Origin and Provenance of the Voynich Codex

  • Arthur O. TuckerEmail author
  • Jules Janick
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


The bizarre Voynich Codex, discovered in 1912 in Italy by the Polish book dealer Wilfrid Voynich (1865–1930), consists of illustrations and text in a symbolic language. Although encyclopedic in scope, the work is largely an herbal, with approximately 359 images of plants. The text has eluded decipherment, despite repeated attempts by world-renowned cryptologists. The origin of the work remains obscure, but the provenance has been traced to the court of Rudolf II (1552–1612). It has generally been considered to be an early fifteenth century European work based on the carbon dating of the vellum; however, identification of New World plants by Hugh O’Neill and animals infers a sixteenth century Mexican origin, i.e., a palimpsest. The literature of the Voynich Codex is extensive, with a huge web presence and controversy regarding its origin, language, decipherment, and meaning.


Codex Hugh O’Neill New world plants Palimpsest Rudolf II Voynich Wilfrid Voynich 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agriculture & Natural ResourcesDelaware State UniversityDoverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture & Landscape ArchitecturePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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