Washington, Feb 11 (ANI): Researchers have cracked one of the puzzles surrounding what has been called 'the world's most mysterious manuscript' - the Voynich manuscript, a book filled with drawings and writings nobody has been able to make sense of till date.
Using radiocarbon dating, a team led by Greg Hodgins in the University of Arizona's Department of Physics has determined that the manuscript was penned in the early 15th century, making it a century older than scholars once thought.
According to them, the 'The DaVinci Code' is lacklustre compared to 'The Voynich Manuscript' - which contains alien characters penned in a language no one understands, flowing artistically between illustrations of plants, astronomical charts and human figures.
Assistant professor Hodgins is fascinated with the manuscript.
"Is it a code, a cipher of some kind? People are doing statistical analysis of letter use and word use - the tools that have been used for code breaking. But they still haven't figured it out," he said.
But thanks to Hodgins and his team, its age has been figured out.
Currently owned by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University, the manuscript was discovered in the Villa Mondragone near Rome in 1912 by antique book dealer Wilfrid Voynich while sifting through a chest of books offered for sale by the Society of Jesus.
Voynich dedicated the remainder of his life to unveiling the mystery of the book's origin and deciphering its meanings. He died 18 years later, without having wrestled any its secrets from the book.
To obtain the sample from the manuscript, Hodgins travelled to Yale University, where conservators had previously identified pages that had not been rebound or repaired and were the best to sample.
He then dissected a piece of the parchment to obtain four tiny samples that were brought back to the laboratory in Tucson, where they were thoroughly cleaned.
Next, the team combusted the samples, leaving only its carbon content behind.
These samples are loaded into a mass spectrometer, which isolates the heavier Carbon-14 isotope, which can be used to calculate the sample's age.
The team was able to push back the presumed age of the Voynich manuscript by 100 years, a discovery that killed some of the previously held hypotheses about its origins and history.
While Hodgins admitted that the actual content of the document is beyond his expertise, he believes it may relate to alchemy - a practice known for its secrecy, which may be why the document was apparently encoded.
"I find this manuscript is absolutely fascinating as a window into a very interesting mind. Piecing these things together was fantastic. It's a great puzzle that no one has cracked, and who doesn't love a puzzle?," he said. (ANI)