World's most mysterious text cracked

The first confirmed owner of the Voynich manuscript was George Baresch, an alchemist from Prague who had mentioned in a letter that he had found it in his library 'taking up his space'.

He learned that Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher, in , had published a Coptic dictionary and claimed to have deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Baresch sent a sample copy of the script to Kircher, asking for clues to reveal what the mysterious manuscript meant. 

It was purchased in 1912 by a Polish-American antiquarian book dealer, named Wilfred Voynich (pictured) (1865–1930), from where it gets its name

It was purchased in 1912 by a Polish-American antiquarian book dealer, named Wilfred Voynich (pictured) (1865–1930), from where it gets its name

His 1639 letter to Kircher is the earliest confirmed mention of the manuscript that has been found to date.

Kircher asked for the book, but Baresch would not yield it as he prized owning it over knowing its true meaning. 

Upon Baresch's death, the manuscript passed to his friend Jan Marek Marci, who worked at Charles University in Prague.

A few years later, Kircher finally got his hands on the book when Marci sent it to him as he was a longtime friend and correspondent.

When Johannes Marcus sent it to Kircher, they found a letter written on August 19, 1665 or 1666 inside the cover.

It claims that the book once belonged to Emperor Rudolph II, (1552-1612) who paid 600 gold ducats (about 4.5 pounds of gold) for it.

The letter was written in Latin and had been translated to English.

The litany list of previous owners trying to unpick its secrets continues even further, as the manuscript embedded itself further into European folklore. 

The manuscript is also thought to have once been in the possession of 'Jacobj aTepen', or Jakub Horcicky of Tepenec, a medical doctor who lived from 1575-1622 and was known far and wide for his herbal medicinal use.

No records of the book for the next 200 years have been found, but in all likelihood, it was stored with the rest of Kircher's correspondence in the library of the Collegio Romeo.

It likely remained there until the troops of Victor Emmanuel II of captured the city in 1870 and annexed the Papal States.

It was purchased in 1912 by a Polish-American antiquarian book dealer, named Wilfred Voynich (1865–1930), from where it gets its name. 

Alan Turing (pictured), the brilliant mind who spearheaded the campaign to crack the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, attempted to understand it, but found it impenetrable

Alan Turing (pictured), the brilliant mind who spearheaded the campaign to crack the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, attempted to understand it, but found it impenetrable

His acquisition of the manuscript is different to its previous owners, from whom it was passed from hand to hand. 

According to folklore, he happened upon a trunk that contained the rare manuscript now known as the Voynich manuscript

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