An emotional investment in the Voynich manuscript offers little in the way of return. For hundreds of years, this 15th-century document full of indecipherable writing and cryptic illustrations has sat dark and inscrutable.

Attempts to figure out its code tend to be swiftly debunked by the scholarly community, whether they’re as sensible-seeming as “It’s a woman’s health manual!” or as outlandish as “I think an alien did it.” Alan Turing and the Bletchley Park team’s attempts to decode it were unsuccessful. Now, at the University of Alberta, Canada, researchers have taken a new tack to try to illuminate the manuscript, named for 19th-century Polish bookseller Wilfrid Voynich.

Where humans have failed, artificial intelligence is attempting to pick up the slack. It’s a predictably vexing development to medievalists and other experts.

Grzegorz Kondrak is almost the opposite of a medievalist. A professor of computer science, he came across the ancient mystery through the artificial intelligence community.

In the past, he had worked on natural language processing, and was keen to apply some of the same techniques to the text. There are two problems with this notoriously difficult puzzle—it’s written in code, and no one knows what language that code enciphers. Read more from atlasobscura.com…

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