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The Voynich Manuscript was discovered by Wilfred M.Voynich, a dealer in antique books, in 1912. He found it in Villa Mondragone, Frascati, in Italy. At the time it was a Jesuit college, but it has since been closed (it shut in 1953).

Judging by the style of the writing and drawings, Voynich first assumed the book was from the 1200s. It's 235 pages long, seven by ten inches in size, and illustrated with a number of unusual drawings. Some of then depict plants and astrological symbols, while others show naked women in what appears to be a complex and bizzare plumbing system. It has been speculated that some pictures are of magnified live cells. There is also a diagram of the zodiac signs.

It is written completely in a language which has never been seen before, at any period in history. To this day, nobody has managed a satisfactory translation. The language it's written in has about 28 letters, and none of them look like letter in any existing European language.

Certain things that occur in the book bear resemblance to alchemical symbols (it has been thought the book is about alchemy), Latin shorthand and an early form of Arabic numbers.


The first definite historical evidence of the Voynich Manuscript is in 1586, at the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia. He was widely known for his interest in alchemy and the occult, and the manuscript would certainly have appealed to him. It is unknown who sold the book to him, but it is thought to have been Edward Kelly and John Dee. A letter found in the manuscript claimed that it had been written by Roger Bacon, a 13th century alchemist. The earliest most experts today would date it to is the 15th century. After this the mmanuscript was passed to the director of Emperor Rudolph's gardens, and somehow after that found its way to Villa Mondragone where it lay forgotten for many years.

Translation Attempts

The first attempt to translate the manuscript after Voynich found it was by Proffessor Newbold, a proffessor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He decided that it was not a seperate language but a complex cypher, composed of anagrams which could be translated back into Latin. He also thought each letter in the Voynich Manuscript was made up of around five smaller letters. He eventually came up with the translation. Apparently, it was written by Roger Bacon, who seemed to have knowledge far ahead of his time, and would have to have developed telescopes and microscopes as early as the 1200s.
However, with Newbold's method, it could be taken to mean whatever the translator wanted.. Also, the theory that each letter was composed of smaller ones proved to be down to no more than the ink cracking, which often happens with old documents.

Possible Fraud

The first solid evidence of the Voynich Manuscript is in the 1500s, Emperor Rudolph's court. This means it may not have existed for as long as is thought before that. Edward elly, who brought it there with John Dee, was known as a charlatan. The page numbers on the manuscripts have been matched to Kelly's handwriting. It's possible all he did was number the pages, but he could also have faked the entire document. It's also a possibility Voynich himself faked the document. He tried to sell it for a large sum of money, and although nobody bought it, he may have maade it up as a money making scheme.
The Voynich Manuscript has never been carbon dated, so it cannot be definitely proved genuine. The university where it resides, Yale, had been involved in a scandal with a fake medaival map and is worried the Voynich Manuscript will also turn out to be faked and attract more scandal. The fact they refuse to let it be carbon dated only makes it look more suspicious- as if they have some idea it's a fake.

One of the pages from the Voynich Manuscript, showing a plant.

The odd plumbing and naked women.

The Voynich Manuscript, The Necronomicon, And The Emigre Docmennt

The Voynich manuscript has appeared in fiction frequently, as can only be expected with such an unusual book. It often crops up in tales from the Cthulhu mythos, for example "Return Of The Lloiger" by Colin Wilson. In this, the protagonist discovered that the Voynich Manuscript was written in Greek and Latin using the Arabic language. ROTL says the Voynich Manuscript was written by Martin Gardener and it turns out to be a complete account of the universe ,called the Necronomicon. Despite the fact its all decidedly impossible in reality, this established a link between the Voynich Manuscript, and the book The Necronomicon. The Necronomicon was created by H.P. Lovecraft, and in his stories it was written by the mad Arab Abdul al-Azhared. "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death may die" I think at the time, al-Azhared was talking about Lord Cthulhu... but could he have meant Meta-God? Could Meta-god be anything to do with the Great Old Ones? Could Meta -God not be anything to do with the great Old Ones?!
In the games Shadow Hearts and Koudelka, we are never allowed to find out much about the Emigre Manuscript- all we know is that:
  • It is written on a skull [SH] (although I don't think it was in Koudelka- could there be two copies?
  • It contains instructions for raising the dead [K/SH]
  • These intructions do not raise the person but something reminisent of a Lovecraftian shoggoth, from their body. [K/SH]
  • Raising the person involves killing more people [K/SH]
  • It was copied by Roger Bacon from the original.[K]
  • The version Bacon copied was written in Greek [K]
  • The original was written by an ancient tribe in Ireland named the Fomores. Thank you to all the people who clarified this point, in particular Freya1924 at Neoseeker. We're half-deaf, and more than half stupid. [K]

If anyone has any further information relevant to the Voynich Manuscript and Shadow Hearts/Koudelka, email sic_transit_astra@hotmail.com, thank you.