Voynich manuscript 'written in two languages
  • picture

Russian scholars have been making headway in deciphering the pages of the mysterious medieval text.

The enigmatic codex, which was first discovered in an Italian monastery by book dealer Wilfrid Voynich back in 1912, contains 240 pages of strange, indecipherable characters and images.

Written on fine calfskin parchment, the book has been dated back to the 15th century however all efforts to derive meaning from its contents have so far resulted in failure and frustration.

A solution to this mystery has remained so elusive in fact that some researchers believe that the manuscript was actually created as a hoax designed to fool 15th century book collectors.

Now though, a team of scientists at the RAS Institute of Applied Mathematics in Russia have determined through statistical analysis that 60% of the book is actually written in two languages - English and German - and that all the vowels and spaces have been deliberately removed.

The remaining 40% of the text is thought to be written in Italian, Spanish or Latin.

Given that the images on its pages depict what look like seeds and vegetables however, not everyone on the team is convinced that the book's contents are even worth deciphering.

"I don't know why understanding the text can be important today because, judging by the drawings, it explains in what part of the year you need to sow poppy seed in order to later obtain opium," said study co-author, Yuri Orlov.