The Unreadable Book

Joshua Hehe
ILLUMINATION
Published in
12 min readNov 1, 2022

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(Image Credit: Davis Dunavin/WSHU)

In the early 15th century, somewhere in Northern Italy, a few decades before the birth of Leonardo Da Vinci, a tightly knit group of people created a set of documents that to this day have never been read by anyone else. It happened around the year 1420, when more than a dozen calves were slaughtered, and vellum was made from their hide.[1] Then, several scribes made use of quills and iron gall ink to create a set of documents that only they could understand (because the cryptic pages were written in an absolutely singular alphabet, now known as Voynichese). The way I see it, the whole thing was probably developed to keep forbidden knowledge arcane, and therefore hidden from the Inquisition — as well as rival herbalists, alchemists, and the like. Then again, the Voynich Manuscript could just be an elaborate hoax. If so, it was probably something meant to impress credulous clients, in order to make a large profit from a wealthy patron. So, maybe the unreadable book doesn’t actually say anything at all. The thing is there’s just no way to know for sure, at least not yet. This makes the enigmatic artifact both priceless and worthless, at the same time.

For as long as the manuscript has existed, no one has ever been able to crack the code of the codex — even though it seems to be based on an unbroken formula of word construction. As a perfect example of what I mean, leading cryptographers in both world wars…

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