Rosettes folio f86v – a discussion by Marco Ponzi

I am delighted to publish the following fascinating and insightful discussion sent to me by Marco Ponzi:

Marco Ponzi April 2015

The Rosettes page f86v lower left diagram The so-called Rosettes page is a large and complex diagram, composed of nine major circular elements disposed in a 3×3 grid and other minor elements of different shapes. Here I will only discuss the circle in the lower left corner of the diagram. It seems likely that this circle is a map of a specific geographic region. In my opinion, the identification of the region illustrated by the map and the phonetic reading of the labels that appear on it could confirm each other and provide significant support for the linguistic theories proposed on this site.

The scalloped plateau (Jorge Stolfi / René Zandbergen) A detailed description of the Rosettes page and a complete EVA transcription are available onZandbergen’s site The lower left diagram is here called “the SW rosette” and described in these terms: Inside the text ring is a “plateau” with scalloped boundary, with 8 extensions or “passages” leaving in different directions. […] The passages are flat like the plateau but are surrounded by several wavy lines, suggesting cliffs. […] Inside the scalloped area there is an elliptical “flower bed” surrounded by a band of scales. At the four cardinal points, the scales pile up into four fountains, whose jets point at nothing in particular. The flower bed is filled with 24 tiny flowers or stars. In the center there is a flower-like object with 6 round “petals” and a doubly-traced outline. There are several labels (unit “B1”) on or near this rosette. One label in the scalloped-outline area, at 07:30, seems associated with the area itself, or the flower bed inside it. Another 9 labels seem associated with the 8 “passages” leaving the scalloped area, and perhaps with the fountains at the corners of the flower bed. Two more labels lie on the “sea”, between the text ring and the scalloped area, at 08:00 and 11:00. When transcribing the labels, Stolfi/Zandbergen refer to the upper and left closed areas as “bays”. They also mention a “stream into [the] SW rosette from [the] small island at 01:30”. The overall impression is that geographical terms (plateau, cliffs, sea, bays, stream) are only used as a metaphor. Anyway, reading this description one could understand the diagram as an island or a peninsula surrounded by sea areas.

The Great Sea (Diane O’Donovan) As part of an extensive analysis of the whole Rosettes diagram, Diane O’Donovan has devoted two posts to the discussion of the lower left diagram (that she calls “the South roundel”): post 1 post 2 She writes that: This roundel represents what Ibn Majid called simply ‘The Great Sea‘ meaning all the waters stretching east and south from modern Suez. … [The roundel contains] a central sea bordered by various irregular inlets and estuaries. … it could be argued that the Bay of Bengal was the map’s centre, but I think it better to leave the question open rather than express any certainty on the point. Diane explicitly interprets the diagram as a map. She identifies a broad geographic area as related to it. She also states that the center of the roundel is a sea area (not land, as in the metaphorical description by Stolfi / Zandbergen).

The fourth continent (Juergen Wastl and Danielle Feger) Wastl and Feger (“VM408 folio86v ‘The Rosette Map’: Elements of a Mappa mundi and a map of the Elements”) also propose an overall analysis of the whole page. The lower-left diagram is explained as: the fourth continent in the making by mixing the elements. This interpretation seems also to be geographical, but no detail is given about the internal structure of the diagram and the features of the fourth continent, what is land and what is sea (or what is earth and what is water, speaking of different “elements”).

Land or Sea? Given that a map is the interpretation that typically comes to mind to people looking at this diagram, which part of it is land and which is water? Stolfi/Zandbergen and Diane O’ Donovan interpret land and sea in opposite ways. Luckily, this question has a clear answer. In ancient maps, coastlines are often drawn as scalloped lines meant to represent a sequence of crescent-shaped bays (concave towards the sea). This style can already be observed in the maps by Petrus Vesconte (early XIV Century) and was very common during the XV and XVI Centuries. If the lower-left circle of the Rosettes page represents a map, the central area corresponds to the sea. The scalloped lines noted by Stolfi / Zandbergen are a significant support for the hypothetical identification of this diagram with the map of a coastal region. Also the textual labels associated to so many details of the diagram suggest that it is map. Among the atlases representing coastlines in this style, the Isolario by Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti (1485) seems particularly interesting: circular compasses surround the maps, vaguely resembling the circular frame of the Voynich “map”. The following image includes details from: 1) Petrus Vesconte 1325 2) Anonymous Genoese 1350 ca 3) Voynich Manuscript 1404-1438 4) De Virga 1409 5) Delli Sonetti 1485

Stylized islands If the center of the diagram corresponds to the sea, the “objects” on the lower-right border of the circle might be islands. They are strange islands, since they have all more or less the same symmetrical shape. But ancient maps often feature stylized islands with unnaturally regular shapes. Islamic maps conventionally represented islands as circles (Indian Ocean – Book of Curiosities XI Century). Islands can also be decorated with arbitrary patterns (Catalan Atlas, 1375). The Catalan Atlas also has some islands shaped as half circles. The blue circle on the right with eight smaller circles inside it might be an archipelago. It could be a parallel for the small circles that appear in the leftmost islands of f86v left-lower diagram. But possibly the best parallel for these stylized islands (including the dots) is the 1313 BNF Atlas by Petrus Vesconte (early XIV Century).
In conclusion, the objects in the lower part of the diagram may well be islands and archipelagos represented in a uniformly stylized way.

The Indian Sea In order to make use of the labels on the “map” to validate and possibly extend the phonetic analyses presented on this site, it is necessary to relate the map to a specific region. Unluckily, the orientation of the map cannot be considered conclusive, since in the XV century maps with different orientations were still produced; moreover, it is not completely clear what the “top” of the diagram is: the orientation of most labels suggests that the “top” is the left side of the page. It seems that this “map” represents a sea area surrounded on three sides by masses of land. The three regions define two more or less orthogonal straits of similar width. The best match that I could find for this configuration is the Indian Sea as it appears in the 1489 Century“Martellus” (Hammer) map. The main difference with the Voynich diagram is that the Martellus map only has small islands, the larger of which is “Scoira” (Socotra). The orientations of the two maps seem to be almost perfectly aligned. Also a large gulf on the Eastern shore (the gulf of Cutch) has a good visual parallel in the Voynich diagram.
Another good parallel is the 1448 map by Walsperger. In this case, the coasts of Africa, Arabia and Persia/India define a square Indian Sea as in the Voynich map. The islands are larger than in Martellus map. The general orientation of the map has South at the top. This particular area has an incorrect orientation: the Arabian coast (that should face South) faces East.
Walsperger’s world map is partly similar to the XII Century circular world map by al-Idrisi, which also compares reasonably well with f86r diagram (but the three main lands do not form a square as well defined as in Walsperger’s and Martellus’ maps).
With reference to the stars surrounding the central “flower”, Steinglass’ Persian Dictionary says that the expression “darya’i akhzar” (literally “the blue sea”) can mean both “the Indian Ocean” and “the sky”.

