taraha” should correspond to the second decade of Cancer. This position does not seem to me to be so relevant astronomically to be a candidate for the single positional mark on a diagram.

            * Taurus: EVA:doary very likely means “Taurus”. The Persian names of this constellation include “Tora” / “twra”. Again, Taurus does not correspond to a cardinal direction (an equinox or solstice) so it seems ulikely that it corresponds to the label on f57v.

            * Earth: discussing the f68v3 T and O map, I noticed that in Hindustan turab means “Earth”. This in relation with EVA:darol in the lower half of the “map”. It is difficult to imagine that here one of the four elements is used as a special marker. As we discussed, the T and O map might also be labeled with the cardinal directions. In this case, EVA:darol could be East. ‘East’ could also be a reasonable meaning for EVA:dairol in f57v, whatever the meaning of the diagram. But at the moment I could not find linguistic support for this idea.

            On Nick Pelling’s blog, Nick and Diane discussed the possible relation of the similar f85r2 and f86v4 diagrams with magic circles and religious ceremonies. One of the labels near the four figures at the center (EVA:oparairdly apururtsun?) is possibly similar to the Persian “purust” (worshipper). I wonder if this can be meaningful.

            • Marco – the chat about folio 57v on Nick’s blog was just that: a chat. I settled down later to consider the folio more seriously – and some interesting matter came out of it.

              Nothing about “magic circles” in any of my comments, neither on Nick’s blog nor on mine. Very simple reason – I know nothing about them.

              As for suggesting that a manuscript believed by most people to have been inscribed in medieval Europe might allude to religious practice or beliefs… well, to suggest there was nothing of that kind in a fifteenth century Latin manuscript *would* be wishful thinking.

            • Stephen Bax

              My simple take on the word EVA:dairol (tu?rash) (see it here) is that it could well mean ‘Start here’ or similar. It is curious that many of the Voynich circular diagram seem to start at around the 10 o’clock position. To my mind this is the simplest explanation of that word – I was never convinced by Nick Pelling’s idea that it was some sort of extrusion from the main circle.

              • Stephen, the diagrams include markers of beginning-and-end, and I’d agree that in folio 57v (Beinecke foliation) it is probably that pair of lines at “ten o’clock”.

              • Darren Worley

                Stephen – glad to see that you’re back contributing ideas to the forum.

                I’m intrigued by your suggestion that other VM diagrams “start” at the 10 o’clock position. What pages are these?

                Have you found other examples of the word “diarol”, or similar “marker words” in the VM, if so, what pages are you referring to?

                Lastly, how do you explain the similiarity of f57v with the diagram in the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh (and the other examples). Do you think its just a co-incidence?

                • Stephen Bax

                  Hi – I’m surprised my absence was missed, given the lively debate without me :-). But yes, I have been travelling a lot recently.

                  In terms of the ‘starting at the 10 o’clock position’, in addition to this page (f57v) illustrated above – all of whose rings appear to start the text at around that position, judging from the divider lines – look at these other folios, all of which seem to have a starting point at around the 10 o’clock position, mainly in terms of where the text begins :

                  f67v1
                  f68v2
                  f68v3
                  f70r1
                  f70r2
                  f71r – Zodiac ring

                  This one is more like 11 o’clock:

                  f67r1

                  I am not aware of precedents in other texts. Anyone?

                  As for your fascinating ideas relating to the Sefer Maftea, this is not inconsistent with the idea of ‘gateway’ or ‘door’ if we see it as a ‘gateway’ into the text.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Stephen – your observation seems sound, but it doesn’t provide any insight into the meaning of this diagram. If the purpose of 10 o’clock text is to identify a start – why is it omitted from the other diagrams?
                    This diagram is clearly not the same as those on the other pages you mention – so this implies that it likely has a purpose specific to this diagram.

                    The fact that there are seven rings, suggestive of the 7 celestial spheres, suggests that this diagram and text has a cosmological meaning. I find Marco’s suggestions more persuasive.

                    What language do this think this text is in?

                    • Darren Worley

                      Stephen – I’ve been thinking about your comments that the EVA:diarol text may signify a start or beginning.

                      I’ve come up with several ideas on this theme, mainly concerning its interpretation as signifying Taurus, or perhaps a celestial feature within the constellation of Taurus.

                      1) Taurus is associated with the Vernal Equinox and Spring. This text could therefore signify the beginning of a new year, which is often associated with Spring.

                      2) Taurus is also associated with East and Sunrise, in addition to the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. This text could therefore signify the beginning of a new day.

                      3) Taurus is associated with “the Creation” according to some Judeo-Christian Biblical interpretations, this could signify “the beginning” (rather than just a beginning.)

                      The following passage comes from “The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered” by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, in relation to a Brontologicon text (4Q318).

                      Quote: […] But the text goes beyond this already interesting combination of divinatory methods in that it regards Taurus rather than Aries as the first sign of the zodiac. It is possible to ascertain this fact simply by noting in the regular pattern of the text as preserved and then projecting the same pattern backwards to Nisan, the first month. What does this change in the usual order mean? The reason that Aries is listed as the first sign [..] is that during the Hellenistic period (roughly the fourth through the first centuries) when astrology developed essentially into its modern (Western) form, the sun rose in Aries at the Vernal equinox. By the year 125 BC however, a Greek astronomer discovered the phenomenon of procession of the zodiac – that the zodiac was moving in relation to the sun. This discovery indicated that over a period of some 2,100 years the sun would move from sign to sign across the zodiac. Thus it would not always rise in the sign of Aries and, long ago, it had not. From about 4500 to 2100 BC, the sun had risen in Taurus. By assigning Taurus the first place in the list of signs, this Qumran work is advocating an astrological system based on “the Creation”. According to the system of Biblical chronology to which the author of this work adhered, God had created the world and the heavenlies some time during the period of Taurus’ prominence. Probably he believed that the creation occured in the fifth millennium BC. Astrological texts that attempt to build up a sort of horoscope for the world itself are known by the term “thema mundi”

                      I’ve subsequently found a 15th-century example of a “thema mundi”, that I attach here. Again, this has similarities with the f57v diagram. Namely, an earth-centered diagram containing concentric rings representing the celestial spheres, and the prominent depiction of angels. The order of the zodiac is opposite, running clockwise (in the Western tradition) rather than anti-clockwise as found in many VM diagrams. (source : Joseph Grünpeck, Tractatus de pestilentiali scorra sive mala de Franzos: originem remediaque eiusdem continens [Nuremberg: Kaspar Hochfeder, 1496])

                      4) I’ve previously suggested that the 17-symbols in the 2nd-ring from the outer edge represent “17/18 stars/asterisms in the path of the moon” as given by the Babylonians [in the star list VI in the Mul.Apin series]. These symbols could therefore represent asterisms [star patterns] that divide the sky into 17 sectors.

