f68r2 Star names

68r2_BI’ll add discussion and my proposed list soon.




  1. Beth

    I think there’s an error in the star chart. The star labeled “Xut, Khut” has the designation “Sagittarius,” but I think Al-Hut is Pisces and Sagittarius = Al-Rami.

    • Derek Vogt

      “Xut” is not meant to be related to “Hut”. It’s a separate word which has been used for Sagittarius. Every constellation has been known by a variety of names in different cultures, so just one or two (like Sagittarius and Al Rami) never really covers it for any given constellation. That’s why I used a source that includes all known historical names for each instead of just the one or two that are most familiar to modern Occidental people.

  2. Star Catalogues – query.

    The image of the archer, for Sagittarius, seems to show only 30 stars in the VMS.
    Ptolemy’s catalogue gives 31 for the constellation. So does al-Sufi.

    It might help if there were any which give only 30. There’s one manuscript in the Bib.Nat. in Paris which might be worth checking out. Evans thinks it the best among manuscripts whose lists may be from Hipparchus’ catalogue, now lost.

    He writes:

    In 1892, Ernst Maass published a previously unknown Greek list of the constellations from a manuscript in the Laurentian Library. Other copies were soon turned up elsewhere. In some lists, the text lists only the names of the constellations. In others, the name of each constellation is followed by the number of stars that the constellation contains. … in some manuscripts, the constellation list is attributed explicitly to Hipparchus…
    One of the best texts is found in a fourteenth century manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris (Grec 2506). Here the text is entitled, ‘From the stars of Hipparchus’ and lists 46 constellations with the number of stars in each..’

    He adds that “A collation and study of the manuscripts was made by Franz Boll. The new constellation list was also discussed at length by Dreyer”.

    Evans, J., ‘On the Origin of the Ptolemaic Star Catalogue – Part One’, Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol.18, NO. 3/AUG,( 1987) pp.155-172.

    now available online through NASA.
    Part One:
    http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//ful … 6.000.html

    Part Two

  3. Derek Vogt

    The idea that Voynichese might be a member of same language family as Persian and Urdu has made me decide to try to find more words in other languages in that family. Most online sources tend to report foreign words in their own alphabets, which splits this language family arbitrarily into two categories: the ones whose pronunciations I could understand on sight (Persian and Urdu), and the ones whose words I just needed to skip if they weren’t transliterated (including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Kannada).

    Of course, this will take weeks, not only to become functional enough with these alphabets, but also to start finding words for plants & constellations that are spelled with them. But almost right after beginning to work on this, I already made a few discoveries more significant than I expected. For one thing, although the Kannada alphabet is ancient and the Devanagari alphabet has been used since the 900s, some Davanagari offshoots, including the ones used by Gujarati and Punjabi, are only from the 1500s, which tells us that the choice of alphabet for these languages was not settled when the Voynich Manuscript was written.

    Also, Punjabi’s alphabet in particular has a couple of noteworthy traits that most of the others around it don’t: two separate letters for two separate sounds that would both simply be /r/ in most other languages (reminiscient of Voynichese’s multiple different spellings that tend to show up where foreign cognates have /r/), and a letter for /x/, which stands out not just for existing at all but also because it’s created by adding a mark to the letter for /h/ (just like what I’ve previously said seems to have happened with Voynichese ^h^ and ^x^).

    So the first few words I’ve looked up so far in these “new” (to me) alphabets have been in Punjabi, starting with the constellations I had already associated with words for the things the constellations represent instead of known constellation names. For example, the word for “horses”, for star 7 ^nghãtn^ as Pegasus & Equuleus, is گھوڑون “gʰwɽwn” in Urdu, and it worked pretty well in Punjabi too: ਘੋੜੇ “ghōṛē”. Similarly, Punjabi for “wheel/circle” fits in with its Indo-Iranian cognates as potential cognates for star 38 ^akhar^ (kekro, čaxra, črxš, čkr), but with a bonus that makes it even a bit closer than them: Punjabi is the only one I know so far with a clearly marked /a/ after the /k,x/ and before the /r/: čakara. Almost the only difference is an apparently dropped initial consonant (č), which is something else I’ve seen before in Voynichese, although previously only with /p,f/.

    But the really exciting result was for star 45 ^agaõoa^ as Lupus. Indo-Iranian words for “wolf” fit the pattern “grg/gurg/grga”. In the Voynichese word, I got a /g/ near the beginning and then something I can read as equating to /r/, but no second /g/, and the extra /a/ at the beginning had no counterparts. But the Punjabi word matches Voynichese on both traits: ਬਘਿਆੜ “baghi’āṛa”!

    • Neticis

      I couldn’t find similar cognates for nouns in Latvian, but similar adjective to akhar is apkārt (around) and prefix ap… in general means wrap something or turn something around. In Russian округ means some area region of land, but вокруг — around.
      čaxra and similar reminds me of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra

  4. Derek Vogt

    Final star identifications for f68r2:

    31 hoaras (hõaras?): Aquarius, known in Greek as Ὑδροχόος, Ὕδωρ, Ἔκχυσις, and Χύσις ὕδατος, which come out as “Hudroxóos”, “Húdor”, “Ékxusis”, and “Xúsis húdatos” in our alphabet

    30 agashjn: part of Pisces (the fish near Aquarius) based only on position; I have found no cognates for it. Pisces is almost entirely in the northern hemisphere in the Planisphaeri Coeleste, but, with the Voynichese north pole apparently being Alpha, Beta, or Gamma Draconis (in its face or the part that’s curled under its chin), the sky’s equator (the circular outer boundaries of both pages) would need to be shifted too, which brings some of the top of the northern map over to the top of the southern map (and some of the bottom of the southern map over to the bottom of the northern map). Given that there’s no sign of the other fish as a Voynichese item, I don’t expect this constellation to be a fish or have any connection with the rest of Pisces. It seems to just be a uniquely Voynichese figure, not otherwise recorded in history.

    Cases like star 30, identified by position but with no identified cognates, are underlined in white in the attached image.

    • Neticis

      Maybe random noise but “agaš” seems similar to Latvian “augša” (top). Also “agaš” is tree/wood in Altay: https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%88 and “agašan” is (quite rare) family name in Southern Russia Federation: https://www.google.lv/search?q=%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%B0%D0%BD

    • Derek Vogt

      This is the REAL final version, after one more small correction on star 7:


      • Darren Worley

        Derek – this is a great piece of work and I look forward to studying your analysis in more detail.

        I have a hunch that its the Babylonian astronomical system that’s being followed in f68r1 & 2. I just wanted to outline some of my thoughts on this, as it might help fill in some of the missing pieces in the star name attributions.

        Here are some initial ideas in support this idea :

        1) One possible clue is the 17-symbols that appear in each quadrant of the f57v diagram. This seems to mirror the 17 (or 18) asterisms that the moon (and the sun) pass though in their passage through the sky, according to the Babylonian system.

