AUSTIN, TexasThe American Botanical Council published a feature in the 100th issue of its quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, HerbalGram, that may change the course of research on an approximately 500-year-old, illuminated text known as the Voynich Manuscript.
The manuscript, which is housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, have baffled researchers since its discovery in 1912. Researchers have theorized both European and Asian origins, due to language hidden in the text, though neither theory has been proven.
HerbalGrams article by Arthur O. Tucker, PhD, and Rexford H. Talbert, titled A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript," is based on an investigative approach to understanding the mysterious manuscript.
Tucker, a botanist, emeritus professor and co-director of the Claude E. Phillips Herbarium at Delaware State University, and Talbert, a retired information technologist formerly employed by the US Department of Defense and NASA, looked at the botanical illustrations in the Voynich Manuscript and compared them to the worlds geographic plant distribution at the time of the manuscripts first recorded appearance (ca. 1576-1612). The similarities between a plant illustrated in the Voynich Manuscript and the soap plant included in the 1552 Codex Cruz-Badianus of Mexico, considered the first medical text written in the New World, lead the authors to the identification of 37 plants, 6 animals and 1 mineral in the manuscript from the Americas specifically, from post-Conquest Nueva España (New Spain) and the surrounding regions.
Although the Voynich is clearly not the most pressing issue in modern herbal medicine and phytotherapy, we believed we could not pass up the opportunity to publish Art Tucker and Rex Talberts insightful essay in which they propose a New World origin for the source and identity of the plants in the Voynich, possibly providing a breakthrough in this historical conundrum," wrote Mark Blumenthal, HerbalGram editor-in-chief and ABC founder and executive director, in his Dear Reader editorial column in the same issue of HerbalGram.
The American Botanical Council is an international nonprofit organization that addresses research and educational issues regarding botanicals, teas, medicinal plants, essential oils and other plant-derived materials.