                      Stephen has mentioned that this sequence appears to start on a radial-line joining the centre and the EVA:dairol text at the 10 o’clock position.

                      I’ve since identified the sequence of these 17/18 asterisms and it begins with Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus! [ref: http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page11-8.html%5D

                      Here they are:

                      1) MUL.MUL (= “The stars/the hair brush” (Pleiades).)

                      2) GUD.AN.NA (The “Bull of Heaven [the bull of Anu];” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations. (Greek zodiac: Taurus (the Bull).)

                      3) SIPA.ZI.AN.NA (= “The true shepherd of Anu” (Orion).)

                      4) SHU.GI (= The old man (Perseus).)

                      5) GAM (= The sickle sword [The hooked staff] (Auriga).)

                      6) MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL (The “Great Twins;” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Gemini (the Twins).)

                      7) AL.LUL (The “Crab;” [or Prokyon], later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Cancer (the Crab).)

                      8) UR.GU.LA (The “Lion;” [or Lioness], later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Leo (the Lion).)

                      9) AB.SIN (The “Furrow [The barley-stalk];” [or Spica], later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Virgo (the Virgin).)

                      10) ZIB.BA.AN.NA (The “Scales of Heaven [The balance];” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: originally “the Claws” (of the Scorpion) but the Romans later (re)introduced Libra (the Scales).)

                      11) GIR.TAB (The “Scorpion;” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Scorpius (the Scorpion).)

                      12) PA.BIL.SAG (The “Grandfather [Pabilsag (a god)];” [archer?], later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Sagittaurius (the Archer).)

                      13) SUHUR.MASH (The “Goat fish;” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Capricornus (the Goat).)

                      14) GU.LA (The “Great One [The giant/the great star?];” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Aquarius (the Water-Carrier).)

                      15) ZIBBATI.MESH (= The tails (Pisces).)

                      16) SIM.MAH (The “Great Swallow (SW Pisces [+ epsilon Pegasi);” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Pisces (the Fish).)

                      17) A.NU.TI.TUM (= Anunitum (a goddess) (NE Pisces (+ middle part of Andromeda)).)

                      18) LU.HUN.GA (The “Hired Man;” later to be one of the 12 ecliptic constellations.) (Greek zodiac: Aries (the Ram).)

                      Note 1: On the uncertainty of 17/18 constellations Bartel van der Waerden (Science Awakening II: The Birth of Astronomy, 1974, Page 80) states: “The number 18 is not quite certain, because the ‘tails’ zibbati.mesh are probably to be taken together with both the following names (‘tails of SHIM.MAH and Anunitum’).

                      I’m inclined to believe that (4) or (3) – provide the best explanations for the position for the EVA:dairol (tu?ral) text. Evidence from (4) would suggest that EVA:dairol may specifically refer to the Pleiades – the first asterism in the path of the moon across the ecliptic.

                      What do you think?

                      What is the “neat idea” you had about this page? You mentioned it a few weeks ago…

                    • Stephen Bax

                      Hi Darren – a lot of food for thought here, thanks. I am intrigued by the idea that the 17 symbols could be meant to represent asterisms, as I hadn’t thought of that. AS fro your idea that “Evidence from (4) would suggest that EVA:dairol may specifically refer to the Pleiades”, its position matches perfectly the (presumed) picture of the Pleiades (see here), where the text “EVA:doaro” could arguably be related to EVA:dairol.

                    • Darren Worley

                      Here’s another attempt to attach the “thema mundi” image.

                      Source : Joseph Grünpeck, Tractatus de pestilentiali scorra sive mala de Franzos: originem remediaque eiusdem continens [Nuremberg: Kaspar Hochfeder, 1496]

            • Darren Worley

              Marco – thanks for your analysis, you’ve given me some useful ideas for further investigation. I agree that the 10 o’clock text probably is identifying a celestial feature. This fits well with the possible depiction of the 7 celestial spheres.

              However, the similarity with the Jewish “Sepher Maphteah Shelomo” is very compelling. So what do you make of this similarity? There is clearly some significance associated with the text and/or symbols at the 10 o’clock position.

              Your proposal for the word for Taurus (Tora) seems a good candidate. It seems quite close to the root of the word “tu?ral” or “tu?rash”. (Earlier I used EVA:d->”th” as Stephen’s original paper associated this with the Greek theta.)

              I remember considering that this word might mean Taurus, as this sign is associated with spring, fertility and new growth, and therefore important across many cultures. For this reason, I now supect the “Taurus” segment in the f68r3 diagram, maybe related to the Sun moving into Taurus in Spring. (Tellingly, this also occurs around the 9 or 10 o’clock position).

              However, the similarity of EAV:dairol (thu?ral) has with the Greek word “thura” for Door or Gateway is significant. This makes sense with the Jacobs’ Ladder interpretation.

              Greek was the “lingua franca” across much of the Meditteranean and Near East, as a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Greek was also the language used by many the Jews of this region. For example, it was used to the write the Septuagint. The New Testament texts are generally agreed to have been written in Greek. So the possibility of this word being Greek (or related to) has to be a consideration. (There were large communities of Jews in Persia too. So this even if this word is related to the Persian for Taurus, this doesn’t invalidate the Biblical Jacob’s Ladder interpretation.)
              Perhaps, this word mixes the two meanings as a result of the mixing of these cultures?

              Your idea that the centre section might contain a word for worshipper is plausible. Perhaps the EVA:diarol text is describing a feature of veneration?

              Its acknowledged that some of the stories found in Genesis are based on older Babylonian stories (eg. Story of Noah and the Flood story in the Epic of Gilamesh), however I’m not aware of a Babylonian archetype for the Jacob’s Ladder story. If there is an older tradition, then its possible that this diagram is a Jewish interpolation of it? Can anyone suggest ideas?