        2) Your star name analysis suggests (i) its not the traditional Arabic constellations that are being depicted (ii) there is a Persian/Iranian influence in the VM (as reported elsewhere), so an earlier-Babylonian influence seems very plausible.

        3) According to Babylonian cosmology the star Draco, is known as the “Yoke of the Heavens”, the axis around which the heavens rotate. This seems to be the centre star in f68r1 (aphoar) star numbered 16.

        4) The Babylonians, in addition to identifying the main constellations (as in the Arabic system) additionally include major stars in their star lists. This unusual feature might explain why some VM stars/constellations have been difficult to find attributions for.

        I’ve compared the entries in the 3 main stars lists from Babylonian cosmology (these are given below) with your proposed attributions. I’ve found that most stars you’ve identified can be found in these lists, but there are a few gaps.

        a) Path of Enlil (Northern Stars/Constellations) – 22 entries
        b) Path of Anu (Middle of “Equatorial” Stars/Constellations) – 18 entries
        c) Path of Ea (Southern Stars/Constellations) – 7 entries

        This webpage gives the full list of stars within each “path” : http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page11-8.html

        5) Lastly, (and more speculatively) f68r1 and f68r2 contain a total of 53 stars. The Babylonian lists, in total, contain 47 stars, if you include Mercury, Mars, Morning Star (Venus), Evening Star (Venus), Saturn and Jupiter, you also get to 53.

        I intend to do some more work on identifying further similarities between the VM and Babylonian cosmology as it seems like a promising line of investigation.

        What do you think?

        • Derek Vogt

          I’d call it more of a layered scheme, apparently with a Babylonian/Akkadian substrate or base layer, but with parts of other systems added in later eras. That wouldn’t be at all unexpected; even known, well-established cosmology/astrology has been replacing parts all along, and any system that we know by one culture’s name includes bits from other cultures’ earlier ideas: Arabic names derived from Greek, Latin derived from Arabic, and such. I doubt that there ever even has been a single-origin, single-culture system, at least since the first separation of one human population into two populations somewhere in Africa. Even the earliest writing about these things still came after scores of thousands of years of stargazing by people who spoke various mostly-lost languages but didn’t write. The difference between this pile of layers and another pile of layers would be that this one has not completely covered & replaced the Babylonian/Akkadian layer yet but still preserves parts of it that were eventually covered & replaced elsewhere.

          Most of the names I have in there are Arabic. The mix of other languages in there makes me think the history behind it runs something like this: a Babylonian/Akkadian tradition, later modified by a Greek one, later modified by Latin & Persian & Arabic, possibly finally modified again by the Voynichese themselves, particularly if their language is related to Persian and Urdu.

          An idea I have had for getting historical clues out of this name list is to sort them by language or cosmological/astrological system of origin, which could tell us something about when Voynichese culture had taken which parts of it from whom else at what times. (The names’ languages of origin aren’t given on this sky-map image, but I did record them in the table, and I can make that table’s original HTML form available to anybody who wants to be able to search & select & copy & paste the text instead of just looking at a picture of it.) Finding out in what eras of history the Voynichese people had had the most exposure to specific other cultures could help with identification of who & where they were and what their language would have been. For example, for #41 to be named after part or all of the Arabic constellation “the Camel”, instead of Gemini, would mean Voynichese culture was exposed to Arabic culture during an era in which the Arabs had “the Camel” there, and did not take “the Twins” from whoever came up with that idea for the same place in the sky.

          Of particular interest for a Babylonian/Akkadian theory would be the names I’ve called Hebrew here. The Hinckley pages did report Babylonian/Akkadian names, but I only found one direct match (#9 ^agntn^ “Aganna”), which I explained at the time as having been preserved longer than usual because the Greeks had adopted it. At the moment I can’t recall whether the shortage of other phonetic matches in B/A was more because the B/A names were given but just didn’t fit, or because of other B/A names just being missing, lost to history. But the one language we have available to us right now with the best connection to Babylonian/Akkadian is Hebrew, so if any other B/A names or concepts got preserved on these pages, the seemingly Hebrew names would be where to look for them.

          • Darren Worley

            Derek – you correctly anticipated my next question, I was going to ask you about the dating of the star names. (I’ve emailed Stephen with my contact details for a HTML copy of your analysis. I didn’t want to post my email directly here.)

            You’ve noted that several star names appear to be in Urdu. How do you see this fitting with your earlier analysis that indicated a similarity with Syriac?

            I’ve been looking into the origins of Urdu – it seems to have developed from Avestan via Middle Persian (Pahlavi)

            Avestan -> Pahlavi -> Dari -> Urdu.

            This website is the source, it seems quite authoritative (Ref: http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/articles/language_of_armies.php)

            Middle Persian is an Iranian Aramaic derived language – with close links to Syriac. I would therefore assume to reconcile the results your findings, that what we are dealing with is a variant, or evolution, of Middle Persian (or a precursor to Urdu). What do you think?

            This would be consistent with the results of my analysis from the T-O maps, which seemed to suggest a script/language closely related to Middle Persian.

            Do you think that the Urdu words you’ve proposed, might be derived from its precursor languages?

            • Derek Vogt

              I don’t know the dates that would make sense for each of the “layers” I’m talking about, but it could be found out with more research into various cultures’ historical astrologies. The Hinckley website, for example, names the original historical documents in which the star & constellation names Hinckley was relaying are found, and the years that those documents were written are presumably known. All I can comment on with my current level of knowledge is the order they probably went in. I put Babylonian/Akkadian first because that is such an ancient culture, including some of the earliest written materials ever, and its star & constellation names are generally considered to have gone extinct. Most others can be traced to Arabic in one way or another, but I noticed while reading various constellations’ Hinckley pages that there are a bunch of references to the Arabs adopting Greek names, so I put Greek before the rest.

              A catch with that general scheme is that there could be two distinct Arabic eras at work here. Hinckley made several references to their “desert astrology” as a separate thing from non-desert, or to names that they had once used while “in the desert”. It looked as if he might have meant they had one system while living in small groups as nomads, and then adopted parts or all of the Greek one when they started settling in bigger and more populous cities. (This would have happened later for Arabs than in more northern countries because Arabia is not as conducive to it as they were.)

              The Syriac connection is only for the alphabet, not the spoken language. Speakers of almost any spoken language could adopt almost any foreign alphabet, with the right modifications to it, and if written Voynichese is derived from the Syriac alphabet, then it is with heavy modification, which is a sign of the spoken language not being Syriac or even particularly related to it. (Similarly, Arabic language is a cousin of Aramaic, not a descendant, but adopted its alphabet, and Persian, being Indo-European rather than Semitic, is unrelated to both of them but adopted the Arabic alphabet.)

