Amirdovlat Amasiatsi, 15th c. Armenian physician

In the coming weeks I aim to offer more discussion and analysis of the Voynich manuscript in preparation for a talk I gave at my university. As part of these Voynich researches I have recently been reading about a fascinating figure called Amirdovlat Amasiatsi (Armenian: Ամիրդովլաթ Ամասիացի; c. 1420-1496), and as I will refer back to him several times in future postings I thought I’d dedicate a post to him directly.

Amirdovlat was a gifted 15th century Armenian physician, herbalist and astronomer, and although he was a Christian he was called in the 1460s by Mehmet II to be his chief physician in the newly conquered Constantinople/Istanbul Bmw Navigator download. Have researched his work for some time I am amazed that he is relatively unknown. However, he fully deserves wider recognition, as a brilliant scholar and polymath.

I first came across him in work by Stella Vardanyan, for example in this online discussion and this one, and this scholarly account, and also in the excellent online Iranica Encyclopedia article. Stella Vardanyan apparently works at the famous Matenadaran Armenian archive in Yerevan, Armenia, and has written the main biography of Amirdovlat (see References below for the English translation) Ucc collected anded. Much of the information on this page comes from her work. You can also see the Wikipedia page on Amirdovlat, but note that I myself have recently added  a lot of information to that page, so some of it is repeated here, though in greater detail.

Why talk about Amirdovlat in the context of the Voynich manuscript (VM)?

Let me be clear right at the start – there is currently no evidence of any kind linking Amirdovlat with the VM. In discussing him it is not my aim at all to suggest such a link. As a matter of principle, I don’t believe that speculating about authorship is useful until we have a lot more evidence about the script and language of the manuscript Download canon photos. In fact I feel that it is weak methodology to speculate in that way, and even positively risky to do so, as it can lead us down blind alleys from which we might never return. So as you read this, please do not assume from anything I say that I am implying any sort of link between Amirdovlat and the Voynich manuscript.

My reason for researching him is linguistic. In the 15th century, when the VM was almost certainly produced, Amirdovlat was a remarkable scholar of herbs and medicines among other things, and in his writings he collected together a huge amount of information on over 3000 plants from a wide range of countries, since he travelled as far east as Persia and as far west as the Balkans Powerful 3-class download.

Most important for my purposes, he collected and recorded a large variety of plant names in various European and Asiatic languages. For this reason,  since I am researching 15th century plants and their names in the context of the VM, his work is potentially very useful, and that is why I draw on him in my Voynich research.

Works

Amirdovlat’s main work for my purposes is the one entitled ‘Useless for Ignoramuses’, originally written between 1478-1492. Amirdovlat chose to write not in old Classical Armenian but in what is called Middle Armenian, since he wanted to use his work as a text to teach people, and ‘not everyone can read the ancient language’ as he himself put it (Vardanyan 1999:39) fortran 다운로드.  One very useful aspect of his book is that it lists plants according to different names, so the same plant can appear in several places in his alphabetical listing, with names derived from Arabic, Persian and elsewhere, which can be very useful if you are looking for particular plants with diverse names.

In my recent research I’ve been examining the oldest original manuscript of this work, the only copy written in his lifetime and under his supervision (in 1490), which now happens to be in the British Library. It is a wonderful document, written in one column of black ink with some red and a few gold and blue ornaments.

It has a few small illustrations, mainly of birds, but the plants are not illustrated, alas vmware 14. The manuscript is analysed and described in Vardanyan’s book, though she only had a photocopy apparently. I’ve also been using the 1926 Armenian edition and the 1990 Russian translation (see bibliography below), though confusingly they seem to have completely different numbering systems for the plants.

In other postings I will refer to this work in greater detail, explaining how it sheds light on some of the plants and plant names in the Voynich Manuscript. But here are a few initial snippets:

1. The manuscript is beautifully written, with no corrections that I can see in more than 280 pages os x mojave. A lot of comment has been passed on the fact that the VM has few if any corrections, but a careful scribe working diligently on an important manuscript could, as this manuscript shows, avoid visually unsightly errors.

2. When Amirdovlat writes down foreign plant names in Armenian script, he does not always add in vowels, even though Armenian had vowels available.

A good example is the word for ‘Centaury’, which I discuss in my Feb 2014 paper.In my analysis of Voynich f2r I read the first word as provisionally ‘K N T A I R N’, with no vowelling between some of the consonants 윈도우 10 지뢰 찾기 다운로드. It is noteworthy that Amirdovlat does the same with the same base word. For example on page 92v he includes the plant we know as ‘Centaury’  in his list and writes it as the equivalent of X N T A R I , i.e. with six Armenian letters, the first sign being the /x/ as in the Scottish ‘loch’, and with only two vowels, none between the first three consonants.

