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Translation of world’s most mysterious manuscript is unmade


In September 2017, a television writer and amateur decoder named Nicholas Gibbs claimed to have deciphered the Voynich manuscript. The Voynich is a unique codex that dates from the 15th century and resides in Yale’s Beinecke Library. It has defied codebreakers for centuries and generated a number of curious theories. Gibbs wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that it was “a reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period, an instruction manual for the health and well-being of the more well-to-do women in society.” Case closed, right? Not so fast, Lisa Fagin Davis, Ph.D. ’93, director of the Medieval Academy of America, offered a swift and authoritative rebuttal of the Gibbs theory: “Frankly, I’m a little surprised the TLS published it,” she said to Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic. And so the enigma remains unsolved.