Spanish publisher wins rights to history’s most mysterious book

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Voynich pages

A SMALL Spanish publishing house has won the rights to copy the Voynich manuscript, one of the world’s most mysterious books.

Siloe, a publisher based in Burgos which specialises in cloning ancient manuscripts, will produce 898 replicas of the 600-year-old document, which has eluded modern interpretation since it’s ‘discovery’ at the turn of the 20th century.

Currently occupying a secretive vault at Yale university, the manuscript was named after antiquarian Wilfrid Voynich, who bought it as part of a collection from Italian Jesuits in 1912 and was instrumental in catapulting it to its present level of intrigue.

Carbon dating places the book, which features strange sketchings of plants and naked women adjoined to poetic text, to between 1404 and 1438 and there are dozens of theories as to its intention, the most prominent of which suggests it is written and styled in code to avoid detection in an era dominated by Catholic inquisitions.

Juan Jose Garcia of the publishing house said that the book “has such an aura of mystery that when you see it for the first time it fills you with an emotion that is very hard to describe”, and plans to sell individual replicas for between €7,000 and €8,000.

It will take Siloe well over a year to make the copies of the 200-page book, written in an unknown writing system that has defied interpretation by cryptologists and amateur sleuths.

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