              • MarcoP

                Hello Darren,
                in my opinion, Stephen’s comment about EVA:dairol possibly being a start marker should not be overlooked. It certainly has the merit of being the most simple hypothesis. Since we still know very little of Voynichese, there is a risk of over-interpreting a single word, when the context is not clear. “Starting point” labels appear in the month diagrams of “Tratado de astrología y magia” de Alfonso X El Sabio, Rome BAV Reg. lat. 1283 (the digit “1” in the cells at 9 o’clock):
                http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Paranatellonta.jpg
                https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869594734220/

                I am not sure that the seven circles in f57v can be connected to the seven planets. Usually, when circles represent the planets, the symbol and/or the name of a planet appear in each circle:
                http://www.thedigitalwalters.org/Data/WaltersManuscripts/W73/data/W.73/sap/W73_000006_sap.jpg
                http://medievaliz.tumblr.com/post/36180985247/meridian-zero-theme-of-my-final-paper
                I have the impression that in this case only the four non-empty circles are relevant. For instance, see this diagram in which four circles containing text alternate with empty circles. The four written circles correspond to the winds (or cardinal directions):
                https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869594732798/

                Being unable to read Hebrew, I cannot contribute much about “Sepher Maphteah Shelomo”. In similar diagrams written in English, the triangle corresponds to the archangel Michael and the East:
                https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869594654480/
                https://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869594654491/

                I also agree with Stephen about the peculiarity of the many cases in which circular texts start at 10 o’clock. We could learn something about the Voynich ms from parallels for this “stylistic” feature. I will keep my eyes open in order to spot something similar.

                It would also be nice to find parallels for the 17×4 symbols or the gestures of the four figures in the central circle of f57v. Up to now, I have been unable to find anything worth discussing. This is a very interesting diagram. I think that the search for parallels you have started is promising and I will do my best to contribute.

              • Julie

                On folio 52v there are several letters that are not part of EVA alphabet. Does anyone know what they are? I am thinking Greek as I have come across a few Greek letter names spelled in voynich eg pi, psi. They look familiar but I can’t place where I have seen them. Thanks for any help. Julie

                • Stephen Bax

                  Where exactly? If you go to Jason Davies’ site

                  http://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f52v/0.498/0.802/1.

                  and zoom into the exact place, you can then copy the URL and past it here. Then we can see the letters you mean.

                • Julie

                  http://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f57v/0.665/0.197/4.00
                  http://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f57v/0.805/0.392/4.00
                  Third row in from outer edge the letter between Eva f and Eva t. Go to the right same line next to the elaborate Eva p there is Eva y followed by 2 unknown letters. There are more dotted about the page, do you know what they are?

                  • Stephen Bax

                    So far as I know, no-one had suggested any convincing interpretation of these letters. If you use http://www.voynichese.com here, you can see that some of the letters have not been transcribed, while others occur elsewhere in the manuscript.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Thanks Julie – that’s a very good question. This is something I’ve previously researched, but not reported back to this forum.

                    The symbol (pictogram) that I think you’re referring to looks like a circle-next-to-a-mountain (or a sun next to a pyramid)

                    I’ve always thought this symbol had similarities to letter forms in the Mandaic alphabet. I attach an image of the alphabet with this post too.

                    The pyramid symbol in the Mandaic alphabet has a name; it is called the “halqa”. The circle represents the sun. [ref: Drower, Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, p241]. The sun symbol is found at the beginning and end of the Mandaic alphabet, and are pronounced like the vowel a. It is worth remembering that the Phoenician “aleph” (our A), is the Ox-head, alpha meaning “Ox” and that the bull was symbolical of the sky and the sun. [Ref:ibid]

                    Of particular interest are the columns that show how the individual letter forms are modified when a vowel is located at the end of a word. The best fit seems to be -ga.

                    What do you think? I’ve been posting various suggestions about similarities of the VM with aspects Mandaean culture, for a while now, so you might like to read some of my other posts.

                    Someone has helpfully re-posted an article about the Mandaic alphabet by E.S.Drower (it supplements the article in the book mentioned earlier). You can find it here.

                    http://www.mandaeanunion.com/component/k2/itemlist/category/45-mandaean-identity

                    • Darren Worley

                      As I read back over this post, I noticed that the symbol (-ga) is associated with the Archangel Gabriel.

                      It’s not too surprising to note that in the similar image, that I identifed: Peter de Abano, Heptameron (1496). It also describes an Archangel in one of the rings, in this case Michael.

                      I don’t think this is (another) co-incidence.

                      Perhaps these symbols are symbolic representations of angels?

                  • Darren Worley

                    And here is another table describing the Mandaic alphabet. This is taken from “Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran”, by E.S.Drower p244.

                    This book also has a section about the meaning and symbolism of each individual letter. You can download it for free from the web.

            • Darren Worley

              Marco – contrary to what you mentioned earlier, Taurus does correspond with a cardinal direction. The motion of the Sun through the Zodiac into Taurus marked the Spring Equinox (Vernal Equinox). In ancient cultures this is associated with Spring and Fertility. (Due to the Earth’s precession, presently the motion of the Sun into Aries marks the Spring Equinox.)

              Each season is also associated with a cardinal direction. When I looked into this, it seems this association is found across many cultures. (I just happened to pick this reference; there were many to choose from: Mysticism and Alchemy through the Ages by Gary Edson. p.212)

              East = Spring (Vernal Equinox) = Green
              South = Summer = Red
              West = Autumn = White
              North = Winter = Black

              Taurus is therefore associated with Fertility, Spring (Vernal Equinox) and East.

              As already noted in the T-O map thread, East is also associated with Sunrise, and West with Sunset. If the EVA:dairol text is referring to Taurus/East – then the perhaps the facing figure (raises his arms aloft) is welcoming the coming day at sunrise, or performing prayers at sunrise? Similarly for the figure facing away for sunset.

              It’d be interesting to known more about any Judeo-Christian tradition involving prayers at sunrise/sunset, for welcoming the new day, or as farewell to the setting-sun. Perhaps, this can also be linked back to the Story of Jacob?

              • I think the folio you mean is 57v, isn’t it?

                concentric rings with four ill-drawn, uncoloured figures int the centre?

                Or did you mean 52v, which is one of the plant-pictures?

              • MarcoP

                Hello Darren, a couple of comments about what you wrote:

                “Marco – contrary to what you mentioned earlier, Taurus does correspond with a cardinal direction. The motion of the Sun through the Zodiac into Taurus marked the Spring Equinox (Vernal Equinox). In ancient cultures this is associated with Spring and Fertility. (Due to the Earth’s precession, presently the motion of the Sun into Aries marks the Spring Equinox.)”

                I find precession a rather confusing subject. My point of view is that:

                1) Taurus corresponded to the Vernal Equinox more than 4000 years ago. If we call “cardinal” all the signs that marked an equinox or solstice in the past, all the signs are “cardinal” and the word is made meaningless.

                2) The Spring Equinox currently occurs in Pisces. In a few centuries it will enter Aquarius. The Sun entering Aries roughly corresponded to the Spring Equinox when Ptolemy wrote the founding works of Western astronomy (AD 150 ca). That’s why the constellation of Aries gave its name to the first sign of the Zodiac.

