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Nick Pelling – Independent Historian Vellum – radiocarbon dated to (1404… Prague – provenance.

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Presentation on theme: "Nick Pelling – Independent Historian Vellum – radiocarbon dated to (1404… Prague – provenance."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nick Pelling – Independent Historian Vellum – radiocarbon dated to (1404… Prague – provenance dated to …1612) Between Vellum & Prague …what happened?

2 Different Types of Evidence Physical – radiocarbon date, spectroscopy Technical – Art History, technique, cladistics Textual – close reading, reference analysis Analytical – codicology, palaeography Social – provenance, mentions, debate Codicology = archaeology of the page

3 Codicology: separate the layers! Support material (vellum) Ink + drawings + paint(s) Marginalia + annotation + colophon Quire / book / folio numbering Corrections + emendations + lacunae Contact transfers + stains + accidents

4 Forensic analysis: CSI: Voynich! Locards Exchange Principle –Every contact leaves a trace Reconstruct the layer deposition order –Like a crime scene! (But with ink, not blood!) Events leave marks between layers –This lets us infer intermediate states

5 So, lets take a look at… …the Voynich Manuscripts quire numbers


7 Similar numbers (#1) Cod Sang 839 [Thomas Sauvaget] This also has book numbers in top margins: 19, 29, 39, 49, 59

8 Similar numbers (#2) Cod Sang 688 [Philipp Lenz]

9 Similar numbers (#3) Seckau Abbey MS 384 [Thomas Sauvaget]

10 Similar numbers (#4) Žiče Monastery MS 972 [Thomas Sauvaget]

11 Similar numbers (#5) 1464: Flores Musicae [Thomas Sauvaget]

12 One other thing to note… The chicken scratch marginalia are on f66v (in Q8) and f86v3 (in Q14)

13 Voynich Quire Numbers Quiration uses C15 number forms –Noted by John Matthews Manly in 1931 Quire number gaps need explanation! A rarely used quire numbering system –pm9, 29, 39, 49, 5t9, 6t9, 7m9, 8u9, 9n9, 10m9 –Abbreviated longhand Roman ordinals

14 Voynich Folio Numbers Foliation uses C16 number forms –Probably added not long before Prague Folio number gaps need explanation! At least some paint was added later –Under microscope, f42rs 42 is overpainted (Rene Zandbergen, 2009)

15 Quire order folio order! C15 quire numbers vs C16 folio numbers Q9 (Quire 9) was restitched between quiration and foliation (John Grove) Same for nine-rosette Q14 (Glen Claston) Q2s quire -9 terminates in Q6 (Pelling) Quiration and foliation were independent!

16 Quire order original quire order! Q8 & Q13 – quire number on the wrong page Q13 & Q20 – both originally in two half-quires Q15 & Q19 – quires are in reverse order Quire numberer was not the original author!

17 Many quire number puzzles! Multiple quire hands (Pelling 2006) Multiple quire hand numbering styles Quire sequence gaps (Q16 & Q18 missing) Quire order different from original order Quire order different from folio order Chicken scratch marginalia separated So… what happened to the quire numbers?

18 Generally accepted explanation Q16 & Q18 were probably single bifolios removed by Baresch to send to Kircher Problem: fails to explain the various quire hands, nor why quire hand #1 didnt number all the quires in one go. Unlikely! Bigger problem: only explanation on offer.

19 Intellectual History Assumes actions done in good faith Assumes rationality under trying conditions Primarily constrain hypotheses to evidence Few accounts normally fit all the evidence A poor fit for cryptographic puzzles… But an excellent fit for pure codicology!

20 Intellectual history of the quires Two core presumptions:- The quire numbers are not deceptive The quire numberer(s) followed the rules:- 1.Number the quires in order 2.No need to number the endmost quire 3.Put number at bottom right of back page 4.Number each separate book individually

21 So… a tentative reconstruction This is what I believe happened…

22 Quire state prior to quiration… The Voynich Manuscript arrived on Quire Hand #1s desk as three separate books! Book A: Q1-Q7,Q17,Q8(Q14),Q9-Q12,Q20 Book B: Q13 Book C: Q19,Q15

23 Step #1: origin of Q19… Q19 was the 1 st quire of Book C, and was numbered 19 (primus) by someone else! Q15 was the 2 nd (and last) quire of Book C, so needed no quire number

24 Step #2: origin of Q13… An owner rationalized Book A and Book B into a single Book AB1 AB1: Q1-Q7,Q17,Q8(Q14),Q9-Q13, Q20

25 Step #3: Q14 falls out… First folded page of Q14 was f86v3 Q14s binding damaged, so had fallen out Q14 was reinserted immediately after Q8 AB2: Q1-Q7,Q17,Q8,Q14,Q9-Q13,Q20

26 Step #4: chicken scratches redux f66v is the last page of Q8 f86v3 is still the first page of Q14 Chicken scratch marginalia added to f66v and f86v3 - facing pages! AB3 = AB2 (but with chicken scratches)

27 Step #5: origin of Q14… Nine-rosette Q14 needed rebinding Nine-rosette page was removed from after Q8 & reinserted after Q13 AB4: Q1-Q7,Q17,Q8-Q14,Q20

28 Step #6: origin of Q15… The owner wanted to rationalize Book AB4 and Book C into a single book Inserted Book C between Q14 and Q20 Reversed order of Q15 and Q19! (Probably added Q20s quire number) ABC1 = Q1-Q7,Q17,Q8-Q15,Q19,Q20

29 Step #7: origin of Q17… Q17 was originally 7m9, but contained uncomfortably wide folios. Sat awkwardly. The owner concluded that it should sit between the wide Q15 and Q19 quires Reordered & changed 7m9 to 17m9 ABC2 = Q1-Q15,Q17,Q19,Q20

30 Step #8: the missing bifolios Q: where did Q8s missing bifolios go? A: the foliator saw the stubs of Q14s ripped fold still in place in the centre of Q8, and counted the stubs as missing bifolios. i.e. the nine-rosette page was literally in two places at once, so was double-counted!

31 Step #9: origin of Q6/Q7… Q6 / Q7 ended up with no quire numbers An owner concluded that these should be quirated in the original numbering style Final quire order: Q1-Q15,Q17,Q19,Q20

32 Conclusions (#1) Several people worked on the Voynich –At least two during C15 They sought to give it form and order They looked for clues in the marginalia (…even if they didnt always get it right!) Reordered & restitched sympathetically They were bibliophiles… librarians.

33 Conclusions (#2) C15 hybrid numbering scheme is unusual –One foot in medieval traditions –One foot in contemporary practices –Torn between the two Not humanists, but monks!

34 Two Speculative Hypotheses 1.The Monastic Library Hypothesis –The Voynich Manuscript was given to Rudolf II by a representative or inheritor of an abbey, monastery or friary. 2. The Franciscan Library Hypothesis –The Voynich Manuscript was given to Rudolf II by a representative or inheritor of a Franciscan abbey, monastery or friary. (Roger Bacon was a Franciscan monk)

35 PS: enciphered quire numbers?

36 Thats All! Thank you for your attention! Any questions? Nick Pelling –

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