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  • Deep inside Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

  • lies the only copy of a 240-page tome.

  • Recently carbon dated to around 1420,

  • its vellum pages features looping handwriting

  • and hand-drawn images seemingly stolen from a dream.

  • Real and imaginary plants,

  • floating castles,

  • bathing women,

  • astrology diagrams,

  • zodiac rings,

  • and suns and moons with faces accompany the text.

  • This 24x16 centimeter book is called the Voynich manuscript,

  • and its one of history's biggest unsolved mysteries.

  • The reason why?

  • No one can figure out what it says.

  • The name comes from Wilfrid Voynich,

  • a Polish bookseller who came across the document at a Jesuit college

  • in Italy in 1912.

  • He was puzzled.

  • Who wrote it?

  • Where was it made?

  • What do these bizarre words and vibrant drawings represent?

  • What secrets do its pages contain?

  • He purchased the manuscript from the cash-strapped priest at the college,

  • and eventually brought it to the U.S.,

  • where experts have continued to puzzle over it for more than a century.

  • Cryptologists say the writing has all the characteristics of a real language,

  • just one that no one's ever seen before.

  • What makes it seem real is that in actual languages,

  • letters and groups of letters appear with consistent frequencies,

  • and the language in the Voynich manuscript

  • has patterns you wouldn't find from a random letter generator.

  • Other than that, we know little more than what we can see.

  • The letters are varied in style and height.

  • Some are borrowed from other scripts, but many are unique.

  • The taller letters have been named gallows characters.

  • The manuscript is highly decorated throughout

  • with scroll-like embellishments.

  • It appears to be written by two or more hands,

  • with the painting done by yet another party.

  • Over the years, three main theories about the manuscript's text have emerged.

  • The first is that it's written in cypher,

  • a secret code deliberately designed to hide secret meaning.

  • The second is that the document is a hoax

  • written in gibberish to make money off a gullible buyer.

  • Some speculate the author was a medieval con man.

  • Others, that it was Voynich himself.

  • The third theory is that the manuscript is written in an actual language,

  • but in an unknown script.

  • Perhaps medieval scholars were attempting to create an alphabet

  • for a language that was spoken but not yet written.

  • In that case, the Voynich manuscript might be like the rongorongo script

  • invented on Easter Island,

  • now unreadable after the culture that made it collapsed.

  • Though no one can read the Voynich manuscript,

  • that hasn't stopped people from guessing what it might say.

  • Those who believe the manuscript was an attempt to create

  • a new form of written language

  • speculate that it might be an encyclopedia

  • containing the knowledge of the culture that produced it.

  • Others believe it was written by the 13th century philosopher Roger Bacon,

  • who attempted to understand the universal laws of grammar,

  • or in the 16th century by the Elizabethan mystic John Dee,

  • who practiced alchemy and divination.

  • More fringe theories that the book was written by a coven of Italian witches,

  • or even by Martians.

  • After 100 years of frustration,

  • scientists have recently shed a little light on the mystery.

  • The first breakthrough was the carbon dating.

  • Also, contemporary historians have traced the provenance of the manuscript

  • back through Rome and Prague to as early as 1612,

  • when it was perhaps passed from Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II

  • to his physician, Jacobus Sinapius.

  • In addition to these historical breakthroughs,

  • linguistic researchers recently proposed the provisional identification

  • of a few of the manuscript's words.

  • Could the letters beside these seven stars spell Tauran,

  • a name for Taurus,

  • a constellation that includes the seven stars called the Pleiades?

  • Could this word be Centaurun for the Centaurea plant in the picture?

  • Perhaps, but progress is slow.

  • If we can crack its code, what might we find?

  • The dream journal of a 15th-century illustrator?

  • A bunch of nonsense?

  • Or the lost knowledge of a forgotten culture?

  • What do you think it is?

Deep inside Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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TED-ED】世界で一番不思議な本-スティーブン・バックス (【TED-Ed】The world’s most mysterious book - Stephen Bax)

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