                • Darren,
                  Could you explain how you mean ‘cardinal direction’ in this context? Do you mean that it has primary importance in some system or another?

                  Mostly there are four cardinal points : W, S, N, E but sometimes in navigational astronomy, there’s also a practical “up” and “down” – not so much towards the Poles as the zenith and its conceptual opposite.

                  • Darren Worley

                    Marco and Diane – regarding “cardinal points” I was just re-using Marco terminology from his earlier post. (dated : February 18, 2015 – 7:30 pm)

                    Quote: “Taurus does not correspond to a cardinal direction (an equinox or solstice)”

                    I understand what Marco meant, however I disagree with this assertion.

                    In my recent post I’ve mentioned the Persian Royal Stars which are also known as the Archangel Stars.

                    Quote, from Wikipedia:

                    The four stars with their modern and ancient Persian names were:

                    Aldebaran (Tascheter) – vernal equinox (Watcher of the East)
                    Regulus (Venant) – summer solstice (Watcher of the North)
                    Antares (Satevis) – autumnal equinox
                    Fomalhaut (Haftorang/Hastorang) – winter solstice (Watcher of the South)

                    Aldebaran is in the constellation of Taurus, so Taurus is (or was) associated with an equinox; the vernal or spring equinox.

                    The fact that this tradition originated between 5000 – 7000 years ago – is no reason to discount it. It continued to have relevance until much more recent times.

                    Infact, the “Royal Stars” were noted by the Ancient Persian Prophet Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster in Greek, mentioning them in the Bundahishn, the collection of Zoroastrian Cosmogony and Cosmology, in approximately 1,500 BCE. As this is a “living religion” presumably this idea still forms part of the Zoroastrian scriptures.

                    The fact that these stars are also known as the “Archangel Stars” would also suggest that these ancient ideas have been transmitted in Judeo-Christian theology too.

                    The current spring equinox, may not currently be in Taurus, for whatever reason. I’m happy to accept its now in Pisces as you suggest, but this doesn’t affect the argument.

                    • Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps ‘cardinal point’ is used differently in astrology? In ordinary usage it just means the four points marking the ends of the axes North-South and East-West.

                      I suppose if you imagine a stationary heavens, as they are when the star marking the vernal equinox is actually or notionally on the eastern horizon, it might work… I suppose.

              • Darren Worley

                Further to my earlier comment suggesting the figures in the centre section with out-stretched arms, may be a depiction of prayer.

                I think the posture of these figures bears some similarities with the Orans (also Orant or Orante) prayer posture.

                The orans posture was practiced by both pagans and Jews before it was adopted by the earliest Christians.

                This posture is frequently depicted in art. Below is a quote from wikipedia. I thought the Biblical references seemed relevant, as I’ve suggested the figure depicted in f57v could be Jacob.

                Quote:

                Orans was common in early Sumerian cultures: […]. The custom of praying in antiquity with outstretched, raised arms was common to both Jews and Gentiles, and indeed the iconographic type of the Orans was itself strongly influenced by classic representations. But the meaning of the Orans of Christian art is quite different from that of its prototypes.

                Numerous Biblical figures, for instance, depicted in the catacombs of Rome — Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel in the lion’s den — are pictured asking the Lord to deliver the soul of the person on whose tombs they are depicted as he once delivered the particular personage represented. But besides these Biblical Orans figures there exist in the catacombs many ideal figures (153 in all) in the ancient attitude of prayer, which, [..] , are to be regarded as symbols of the deceased’s soul in heaven, praying for its friends on earth.

                • Stephen Bax

                  Fascinating insight – thanks. I had never heard of Orans before, which just shows my ignorance 🙂

            • The main problem of a folio f57v is that not the all symbols in the alphabet sequence are meet in the whole voynich text. And, vice versa, not the all symbols in the whole voynich text are represented in this circle… seems, it’s not an alphabet. But then, what is this?

              • Stephen Bax

                I have a neat idea about this…. Coming soon!

                • Darren Worley

                  I think I’ve had a breakthrough in the interpretation of f57v. Its based on the idea of “Archangel stars” which appears to be copied from the older tradition of the “Persian Royal Stars”.

                  Here’s the background –

                  I’ve previously suggested the similarity between f57v and a diagram found in the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh in particular the feature at the 10 o’clock position.

                  Marco has pointed out that in the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh diagram, the triangular symbol at the 10 o’clock position is related to the Archangel Michael and East.

                  For my part, I’ve proposed that the f57v EVA:diarol (tu?ral or tu?rash) text refers to Taurus (Tora in Persian), which is associated with the Spring (Vernal) Equinox and East.

                  Furthermore, I’ve also noticed that a symbol in the 2nd ring (from the edge) of the f57v diagram looks very much like a symbol in Mandaic alphabet which is associated with the Archangel Gabriel. (Its the one looks like a sun next to a pyramid)

                  I had a strong suspicion there must be some connection between f57v and the Archangel Michael (and possibly the other archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel (Auriel, Oriel, Phanuel)).

                  I asked myself the question, is there some celestial connection between the Archangels and stars?

                  The answer is yes, a name for the 4 key stars in the heavens is the Archangel Stars. [ref: Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889.]

                  Quote: [These are:] Michael (Aldebaran) watcher of the East. Gabriel (Fomalhaut) watcher of the South. Raphael (Regulus) Watcher of the North. Oriel (Antares) Watcher of the West. At one time they marked the two Equinoxes and two Solstices.

                  And what constellation is Aldebaran, the star associated with the Archangel Michael, found in?

                  Yes, its in Taurus!

                  This suggests a direct connection between the f57v diagram and Sefer Maftea Shelomoh diagram.

                  In conclusion, based on the similarity of the f57v diagram with the Sefer Maftea Shelomoh diagram, it would appear that the EVA:diarol text is referring to the zodiacal sign of Taurus. This constellation contains the star Aldebaran which is synonomous with both the Archangel Michael and “Watcher of the East”.

                  Also, another older name for the archangel stars is Royal Stars of Persia. (That Marco and I have both mentioned before.)

                  I think the important insights to take from this are (i) comparision with a mystical Jewish text has helped interpret this diagram, (ii) this Judeo-Christian idea of associating a star with an Archangel, the Watcher of the East, seems to based on astronomical concepts originating in Persia, (iii) this is another example of the equivalence of stars and angels, (iv) there seems to be other pages in the VM (eg. f85r2) that possibly also depict the four Archangels.