Other candidate regions The map could well be intended to represent a region different from the Indian Sea. Using modern maps, candidate areas could be the northern Red Sea (Egypt, Sinai, Arabia) or the Baltic Sea (Sweden, Finland, Estonia), just to make a couple of examples.

The labels The following is the list of the labels as numbered and transcribed on In a few cases, I propose an alternative transcription in square brackets. I have added transcriptions for the four labels outside the circle but near the islands, numbering them 16-19. I also provide tentative identifications for labels #3 and #15, in the hypothesis that the map represents the Indian Sea.

1 EVA:opdaram [ofdaram] (reading: abturu?)
2 EVA:otedam (reading: alotu?)
3 EVA:lokedshs (reading: shakot?s). This label (corresponding to the leftmost “island” in the diagram) could refer to Socotra. In the Tabula Rogeriana by Al-Idrisi (1154), it is called “Sokotra”. In the Dourado Atlas Huntington Library HM 41 (probably written in Goa in 1570 ca) the island is called “Sacotora”.
4 EVA:otodar (reading: alatur?)
5 EVA:otedaiin [ytedaiin] (reading: alotu? / nlotu? / ulotu?)
6 EVA:okedy (reading: akotn? / akotu?)
7 EVA:loltedy [?oltedy] (reading: shashlotn / ?ashlotn)
8 EVA:opedam [opeedam] (reading: abootu?)
9 EVA:opchdar [ofchdar] (reading: apytur?)
10 EVA:opchdy (reading: abytn?)
11 EVA:oda (reading: atu)
12 EVA:okar amal (reading: akur u?ush)
13 EVA:otchdy-{ring}chdain- [otchdy shdaiin] (reading: alytu ytu? / ?tu?)
14 EVA:otady-{ring}ote*y [otedy otemy] (reading: alutn ato?n)
15 EVA:otedy oparam [otedy oparam] (reading: alotn aburu?). The second word of this label could refer to the city of Bharuch in North-West India. The label corresponds to  the area that Stolfi / Zandbergen call “a stream”. The “stream” could be the Gulf of Khambhat and the mouth of the Indus river. The Tabula Rogeriana by Al-Idrisi (1154) has a city named “Barug” in West India. Ptolemy and the pseudo-Arrian called the gulf “Baraces”. The 1492 map by Johannes Schnitzer calls it “Sinus Baraga”. In the Dourado Atlas, Huntington Library HM 41, the city is called “Baroche”
16 EVA:ofodydy (reading: apatntn)
17 EVA:opdady (reading: abtutn)
18 EVA:otodey (reading: alaton)
19 EVA:otodedy (reading: alatotn)

Problems These are a few “open problems” with the hypothesis that the diagram is a map. I do not think that they are so serious as to suggest that the hypothesis should be discarded, but it would be nice to solve at least some of them. The coastlines present a few dubious features: The gap at the right that Stolfi / Zandbergen call “a stream”. The profile of the central “island” (which is not closed at the top). I assume that the pattern that fills part of the “land” areas represents mountains. But I was unable to find examples of mountains represented in the style we see here. Do manuscript maps with similar mountains exist? The central “flower” is unexplained. It occupies the place in which a compass would be found, in a more formal map. What is the meaning of this feature? Does it mark the center of the sea or does it correspond to an island? Does anything similar exist in other manuscripts? Finally, I could not find examples of similar circular maps (excluding world maps), in particular maps included in larger diagrams.


Marco Ponzi April 2015


  1. Ellie Velinska

    Hi Marco, I absolutely like your idea. Could be a map of Europe from German perspective 🙂

    • MarcoP

      Hi Ellie, thank you for your comment! Actually the idea was also inspired by an image from your old blog.
      In this page, I argued that the map is more likely to represent a central sea surrounded by land bodies, because of how the scalloped lines are arranged. But in the Evesham world map, the orientation of the scalloped lines is the opposite (concavity towards the land), so it could well be that, as you suggest, the center of the drawing corresponds to land. The interpretation you propose is also consistent with the “scalloped plateau” and “bays” discussed by Stolfi/Zandbergen.
      I guess that the most useful result would be a consistent set of matches for what appear to be location labels on the map. For instance, the interpretation you suggest could imply these correspondences:
      * 1 EVA:opdaram [ofdaram] (reading: abturu?) – France
      * 9 EVA:opchdar [ofchdar] (reading: apytur?) – Scandinavia
      * 10 EVA:opchdy (reading: abytn?) – Great Britain
      * 12 EVA:okar amal (reading: akur u?ush) – [Atlantic] Ocean

      As always, the prefix EVA:o- could be explained as an article or similar. Arabic maps of the area could provide labels with a recurring a- prefix. For Great Britain, which seems the closest match with the current phonetic hypotheses, Al Idrisi gives separate labels for England (“an-ktitara”) and Scotland (“skusia”), so he does not seem to be of immediate help.

      • Darren Worley

        An archaic term for Great Britain is Albion which would appear to be a good match. [cf. EVA:opchdy (reading: abytn?)]

        Other names for Great Britain originate from the Latin “Britannia” which derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai.

        Can good matches be found for the other geographic labels?

        • MarcoP

          Hello Darren,
          on the basis of Ellie’s suggestion, here I collected some data from Fra Mauro’s world map (1450 ca) and Al Idrisi’s Tabula Rogeriana (1154). I don’t think I can find matches for the other labels.
          Even if maps have limited language variance (e.g. English:Croatia, Latin:Crovatia, Arabic:Garuasia), many variables are involved, including the exact location, scale and orientation of the map. Also, a considerable level of distortion can be expected in an ancient and schematic map.

      • D.N. O'Donovan

        [I have edited this posting because it made accusations against more than one named individual which in my view are inappropriate. If anyone wants to post on this blog please do not use it as an opportunity for personal attacks on other researchers. However, I have left the rest of the post as written, as I also believe the author has the right to her say.- Stephen Bax]

        I really must protest.

        I have completed a full analysis of this folio, identifying its land-forms and correctly orienting it.

        My identification of the folio as map was the original one. It wasn’t a vague musing or ‘silly idea’. It was a formal conclusion reached after weeks of detailed investigation and research, and I can assure you there was nothing which I could cite or refer to by any Voynichero which was in the slightest way relevant. I should remind you that no-one had even got the thing correctly oriented before I did.

        [Paragraph cut as it attacks people by name – SB]

        My observations, and detailed analysis and conclusions are copyright. And I claim to be the first to establish that this folio is a map. I also identified its range.

        The work is done. It will be published in my book as one of my original insights and contributions to this study. I’m perfectly sure that if Jorge Stolfi were to read what you have written, he would immediately say that having some passing notion pass through a person’s head does not constitute any grounds for trying to pretend that they have priority over work of the sort I did.

