A literary scholar studying the infamous Voynich manuscript believes he's getting closer to solving the riddle of who wrote the mysterious tome.
For more than a century after being re-discovered, researchers and cryptographers have been baffled by the indecipherable manuscript which is believed to be over 600 years old.
Throughout that time, various theories have been offered concerning what is contained in the coded text as well as who may have written the book, but all have failed to close the case.
However, a new hypothesis from an expert on classic esoteric books offers a potential profile for the Voynich author and it comes from a somewhat surprising source.
Rather than struggling with the still-coded words contained in the book, Dr. Stephen Skinner took a different tactic and examined the many detailed illustrations found in the manuscript.
The drawings, he contends, appear to provide powerful clues as to the identity of the author.
Skinner points to one particular illustration, which depicts several women in a pool of water, and argues that this drawing is of a communal purification bath used by Orthodox Jewish women following childbirth.
Along with the lack of any Christian symbology in the book, Skinner says that the drawing suggests that the author was Jewish.
Additionally, he notes that the presence of medicinal herbs shown in the book indicate that the person who penned the manuscript was some kind of physician.
Perhaps most intriguingly, Skinner also spotted something strange in one particular illustration in the book which shows a castle.
According to him, the building boasts a unique style of architecture that, in all of Europe, only existed in northern Italy during a time period when there also happened to be large Jewish populations living there.
As such, Skinner proposes that the person who wrote the book was a Jewish doctor from 15th century Italy.
Based on that remarkably specific profile, he hopes that a search of books from that era by known Jewish Europeans could contain a connection to something from the Voynich manuscript and, thus, reveal the author's name.
Although he concedes that it is unlikely that the author is anyone famous, per se, simply learning their identity would be an enormous breakthrough when it comes to the notorious work which has perplexed countless curious people for decades.
And, of course, the matter of what the book actually says would still remain a vexing mystery.
Coast Insiders looking to learn more about the Voynich Manuscript can check out the 3/23/2014 edition of the program featuring artist Stuart Davis and Professor of Linguistics Stephen Bax.
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Source: The Guardian