                  These insights, I think, will assist in understanding other parts of the VM.

                  Finally, the wikipedia page on the Archangel Uriel indicates that the Jewish tradition of angels originated in Babylonia, presumably during their Babylonian exile.

                  • How interesting that Marco should mention angels in this context. Obviously our minds run along similar lines – may I refer to my own posts here, or would that be bad form?
                    The post is dated Jan 12th., 2015, and followed comments made on another person’s blogpost about this same folio.
                    My ‘Winds and Wings’ post here, just for comparison.
                    https://voynichimagery.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/response-pt-2-winds-and-wings/

          • Darren Worley

            Here is another image take from “Liber incantationum, exorcismorum et fascinationum variarum – BSB Clm 849” a grimoire held in the collection of the Bavarian State Library in Munich. (I’ve posted another image in the T-O maps thread).

            This book is a huge (317 page) manual dating from the 15th-century (i.e. contempory with the VM). The first half is in Latin and the second half is written in German.

            In English its title of the book is the Munich Manual of Demonic Magic.

            I think the image shown on p212 also has some similarities with the the image on f57v.

            I attach a thumbnail image – but here is a link to a full sized-image.

            Again, the centre section is divided into 4 quadrants and there are concentric rings containing text. This image therefore has many similarities with that found in the Solomonic text the “Sefer Maftea Shelomoh”. described above.

            I would be grateful if anyone can provide a translation of the text in the rings.

          • Darren Worley

            Here is a further image taken from “Liber incantationum, exorcismorum et fascinationum variarum – BSB Clm 849” a grimoire held in the collection of the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

            Previously in this thread, I’ve suggested associations between f57v and Jacob’s Ladder (from the Book of Genesis) and the Archangel Michael. I’ve also suggested that the text in the centre sections appears to be naming Jewish angels/demons.

            Specifically, there seems to be an underlying Hebrew/Jewish influence in this page (f57v).

            I wanted to demonstrate that medieval grimoires also contain the names of Jewish angels/god. I’m suggesting that further study of medieval German grimoires might be a useful direction for further investigation into the VM.

            I attach a thumbnail image from p71. The is a link to a full-sized image.

            The text in the circle appears to read:

            AGLA
            Michael (????)
            Gabriel (????)
            Emanuel (????)
            Raphael (????)
            Alpha et (Omega)
            Tetragrammaton
            AGLA

            Can anyone clarify the text I’m unable to read in this image?

            • Derek Vogt

              Gabriel fortitudo: Gabriel’s strength… Gabriel the Strong… strong like Gabriel… I don’t know how to handle Latin suffixes.

              Raphael medicina dei: Raphael, God’s healer… Raphael, God’s agent of healing… God’s healing through Raphael…

              On the “alpha et” line, I can’t see “omega”, but maybe “-o-” which could mean “omega”, then there’s still more after it which I don’t get.

              I recognize several individual words in the paragraphs above & below, but haven’t yet put many of the pieces together, and don’t have much spare time for more now…

              • Darren Worley

                Thanks Derek – I too have struggled with the text about Emanuel and Michael. I suspect the text might have something to do with the Hebrew meaning of each angels name, or qualities associated with each angel.

                Michael – Who is like God?
                Gabriel (Gabriel fortitudo) – God is my Strength, or God is my Strong Man
                Emanuel – God is with us
                Raphael (Raphael medicina dei) – God heals, or God has healed

                Can anyone confirm the Latin text for the Emanuel and Michael lines?

            • MarcoP

              Hello Darren and Derek, Nick Pelling mentioned Richard Kieckhefer’s book Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century. You can find there a discussion of manuscript BSB Clm 849.

              This circle contains the following text: Agla / Michael virtus dei / Gabriel fortitudo / Emanuel Paraclitus / Raphael Medicina dei / Alpha et O, Oli, Ely / Tetragramaton, amen / Agla. It is an invocation to the Archangels: “Agla. Michael, power of God. Gabriel, strength. Emanuel, the defender. Raphael, medicine of God. Alpha and Omega. Oli, Ely, Tetragrammaton. Amen. Agla”.

              This cirlce has three bands of text (attached image) that were probably to be pronounced while drawing the diagram on the ground. They are an invocation to the Trinity. I translate the first and longer line, which ends outside the line, on the left of circle: I draw this circle in the name of the omnipotent God the Father, who created everything with his only word. The right [hand] of the Lord made virtue, the right [hand] of God exalted me. I shall not die. I shall live and tell the works of the Lord. God the Punisher punished. etc. The other lines also start with “I draw this circle in the name of …”. I cannot read the few words inside the circle. Apparently, a (demon’s?) name is repeated four times: “onus”?
              I think this is the diagram Nick referred to as a parallel to f57v (because the text “overflows” from the outer circle to the top left area outside the circle).

              As Darren correctly wrote, the lower word in this circle refers to the West (Occidens) and defines the required orientation for the ritual. The outer band lists demons to be invoked: Fyron, Dyspil, Onoroy, Sysabel, Cotroy, Tyroy, Rimel, Orooth. The central inscription specifies the position of the officiants: hic magister cum suis sociis (here the master with his companions).

              • Darren Worley

                Thanks Marco – I’ve seen that our replies overlapped and we’ve independently come up with similar replies. I haven’t looked at Pelling’s work on this topic before.

                I was mistaken to believe the image on Fol.21v in the grimoire was a T-O map, but I think there’s definitely something in this line of investigation worth pursuing further. What do you think?

                Have you read any of the book by Richard Kieckhefer?

                • MarcoP

                  Hello Darren,
                  I have read nothing of Kieckhefer’s book, but I agree that this subject deserves investigation. It certainly is interesting in itself.

                  I think that f57v could be related to a ritual of some kind. Your mention of the “orans” posture is interesting from this point of view. These four people seem to be “doing” something. A while ago, I saw this diagram representing a Zoroastrian ritual (from Zoroastrian Rituals in Context edited by Michael Stausberg). Rituals and cosmological images are not completely disjoint: apparently, the arrangement of a ritual was sometimes meant to be a small scale model of the universe. In this image, the West is marked by a ring around which bull’s hair is wound. The ring likely is a solar symbol (as we discussed for the figure at the right of f57v). According to the author of this article (Gernot Windfuhr) this arrangement is related to “the cosmic age during which Taurus and Scorpio were the equinoctial constellations” (another parallel with your ideas).

                  Magic spells and circles produced in Christian areas usually contain crosses. Crosses are not present in Voynich diagrams, but since the ms likely does not have a Christian origin, I guess we should also look at magic circles from different cultures.