              I had your comparison with Persian in mind when I started looking for cognates in Urdu. It is worth noting that you came up with that idea using some Voynichese sound-to-letter assignments that contradict mine, so it might be impossible for both ways of thinking to be correct. Hopefully, I will soon be able to start reviewing the various threads here on the Voynich astrology/cosmology pages other than f68r1&2 more closely than I have before, and collect those words for a second look, but I haven’t yet.

              My theory is not that it is either Persian or Urdu, though, but that it could be something in their family. Unfortunately, it is an immense langauge family, of which I am only able to look up translations for two of them, those being Persian and Urdu, which are more closely related to each other than to most of the rest of the same family. So those are what I must use as representatives of the family even though I know that other members of the family will sometimes differ from them even on details where Persian & Urdu are identical. It’s a bit like finding something from central/northern Europe and suspecting that it falls somewhere in the Germanic langauge family… maybe one of a couple dozen modern members, maybe one of dozens more extinct ones including one whole major branch of the tree called “Gothic” languages that’s entirely extinct… but being an outsider stuck using translation dictionaries whose Germanic language selection includes only modern Danish and Norwegian. Sometimes the connections you need to see will be detectable that way, and sometimes they won’t.

              For that matter, I must point out that the Urdu-Persian connections in my reading of the f68r sky maps may be the weakest link I have there. None of them are known to have ever been used as star/constellation names; they’re just words for the same things that have been in other languages (footnote 14). Also, the only one that has an especially tight phonetic similarity and is exclusive to Persian and/or Urdu is “horses”, and a single example can be a coincidence. The rest (and there are only a few anyway) either can just about as well be attributed to Arabic or Hebrew, or might be exclusive to Persian/Urdu but have a substantially looser phonetic similarity, requiring a specific phonemenon which did not happen in Urdu or Persian so I have no other evidence that it did in any other language in that family either, so I literally came up with it “ad hoc” just because it would make the first couple of those examples work. (De-repetition of repeated consonants, footnote 15: “wheel/circle” krk/kkr→kr & “wolf” grg→gr; later also seen to fit for Perseus prss→prks and plants 6r and 37r; ppwr→pwr, hšhš→hšr, kfvz→gvs) In other words, if we simply take away de-repetition, and we lose any specific Urdu connection other than “horses”.

              • D.N. O'Donovan

                The ‘desert names’ are preserved in records of the Bedu and other sources, chiefly from the Yemen.

                What happened was that when the Muslim faith was introduced, the old religious associations for the stars were considered less desirable, and so the early astronomical knowledge in Islam began when members of the recently conquered regions translated the older Greek (and other works) into Arabic. These then became the standard terms, and in that way passed into the Latin world where they were often changed still further from their original forms. Syrian texts were among those used in bringing classical astronomy to Islam, so some terms that you find on Islamicate globes and other instruments are transliterations from Syriac.
                – don’t know if that helps. 🙂

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      Derek, Marco
      Re the Pole in Draco – have you checked the precessional data on that?

      if a literal and contemporary image, that’s a very old star map you have there – most interesting.

      Also, and just btw, Hinkley-Allen’s book was not astrological in any way. It’s a compilation of comparative star-names and lore. Still one of the most comprehensive in English, but has to be compared with more recent and scholarly works because it does contain errors.

    • orun rubacı

      just trying lol

  5. I hope that I haven’t overlooked anyone’s comment. I don’t see anyone mentioning that many of the constellations recognised today were devised by western astronomers well after our manuscript was made.

    And since it has never been ascertained where the material from our manuscript originated, it might be as well to recall that star catalogues of more than 1,000 stars had been developed before the current era – by Hipparchus. In Dunhuang, by the eleventh century, they certainly knew more than a thousand.

    What might be to the point is to consider which are found listed in *all* these catalogues, and that should limit the group of most-likely-included stars in any set, I should hope. How many different ‘star-labels’ are there in the Vms, anyway. Does anyone know?

    • Derek Vogt

      That’s one of the nifty things about Richard Hinckley Allen’s book and the website that quotes it: when you click the link for a constellation, the page it takes you to talks about not just that constellation but the whole history of its part of the sky, including other constellations that overlapped there before, even back to the Babylonians, Sumerians, Akkadians, and at least one Old Testament reference. And about half of the constellations I think are mapped on f68r 1&2 are different from, and older than, the ones in the same places on “recent” sky maps like this

      There apparently are other Voynich constellations covering the parts of the sky that are now covered by Gemini, Ursa Major, Corvus, Virgo, and Canis Major, at least, and there’s evidence of a constellation equivalent to the Belt of Orion but no sign of an Orion to wear it. Hercules has always been essentially the same figure but gone by other names before, and has a pre-Hercules name on f68r1. The names I’ve identified for Leo, Serpens, Perseus, Libra, Sagittarius, Cetus, Turibulum, Centaurus, Crater, and Argo are equivalent to their modern ones.

  6. Derek Vogt

    It’s been known from the start, although little could really be done with this knowledge yet, that stars 27 and 32 have similar labels: ^artw–\^ and ^atw–\^, arguably even closer or identical in pronunciation if we read 32 as ^ãtw–\^. I recently noticed another thing they have in common: each of them is located near another star I’ve identified with a large/long constellation, where we should find another part of that same constellation. With star 26 as the neck of Serpens and star 33 in Cetus’s face, stars 27 and 32 should be in the middle or tail area of each animal. This made me suspect that the labels are the same word, with a slight variation in spelling, with a meaning that somehow indicates its star’s relationship with the whole constellation or the constellation’s other already-named star.

    I’m not about to try to find translations or cognates for this word yet, but that idea of its meaning made me notice that the same thing shows up again where we should find part of another long constellation. Based on other identified stars/constellations nearby, it looks like one or both of stars 48 and 51 should be Hydra, and 48 starts with ^ãtw-^. If this is a third form of the same word, then the part after it needs to fit with it. The whole label makes sense if the second part, ^has^ or ^haš^, indicates what animal or other constellation star 48 might be the ^ãtw-^ of. And it looks as if it very well could. Some languages have referred to Hydra not just by cognates of “Hydra” but also by their own words for “snake” or “dragon”, and Hebrew for “snake” is נָחָשׁ , “naḥaš”, so ^ãtw-rhaš^ looks like “^ãtw-^ of the snake”.

    Meanwhile, star 51’s label, ^hatwr^, fits as a cognate of “Hydra”. There have been other cases before where root words that would be expected to end with /r/ have ^w^ in that spot in Voynichese when suffixes are attached, so following that pattern here would allow this root to be equivalent to ^hatr^, and the Urdu version of “Hydra” starts with /ha/ and has an unusual consonant in the middle which is comparable to both /d/ and //.