        I should remind all readers here that at the time I first published my analysis and conclusions in 2011-12, the [personal name cut – SB] group were still maundering on and hypothesising about its representing ‘rosettes’ and architectural plans, and whatever else, and I still have the emails which treated with derision the very idea that it might be a reference to the physical world.

        My publisher feels that my entitlement to publish this an unprecedented insight and detailed investigation – and its conclusions – is something he would be prepared to defend.

        [Reference to named person cut – SB]

        If you wish to dispute my conclusions, or any detail in my analysis of the folio, please do, but do it honestly and stop pretending that my work was only one voice of many, or that we haven’t gone a fair bit further than regarding the folio as a ‘map hypothesis’. It is not an hypothesis, it is my conclusion, and I have the depth of research, the bibliographic references, and the entire map’s scheme explained.

        It should not be necessary for a researcher to have to protest this stupidity.

        It should not be necessary for a publisher to have to consider addressing out-and-out dishonesty, even if that dishonesty is pretty plainly aimed at preventing the “all-Latin-European” hypothesis from being entirely discarded, or failing that, of swiping credit for my work for one of its chief proponents.

        Credits are due. And if you want to dispute my results, by all means let’s have an open and honest debate.

        With all the iconographic, historical, bibliographic and other material which informed our respective views. Shall we?

        • D.N. O'Donovan

          May I say that I support, unreservedly, Stephen’s right to edit my post, or anyone else’s.

        • VV

          I find it absolutely hilarious that the person who is forever going on about being “abused” ends up being the one who has to be moderated for attacking others.
          Gone Girl references come to mind!

        • Dear all,

          the idea, that the large ‘Rosettes’ illustration (just a descriptive name) could represent some sort of a map has come up many times in the past.
          Do I think it’s a map? The simple answer is that I don’t know.
          It remains an idea, a hypothesis, no matter how long anyone has spent thinking about it.
          It is not proven, and any other claim is (to me) unrealistic.

          Who was the first to think that it is a map?
          I equally don’t know. I have a recollection of seeing some reference to it as a map in the correspondence preserved in the Beinecke (which would make it pre-1969) but I don’t have a copy of it, so please take it as just a rumour.

          It seems a bit odd that one researcher now goes out of her way to explain that all previous references to this illustration as a map are irrelevant, yet at the same time insist that all later references need to refer to her work.
          This is highly inconsistent.
          The suggestion of Nick Pelling that it is a map of Milan and surroundings isn’t even mentioned.
          The totally obvious point that many people can independently come up with the same idea was already mentioned here in this context. This equally applies to many other observations about the MS. Again, should this right only belong to one person and not others?

          This discussion is not new. I remember having it years ago already….

          By the way, the illustration covers two folios in the MS, the verso of folio 85 and the recto of folio 86. Both folio numbers are written on the reverse side of the bifolio, if one is looking at the large composite illustration.

          What do I think?
          In the centre, the six ‘tower-like objects’ are holding up what looks like a sheet on which stars have been painted. It looks as if the sky is being held up by six towers and I think it would be of interest to see if any cosmological theory like this has ever been written down by anyone.

          If any part of the illustration represents a map, my guess is the upper right circle. First of all it has a T/O map near it. Secondly, the buildings remind me of this (fold-out) map:

          • MarcoP

            Hello Rene, thank you very much for bringing back the discussion to a fully rational level and also many thanks to Stephen for his attentive kindness. About the central pillars, the Zoroastrian palace of Sraosha, at the center of the world, was mentioned here: of course it would be great to find something more specific (e.g. with six pillars) and possibly illustrated!

            • Thanks Marco,

              I probably overlooked the earlier reference to the thousand pillars, star-studded from without. That looks certainly interesting. The right-hand illustration seemed to me to have writing in Thai, which seems also confirmed by the referring web page. It is therefore necessarily derived from another earlier source. The page may tell.

            • Ellie

              Hi Marco,

              I always thought about this rosette in terms of columns, but the similarity with the cartography you bring is very interesting. Here is example of 7 Solomonic columns from 13th century copy of Hildegard von Bingen’s Liber Scivias.
              Diane, for the record – I don’t believe the whole 9-rosette is a map – I could be wrong, of course.

            • Stephen Bax

              Can I just reiterate a point I made before: in my view Marco’s huge and original contribution, in his posting above, is his attempt BOTH to interpret the images, and THEN to try to interpret on the text as well. I am amazed that other analysts simply ignore the text.

              We are still fumbling in the dark as to the meaning of the text, of course, but unless we all follow Marco and make that attempt to link images and text together in our interpretation, then we will simply never understand these pages fully.

              • Ellie Velinska

                Dear Prof. Bax, I filled many notebooks working on the text and at the beginning of my VMs research I even talked about it. Here is an embarrassing example
                As you can see, I produced more than 10 words on single page and some grammar in the sentences that form a short story. It is equally as wrong as any attempt for translation I’ve seen.
                I may disagree with Marco on his interpretation of the text, but I find his image comparisons worthy of discussion.
                All the best! Ellie

        • Ellie Velinska

          According to Nick Pelling’s blog the idea that the 9-rosette is a map was discussed as early as 2002 and 2008..

          quote: “Back in 2008, Joel Stevens suggested that the rosettes might represent a map, with the top-left and bottom-right rosettes (which have ‘sun’ images attached to them) representing East and West respectively, and with Brumbaugh’s “clock” at the bottom-left cunningly representing a compass in the form of the point of an arrow pointing towards Magnetic North. ”

          Numerous people had tried to explain to Diane that ideas are not copyrighted because there is no way to prove that somebody before didn’t have the same idea. She simply refuses to understand the copyright laws.

          I believe that nobody in this discussion copy-pasted any material from Diane’s blog or book?!?

          • Ellie Velinska

            Let’s imagine that Joel Stevens was right in 2008 and the two Suns on the 9-rosette represent East-West. The cardinal directions in 15th century are often named Oriens, Auster, Occidens and Aquilo. I believe a lot of drawings in the VMs are based on word-play. So we have Aquilo (North) that sounds like aquilae (eagle) – that would be the rosette with the castle that is decorated with sort of wings. Then Auster (the South) would be the rosette with the map of Europe with Austria in the middle (get it? Auster – Austria :). The Oriens (rising sun, East) would be the rosette with the Chinggis Khan oriental tent. The Occidens (the Falling, West) would be the ‘abyss’ 🙂

  2. MarcoP

    Stephen recently linked a beautiful T-O map which made me reconsider the Psalter world map: that map adopts the T-O scheme presenting it in a more realistic and less diagrammatic style. I wonder if the bottom-left Rosettes circle discussed in this page could not be related to the T-O style we see in other diagrams of the Voynich manuscript. If this were the case, the central sea could be the Mediterranean.
    Since most islands are unnamed in the Psalter world map, I have also referred to the 1392 Eversham world map. Starting from the top, the central Mediterranean islands labeled in the Eversham map are (in square brakets the corresponding names from Al Idrisi’s Tabula Rogeriana):
    * Crete [akritas]
    * Ciprus [kibros]
    * Rodus [rudus]
    * Corsica [korkisa]
    * Sicilia [sikilia]
    * Sardinia [sardania]
    * Baleares [minorka, maiorka, iabesa]

