What the Experts Say

After writing my article The Voynich Manuscript: Aztec Herbal from New Spain I consulted several experts on identifying such manuscripts. They all agreed that in order to definitively prove the provenance of the Voynich Manuscript in Early Colonial Mexico it was necessary to actually read it. Frances Berdan, co-author of The Emperor’s Mirror: Understanding Cultures Through Primary Sources was very tactful, very sweet and very firm that there was too much information in the actual writing to be ignored when identifying an unknown manuscript. The Emperor’s Mirror is the only textbook on the subject. I followed its methodology as closely as the evidence would allow when I wrote up my research with the one critical area of the actual reading left out. Since then other experts all agree that in order to prove the provenance of the Voynich manuscript it must be read. These experts include Dr. John Schwaller and Dr. Matthew Restall  editor of the Journal of Ethnohistory. Dr. Restall encouraged me to continue my research and to include the day to day life of the  unknown authors and their people.

Dr. Schwaller attempted to read the Voynich and stated he “could not make heads or tails of it”–this is the first clear scholarly evidence that it is not “plaintext” Nahuatl. That is it is not normal Nahuatl written in a normal way that can be easily read. Since the  alphabet is known, the obvious and easy conclusion its that the Voynich is encoded or enciphered in some way. But in order to prove that with certainty, the writing system must be revealed.

So we are now back where we started, with a better known mysterious manuscript that must be decoded or decrypted in order to be accepted by Mesoamerican experts, if not general historians, but that is another story.


3 thoughts on “What the Experts Say

  1. Hi John,

    Please remove my (misspelled) name from the website. You say “other experts all agree”, then name “Whitakker” among others. The context implies that I agree with your methodology and support it. As you know, I have been rather critical of your procedure to date (announcing that the Voynich is a Nahuatl medical text before first demonstrating such things as the correctness of your alphabetic identifications and equations, the coherence of sentences (or even words), the classification of plants figuring in the manuscript, etc.). I am happy to give you my assessment of your work, but you shouldn’t use my name as a credential in this way. Best wishes, Gordon

  2. Hey, I’m Ebon Talifarro, my class (8th grade) wants to interview you, would you have time to answer a few questions?

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