    • Neticis

      It sounds interesting, as in Latvian two real reptiles are snake — “čūska” and lizard — “ķirzaka”. Fictional animal dracon is called “pūķis”. Note, that in Latvian fricatives (š, ķ, ļ, h) relates to creepy animals (Even though some of them don’t hiss. “To hiss” in Latvian is “šņākt”.), therefore last sound for “ãtw-” highly probably is “š”.

    • MarcoP

      Hello Derek,
      seeing that you mentioned the Urdu version of “Hydra”, I searched some source about Indian Astrology (a subject of which I am completely ignorant).

      I found online this old book (“Popular Hindu Astronomy”  by Kalinath Mukherji, 1905):
      I guess that the name of “Hydra” you referred to is “Hadra” (p.210)?

      The text mentions the names of a few stars / asterisms beginning with “apa-” (water). This could be interesting, since similar prefixes occur in some of the star names in f68r2. For instance, a possible alternative for Star #49 (EVA:opocphor ^ãbavar-^) could be Apam-Vatsa (p.182) i.e. Spica (which actually is in the Southern hemisphere). If I understand correctly, “Albezze” is a late corruption found in Latin sources: it seems to me less likely than most of your other proposals.

      In “Popular Hindu Astronomy”, I also noticed the frequent prefix “Uttara” and thought that it could be related to ^ãtw-^. But apparently “Uttara” means “Northern” while ^ãtw-^ only occurs in the Southern hemisphere, so it does not seem to be a good candidate.

      • Derek Vogt

        Click here for the link to Hindu astrology

        I think you must be looking at “Hrada”, item 6 in their list. That’s not the word I was thinking of, and it says it refers to “Hydrus” which is a separate constellation from Hydra.

        The Urdu word I was talking about was ہائڈرا , which creates some new challenges for me in transliteration to our alphabet.

        I didn’t recognize the first letter at first, but have found out that it’s simply an odd way of drawing the letter for /h/. So at least that makes the first two and last two letters, /ha/ and /ra/, fairly simple.

        The ڈ in the middle is a /d/ (د) with a diacritical mark above it, and the diacritical mark is a shrunken ط , the letter for /tˤ,/, which happens to be the one that is directly related to Voynichese ^t^ if the Syriac theory is right. I didn’t at first recognize the pronunciation of that combination. I’ve found out that it has nothing to do with any from of /t/ but is instead a retroflex /d/, produced with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth but curled farther back than it would be for a plain /d/, which can make it sound as if there were also a bit of an /r/ in there. I have no idea how the letter for /tˤ,/ got used to indicate retroflexion, but there it is. One simple way to depict that sound in this alphabet would be with a superscript [r] (ʳd,ᴿd), but the IPA uses a [d] with a [q]-like tail added: ɖ.

        And there was still one more oddity in that word, between the /ha/ and the /ɖ/: the letter consisting of a short upward stroke with another diacritical mark (ء) above it. That mark was invented to specify the consonant pronunciation of a letter that can be a consonant or a vowel, but that letter was alef, and this is yod. Apparently alef is used as the vowel /a/ so much that [ء] came to be used instead of it to indicate alef’s own original pronunciation as a consonant, even if it’s placed over another letter. But the details of its use are weirdly convoluted, so what isn’t clear to me is whether that sound would replace, precede, or follow the letter’s own sound… which, for yod, could be a consonant like English [y] or a vowel like in the English word “gray/grey“.

        So, even after settling on [ɖ] instead of some other way to transliterate the retroflex letter, and picking [e] instead of a two-letter combination for yod’s vowel sound, that still leaves me with five possible ways to spell this one word, depending on what to do with that yod-hamza:
        …and the two using our letter [y] could have an unwritten vowel sound immediately after it.

        But I’m fairly sure that the /ء/ is meant to replace the letter’s sound, as it does in its original role over alef, in which case the first one would be correct: haʔɖra… which would probably be better written as ha’ɖra because that /ء/ sound is really more of a momentary lack of sound…

        • MarcoP

          Thank you for correcting me, Derek. You are right, I mistakenly referred to “Hydrus” which is a different constellation from “Hydra” and I mistyped its Indian anme “hrada”. I see that Popular Hindu Astronomy gives a similar name for Hydra: hrada-sarpa (p.155). I guess that the Greek “hydra” and the Indian forms “ha’ɖra” and “hrada” are related, but I don’t know if the Indian constellation name is a phonetic rendition of the Greek or the Greek derives from an Indo-European word which is also the origin of the Urdu name.

          • Derek Vogt

            The Greek name for this animal is derived from the Greek word for the habitat it lived in: water (hudros/hudor/hudatos, with the Greek letter for the sound /u/ later ending up as our [y] because of some odd alphabetic stuff the Romans did). I’m not aware of any other uses of a Greek “ra” or “a” suffix, but in this case it looks as if it would mean “resident” or “lives in…”, so “hud-ra” or “hudr-a” could be translated as “water-dweller”. That “hudr-” root word came from a Proto-Indo-European word which began at the /u/ with no preceding /h/, and also became “water” in English, “unda” (wave) in Latin, “udá/udán/udra” (water) in Sanskrit, and both “aoða” (spring) and “vaiði” (stream) in Proto-Iranian.

            Adding the initial /h/ was a change that only happened in Hellenic languages. So the presence of the /h/ in a non-Hellenic word indicates either that they’re unrelated and any similarity is just a coincidence, or that the people in central & southern Asia imported it from Greek with its Greek /h/, of which the latter seems more likely. The change from /u/ to /a/ is a bit perplexing, but I notice that it would fit in with a known tendency in Iranian languages, so, if Voynichese is in the Iranian family, it would make sense for their equivalent words, which had /a/, to have influenced their pronunciation of the Greek name they were importing.

            • MarcoP

              Thank you Derek! I agree with your analysis. The Indian word is likely derived from the Greek one.

      • D.N. O'Donovan

        Just a thought – the word seems to mean ‘bright’ in some cases, perhaps by derivation from the name ‘Athar’/Ashtar etc. applied to the brightest. There’s a rant by a bishop who warns Christians not to emulate the practices of the Harranian pagans, or be led off (i.e. captured/led astray) by the “Bright star”.

        Possibly irrelevant, and also possibly just as irrelevant the word “Atharoth” in Aethius’ Cosmograpy. See e.g. St.Gallen Cod.Sang 133 page(sic) 95.


  7. Derek Vogt

    Well, it took some extra time because I didn’t want to post until I was sure enough, but I believe I’ve finally broken into the southern sky…

    34 ^xtwr^
    One name for the constellation Sagittarius is confuzzlingly given with lowercase Greek “chi” and Latin [u] & [t]: [χut]. Because of some problems with the idea that this word was intended to be in Latin letters, I expect the original to have been Greek [Χυτ,χυτ], in which the second & third letters got changed accidentally because they look & sound similar to their Roman counterparts. The pronunciation would be /xut/ or /xüt/, a perfect match for this Voynichese root, with ^wr^ as a suffix. “The Bow”, the constellation or asterism with which I’ve already identified Voynich star 18, has been counted as both part of and separate from Sagittarius, and is named independently for its own bow-like shape, not necessarily to be equated with the bow that Sagittarius would be holding (although some renditions might show it as exactly that).