    Apparently, the Voynich map contains five islands, with seven candidate labels (from 2 to 8). Since label-2 EVA:otedam and label-4 EVA:otodar are almost identical, I assume they could just mean something generic (e.g. “island”). I matched the other labels to four of the seven islands listed above:

    3 EVA:lokedshs, reading “sakitys” – Al Idrisi: Sikilia (Sicily)
    5 EVA:ytedaiin, reading “ungitu-” ?
    6 EVA:okedy, reading “ak(r)itun” – Al Idrisi: Akritas (Crete)
    7 EVA:xoltedy, reading ka(r)sgitun – Corsica
    8 EVA:opeedam, reading “abiitur” – Al Idrisi: iabesa / Greek: Pityusic (Ibiza /Balearic islands)

    These readings are mainly based on Derek’s phonetics, with the main difference of EVA:e and EVA:sh being read ‘i’ instead of ‘o’ and ‘x’ respectively. I have corrected the transcription of label 7: the first letter does not seem to me the common EVA:l but the much rarer EVA:x (which here I read ‘k’).
    Label 5 should most likely correspond to “Sardinia”, but I have been unable to find a reasonable match.
    In labels 6 and 7 I introduced a missing “r”: this is particularly unconvincing. Derek has written that “EVA-o often equates to not just /a/ in other languages, but /ar/ or /al/”, so my reading of labels 7 seems more defensible than that of label 6.

    I understand that all this is quite far-fetched, but I think that the Mediterranean is a good candidate for a XV century map appearing in a partially Western manuscript.

  3. MarcoP

    René Zandbergen interpreted the Rosettes as a world-map in 1996. His idea was quoted in 2001 by Dennis Stallings (“Historical Precedents for the Voynich Manuscript”) and in 2002 by Petr Kazil:

    “in the centre circle of the mega-foldout on ff.85-86 there are some objects (reportedly six but they are too vague to make out) that could be pharmaceutical jars like the ones in the pharma pages, but to me they look quite like the images of minarets in old Arabic manuscripts. The centre circle could represent the Arab world, or Mecca. The other circles could represent other parts of the world or the Universe in a more abstract sense (Earth, Fire, the lot). In fact I like Greece or Italy for the top right circle. If has a castle not unlike Rhodos or Patmos, but a tower that more resembles the Veneto style.”

    The original message is available in the 1996 Voynich @ email archives.

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      Marco, that is not an identification of the folio as a map of anywhere in particular – that is to say, that likening the shape of some items to minarets, and then extrapolating from that passing similarity-cum-guess that IF they were minarets It MIGHT be Mecca is just rambling along the speculative path.

      By identifying a world-map, I mean being able to explain each single roundel, the physical features – with comparative imagery – and to then compare them with other maps to show that one isn’t being anachronistic.

      If you had seen and heard the comments which my analysis of that folio received at the time – from the entire “all-European” group, you would not be attempting retrospectively to cllaim that a vague speculation made in 1996, and never developed, or taken any further in any way, counts as a ‘first identification of folio 86v as a world-map’.

      I very much doubt that rene zandbergen himself would attempt to make such a claim, since he was, in effect, repeating some among the other speculations floating about. I think the only person who would honestly say that they had made any serious analysis of the folio is a chap who was on the mailing list, and believed that parts of the manuscript represented landforms somewhere in the Americas.
      I assure you that not only was I the first to recognise and analyse the content of folio 86v, concluding it was a map, but I was most certainly the first to identify which direction on it was east, and which was west. Until I examined it, the universal belief was that east would be to the right… and everyone (including Rene) assumed the ‘castle’ must be in Europe. For that reason, your sudden inspired guess – replicating my identification for that roundel, has to be considered divinely inspired, or simply plagiarised. NO-ONE had even got the east-west orientation right, let alone identified anywhere in it. And that includes Rene – a guess and speculation is not an identification. Unless he’d like to dispute the issue when my book is published – or before.

      • D.N. O'Donovan

        In that post… and I quote… Rene calls the whole notion a “silly idea”.. before wandering on with the vague fantasy, in which not even he had any genuine belief. Sorry, Marco, no justification for you there I’m afraid.

        My previously announced silly idea: in the centre circle of
        the mega-foldout on ff.85-86 there are some objects (reportedly
        six but they are too vague to make out) that could be pharmaceutical
        jars like the ones in the pharma pages, but to me they look
        quite like the images of minarets in old Arabic manuscripts.
        The centre circle could represent the Arab world, or Mecca.

        • D.N. O'Donovan

          Compare that with my identification of every important landmark likely to have survived, and including shorelines and specific motifs related to the Vesconte’s and Cresques’ rhumb-gridded maps, and specific buildings in specific places… no Marco, do the decent thing and admit that you got your ‘Indian Ocean’ identification from me. Most people know it; they read the original posts in 2011.

          • Stephen Bax

            Isn’t it possible that someone could examine elements of the manuscript and come to similar conclusions to an earlier researcher, without knowing of that earlier research on the subject?

            Also, if you are right in your analysis, wouldn’t it be a good thing if someone else came along and independently saw similar things – surely that would in fact support your analysis?

            You mention a book – I would be in the queue for that – when are you thinking it will be published?

            What I would really like to read would be a sustained and full analysis of ff 85-6, all in one place, with all the details you have mentioned. Maybe that is what you are planning?

  4. Stephen Bax

    See this interesting page with many pictures of early maps:

    Some of them to resemble the illustration in the VM which Marco dicusses above.

    • MarcoP

      Hello Stephen, thank you for sharing the link to these great circular maps! I would like to add a couple more parallels. Diane recently posted an image from a XIV Century manuscript by Opicinus De Canistris (BAV Palatinus latinus 1993): thanks to her for sharing that diagram. While browsing Opicinus’ illustrations, my untrained eye has been attracted by the maps in circular frames. Those attached (both rotated by me) represent Italy and the Balkans (f6v and f20r).

      When I wrote the notes you kindly published in this page, “I could not find examples of similar circular maps (excluding world maps), in particular maps included in larger diagrams”. Opicino’s are circular maps of a specific region included in larger diagrams. These illustrations seem to me to support the idea that the lower left circle of Voynich f86v is indeed a map of a specific region as well.

  5. Maryam


    Its, a map, In parts A,B,C,D in both pictures shown the similarities of both of them. So basically, Voynich ideas was same Muslims ideas but he show it in different way, such as drew it and add some more art work on it because of his imagination, or he was hidding the knowledge.

