Correction – re Ghizolfi

I should like to correct a comment made in the previous post. The Ghizolfi, a Genoese Jewish trading and diplomatic family were closely involved in events both in the Black Sea and in Mesopotamia during the second half of the thirteenth century and were certainly in a position to gather material of the kind now found in the Voynich manuscript, where we find information relating both to the eastern maritime trade-routes and astronomical information whose expression in Beinecke MS 408 I attribute to the reciprocal, overland, highroad and more specifically, perhaps, to Tabriz. Genoa’s close relations with Majorca, and the Majorcan-Genoese cartographers’ links with the Voynich map, have been treated by the present author in earlier work published online, but were briefly outlined here in series about the calendar’s diagrams and the series ‘Consider this..’.

For a first initial overview of the Ghizolfis see the excellent short study in the Encyclopaedia Iranica Online: ‘Buscarello de Ghizolfi‘ in the Encyclopaedia Iranica online.

I should mention here that although the English rendering seemed to many sheer gibberish (as indeed it may be) there was an earlier proffered translation which claimed the Voynich text to be “vowelless Ukrainian”. The author’s name was Stokjo but I’m afraid that all I can tell you, except that it takes very little more than the choice of the wrong synonym or muddled grammar to make a translation gibberish, as witness any number of translated appliance manuals. Even accurate translations from an ancient or foreign culture can sound nonsensical to readers whose way of seeing the world is quite different.

I mention Stokjo not because I believe the written text to be ‘vowelless Ukrainian’ – as I’ve said many times, I have no opinion whatever about the Voynich manuscript’s written text having not the languages, nor the knowledge of cryptography required to form a reasonable opinion about it. I credit him as being the only Voynich writer, or researcher, to precede me in looking towards the Black Sea as that ‘turntable’ between the high overland routes and the south-western Mediterranean during the ‘Mongol century’ – or, to be fair, before 1440.

Of that region’s astonishing diversity of languages and cultural communities, the ancient Greeks no less than medieval or modern writers often spoke with amazement and, sometimes, with frustration.

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