    42 ^hašwr^
    Both [Ἑστία] “Hestia” and [Ἑσχάρα] “Heskhara” work here. They are Greek names for the constellation otherwise known as Ara, Turibulum, or the Altar. This is the same entity as suggested by MarcoP earlier, but he used a different treatment for the initial [Έ]. In standard Greek for the last couple of millennia, /h/ is not recognized as a phoneme, but has been treated as an effect that can be applied to the pronunciation of vowels and /r/, indicated not by a letter but by a diacritical mark on the affected letter (floating above a lowercase letter, pushed to the side only for a capital letter). In transliteration of Greek words using it, some people have simply gone letter-for-letter, which avoids adding letters that weren’t originally there but also drops any sounds or effects indicated by things that aren’t letters. Others have done what I did here, going sound-for-sound even when it means inserting an extra letter with no counterpart among the original letters. This way illustrates the relevance of all of the first three Voynichese letters, instead of just the second and third. (Also notice the use of EVA-O, ^a^, in positions equivalent to /e/ in another language. This is a tendency I’ve seen in some plant names too but have held off on posting a list of examples of until after I can include f68r’s stars as well as plants.)

    49 ^ãbavar^
    “Albezze” (or “Albizze” or “Albeze”) was apparently altered from Arabic “Alwazn” for “the Weight”, another name for Centaurus. Also notice the use of EVA-O, ^a^, in positions equivalent to /e/ in another language.

    50 ^ãgaxãš^
    العرش “Alʕarsh”, Arabic for “the Throne”, a name for part of Corvus; /ʕ/ tends to be converted to /ɣ/, /g/, or /x/ in other languages, when it doesn’t just disappear. The full title is actually longer, “the throne of ___”, filled in with a reference to Spica, which is nearby in the sky. Spica has previously been identified as Voynich star 25 ^koõatwš^, “Khoritos” in Persian.

    44 ^ãgoooar^
    Argo-{ooar} would fit the star’s position and the expected sounds for the beginning of the word, and this being a compound word would explain why there are three consecutive ^o^. I don’t know what the second part might be. However, it can be expected to have a “phantom /r/” as either ^õoar^ or ^oõar^, as in previous examples (see note 2 here) where ^õo^ has correlated with /-ra,-ro,-r/, and ^õa^ has correlated with /-ri,re/ … and one of the three Greek translations I get for the noun “fleece” is [εριο], “erio”.

    38 ^akhar^ and 45 ^agaooa^
    Based on positions relative to the above, 45 should be Lupus, and 38 should be Corona, some of the names for which mean “circle” instead of “crown”. I have found no clear cognates among the names for the constellations, but there is something else interesting about these words: they are fairly similar to some Indo-Iranian words for “circle/wheel/spinning” and “wolf”, and even the differences deviate in the same way.
    ▶wheel/circle: PIE kʷeklo→ Avestan čaxra, Urdu چكر “čkr”, Persian چرخش “črxš”
    ▶wolf: PIE wḷkʷos→ Old Persian varka→ various forms involving conversion of /v/ and /k/ into /g/ to yield a generalized “g-r-g” type; see here
    ▶In both cases, we have multiple cognates with two separate velar or formerly-velar sounds, and Voynichese counterparts that look like what would happen if one were dropped (meaning this could be a general rule of Voynichese phonetic evolution).

    • Derek Vogt

      #40 ^anthn^ is in the right place, and practically a perfect letter-for-letter match, for “Al Niṭhām, Al Naṭhm”, the star in the middle of the Belt of Orion. Given the similarity to the other two stars’ names and f68r’s tendency to use names of constellations or asterisms rather than individual stars, I suspect this is how the Voynich author referred to all three together.

      This is the first time I recall seeing an apparent cognate with /m/ where there was clearly a single Voynichese letter to connect with it, and it’s the one we’ve been calling ^n^, which I think is pretty close. (In fact I’ve suspected for a long time that ^n^ would turn out to also correlate with /m/, but didn’t have evidence til now.)

      • Derek Vogt

        Part of the southern sky would never have been seen by Northern Hemisphere cultures before worldwide sailing by Euopeans began. We can start to see that now as a gap in my image where it looks like I’m going around part of the page but not into it. (It’s left of center because the part of the southern sky that can be seen is smaller in winter and bigger in summer.) The inclusion of stars and names in that void on Voynich f68r2 means that whoever drew it had heard something about that part of the sky from sailors, but there’s no clue where the labels could have come from so early in the history of worldwide sailing, because that void in the sky just doesn’t have the kind of history to draw on that the rest does.

        * * *

        Anyway, the new ones I’ve added, above and to the right of #40 ^ãnthn^ as Al Niṭhām, Al Naṭhm (Orion’s Belt, or its central star):

        #33 ^ãharn^:
        Arabic Al Minḣar (Alpha Ceti)

        #37 ^ašhõo$on^:
        Hebrew Shōr (Taurus), or
        Coptic Horias (Pleidaes, in the bull’s neck or shoulder)

        #41 ^ãkhõatn^:
        Arabic Al Ḳilāṣ, Al Ḳalā’iṣ (Hyades, in the bull’s head), or
        Syriac ʕiyūthā (Alpha Tauri, one of the eyes)

        Also, near the bottom of the page and to the right, the position tells me that #53, ^akoohar^ or ^ãkõohar^, should be Crater (the Cup, Bowl, or Goblet), for which I’ve found no name-match any better than Arabic “Al Kās” (the shallow basin). This one tends to have the noun for cup/bowl/goblet/urn or such applied to it in any given language, rather than a version of an imported foreign name, so I also note that Persian words for “bowl” include قدح “qdḥ”, and that Urdu for “cup” is كوزة “kwzah”.

        • Darren Worley

          Derek – fascinating work. Its puzzling that the southern star map should portray stars not generally know to the Arabs (or at least were unnamed by them). Is that what your results imply? What is the most southerly star you’ve identified?

          The Arabs were trading as far south as Zanzibar and Mozambique in the Southern Hemisphere. Does anyone know if they sailed, or travelled overland, any further south? This would set a limit on the southern hemisphere stars visible to them.

          Did you consider Indian star names in your analysis? Although the southern tip of India is not as far south as, say, Zanzibar. Perhaps the Indian astronomers had a more extensive knowledge of southern hemisphere stars than the Arabs or Greeks? Maybe these unidentified stars could have names of an Indian origin?