  6. Maryam

    The final one

  7. Maryam

    Here the second Pic

    • MarcoP

      Hello Maryam, thank you for sharing your ideas! I am not sure I perfectly understand what you propose, but I think you are drawing a parallel between these two maps. How do you interpret the details you have labeled A, B, C, D, E? To which specific places do they correspond?

      What about the “final” world map you posted? How does it fit with the other one?

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      As the map is now bound, it is not exactly oriented to the north, and also needs to be ‘flipped’ to orient it in the way we are used to – as one can see by the positions of the rising and setting suns.

      The emblem formed by a ring which contains three dots is the ‘South’ symbol. It has a very old history, and many other details in the map that is folio 86v show that the whole derives from ancient sources. I think it was one of those which Piri Re’is called ‘Jafariye’ and said came from the time of Alexander of Macedon. I believe he knew what he was talking about; some details are certainly older than Claudius Ptolemy’s time. I explained all this, and first identified the folio as a map of the makers’ world back in 2010-11.

      Additions to the map were made later, and I’ve explained that in some detail, too. The last level of additions I think belong to about the mid-twelfth century, though mid-thirteenth is possible.

      I like your comparative example. 🙂

  8. Maryam

    He was explaining this map, its exactly what was written in Muslims Since books, but he add some new art work on it.. So, basically, he is giving as the world map from the top as you can see ..

  9. Maryam

    Got it!

    He is explaining this map by giving every single detail about that map,

  10. Hello all! What are you think about this word? Actually, the first four signs… Are it a digits or is this script is an abugida?

    88SSc’cж – EVA: ddsssh?

    • Darren Worley

      Good point Sergei – I think this “word” could be a numeral. It seems to be quite common for numbers to be represented by letters, a good example are Roman numerals. Do you think the last symbol could be a unit-of-measure? Perhaps of distance?

      • MarcoP

        I agree that this is an interesting feature. Words starting with EVA:dd are rare in the manuscript. But in the Rosettes page there are quite a few. The same for character EVA:x: by the way, in some occurrences it looks rather similar to a Greek Pi.

  11. One from the words of 86v can be read “o notos” – “south”.

  12. Darren Worley

    Marco – thanks for starting this thought provoking thread, however, my response might not follow everyone else’s ideas.

    I agree with Stephen’s comments that by attempting to identify some of the labels you’ve undertaken a new and original approach to understanding this page. I think this distinguishes your work from earlier efforts at analysis that omits any linguistic analysis.

    I also understand your aims in trying to ”[identify] the region illustrated by the map and the phonetic reading of the labels that appear on it could confirm each other and provide significant support for the linguistic theories proposed on this site.”

    However, I think this page is a not good target for such analysis. I think it’s going to be too difficult to make any conclusive identifications as there are too many possible islands, place names. etc. and it’s not even established that’s it’s a map of physical locations. I agree it’s probably a map but I’m far from certain that its represents any physical reality.

    My argument is this data set (possible geographical locations) is too unstructured. Concentrating on simpler, smaller, structured data sets will bring more meaningful results – but this might not be as interesting or enjoyable as speculating on the meaning of a pretty diagram.

    Let me explain….

    In Stephen’s 2014 paper, he suggested that identifying words in context and building up knowledge on this basis as be a way forward. This strategy seems to have paid off because as of April 2014, only 10 words had been identified in the VM. Currently this number stands at 80 (give or take a little). This is a huge advance and a big achievement, thanks to the Derek’s work on the star names, and the other main contributors to the website.

    I think the key factor in this success, over the past year, has been a refinement to this strategy, namely, identifying names and words in context, but moving the focus away from a study of the plant names, and instead towards a study of the astronomical/astrological aspects of the VM.

    I think that the over emphasis of the study of the plant names, over the past 100 years, has been the main flaw in gaining a better understanding of the VM. I think it’s very seductive to start analyzing the VM plants but it’s a poor strategy, as a definitive identification is almost impossibly difficult and there are multitudes of names for any one species. (Reading any academic papers about the identification of plants from historical descriptions confirms the difficulty of this undertaking.)

    If I were to generalize the success factor – it has been the study of “structured data sets” e.g. astronomical star charts. There are far fewer variables at play, as there are many fewer visible constellations and major celestial features (than there are plant species or islands).

    Following this idea, I would suggest that a good strategy going forward would be the identification and study of other “structured data sets”. Good candidates, I would suggest are (i) names of the zodiac signs (ii) names of months or days [some cultures have different names for each day of the year] (iii) numerals or (iv) the direction of winds or compass-points.

    I think these data sets will be easier to identify, than say, identifying islands from speculative maps.

    To get the ball-rolling, I would suggest that the chart on f67r2 maybe describing months of the year. The chart is divided into 12, which is a clue, that it might be describing months.

    At the 3 o’clock position there is the text EVA:odor or EVA:odar, I suggest that this might be a reference to Adar or Adur. This words has many cognates in various Near Eastern cultures as a word describing one of the months of the year.‏


    Adar -> 12th month of the Hebrew calendar and the 12th or 13th month of the Babylonian Calendar

    Adur – 9th month of the Avestan (Zoroastrian) Calendar

    I think the words in the sectors adjacent to this word, also bear some similarities with other month names. Can anyone suggest any other good matches?

    Back to my initial comments the Rosette page – there have been other good suggestions in the past which seems reasonable. e.g. A medieval map of Baghdad, other ideas of mine include:

    1) Map of Quanzhou
    2) Map of the Temples of Harran
    3) An imaginary cosmological map of the heavens, describing the migration of souls

    • MarcoP

      Thank you for your comments, Darren!
      I understand your point of view. Indeed, while there is an almost universal agreement on the interpretation of this folio as a map, proposed places vary greatly. Still I think it possible that an expert of ancient cartography could succeed in matching the Voynich labels with actual place names. I see no reason to drop this particular line of investigation, even if I agree that “structured data sets” (being more constrained) are possibly more accessible to a hobbyist like myself.

      Thank you also for linking
      Patrick Lockerby’s 2009 interpretation as a map of Baghdad!
      In addition to those already mentioned, here are a few others who interpreted the Rosettes page (f86v) as a map. I am sure that I missed some of the hypotheses that have been formulated in the past. Most of these (including Lockerby’s) are listed in A miscellany of nine-rosette links by Nick Pelling.

      John Grove (2002): he discussed with Nick Pelling the idea that this folio is a map, but I could not find references to specific places.

      Nick Pelling (2002): a map of Milan.

      Adam McLean (2008): the baths of Pozzuoli.

      Joel Stevens (2008): he identifies a possible compass as part of the “map”; he mentions France as a possibly related region.

      P. Han (2010): the island of Ven (Sweden).

      • Thanks for pointing out that Richard Lockerby thought that the central part of MS Beinecke 408, folio 86v might represent Baghdad. In its time, it was noted as “the only circular city in the world” – not exactly true, but such was the legend. The image, unfortunately, looks nothing like what we hear of the design of Baghdad, which had a great courtyard in front of the Caliph’s palace, and a number of gates leading out from it. No moat, though. it wasn’t an island.


