Brief note – the four flames

[text reduced – 11th March 2017]

I’ve just noticed something which might be of interest to the linguists – and which by the way obliges me to revise an earlier opinion.

Whoever added that  ‘minimap’ which now occupies the north roundel in the Voynich map* was someone  who was thinking in a language whose terms for a chimney, a flame, a lighthouse, a light and perhaps a pyre were cognate. They also described by such a term those natural formations in Cappadocia that we ourselves call ‘chimneys’.

The thing which just struck me, you see, is that this ‘minimap’ (or vignette) has marked the cardinal points again, but now by referring to four ‘leading lights’, that description  being metaphorical certainly in one case (north) and possibly in two (west).

(click to enlarge)

concerning the ‘light of the east’…

excerpted from an illustration in Alexei Lidov, ‘A Byzantine Jerusalem. The Imperial Pharos Chapel as the Holy Sepulchre’, published in Annette Hoffmann (eds.), Jerusalem as Narrative Space ( 2012), S. 63-103 (Visualising the Middle Ages 6)

The maker’s having so much interest in navigational points and lights that he would denote the four quarters by four ‘flames’ agrees well enough with what I’ve already found in connection with the Voynich archer-figure and with the various diagrams from the astro-meteorological section treated as early as 2010-2011, so no conflict there.

Readers who haven’t been about that long might like to hear that those diagrams include a tidal chart, diagrams of navigational winds and stars and so forth – all of relevance to navigators and those involved in the carriage of goods by sea.

In that connection too, I’ve noted that the Voynich calendar is now limited to those months when it was possible to sail in the Mediterranean and those when one might sail east under the monsoon.  These could be co-incidences, but I don’t think they are.

Historical documents adduced … time is short and pilfering  common so I’ll just give the gist with a quote from the  Encyclopaedia Britannica:

“The decline of commerce in the Dark Ages halted lighthouse construction until the revival of trade in Europe about 1100 ce. The lead in establishing new lighthouses was taken by Italy and France. By 1500, references to lighthouses became a regular feature of books of travel and charts”.

I’m fairly sure too, that the ornate glyph above the Pharos of Alexandria is meant to sound ‘p’ or ‘f’ or so..

Identity of the eastern [Mediterranean] marker-‘flame’ was what I had to re-consider. The  probability now seems quite high that the maker meant to evoke Constantinople as it was at some time between  1204 and 1480 AD.  More detail another time.

square tower attached to the sea-wall of Constantinople. Said to have been a light-house tower.


  • __________


*(Beinecke “folio 85v-and-86r”).

The map’s East-to-west reversal was explained in a post here called ‘A curious orientation’ – among the earliest posts in a long and careful discussion of the map, the first analytical treatment of that folio, with posts issued from 2011 onwards. An undated paper widely advertised by its authors – Juergen and Wastl – was submitted in first draft to the forum five years or more later but has proven disappointing.  The title, for example, begins “VMS 408…”

I had already looked into the possibility of the Voynich map’s being related to Latin mappaemundi, and given a complete absence from it of any of the customs by which the Latins’ mappamundi is defined, it was not difficult to reach a negative conclusion on that point.

I found, rather, that there is a degree of connection with fourteenth century cartes marine.


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