Edith Sherwood Ph.D.

The Voynich Manuscript Decoded? Part II

I offer my interpretation of Folio 116v, the Michitonese page, of the Voynich Manuscript. Using the modified Voynich alphabet outlined in my previous paper(i) and analyzing the subsequent Italian anagrams, I have deciphered the top paragraph of Folio 99r. This folio was chosen because it and the Michitonese page appear to be discussing the same subject matter. This may be the first time, in about 500 years, that anyone has read any of the text of this mysterious manuscript. What I found was very surprising and unexpected. I also present my deciphering of a botanical page and an astrological page.

Folio 116v an Interpretation of the Michitonese page 
Figure 1 - Folio 116v

The final page of the Voynich Manuscript (V.M.), has been labelled the Michitonese page(ii). This page consists of three lines written in a Latin script (Figure 1). Two important Voynich scholars, Newbold and Braumbaugh, have attempted to interpret these lines but neither offered a meaningful interpretation(iii). This may be due to the fact that they believed that the V.M. was written by Roger Bacon, the 13th century English priest, scholar and scientist, who would have written in either Medieval English or Latin.

This note was not written by the author of the Voynich Manuscript. The loops of the letters ‘L’ and ‘B’ have an unusual, pointed, triangular shape, not found in the main body of the V.M. text, where all the letters have rounded loops. The note appears to be addressed to the author of the V.M. who was, I believe, Italian. I have not been able to decipher all the words, so my interpretation is based on the key words in the following paragraphs.

Voynich writing - bracket in 'Michiton'

This is the word that has given the folio the name Michitonese. If you examine the text carefully you will see that the squiggly line that constitutes part of the ‘H’ in Michitonese is in a lighter ink than that used for the rest of the text and may have been added later to represent a bracket(1). This bracket is repeated at the end of the sentence, in front of the letter ‘O’.

Voynich writing - Vinci

The letters in front of the first bracket may be anci, mici, mci, or vinci. There are no translations from Italian to English for anci, mici, or mci. Even if you assume that the bracket is part of an ‘H’, michiton has no meaning. A darkened version of the word vinci was obtained by changing the brightness/contrast in Photoshop. The version on the right has a red outline around first letter of this word, a ‘V’. It appears that the author of this note ran short of ink while forming the ‘V’, refilled his pen and made a blob as he continued writing. Vinci may be the name of the person to whom this note was written and may also be the name of the person who wrote this manuscript. It is unclear what was written in front of the word Vinci as the page has been torn and repaired by stitching the tear together.

Voynich writing - oba ceve

These two words are exactly what they appear to be, oba ceve. The word Oba is the title used by the Edo people, from the City of Benin in Nigeria, for their ruler or king. Jacob Egharevba, the authority on the history of the Bini people, does not list a Ceve(2) as an Oba of Benin City(iv). He first published his book, “A Short History of Benin” in 1934. Since the people of Benin had no written language, his list of Obas, dating back to about the 14th century, is based on oral tradition and anecdote. The Portuguese discovered the City of Benin around 1482. They, followed by the Dutch, French, and finally, the English, all traded with the reigning Benin Oba, but not a single European document, until the 19th century, refers to an Oba by name. Therefore, Ceve may be the name of a forgotten Oba, an alternate name for a Oba or the name of an Oba from another tribe.

Voynich writing - Africa

The last two letters of this word are very faint, but they appear to be ca, as proposed by Newbolt in his first reading of this passage(v) and also confirmed by the enhanced darkened version of this word. The word is probably Africa, in keeping with the reference to Oba Ceve, an African ruler.

Voynich writing - Mina

This word appears to be mina, the Portuguese word for mine, as in gold mine. The letter ‘i’ and the last stroke of the ‘m’ more or less coincide. In 1471, the Portuguese discovered an outlet for African alluvial gold at a place they called El Mina (The Mine), on the coast of Ghana. Arab traders, after crossing the Sahara desert, traded gold for salt with the local African inhabitants from Mali. These Africans also traded their gold at El Mina(3). The result of this important discovery was that by the beginning of the 16th century, El Mina was supplying roughly half of Europe’s gold(vi). El Mina is shown on many early European maps of West Africa, including one found among Leonardo da Vinci’s papers in the British Museum(vii).

Voynich writing - possibly ladaba

I was puzzled by this word, so in desperation I looked up ladaba on the internet and found that Ladaba oke is the name of a town on the Lagos lagoon in Nigeria, not very far from the City of Benin. A 1716 navigational chart by G. van Kenlen shows O Labada on the Bight of Benin, not far from Lagos(viii). The present day spelling of the place is the same as that in the Voynich Manuscript. O Labada may also be present on the 1502 Cantino Planisphere(4) as shown in Figure 2 and an enlarged segment, Figure 3.

Figure 2 - Cantino Planisphere map
Figure 3 - Cantino Planisphere map - detail of o labada
Voynich writing - oro roccia

The first two words on the third line may be translated phonetically as oro roccia, gold rock. Gold was discovered at El Mina.

Using a modern Italian dictionary and assuming that an ‘X’ represents ere, the translation may be something like that shown in Figure 4. It may not be strictly accurate, but it indicates the message the writer intended to convey, that he stayed with Oba Ceve at O Labada in Africa and that gold was discovered by chance west of there at Mina. Since this message was written on the last page of the manuscript, we may assume, with reservation, that it was written after the V.M. was complete and sometime after 1471, the year the Portuguese discovered gold at El Mina in Ghana, West Africa. If you examine the page carefully you will see on the left margin of this page there appears to be a date, 1476(5) (Figure 1).

Figure 4 - Folio 116v decoded
  1. ↑ back Richter states that brackets were used to represent a colon. Richter, J.P., 1970, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Vol I, Dover Publications, New York, p.2.
  2. ↑ back Ceve is a fairly common name in Nigeria.
  3. ↑ back El Mina is known today as Cape Coast, where the castle the Portuguese built in 1482 is still standing today.
  4. ↑ back Part of the Cantino planisphere showing West Africa (1502), Biblioteca Estense, Modena, Italy. It is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese discoveries in the east and west. It is named after Alberto Cantino, an agent for the Duke of Ferrara, who successfully smuggled it from Portugal to Italy in 1502. This map shows a drawing of the castle at El Mina and next to it what is probably the city of Benin.
  5. ↑ back This should be confirmed by examining the VM page and not a photocopy I used.
  1. ↑ back Sherwood, E., 2009, The Voynich Manustript decoded, The Internet.
  2. ↑ back Palmer, S.B., 2004, Notes on f116v’s Michtonese, The Internet.
  3. ↑ back D’Imperio, M.E., The Voynich Manuscript: An Elegent Enigma, Aegeon Park Press, California, p.101.
  4. ↑ back Egharevba, J., 1968, A Short History of Benin, Ibadan University Press.
  5. ↑ back D’Imperio, M.E., The Voynich Manuscript: An Elegent Enigma, Aegeon Park Press, California, p.101.
  6. ↑ back Blake, J.W., 1977, West Africa: Quest for God and Gold 1454-1578, Curzon Press, London, p.79-83.
  7. ↑ back Vezzosi, A. and Pedretti, C., 2000, Leonardo E L’Europa, Relitalia, p.101.
  8. ↑ back Ryder, A.F.C., 1969, Benin and the Europeans 1485-1897, Longmans, London, front inset.
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