        • Stephen Bax

          Diane – I am intrigued by your very thorough analysis of these pages, over several posts. For the ignorant (i.e. me!) is there anywhere where we can read a summary of your latest views on it?

          • D.N. O'Donovan

            Sorry, I just saw your post. I’m not sure what you mean by “latest views”. I completed the analysis some time ago, and apart from finally identifying (at least to my satisfaction) two structures in the smaller ‘minimap’ which occupies the North roundel, I haven’t needed to revise it.

            The two structures are: the ‘castle’ which I have identified as the port of Laiazzo, and the tower attached to a triangular courtyard, which I take to mark Avignon by the tower of Philip le Bel and its court (actually not triangular, but it has the curious property that it seems so from every line of sight by which a traveller approaches.)

            Thanks for the enquiry. I have spent so much time explicating the map that is folio 86v not least because it is the key to the range of matter included in the other sections. It is the original makers’ world – or at leas the world through which they and their trade constantly moved.

            I am not unhappy that Marco has adopted my identification for this region, only that he was not content to accept (and acknowledge) the source. There is no way in the world that even I could have identified its subject without previously having researched all the other elements – I identified it from that evidence, by context.

      • Stephen Bax

        I agree with both Darren and Marco 🙂 To my mind Darren makes a very convincing point about the values of focussing on structured data sets. In a way that is what some have been trying to do on this website – e.g. the focus on stars here, the focus on winds here, and various didcussions of the possible calendar. But I agree that we could be even more focussed on these.

        That said, the kind of work exemplified by Marco on this page is also hugely stimulating, especially when it tries also to engage with the Voynich TEXT as well as with the images, which so few analyses do.

        To my mind, it all serves to push the whole project forward – besides giving us new historical and artistic insights which are interesting in themselves.

      • P. Han’s theory that the rosette could refer to Ven, Sweden, centers around the life of Tycho Brahe, who was born a century after the Voynich was written. So those speculations are moot.

  13. MarcoP

    At the center of the Rosettes page, six pillars upholding a starred canopy are represented. In the Zoroastrian sacred writings (Yasna 57, IX, 21) we read: We worship Sraosha (Obedience) the blessed, whose house stands with its thousand pillars, as victorious, on the highest height of high Haraiti, self-lighted from within, star-studded from without.
    The symbolic meaning apparently is that high mountains are seen as pillars upholding heaven.

    Mount Haraiti (also called Hara, Harborz or Alborz) was thought to be at the center of the world. According to Encyclopædia Iranica, The Iranian concept of the great central world mountain has its parallel in the Indian one of the Mount Mēru or Sumēru; and when in course of time the Khotanese Sakas adopted Buddhism, they used the name “Peak of Harā” (ttaira haraysä) to render Sanskrit Sumēru.

    Mount Sumeru is sometimes represented at the center of alternating circular seas and mountain chains: an arrangement reminiscent of the concentric circles of the central rosette.

    • Linda Snider

      Hi Marco,

      Thanks for those links, I found the other graphic on that last page useful as well, it expands on a concept I am working with. I also note connections to other graphics comparisons you have posted and it adds more to my thoughts on those as well. Thought I’d post them both here for others to consider possible connections.แผนภูมิจักรวาล.gif

    • Derek Vogt

      What’s written among the rings in the one on the right? The outer layer is divided into four segments instead of going all the way around continuously like the Voynichese one does, but the Voynichese text is bigger relative to the drawing, so it might have just not have been possible to fit the intended extra space between them. And there are five radiating out from the middle to the left, oriented sideways so the text runs vertically on the page, and five in the middle of the Voynichese drawing, oriented the same way.

      • MarcoP

        Hello Derek, I am sorry, but I understand very little of this diagram (from Thailand, if I understand correctly). I guess that the names written in the “sea” circles (marked by the fish) are the names of the seven seas? About the fact that the diagram is divided in four parts, possibly the other image in the same page can be of interest.

    • orun

      hey marco
      i just thought another thing about ros
      if this is a T-O map of world i can say there is a ladder to heaven or skies. Skies are more possible, in clasic islam skies are 7 layers. In sufism it could be 9 layers. i see in roc 9 layers and kingdom of heaven in the center,
      “if you follow the red arrow, you will be free” 😀

      • MarcoP

        Hello Orun, the concept of a ladder leading to heaven (Jacob’s Ladder) has also been discussed by Darren about f57v. The detail you mention looks very interesting. I am not sure that it looks like a ladder: the single dots on the left, double dots on the right are puzzling. I have no idea of what this could be 🙂

      • Darren Worley

        Thanks Orun – the idea of a ladder to heaven has parallels in other Abrahamic religions. There is a whole class of Jewish mysticism based around this idea of an ascent. I believe this is the the source of this myth.

        A heavenly ascent occurs multiple time in the Bible for example – Enoch (Gen 5:24); Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1-12); Jesus (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9); Paul (2 Cor 12:2-4); and John (Rev 4:1). There are also four related accounts in which individuals behold the throne, or heavenly court: Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel (Exod 24:9-11); Micaiah (1 Kgs 22:19-23); Isaiah (Isa 6:1-13); and Ezekiel (Ezk 1, 10).
        There are similar reports in Book of Daniel and Genesis (Jacob’s Ladder).


        I am interested in the links you’ve made with Islam and Sufism. I think its the first mention of Sufism I’ve seen on the forum. I’ve read elsewhere that Sufism embodies the essence of the Jewish Cabbala as well as those of the Christian Gnostics, which fits with several of my ideas about the origins of the VM.

        • orun

          yes absolutely gnostics, kabalists, sufists mention same things.
          prof. Gönül Tekin is a “tasavvuf literature” (sufi poems vs…) specialist. She told all of sufi literature comes from ancient egypt and Mesopotamia. As well judaism and kabala. she works at harvard and has a lot of publications but i couldnt find in Turkey. She told all off these things in a tv program but its turkish 🙂
          i think symbols are key for find something. For example i ve found some alchemical symbols in f68r. star and conteining sun illustrations pages have esoteric contents i have no doubt

          • Darren Worley

            Thanks Orun – I think your recent identification of the hermetic and alchemical symbols is very interesting, significant and unexpected. The VM continues to surprise! I expect this finding will alter the direction of my research, which will hopefully lead to some new insights.

    • Julie

      Just a few questions on the rosettes, would the names Zaire, Dakar and Damar fit anywhere in the map suggested for these pages? Also in the very last rosette there are a couple of what look like structures on stilts, any opinions on what these are interpreted to be would be welcome. Thanks all.

      • MarcoP

        Hello Julie, are these the “structures on stilts” you are referring to?