          • Derek Vogt

            The blind spot is not a “result” of my work. It’s just an observation, of a fact that actually blocks my path. So here’s what I was observing…

            Look at the right circle in the Planisphæri Cœleste image. The center of the circle is the southern end of the sky’s coordinate system. Tilt your head or the image or your screen so Aries (northern spring, southern autumn) is on the top and Libra (northern autumn, southern spring) is on the bottom. Directly left of the center (offset toward winter because of how the whole sky tilts throughout the year), you’ll see a group of small constellations whose names I didn’t even recognize as constellation names before. They have by far the shortest pages at the Hinckley astrological website, or even no apparent page at all:

            “Pica Indica” (Latin for “magpie of India”)… Tucana (Toucan)?
            a second “Hydra”… Hydrus?
            (Apous Indica)
            “Cameleon”… Lacerta? (Latin for “lizard”)
            (a drawing of a fish with something in its mouth but no label)

            There are names in there, but not many to start with, and not mentioned in many of the basic old astrological source documents, and the names that are there don’t seem to have been passed around and altered into lots of versions and derivatives like what happened with other constellations, and there’s little to none of the folklore that other constellations would have about their significance or stories to attach to them. Compare those pages to the pages for some of the other constellations in the same image, even those right next door to them:

            …and even seemingly minor ones like Ara and Coma Berenices

            This difference in the amount of cultural significance or written activity concerning those stars & constellations puts them in two pretty sharply distinct categories with no doubt about which stars/constellations are in which category, and it’s not difficult to see why. When I was a kid and had first found out about a few constellations, they quickly fell into two groups for me: the ones I could point out to my sister in our back yard or spot through a car window during a long nocturnal ride, and the ones I couldn’t. The difference is not necessarily that northerners 600 years ago didn’t know about the ones they couldn’t see, but that most of those who did know didn’t have much to say about the ones outside their personal experience.

            The result of the blind spot’s existence is that there are practically no names to look up for comparison in an area including at least 39 and 43, and possibly also 35, 36, and/or 46… which is a problem for the ones around the edges of the blind spot where we could think they’re in it or out of it. For example, I think 46 could be another part of Centaurus (along with 49), or the Southern Cross (“El Crusero” in front of the centaur’s rear legs), but if I can’t find a name that fits, should I think it’s one of them anyway, just with a name I can’t trace (which we should expect a few of even in familiar constellations anyway), or should I figure it’s something in the blind spot, like “Cameleon/Lacerta”?

        • Darren Worley

          Derek – regarding the identification of star #53, I agree with your proposal of Crater (cup/bowl/goblet).

          In Hebrew, a word for “covered goblet” is kaphar; this seems close to your proposal ^akoohar^.

          kphowr — a bowl; from kaphar; properly, a cover, ie (by implication) a tankard (or covered goblet);

          Ref: http://bibleapps.com/g/goblet.htm

          My guess is that the leading “a” – indicates “Ha”, the Hebrew definite article.


          There seems to be many other words with a similar meaning (i.e cup, vessel, goblet) and similar word-formation in Aramaic too.

          This identification seems to align well with the other Hebrew star name that you identified. Its seems reasonable given Judaeo-Christian influences identified in the VM that the star names should also bear similarities with Hebrew.

          I’ve been looking a bit more at the original sources for Greek star names and a good example is given in the works of Aratus (310 BCE – 240 BCE).


          An English translation of his major work [The Phenomena and Diosemeia of Aratus] is available here: https://archive.org/details/phenomenadioseme00arat

          This text gives a good account of the stars/constellations in the Southern Hemisphere that were known to the Greeks (p27-29). The Goblet, is mentioned in connection with the constellation Hydra; this is what gives me confidence in your proposed attribution.

          Interestingly, Aratus also wrote about weather-forecasts and other weather phenomena (Diosemeia) – this seems to have parallels with other pages in the VM (the wind-diagrams).

          You can find more here: https://archive.org/details/skiesweatherfore00arat

          It seems that many of the ideas expressed in the VM seem to be based upon themes found in Greek natural philosophy – or specifically Hellenistic Judaeo-Christian philosophy. Philo of Alexandria was one of the key philosophers harmonizing Greek philosophy with Jewish philosophy.


          • Derek Vogt

            That inspires me to try out the remaining part(s) of a name that I had only really identified one part of: ^ašhõo$on^ (37). Hebrew for “bull/Taurus” was given as “shōr” at the Hinckley site, which really only corresponds with the fragment ^šhõo^, so I figured the ^$on^ at the end would have some meaning of its own but didn’t guess what it might be. Now I just tried “shoulder” and “neck” at Google Translator; “shoulder” yields nothing noteworthy, but “neck” yields “$avar”, along with “$avaron” as “collar”.

            • Darren Worley

              Derek – I think it would be worthwhile reviewing all the star names for a Jewish influence. Since Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic are all Semitic languages I would expect there to be a similarity in the star names, across all these languages. Perhaps a better fit will be found for Hebrew or Aramaic names?

              I look forward to reading your results.

              I might have over-emphasized the Hebrew aspect – I should have said, Jewish, in my earlier postings in its place. I think that just because the VM might have a Jewish origin, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s written in Hebrew.

              Jews living in Babylonia would have spoken and written in Aramaic, whereas Alexandrian Jews would have spoken and written in Greek. Not all Jews spoke or wrote in Hebrew, but I would expect there to be some borrowings between these geographical groups.

              Even the Jewish philosopher, Philo, that I mentioned before, is thought not to have known Hebrew.

              Maybe the VM could be a Jewish (or Judeo-Christian) manuscript, but maybe it’s a Hellenistic Greek or Babylonian Aramaic text that been translated/copied much later by a Persian Hebrew scholar? That might explain some its oddities, since a Jewish Hebrew scholar might not have known Syriac/Aramaic or Greek all that well?

              (Having said that, I still think the Sabian Mandaean origin is possible.)

          • MarcoP

            Hello Derek and Darren,
            a while ago a bookmarked this paper: Star Lists in Hebrew by Leonard Goldstein. Possibly you will find it useful for your current research.

            About the Goblet being related with Hydra:
            Bodleian Astronomicon
            Palazzo della Ragione, Padua

        • Derek Vogt

          I believe I was wrong about #41. Putting the bull’s head there extends Taurus suspiciously low on the page for little reason, the possible name-matches are relatively weak, and it clashes with a trend I see in constellations that span more than one Voynichese star which I will explain in a separate post… And I have a better alternative.

          Although Gemini is now often drawn as a constellation consisting of numerous stars throughout the twins’ whole bodies, the name originally referred only to a pair of stars that were conspicuously bright and conspicuously close to each other. The rest of the constellation was later drawn around them. (This is similar to Sirius, which was first known as The Dog-Star or just The Dog for ages, and later had the modern dog-shaped constellation drawn around it.) They are in the heads of the Twins as the constellation is now drawn, and f68r seems to have them at star #8, the name of which, ^agxon^, has no identifiable connection to any name for the whole modern constellation but only to Alpha Geminorum. This is unusual on f68r because most of the names are applicable to groups of stars instead of individuals. (In fact I think in this case it refers to both Alpha and Beta together but no others. My theory is that all Voynichese “star” names refer to groups of stars, even if sometimes by a name elsewhere associated with just the most prominent one of them; the other example that comes to mind is #40 ^anthn^ for Al Niṭhām or Al Naṭhm, the central star of Orion’s Belt and an obvious candidate for a group-name for the whole belt.)

