The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious illustrated book written in an indecipherable text. It is thought to have been written between approximately 1450 and 1520. The author, script and language of the manuscript remain unknown.
Over its recorded existence, the Voynich manuscript has been the object of intense study by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including some top American and British codebreakers of World War II fame (all of whom failed to decrypt a single word). This string of failures has turned the Voynich manuscript into a famous subject of historical cryptology, but it has also given weight to the theory that the book is simply an elaborate hoax — a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols.
The book is named after the Polish-American book-dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912. As of 2005, the Voynich manuscript is item MS 408 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. The first facsimile edition was published in 2005.
The Rohonc Codex
The Rohonc Codex (pronounce like 'ro-honts') is a set of writings in an unknown writing system. Its official Hungarian name is Rohonci-kódex, literally "codex from Rohonc."
The codex has 448 paper pages (12x10 cm), each one having between 9 and 14 rows of symbols, which may or may not be letters. Besides the text, there are 87 illustrations that include religious, laic, and military scenes. The crude illustrations seem to indicate an environment where Christian, pagan, and Muslim religions coexist, as the symbols of the cross, crescent, and sun/swastika are all present.
The number of symbols used in the codex is about ten times higher than any known alphabet, but some symbols are used rarely, so the symbols in the codex might not be an alphabet, but a syllabary, or something like Chinese characters. The justification of the right margin would seem to imply the symbols were transcribed from right to left.
Study of the paper on which the codex is written shows that it is probably a Venetian paper made in the 1530s. However, it may simply have been transcribed from an earlier source, or the paper could have been used long after it was produced.
Finally. I think the above manuscripts were the inspiration for the The Codex Seraphinianus.
The Codex Seraphinianus
The Codex Seraphinianus is a book written and illustrated by the Italian architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978. The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and appears to be a visual encyclopedia of an unknown world, written in one of its languages, an incomprehensible (at least for us) alphabetic writing.
The writing system (possibly a false writing system) appears modelled on ordinary Western-style writing systems (left-to-right writing in rows; an alphabet with uppercase and lowercase letters, some of which double as numerals) but is much more curvilinear, not unlike cursive Georgian in appearance. Some letters appear only at the beginning or at the end of words, a feature shared with Semitic writing systems. The language of the codex has defied complete analysis by linguists for decades. The number system used for numbering the pages, however, has been cracked (apparently independently) by Allan C. Wechsler and Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski. It is a variant on base 21.
The illustrations are often surreal parodies of things in our world: bleeding fruit; a plant that grows into roughly the shape of a chair and is subsequently made into one; a lovemaking couple that metamorphoses into a crocodile; etc. Others depict odd, apparently senseless machines, often with a fragile appearance, kept together by tiny filaments. There are also illustrations readily recognizable, as maps or human faces. On the other hand, especially in the "physics" chapter, many images look almost completely abstract. Practically all figures are brightly coloured and rich in detail.
I have even found a copy of this one for sale on ebay. More information can be found on wikipedia along with illustrations.
Edited by Mayhem, 26 July 2008 - 05:25 AM.