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Written in Central Europe at the end of the 15th or during the 16th century, the origin, language, and date of the Voynich Manuscript—named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912—are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undeciphered text. Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red.
About a century and a quarter ago, a slim pamphlet was published in Virginia, USA. Amazingly for such an unassuming little document, it has ruined numerous lives, mostly through greed and obsession. It tells the story of buried treasure, and has snared the unwary ever since it was published. It is hard to imagine a treasure more like 'fool's gold' than that described in The Beale Papers. The story revolves around a set of ciphers, that have so far resisted every effort to break them. Fools, read on and become beguiled...
The Phaistos pictographs seem unrelated to Minoan hieroglyphs, and no other example of this script has been unearthed. Because the disc is unique, the script remains undeciphered. (Several attempts have been made, but there is no concensus that any one is correct.) Curiously, given that only one example of the script has been found, each pictograph is impressed into the clay disc with a stamp, rather than incised individually. If the disc was intended to be a unique document, why go to the trouble of creating a set of stamps? And if other documents were made, why has none been found? Another curiosity is that stratigraphic evidence dates the disc to about 1700 BCE, at which time another Minoan script was common. This script is called Linear A. It appears to be derived from Minoan hieroglyphic and, like Mesopotamian cuneiform, the signs represent syllables rather than individual sounds. This script, too, remains undeciphered for the most part.
For 250 years it defied all code-breakers. Darwin had a go; Dickens, and Wedgwood too. But the 10-letter inscription - DOUOSVAVVM - carved into a monument on the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire thumbed its nose at the curious. Those of a romantic (or deluded) disposition believed it to be a coded message of the kind used by the Knights Templar and their successors to point to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail or some other religious relic. Others believed it to be a private affirmation of love.
In 1864, the French lay missionary Eugène Eyraud -- the first known non-Polynesian resident of Earth's most isolated inhabited island, Easter Island or Rapanui -- reported in a letter to his superior that he had seen there "in all the houses" hundreds of tablets and staffs incised with thousands of hieroglyphic figures [Figure 1]. Two years later, only a small handful of these incised artefacts were left. Most rongorongo, as the unique objects were subsequently called, had by then been burnt, hidden away in caves, or deftly cannibalized for boat planks, fishing lines, or honorific skeins of human hair. The few Rapanui survivors of recent slave raids and contagions evidently no longer feared the objects' erstwhile tapu or sacred prohibition.
...carved into a monument on the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire thumbed its nose at the curious.
One thing that has lead me to believe that the Shugborough may not be as old as is claimed is that it contains a U, and two Vs, and in antiquity the letter U was often written as V.