          So, what about the rest of Gemini? The bottom half of it is in the southern sky instead of the northern, where #41 is the best Voynich star to associate with it, and Gemini fits #41’s location better than the head of Taurus. In fact it was this perfect location of #41 to be part of Gemini that made me go back to the Hinckley web page on Gemini to check the names there again. And I found that although there was once no constellation including both the original “Twin” stars and the feet of the modern version of Gemini, the area of the modern depiction’s feet was included in a constellation known as The Camel.

          As part of The Camel, Gamma Geminorum alone was named “Al Han`ah” or “Elhenaat”, translated as either a brand or other owner’s mark on the side of the neck, or the adjective “winding”, which could have referred to the line of the camel’s neck and humps as seen in profile. And Gamma, Eta, and Mu Geminorum (plus possibly some more unnamed minor stars near them) were known together as “Al Nuḥātai, Al Nuḥāt”, meaning “The Hump(s)”.

        • Derek, re your comment of Jan.18th.
          Guillaume Adam in the early fourteenth century reports Genoese mariner-traders already present in the Persian Gulf, and building their own ships for the eastern sea route. Also (I don’t have the reference by me) an earlier source tells us that hundreds of Genoese were invited by the ruler of Baghdad to come and assist in his war against the ruler of Egypt who, at that time, had placed an embargo on European traders. The story goes that those Genoese had ended up killing each other to the last man in a quarrel over the Guelf-Ghibbeline issue. B.A.K.B.

    • Derek Vogt

      Star 52, ^xhn^, must indicate Cancer. Comparable names there include Xas (Khas), Kut, Ἀχλύς “Axlús/Akhlús”, and, most notably I think, an Arabic word translated as “two asses/donkeys”. Strangely, it’s given as “Ḥimārain” at the astrological source I’ve been using, and the closest I get at Google Translate are حمار “ħmar” (singular) and حمير “ħmyr” (plural), but I presume it’s just a grammatical difference such as different cases. And either way, it definitely starts with حم “ħm”, like a root word with various suffixes, and /ħm/ is about as close to ^xhn^ as you can get.

      Other than the “southern blind spot”, this page’s only stars left that I haven’t addressed are 30 and 31, which I am still working on in conjunction with the top few stars on f68r1.

      • Stephen Bax

        Hi – “Ḥimārain” is the dual form, meaning ‘two donkeys’. Arabic has a special form for two of something!” But it is rarely used in everyday speech or writing.

        • Stephen, that dual form is the one used by Yemeni Arabic speakers in the fifteenth century, certainly, and it is the form regularly found in the star calendars, navigational astronomy etc.etc., so not just a product of classical texts being translated into Arabic.

          • Stephen Bax

            Yes, I’m sure it would be used by any Arabic speaker or writer wanting to say exactly ‘two donkeys’, but perhaps it is not such a common expression these days 🙂

            • Mrs. Sulaiman

              The Arabic dual form is used every day in written/read Arabic. News readers use it all day long.

        • Derek Vogt

          Strange… I would have thought that if you entered a plural in a translator for a language with dual and triplural forms, you’d get both possible results back.

          What’s the spelling? حمارن ? حمارين ?

          I think it’s interesting that, given a choice of singular, dual, and triplural forms, the Voynichese word here most resembles the triplural even though that’s not what the people they got it from use… a possible sign that Voynichese had just one plural form.

          • Stephen Bax

            It is spelled: حمارين For your curiosity, a good example of the same sort of dual is the country name Bahrein, which literally means ‘two seas’.

            BTW what is a triplural?

            • Derek Vogt

              Three and above: like a plural but starting at three, excluding two

      • Derek Vogt

        A fun little accident I just had while looking up the remaining constellations I just named above…

        I tried taking one more shot at Piscis Australis (not one of the “Pisces” but a separate, more southern constellation), thinking star 35 ^thas,thãs^ was in the right place to fit it even though I’d skipped it so far, and caught something I had missed before: Its “Alpha” star, more often now called variations on “Fomalhut”, was once called “Ṭhalīm”.

        That gave me identifications surrounding star 36 ^gatwrw–sn^, another one I had previously thought I’d never nail down, telling me there’s only one choice that could fit there: Eridanus, a long, skinny constellation named after rivers or the word for “river” or “stream” or “flow” in various languages. Nothing fits it phonetically among established star & constellation names (which I had already checked before), but this time I looked up the words for “river”, “stream”, and “flow” in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, and Urdu at Google Translate, and found several that start with “gdw”.

        Also, some of the stars of Eridanus once shared the name “Ṭhalīm” (Ostrich) with Fomalhut; apparently that was once the name of an Arabian constellation in that area.

        The southern blind spot is still there, but smaller now, including only 39, 43, and possibly 46 (which might be a part of Centaurus or the Southern Cross, just with a name I can’t connect).

  8. Alan Hughes

    Thanks. It is impressive to see it like this as it does seem to explain what the Voynich writers meant to do by putting these two pages side by side.

  9. I do recommend that people check the historical context before supposing that the latest version of an ‘Arab’ star name is that used in the early fifteenth century, and that (at that time) the name was applied to the same star/s we find it attached to later.

    The facts are less obvious, less homogenous and less straightforward than often supposed by newcomers to the study.

    To begin, perhaps, Ian Redpath’s online paper might be helpful.

    • Hugh

      Diane is right! Maybe we can collect lists of star names as they were in 15th century? Does anyone know any lists like this?

      • MarcoP

        A wiki format would certainly be helpful to define the list proposed by Hugh.
        Resources I find interesting for f68r1/2 and that were previously mentioned on this site include:

        * “Islamicate Celestial Globes” by Savage-Smith and Belloli (1985)
        The book discusses many ancient celestial globes, including a very detailed discussion of the Smithsonian celestial globe (early XVII century?). The book is illustrated by many great pictures of ancient globes from the XII Century onward. The index at p-337-343 provides an excellent list of Arabic names.

        * “Globus Caelestis Cufico-Arabicus” by Assemani and Toaldo (1790)
        This XVIII Century book describes the “Borgian Globe” (early XIII Century). It includes engravings reproducing the whole surface of the globe and a catalog or the about 150 Arabic star and constellation names inscribed on it. Of course, the scientific accuracy of this book cannot be expected to be completely up to modern standards.