        If so, to me they look like four-posters, tents or canopies, up-held by vertical poles, with fringes hanging on the front.
        A Persian manuscript
        Another one
        Photograph of a bedouin tent

        • Julie

          Marco, thank you for your reply. I can see now they look more like the tents in your pictures, I was seeing them as stages I think it was the drapes that threw me there.

        • Juergen Wastl

          Hi Marco,

          I find a comparison of these more striking – but maybe that is too abstract.

        • Juergen Wastl

          In connection with the ‘neighbouring’ area, I found another nice comparsion
          (page 140; here:

    • Darren Worley

      Fascinating image of Mount Sumeru – the VM iconography does seem to be copying a Persian/Arabic tradition. Perhaps the European influence found in the VM represents the hand of the copyist – perhaps an early European traveller to Orient?

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      I prefer my original reference, which was to this location as the Indian “Mt Meru”. But I guess the Zoroastrian angle might apply. Zorastrian, or Indian use of the ‘soma’ for sprinkling is pictured in another folio.

    • D.N. O'Donovan

      I’ve just noticed this comment of April 25th. The right-hand image is especially interesting. May I ask where you got it? I should like to refer to it myself.

  14. Marco,
    There can be no reasonable doubt that folio 86v is a map, and if you care to re-read my posts you will find that you have here chosen the most featureless part of it.

    Perhaps you might consider the evidence in more detail before deciding that the issue cannot be decided.

    For example, have you any alternative explanation for the crescentic dunes? Or any alternative for the pinnacle-houses of Cappadocia?

    These two are among the easiest for an untrained eye to recognise, and they are drawn in a way that western-trained eyes find ‘realistic’.

    I would also suggest that linguists might be better served by considering the globe made by a chap (a German, many will be happy to hear) who had trained in Spain.

    His name is Martin Behaim.

    You must also realise that place-names may be spelled as best the hearer could manage, or may be referred to by their names in the Latin or Greek classical geographies, and so on. I have posted about what happened when one chap found an early maritime chart (‘portolan’ chart, so called) in Dalmatia. He recognised the places, but could hardly recognise a single name. It turned out that they were written using the Venetian orthography, but the names came from half the languages of medieval Georgia, including Tatar, Abkaz, and others, some of which are now extinct.

    Not exactly easy work, I’m afraid.

    [SB: the post Diane refers to can be found here.]

    • Stephen Bax

      Diane, thanks for this reminder of your work on this. You seem certain that the area represented by this diagram is decided, but if so, couldn’t we make more progress on decoding the labels?

      What is impressive to me about Marco’s discussion is his careful attempt not only to identify the geography, but also to try to work on decoding the written labels. It amazes me that so few analysts have tried to do this – to match the images with textual interpretation. Unless we try this, I feel we will not make much progress, so any serious effort to do so should be commended, in my view.

      With that in mind I am intrigued by the portalan you mention, from Dalmatia, with its curious mix of languages. I would love to see it. Do you happen to know where it can be found?

      • Stephen Bax

        To answer my own question, this blog post tells us that the original portalan is now lost, alas.

      • I have constant ‘deja vu’ reading Mr. Ponzi’s posts, so rarely drop into them now.

        The difficulty in this case is one which is chronic in Voynich studies: previous analyses and conclusions (not “theories”) tend to be ignored, because it seems no-one grasps the idea of building on – and crediting – previous work on which they have, actually, relied.

        As you’ll know, Stephen, that’s not the way scholarship normally progresses, but I’ve scarcely seen any normal method for researching a medieval artefact employed since 2008 when I agreed to work on MS Beinecke 408.

        I’m neither unqualified nor inexperienced in iconographic analysis, and *I* found it fairly hard-going, but the only effect of sharing my conclusions and method online has been to see it used to “inspire” inaccurate or else far-too-exact replications, none with appropriate acknowledgements.

        Those who’ve recently latched onto the idea that fol.86v is a map (not a city plan), might like to take some time and trouble to explain some of the more obvious geographic features… not that Mr. Ponzi hasn’t “posited” my conclusions here, but his account fails to mention the source for his sudden idea that this formless area represents the “Indian Sea”. There is actually no sea known by that name today, btw.

        I do not think that hunting the labels is likely to result in much unless you know what sort of content to expect. What if the labels name products available in each place, not places themselves? What if they are the names of specific families, or an amount and type of tax taken from each spot?

        What continually stymies Voynich research are the presumptions. As I recall, I had to defend my conclusion that the book referred at all to *anywhere* beyond Europe, so at least it’s nice to see that Mr. Ponzi’s adoption of my identification for this area has not exposed him to similar attacks. That’s the one good thing about not coming to any view first, I suppose.

    • orun

      you may want a look at Sumela Monastery in Trabzon. its a really interesting place

    • Thanks for adding the link, Stephen.

  15. Above the rosette there are two words separated by a diamond passage.
    The left word can be read as “8epeicn9” and right “ovec9” (no EVA).
    It may be “τοπισμος” and “αβυσσος” localization of the abyss?

  16. Linda Snider

    Hi Marco,

    Re your stated problems, I do believe it is a map, although I won’t go into what area I believe might be portrayed, I’d prefer people keep coming up with different ideas for us all to consider. At the moment my own ideas are still too scattered to name locations.

    I am working on writing up what I see in particular but first I want to ensure that all my locations relate to each other in the end, as I have recently changed my thinking on one of the other rosettes. In fact, while posting this, I think I gained answers to some of my own questions regarding that thinking, so thank you for asking yours. It also helped me realize further meaning in another rosette. However, I now see more complexity than I did before, so it will be awhile until I can fit it all together and describe what I see.

    I do not believe there are any coastlines or islands per se shown in the above rosette if my current interpretation is correct. I think we are talking mainly mountains and valleys here, although I must agree that the Martellus fit looks good, and from a certain perspective it would fit in my mind’s eye of the area portrayed better than the one I am thinking of. It may be, though, that there are multiple interpretations intended, whether related to each other or not. I have found multiple interpretations of another rosette, however those locations are more related to each other than the Martellus crop is to the one I have in mind, or ever had. (This is why it might take me awhile to write it out, but I am starting to see a theme in the variability of this particular rosette).

    The island not being closed at the top would then become a fertile valley (I get the fertility idea from the central flower) surrounded by mountains, surrounded in turn by a plain, then more mountains and their respective associated low areas.

    The mountains in the manuscript remind me of Beatus maps and drawings, and I think there are some other commonalities (sun, moon, stars/flowers) in addition to the style of the mountains, including the tufts of vegetation.

    The last image shows the timeline of the various reproductions thereof.

    I don’t think the circular aspect of the Rosettes will be seen elsewhere in particular, I think it’s a function both of what the artist saw and a means of hiding the information in plain sight. If this is indeed what they were after, they would not choose to follow the style of any known reference. That being said, I just found this page with several drawings of circular areas within rectangular ones, with commonalities to the central rosette as well:

    I had originally thought that the balustrade was symbolic of a mythological aspect of an architectural feature of a particular place unrelated to the origin of the myth, but which commemorated it. It may yet be (as well) but the connection I had found there related to another rosette and another location, and maybe that’s also intended. I do see the commonality with Beatus and I think there is a reason for that too.

