Voynich Manuscript May Be Hebrew, AI Uncovers the Words


Photo by: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library via Wikimedia Commons


The mysterious Voynich manuscript that has been illustrated in an unknown writing system, might be Hebrew, according to an AI decipherer. The artificial intelligence was used by computing scientists at the University of Alberta to make sense of the manuscript.

The illustrated codex has been studied by many amateur and professional cryptographers, and yet no one has been able to decipher any of its parts. Prof. Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing, and Bradley Hauer, a graduate student started to decode the codex by tracing the language of origin.

They used about 400 samples of different languages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to identify the language of origin. At first, they hypothesized that the origin was Arabic, but algorithms showed that the language was more likely similar to Hebrew. The second hypothesis was that the manuscript was written using alphagrams, phrases or words used to define another. They unscrambled some of the text using a specialized algorithm and revealed words found in the Hebrew dictionary.

"It turned out that over 80 percent of the words were in a Hebrew dictionary, but we didn't know if they made sense together. It came up with a sentence that is grammatical, and you can interpret it. 'She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.' It's a kind of strange sentence to start a manuscript but it definitely makes sense,” said Kondrak.

Unfortunately, the world of cryptographers and historians lack someone who specializes in ancient Hebrew which prevents the total unlocking the mysteries of the manuscript.