        * MS 5415 fol. 168r / 170r Oesterreichishe Nationalbibliothek Wien, 1440 ca
        If f68r1 / r2 are maps of the Northern and Southern sky, this manuscript is a close cognate. Constellation names are in Latin, but most star names are Arabic. Of course, a great difference with Voynich images is that the constellations are represented.

        I was not able to find evidence of ancient manuscript star maps in which stars are represented without constellation outlines (with the partial exception of the sketches by Thomas Betson already discussed with Stephen). On the other hand, Savage-Smith and Belloli describe a number of ancient celestial globes in which only stars are represented. Most of the globes discussed in the book (including the Smithsonian globe) include images of constellations: such globes are classified by the authors as Class A. I think that Class B is what most closely parallels Voynich f68:
        The second type of globe. Class B, has indicated on it only the major stars, varying in number from 20 to 150, with no constellation outlines (see Figures 7, 10, 22, 26, and 28). The choice of which stars were included on a globe of this class seems to have depended upon the maker, though those termed “astrolabe stars” in the star catalogs were nearly always included. There are 32 Class B globes in the catalog, of which approximately half are unsigned and undated. The remaining 17 globes date from AD 1140 to 1882. Among the Class B globes there have been included four globes that have zodiacal figures as well as the major stars (Nos. 63, 73, 82, and 83; No. 63 is illustrated in Figure 20).

        The article linked by Diane provides links to excellent descriptions of Astrolabes at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science. For each astrolabe, the star names are listed (with convenient celestial coordinates). A couple of Arabic examples:

        Many thanks to Diane!

  10. MarcoP

    Examining f68r2 according to the orientation proposed by Derek (the Moon at the top marks the Spring equinox, corresponding to the Sun in f68r1), I have noticed a few possible parallels with Greek constellation names. I have only considered those stars whose name does not begin with EVA ‘o’.

    Star #35 – EVA: dchol – T Y A SH
    Ἰχθύς / Ichtus (Piscis Australis)

    Star #42 – EVA: cholar – Y A sh ə R
    Έσχάρα / Eschara (Ara)

    Star #51 – EVA: chodar – Y A T ə R
    Ύδρος / Hydra

    Star #52 – EVA: shchy – CH Y (UN)
    κύων / Kuon (Canis Major? – Minor seems less likely but has a more consistent place)

    Duerer’s map of the Southern hemisphere has been rotated by 45 degrees clockwise, in order to place the Spring equinox at the top.

    • Pedro

      Thank you Marco. I really appreciated all your posts and Pin pictures. You really find some good things.

      why did you put Greek constellations, and not stars here?

  11. MarcoP

    Hello Derek,
    if I understand correctly, your idea is that the two maps are organized more or less like these (Frederik de Wit, 17th Century):

    In my opinion, De Wit’s engraving makes the system particularly clear by splitting the zodiac constellations in two halves between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Sagittarius and Gemini make clear that, as you write, a star near the right edge of one page will actually be fairly close in the sky to a star near the left edge of the other page.

  12. Derek Vogt

    On 68r1, the big sun & moon drawings at the top & bottom of the circle obscure the areas where Libra and Aries would be. Those are the two dimmest Zodiac constellations, so apparently we’re not missing any important stars this way. More importantly, they’re the ones associated with the equinoxes, and the Zodiac year begins & ends with the spring equinox, which Aires, the one that would have been on top of the Voynich circle, was defined as beginning on (with the other 11 defined as simply following in order after Aries). So they’ve apparently replaced the equinoxes’ constellations with the sun & moon and oriented their circle to have the beginning & end of the year on top and the halfway point on bottom. That means the top half of the circle, which has the sun on it, represents the half of the year during which days get longer, and the bottom half, which has the moon on it, represents the half of the year during which nights get longer.

    People who knew enough to draw dual sky maps like these would have been aware that when days are lengthening in one hemisphere, nights are lengthening in the other. That would explain why the Voynich drawing has the sun & moon reversed on 68r2. By reversing the sun & moon, they got to keep Aries and the beginning & end of the year on top, and keep Libra and the half-year mark on bottom. (If they had reversed the orientation so Aries was on bottom, they’d also need to either mark the bottom with the moon instead of the sun or end up with the Southern Hemisphere mapped with night & day symbols that only work for the Northern Hemisphere.)

    That, plus the fact that the apparent direction of rotation of the sky as viewed from the ground is opposite in the two hemispheres, presumably means the year will progress clockwise on 68r2 instead of counterclockwise like it did on 68r1, so a star near the right edge of one page will actually be fairly close in the sky to a star near the left edge of the other page. Otherwise, the perspective would be reversed: looking up from the ground on one page and looking down from above the sky on the other page.

    • MarcoP

      Hello Derek, I think the two maps could be oriented as De Wit’s maps. More or less like this (a very rough rendition, just to give an idea of the orientation):
      In both maps, the Sun corresponds to the spring equinox and the Moon corresponds to the autumn equinox.
      Is this also your idea?

      • Stephen Bax

        Thanks – a really attractive rendition of the Voynich pages as a globe! Intriguing indeed.

      • Derek Vogt

        You have the bottom of one page joining the top of the other. I expect them to join top-to-top and bottom-to-bottom. That would overlap a sun and a moon together in both cases, instead of making a sphere with overlapping suns at one pole and overlapping moons at the other pole, because one hemisphere’s vernal equinox is simultaneous with the other hemisphere’s autumnal equinox. The sphere’s equator, the ring formed by joining the two circles’ outer edges, would then represent the complete annual cycle.

        • MarcoP

          Thank you Derek! Now your point of view is clear to me!
          What you propose is consistent with De Wit’s map:
          (Pisces at the top and Virgo at the bottom in both maps).

          I will have to check other ancient maps to see if my proposal has some parallels too.

          • Alan hughes

            This idea of putting the two Voynich pages together like this is really good. Can we make a new picture in the way Derek said?

          • Darren Worley

            In an earlier post I suggested that star 29 might represent the Persian star “Taschter” for the Royal Star that “Guards the East”.

            EVA:dolchedy -> Tashyata which is close to “Taschter”

            I think this is consistent with the model that Macro is describing, as star 29 is near the perimeter of the diagrams that represents the eclipic (or equatorial plane) as would be expected for a star that guards the East (or West).

            There doesn’t seem to be complete agreement on what each of these Royal stars aligns with in modern attributions.

            Here is a summary of the likely mappings:

            Sirius or 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)


            This might suggest that star 1 (or a nearby one) on the opposite side would represent the Royal star that is “Guard of the West”, Antares.

            Does this make sense? Is my interpretation correct?

          • MarcoP

            Alan, here is my rendition of Derek’s interpretation. It is not accurate! It is just meant to give an idea of the spatial relation between the two maps: the right side of r1 touches the left side of r2. The bottom of r1 (Moon) corresponds to the top of r2 (Sun).

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