    If multiple Beatus maps were in fact reference for the manuscript, the idea of the various shapes of same (as sampled in the images above) may have influenced the Rosette map’s shape. To me, the manuscript seems to direct us to re-examine history, and drawing the mountains in this way may have been a clue to identify the rosettes as a map, in turn leading us to research historical cartography. At least that was how it happened for me. I also don’t think there is any harm in including cartography comparisons which occurred after the carbon dating of the manuscript because if it’s all about describing the world, it’s something which is still being described today in various ways, still not all of the descriptions jive with each other, nor with older versions thereof. There may be explanations for these which have not been considered, perhaps due to having been blinded by other reasoning such as the idea that older maps will be less accurate than newer ones, which to me is not always the truth. I think the manuscript facilitates the combination of all this information into a four dimensional view of the whole, to enable us to see the changes over time in order to learn from the past, along with the realization that it will change again.

  17. Juergen Wastl


    thanks for adding our suggestion to your review section.
    Here some further clarification and additions with respect to your discussion:

    1) Although we believe that f86v has some considerable geographical content, we think the four corner circles have a ‘placeholder’ function – i.e. a visual (geographical) aide memoire for the climate in that particular ‘corner of the world’ based on the positioning of the remaining four circles (representing the four classical Elements) and the central circle (ether as fifth classical Element, see summary of the paper you kindly linked to in your post).

    2) The forth continent, as discussed here, has been subject to vigorous discussion in ancient as well as medieval times: It was hotly debated if it exists (or not) and, if it exists, if mankind could live there (or indeed already lives there). Pro and Con in these discussions were not strictly divided between secular, philosophical and clerical parties, even within each party the opinions differed immensely.

    3) Based on the points above, our take on it (and following your discussion) is as follows: The circular disk displays a growing continent visible by what we would describe as core or ‘nucleus’ (Stolfi & Zandbergen’s definition of the central island) with a nucleolus’ (central flower) of a nascent continent. Why? Please compare with the circle in the opposite top right (our suggested ‘European’ part of the world with cold climate), which is a fully harmonious (i.e. balanced) visualisation of the continent (next to buildings, etc). It displays what we believe could be fields (‘earth’, as in agricultural use) indicated with a star or asterisk sign . The same is true if you compare with the Asian circle (incl paradise according to our suggestion) in the right bottom corner which also displays the star/asterisk symbol. Compare the absolute number or area of these stars and you’ll see that Asia and Europe outnumber the forth continent (Stolfi/Zandbergen count 24 stars/flowers for the bottom left circle), which could indicate a growing continent. As a consequence of ‘growing’ the geographical location could possibly fit with Diane’s identification and geo-map (we’d love to see a map of her identifications in a summary map modelled onto f86v)?

    4) Starting from the core, the forth continent is about to fill the entire full circle by being built via the Elements – the climate there was deemed to be hot, ideal so-to-speak to mould the Elements into ‘terrain’ to balance the overall (macro-) cosmos.

    5) Not so sure about place names for the inscription in that part of f86v. If we had to provide an opinion, these describe processes rather than place names. Happy to discuss this particular point further- we are no experts in that particular area and surely don’t want to influence or discourage endeavours by others in that area.

    • Linda Snider

      Hi Juergen,

      Thought you might be interested in this pic re paradise in Asia. It’s the furthest east I’ve seen a location for paradise depicted, and it seems to fit in with the Asian rosette somewhat the way I currently understand it.

      I also think you may be right about the asterisks denoting agricultural areas. It was actually funny you should say that, because just the day before your posting, I was looking at a satellite view of China/Russia and all of a sudden I saw something that seemed to pull it together for me. When I zoomed into what would be the asterisk area, it was farmers’ fields.

      The idea of a growing continent is also interesting. You mention the Antipodes in your paper, but are you thinking Australia in terms of today’s known world? I had first thought the Americas but the climate aspect did not fit. Or are you thinking another location?

      I also agree that summary maps would be best in terms of discussing various theories regarding f86v. I’m working on my own too, although I am finding that my identifications are still evolving, and what used to look like a proper map to me now doesn’t quite fit visually to what I had been thinking of, things have shifted, so I think it’ll still be awhile.



      • Juergen Wastl

        Hi Linda,

        replying to your question on the Antipodes: The answer is neither Australia nor the Americas. While the idea of the Antipodes evolved in classical times none of these continents were known. I think page 8 of our paper Marco quotes (the original paper) is the best summary.
        Our paper was reviewed elsewhere with respect to the “Elements’ aspect where I posted end of last year a response (with a more pronounced definition of our idea of the Elements and physical matter in the Rosette map featuring a climate diagram ). In that paper, on page 6 , is more on the Antipodes (based on our suggestion of that particular sphere in the Rosette map).

  18. Stephen,
    I should like the opportunity to reply in detail here to Marco’s assertions about this folio; mainly to prevent readers wasting time hunting place-names in areas thousands of kilometers from the region which the map describes in this section. Otherwise, of course, they can wade through my posts and realise that my conclusions were drawn from detailed iconographic analysis, and not from some notion that the answers were no more than a matter of personal preference. If it had been as easy as that, I shouldn’t have been the first person in a century to be able to recognise this folio as a map, to identify specific landforms and structures, to recognise the chronological strata, date them, and identify the latest as connected to the Majorcan-Genoese and those maritime maps which are sometimes called ‘portolans’. This sort of thing, done properly, takes a fair bit of real work. I believe that research into this folio took about two solid months, with another to write up part of my conclusions. Seems a pity to have it represented, as carelessly as it appears above – not least because it should provide some real benefit to research.

  19. D.N. O'Donovan

    I think it might also be appropriate to mention that my analysis of the imagery on folio 86v was the first (so far as I could discover in 2010-11) to have recognised it as a map, and I then explained it in detail.

    It is only fair, then, that your readers should understand that some subsequent efforts to re-work my definition and analysis, in efforts to make it fit an ‘all-European’ hypothesis are not so much expressions of iconographic analysis as hypothesis-driven efforts to avoid adopting my conclusions about the folio as a whole. I rarely ‘hypothesise’ and I should not call my conclusions about this folio an ‘hypothesis’. Just btw.

  20. D.N. O'Donovan

    Thank you for mentioning my work, and for bringing to my attention the ambivalence of the sentence you quote. I meant to define Majid’s use of the term “Great Sea” as one enclosing all those areas we distinguish as the Indian Ocean etc. etc.

    You omit the comparison which I include (which is fair enough) but it was not least by reference to it that I read the white areas as sea.

    In general, I should not think it possible to say much that is useful about any map if its orientation were not first established.

    Nor would I, personally, refer to maps much post-dating ours.

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