            • Darren Worley

              I found that the book [“Liber incantationum, exorcismorum et fascinationum variarum – BSB Clm 849″] has been the subject of an academic study – which has been published in a book called “Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century” by Richard Kieckhefer, a Professor of Religion and History.

              Its available for preview on Google books here

              The preview suggests the text reads:

              Agla
              Michael virtus dei
              Gabriel fortitudo
              Emanuel Paraclitus
              Raphael medicina dei
              Alpha et O, Oli, Ely
              Tetragrmaton, Amen
              Agla

              Its interesting to see how Latin abbreviations have been used.

              Therefore –

              Michael virtus dei – “Might of God”
              Emanuel Paraclitus – Emmanuel Defender

              • Derek Vogt

                I should have seen that coming. I forgot that most old texts that aren’t Voynich have already been translated by someone else so I don’t need to try to do the work myself! 😀

        • Darren Worley

          I think a number of further predictions can be made from comparsion between the f57v image 1 and image 4.

          Image 4 is describing 7 celestial spheres; from the centre I believe these symbols represent the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun , Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

          In f57v there are also 7 rings. I suspect these represent the same celestial bodies within each celestial sphere. I’m not sure of the sequence, however, if the sequence given above is being followed, then this would suggest that the Earth (and not the Sun) is at the “bulls-eye” centre of the f57v diagram.

          This probably makes more sense, since placing the Sun at the centre, would not have been natural until the early sixteenth century, following the publication of “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” by Nicolaus Copernicus.

          Furthermore, comparision of f57v Image 1 with Image 3 would suggest that gods or angels, are to be found at certain levels within the celestial spheres. f57v has text and symbols in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th rings.

          I think this is a useful predictor – is there a known cosmology that describes 7 celestial spheres, where only certain levels are occupied by gods or angels?

        • Darren Worley

          A passage in the wikipedia page (that I provided the link to) is of particular significance –

          Quote: Christian and Muslim philosophers modified Ptolemy’s system to include an unmoved outermost region, the empyrean heaven, which came to be identified as the dwelling place of God and all the elect. Medieval Christians identified the sphere of stars with the Biblical firmament and sometimes posited an invisible layer of water above the firmament, to accord with Genesis. An outer sphere, inhabited by angels, appeared in some accounts.

          This seems to fits well with –
          1) My suggestion that the text at the 10 o’clock position refers to a “Gateway to Heaven”
          2) My previous suggestion of a link between f57v and the Genesis story.
          3) My idea that angels are likely to be associated with this diagram

          • Darren,
            Co-incidentally I’ve found a summary which may be useful for you. You can see this on G/gleBks

            Steven Vanden Broecke, The Limits of Influence: Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology. See esp.pp.43ff.

      • Darren Worley

        (This is a repeat posting of this text – it was originally submitted 8/Mar)

        I’ve been looking back at one of the images that Marco kindly posted – namely the image credited to Peter de Abano from the Heptameron (1496). What I’ve only just realized is that this date refers to its publication – it was apparently written by Abano, who lived 200 years earlier.

        I’ve established (to my own satisfaction at least) that there are several similarities between this diagram and that found in f57v. So this suggests to me that they derive, albeit distantly, from a common origin.

        Peter de Abano (c.1257 – 1316) seems like an interesting individual having spent time in Northern Italy, Greece, Constaninople and Paris working as a physician and astrologer. He also wrote on subjects as diverse as Arab medicine, physiognomy, geomancy, chiromancy, philosophy, physics, and astrology.

        However, what seemed particualrly interesting is that Abano seems to have quoted from the works of the Sabian astrologer/astronomer Thabit ibn Qurra. Could the image found in the Heptameron derive from a Sabian source?

        Infact, Thabit ibn Qurra (826 CE – 901 CE), is named in several early European Kabbalah-influenced mystical texts.

        His name is highly corrupted in some tracts, being given as “Thebit Pencorat” suggesting several mistranslations and miscopyings from its original spelling. Elsewhere it is given as Thabit ben Korra (by Jewish sources) or as Tabit ibn Korrah, or Tabit ibn Qurra.

        Here is a quote from “The Study of Solomonic Magic in English” by Don Karr

        The two paragraphs on fo.68 begin, “Dixit Thebit Pencorat…” and “Thebit said…”. The reference is to Thabit ben Korra, or Tabit ibn Korrah, or Qurra (c.836-c.901), member of the pagan sect, the Sabians (mainly of the city Harran, Thabit‘s birthplace). A prolific and eclectic writer, philosopher, and translator (he rendered the Greek philosophers e.g., Archimedes, Aristotle, Euclid into Arabic or Syriac), Thabit was an authority on the occult, particularly on the subject of images. Indeed, he is cited in Picatrix and the works of Albertus Magnus and Peter de Abano.

        This provides evidence that Sabian ideas were being quoted and transmitted to medieval Europe and appeared in several mystical texts at this time. Atleast one of these texts (Albano’s Heptameron) contains an image that seems to contain several similarities with f57v.

  14. Paintfresh

    I was reading something about how this represents a magic circle, with the women referring to the four cardinal directions. You can refer to it here(http://hurontaria.baf.cz/CVM/b6.htm) under the section ‘Letter from Nick Pelling’. Ciphermysteries.com had a page that speculated on the directions too but it seems to be taken down, save for this particular image (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_7wBTJrkUcz8/R-VEHcFoxHI/AAAAAAAAACo/XW2Jv2o_3_0/s400/f57v-centre.jpg).

    Could the magic circle theory be a possibility?

    • Paintfresh – the hurontaria link doesn’t work for me. Anyone else have the same difficulty?

  15. escape
    • Stephen Bax

      What language is that page written in?

      • Escape

        i don’t know. it can be a hoax.

      • Escape

        but results in google are interesting. i’ll check this…

  16. escape

    It seems to be Dameli language, but i’m not sure.

  17. escape

    http://www-01.sil.org/sociolx/pubs/32850_ssnp05.pdf

    here a tiny dictionary with languages of Chitral

  18. Escape

    Try other combinations with this words in google.. its more results

  19. Susan Mills

    Dear Dr Bax, i read your information about the VM with great interest. Your educational credentials are impressive. The VM is certainly a tantalizing brainteaser, and many have tried to solve it. I am 99% certain of its meaning. It is deceptively simple. Only 3 to 5 root words exist. Its message is also simple and is a great truth of life. In our modern day we would laugh. However, in the 15th century it was not commonly known. Our author was mesmerized with the information. If you are interested in communicating with me, my Email address is posted.

  20. Darren Worley

    I have attempted to translate a couple of words on this page.