This might seem minor, but to me Amirdovlat’s reference is intriguing in several respects. Firstly, the word for ‘Centaury’ was never written with that initial /x/ sound in Arabic or Greek or Persian at that period, so far as I have seen, so it shows once again that sounds in this region of /k/, /x/ etcetera could and did change quite significantly in transmission, as I suggested elsewhere in my paper Download the China Dictionary.

Secondly, the reduced vowelling in Amirdovlat’s version of the word fits with my analysis of f2r ‘Centaury’, which also has reduced vowelling. It shows that if the same word was indeed borrowed into the Voynich language, as I argue it was, it could likewise have been written without full vowelling, perhaps to represent the fact that it was pronounced with very short vowel sounds between those consonants. This might seem trivial to anyone but a crazed linguist, but for me it is another small support for the analysis.

As I said, I will refer to Amirdovlat more in future postings, and I will also add more here as I go 블루스택3n 다운로드.

 References:

Vardanyan, Stella (1999). Amirdovlat Amasiatsi, a Fifteenth-Century Armenian Natural Historian and Physician. New York: Caravan Books. p. 143. ISBN: 0-88206-097-X.

 

Amirdovlat AmasiatsiUseless for Ignoramuses

Armenian edition:
Ամիրտովլաթի Ամասիացւոյ Անգիտաց անպէտ, կամ, Բառարան բժշկական նիւթոց / ի լոյս եած հանդերձ ծանօթագրութեամբ՝ Կ.Յ. Բասմաջեան.

Amirdovlatʿi Amasiatsʿwoy Angitatsʿ anpēt, kam, Baṛaran bzhshkakan niwtʿotsʿ / i loys ēats handerdz tsanōtʿagrutʿeambkʿ, K.H. Basmajean.
Վիեննա : Մխիթարեան Տպարան, 1927. Vienna : Mkhitʿarean Tparan, 1926.

Russian Translation:
Nauchnoe nasledstvo. (transl. Vardanyan, Stella) Tom 13, Nenuzhnoe dlia neuchei. Amirdovlat Amasiatsi, Nauka, 1990. ISBN 5020040320

3 Comments

  1. orun

    most probably originals of some books (especially “useless for ignoramuses”) should placed at Topkapı Library in İstanbul.

  2. Jan Kammerath

    Dear Stephen,

    I think Amirdovlat Amasiatsi is one of the very close candidates when it comes to the potential author of the VM. Given the facts we know about the script wich is the high cost of production, high value of the manuscript itself and the extemely low number of corrections, we must assume that the VM was created with extreme care by a professional universal and experienced scholar.

    Amirdovlat Amasiatsi had that professionalism, he had existing documents, he fits the time of the carbon-dating and he lived and travelled the area the language influence seems to come from. However I agree with you that we should not only focus on Amirdovlat Amasiatsi and get stuck in that direction of research.

    It would be extremely rare that an anonymous author would have the funds, knowledge and capability of creating such an extremely outstanding manuscript in this high quality. We therefore should be able to find historic information about the author although we might not find information linking the author to the VM.

    I still assume the VM is a copy, collection or aggregation of existing documents. If it contains combined information from other documents in a higher quality, it would explain the few errors, the extravagant style and script as well as the high cost associated.

    If information was reproduced at that cost, value and time, the information really have to be of great value – at least back then.

    Looking forward to follow your research on the VM.

    With my very best regards,

    Jan

    • Stephen Bax

      Thanks for this interesting contribution. I myself felt for a short time that it was possible that Amirdovlat Amasiatsi was a good candidate for author. I supposed that as a Christian working in Islamic Turkey he might have wanted to put down some secrets for his people and therefore devised a new script which might be used to write, say, Armenian.

      However, I then reflected that although this has plausibility to it, why would he not simply put down his knowledge in Armenian script rather than going to the trouble of devising a new one? Furthermore, the contents of the book do not seem on the face of it to be especially obscure, by which I mean that there does not seem to be any secret device or machinery or similar which would call for a new script designed for hiding information.

      However, I was especially dissuaded when I handled the manuscript copy, written by Amirdovlat Amasiatsi himself, of his own work on medicinal plants in the British Library. That work is such a wonder, with such a beautiful Armenian script, light years ahead of the Voynich manuscript in terms of presentation, care and pure penmanship, that I was at once convinced that he did not have any hand in writing the relatively amateurish and (sorry) scruffy Voynich manuscript. It is not up to his standards. Besides, my quite careful attempt to unmask the script/language as Armenian did not convince me.

      So, back to the drawing board for me! But I enjoyed the exploration.

Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*