    As I posted elsewhere, I believe the common (eva:ot) prefix is from the Aramaic “Ab”. This seems to be related to the word for a male Deity (aba in Mandaic) and and Door/Gate (baba in Mandaic), which is a synomym for a star. This prefix therefore seems to relate to both a Deity and a Star.

    f57v. Innermost ring at 7 o’clock position; eva:otodar. Applying the Bax pronunciations yields the word /a/b/a/th/o/r. This is probably the word Ab’athur, a name of one of the Sabian/Mandaean Deities.

    f57v. At the 2 o’clock position between the two figures. eva:otodarod. Applying the Bax pronunciations yields the word /a/b/a/th/o/r/a/th. This is probably Ab’Athorath. Athorath is a synonym for Asherah. Asherah being the wife of God, (El or Yahweh) and a Goddess of Fertility in Semitic mythology. This god also seems to have been used by the Sabians.

    I suspect all the words starting with (eva:ot) are the names of a Deity – perhaps relating to the seasons, festivals associated with seasons, equinoxes etc. The alignment of the words suggests they maybe grouped.

    In Sabian/Mandaean culture there are many, many Gods/Angels/Deities. Possibly as many as 360 (one for each day of the year) but I have read references to there being 444! So this would account for a large number of the words (with the “Ab” prefix) found in the VM.

    One other idea…

    Mandaean cosmology often refers to darkness and light. The centre of the diagram could represent darkness or the “underworld” (equivalent to the Greek Hades, or the Christian Hell) and the outer area represents lightness (equivalent to the Christian Heaven.) The word at 10’ clock (eva:dairol) represents the pole-star in the “heavenly” sphere. This would explain the appearance of ab’athur on the inner ring, as this god “sits between the purgatories and the worlds of light ” [Ref: A Mandaic Dictionary, Drower & Macuch, 1963]

    I did try and translate some other words in the central section and there seemed to be close matches with other Deities but I’m not sure whether to place much strength on these attributions. It’ be nice to get someother opinion on this.

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks Darren for your interesting postings. The Mandaean link is certainly worth considering for reasons you have suggested elsewhere.
      My own investigations of the star names, which I am working on now, has suggested to me that the EVA ‘ot’ initial cluster may represent an /al/ sound, and may derive from Arabic. The underlying language might have a large number of words borrowed (but in many cases corrupted) from Arabic, among them a large number of star names. I can’t elaborate and explain the argument fully here, but I feel there is a lot of evidence for it, as well as parallels in several known languages.

      This does not go against all you say in your posting however. Whether that ‘ot’ cluster respresents ‘al’, or instead ‘ab’ as you suggest (and I find the suggestion really interesting), we will know in time. But it could be that the second suggestion you make (f57v, at the 2 o’clock position, eva:otodarod) might instead be read as /a/l/a/th/o/r/a/th, and could work if we could find a version of the deity Athorath taken into Arabic, and then retransmitted into later languages, as happens in other cases.

      So I feel the ideas are certainly worth exploring further.

  21. Darren Worley

    One thing I neglected to mention before, is that one purpose of an Armillary Sphere is to determine the celestial coordinates of the junction stars of the lunar mansions. This ties in quite nicely with some of the other pages in the VM.

    I learnt this in relation to Indian astronomy, but there’s no reason to assume the Sabians/Mandaeans didn’t use it for the same purpose.

    Perhaps the 17 symbols were just a way of sub-dividing segments of the sky? Perhaps further study of Arabic Armillary Spheres or astrolabes will provide a clue?

    According to the Babylonians [in the star list VI in the Mul.Apin series] they recorded that there were “17/18 stars/asterisms in the path of the moon”. Maybe
    the symbols represent asterisms [star patterns] that divide the sky into 17 sectors.

    Why the 17 symbols are repeated 4 times, I don’t know.

    I have some other ideas on this page that I will post shortly.

    • Marnix Hoekstra

      Some of the 17 characters in the third ring resemble symbols for the constellations that constitute the 17 stations of the moon in Babylonian astronomy. I put them together in a picture:
      http://i535.photobucket.com/albums/ee354/mfhoekstra/Voynich-f57v_zps7a975123.jpg
      The second Voynich character (reading clockwise): Taurus (upside down)
      Third: Orion
      Sixth: Gemini. Older Gemini-symbols look more like the V-character but I can’t find one. On the right side in my picture is the Chinese/Japanese character for ‘double’ which is used in the phrase for ‘Gemini’. Most likely a coincidence, but a striking one.
      Tenth: ‘Vo’ upside down, contraction of ‘Virgo’.
      Fourteenth: Capricorn, embellished.
      Virgo and Capricorn should be in the ninth and thirteenth positions though:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_star_catalogues#Zodiacal_constellations
      I believe the sequence is repeated four times for visual balance and symmetry. The ring would look empty with just 17 letters in it.
      What do you think? Am I making this up? 🙂

    • Darren Worley

      Regarding the 68 symbols on the 3rd ring – I wonder if this has some connection to the sixty-eight-day-long tarmida initiation ritual? This is the ritual for the first-level of priesthood in the Mandaean faith. [ref: The Mandaeans – Ancient Texts and Modern People by Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley]

      It’d be interesting to know the underlying reason for the significance of this number to the Mandaeans, and if there is any similar period of initiation in other Gnostic sects.

    • I missed this post. Some readers may already know this, but about these conceptual images which modern astrologers call “per degree” – and to quote from an old post of mine in reference to the Greeks’ Parantellonta,

      Claudius Ptolemy mentions them, but it Varahamihira’s Pañcasiddhāntikā [best] explains them. (Its title may be homage to Ptolemy, whose 5-books formed one of Varahamihira’s ‘Five Canons’).

      I think it should be added that Dana Scott – as far as I know – was the first to compare these diagrams from the Vms with images of the Parantellonta in medieval manuscripts. Since then, I have seen the same on other websites but cannot now recall wihich.

      https://voynichimagery.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/nimrod-and-the-standing-archer-in-the-vms/

      • D.N. O'Donovan

        Parantellonta.
        I have found a very thorough essay indeed by Alejandro García Avilés online. ‘Libro de Astromagia’, Bib. Vaticana. MS Reg. Lat.1283. Also Rome, Bib. Vaticana MS Urb.lat.539.

        It has many illustrations from the various parts of ‘Libro de Astromagia’, mostly from Bib. Vaticana. MS Reg. Lat.1283; and some from Bib. Vaticana MS Urb.lat.539.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of Voynicheros had already found it but overlooked its citation. 🙂

        It can be accessed through the Biblioteca Virtual de Miguel Cervantes.

        Cheers.

        Excellent bibliography and footnotes.

        For those with no Spanish – I’ve tested the G/translate on it, and the result is fine.

        (These are the illustrations that have been mentioned so often by so many people over the past fifteen years to explain the month-series in the VMS.

        Whether they really do explain it, or just look a bit like, I’ll leave to readers to decide.

        Cheers.

  22. MarcoP

    Hello Stephen and Darren,
    I have compared f57v with three ancient diagrams that feature a similar structure. The main elements of such structure are:
    1) a cross with four labels
    2) a circle divided in four labeled sections by the cross
    ____

    The first illustration is contained in the Bodleian MS Ashmole 328 (“Byrthferth’s Enchiridion”, XI Century).
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869592024832/
    The text is in Latin. The four sections are (from bottom left, clockwise):
    * Ver Pueritia (Springtime, Infancy)
    * Aestas Adolescentia (Summer, Adolescence)
    * Autumnus Iuventus (Autumn, Youth)
    * Hiemps (sic) Senectus (Winter, Old Age)

    The labels on the cross are (from the left, clockwise):
    * Equinoctium Aer (Equinox, Air)
    * Solstitium Ignis (Solstice, Fire)
    * Equinotctium Terrma (Equinox, Earth)
    * Solstitium Aqua (Solstice, Water)
    ____

    The second illustration is a good parallel for Voynich f57v, because the concept illustrated by the four sections (the seasons) are personified. This image is contained in the British Library MS Yates Tompson 31 (“Breviari d’Amor”, last quarter of the 14th century).
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869592001784/
    The language is Catalan. The four sections are (from the right, counterclockwise):
    * Primava (Springtime)
    * Estiu (Summer)
    * Autumpne (Autumn)
    * Jvern (Winter)

    The labels on the cross are (from the bottom right, counterclockwise):
    * lo xvii ior de marc (the 17th day of March)
    * lo xv iorn de iuvn (the 15th day of June)
    * lo xvii iorn de sete[m]br (the 17th day of September)
    * lo xv ior d decembra (the 15th day of December)
    ____

    The third illustration is contained in a 1549 French astronomical manuscript.
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869591271022/
    The four sections are (from the top right, counterclockwise):
    * Le printe[m]ps (Springtime)
    * Leste (Summer)
    * Autu[m]ne (Autumn)
    * L’iver (Winter)

    The labels on the cross are (from the right, counterclockwise):
    * Equinoxe vernal (Vernal Equinox)
    * Solstice deste (Summer Solstice)
    * Eqinoxe dautu[m]ne (Autumn Equinox)
    * Solstice dyver (Winter solsitce)
    ____

    In the case on Voynich f57v, the labels of the four sections could so correspond to the four seasons (or, less likely, to the four ages of man):
    EVA olkchdal – oparairdly – otardaly – otodarod (diamond)

    The labels on the cross could correpond to the Equinoxes and the Solstices or (less likely) to the four elements:
    EVA oralaror – okchoy – ocfhor.okear – ackaldy (cross)

    Here is a graphical comparison between the four images:
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869592043503/

    I have tried to match those eight EVA words with the names of the four seasons and of the months in different languages:
    http://www.omniglot.com/language/time/seasons.htm
    http://www.omniglot.com/language/time/months.htm
    The only thing I have found is that EVA ackaldy (“u?kushtn”?) on the cross is not too dissimilar from some variants of August (e.g. the Swiss German “Auguscht”). I think this similarity is accidental (of course, the Equinox is in September, not in August). So I was not able to find anything useful. Anyway, to me the analogies between these diagrams seem significant to me.

  23. MarcoP

    Hello Stephen and Darren,
    thank you very much for proposing a discussion about this very interesting page!
    I agree that this illustration, like the Armillary Sphere, is a model of the cosmos. I also agree that the label EVA “dairol” seems to stand out and deserves specific investigation. It would be great to find some examples of the actual use of “thoural” in an astronomical context!

    I am particularly intrigued by the four central figures. They look similar to those of f85r2 that we discussed here:
    http://stephenbax.net/?p=896
    and to those of f86v4:
    http://www.jasondavies.com/voynich/#f85r2_f86v4_f86v6/0.567/0.426/4.00

    As noted by Murtaugh, they might represent the four seasons.

    An interesting feature of f57v is that the illustration seems to include three sets of four names:
    * two of the sets appear inside the central circular area (forming an inner cross and an outer diamond)
    * a possible third set appears at the end of the sequence of letters in the inner circle (surrounding the four figures)

    olkchdal – oparairdly – otardaly – otodarod (diamond)
    oralaror – okchoy – ocfhor.okear – ackaldy (cross)
    d,ar.teodar – otadal – sheky – otchody (circle)

    It seems likely that different sets of four-fold entities are being linked to each other (the seasons, the cardinal points, the elements…)
    The first two sets form a layout similar to this diagram:
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869592001617/

    In this illustration, the diagonal lines separating the personifications of the seasons (corresponding to the cross in f57v) are labeled with the dates of the solstices and equinoxes:
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/518265869592001784/

    “otod-” seems to be a good candidate as the name of an element. In particular we discussed that “otodol” might be related to “atish” / “atash” / “ateshi” (Persian for “fire”). The prefix “otod-” also appears in the description of two of the fiery signs (Aries and Sagittarius) and on most four-fold illustrations, including f57v (“otodarod” in the diamond, but “otadal” in the circle could also be possibly related):
    http://www.voynichese.com/#/exa:otod-/367

    Finally, what I find the most puzzling feature of f57v is the “alphabet” that is repeated four times in the second circle (counting from the outside). The fact that each of the four lists of words is composed of 17 symbols seems very strange to me. It is a number that I don’t know how to explain in the context of an illustration of the year or of the cosmos. Any ideas?

  24. Murtaugh

    What if the four woman represent the four seasons? I have not a great knowledge of the skies, but if I remember correctly, the positions of the stars change with the seasons. Also, congratulations on your work with the VM, Professor Bax.

    • I think we could write a small book just listing the number of people, in order, who have recognised astronomical references in this folio and/or compared its details to various astronomical systems and instruments. This is not a bad thing; it means that even without reference to all the people who have said it before, newcomers are still, independently, recognising the same.

      I think the page has been ‘discovered’ in this way for about sixty years – not least because so few people are acknowledged. Speaking of which, as precedent for my work here, I usually cite a post from five years ago, on ciphermysteries:

      http://www.ciphermysteries.com/2010/07/01/astrolabes-nocturnals-and-voynich-manuscript-page-f57v

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