The VOYNICH MAP – folio 86v (Beinecke foliation 85v and 86r)

It has become common wisdom among Voynich researchers, since about 2012 or so, that folio 86v (Beinecke foliation 85v and 86r) is  ‘map’ but few know why  the idea has suddenly become so prevalent that it is now taken as ‘read’.

Before I published my analysis of that folio, I asked as usual if Nick Pelling knew of any precedent study that I should read, or cite.  The answer was in the negative.

Previous allusions came down to a comment in d’Imperio’s document published decades ago, some vague and soon-forgotten speculations on the old mailing list, and the comment by Joel Stevens who in 2008 (to use Pelling’s words)  “suggested that the rosettes might [sic!]  represent a map, with the top-left and bottom-right rosettes (which have ‘sun’ images attached to them) representing East and West respectively.”

The second of those observations was immediately forgotten, it would seem, until I re-discovered it in late 2010, before writing it up in 2011.  Stevens was evidently the first person to notice those two critical markers, without which no correct interpretation was, or can be,  possible, and unless the map is correctly oriented then any hypothesis about it can only explain the hypothesis; it cannot be of any practical service to those who hope to interpret the inscriptions on that folio.

I had determined the ‘north and south’ too, and began my explanation of the map in the research blog by discussing that ‘curious orientation’.  Subsequent posts began to add more to that basic information, but when I began ‘Voynich imagery’ I transferred the content here and continued working around the map, explaining the landforms, routes, and structures.

The earlier efforts to interpret this folio can be read at ciphermysteries, in a post entitled,    ‘A Miscellany of Nine-Rosette Links ciphermysteries, 29th May 2010.

My analysis did not permit any attribution of the whole to a Latin Christian author, but I can only surmise that this is the reason that no other Voynich researcher adopted and properly credited that detailed study – the first ever done, and the first certain proof that the folio did, in fact, represent a map as some had speculated or surmised.  Several attempts to imitate the method followed, all without exception attempting to ‘counter’ my conclusions and offer some ‘alternative’ interpretation of the folio: and with only one exception, all tried to find some way to make it interpretable as a Latin European map of the Mediterranean.

The exception was Marco Ponzi, who simply adopted my interpretation of the South roundel, without any explanation, or any reference to the fact that the only reason that amorphous form can be identified as referring to the ‘Great Sea’ (as Majid called it) is by reason of my having first oriented the map correctly, identified the symbol used for ‘south’ and explained in considerable detail the sections to either side of it.

Such re-use, which some might term mis-use, or appropriation, is endemic in this study, and the reason that I have not published the full analysis here of the central section or the West roundel.

It seems to me that these later efforts – or at least those which have taken up original identifications and/or descriptions from my work before distorting or re-assigning them –  have rather less to do with an intention to translate for modern readers the original makers’ intentions than they have to a desire to be believed: to have some ‘inspired guess’  become the standard opinion, regardless of whether or not it bears any demonstrable connection to the folio and its diagrams.

The latest effort has been produced as a ‘final draft’ paper by  Juergen Wastl and his wife, Juergen having announced their excitement about the ‘possibility’ *(sic) that the folio might be a map, in a comment made in 2014(!) to that same post at ciphermysteries.

(See the comments dated  February 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm;   ( February 12, 2014 at 8:50 am) and ( February 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm ).

However, so long as those comments are there on Pelling’s blog, we need not be concerned that later readers will be in any doubt about the time-line of developments in researching folio 86v (85v and 86r).

For those who might want to read the original investigation – at least, the part of it I offered online –  I’ve extracted a list of those posts from the Table of Contents page and from the subsequent page listing posts to this blog up until January 2015.  Since then, I had added more refinements and comments – including an posited identification of Avignon and a firmer identification for Laiazzo (Ayas) as the site whose port is ornamented with the imperial sort of merlons.  This use of the ‘imperial’ or ‘swallowtail’ sort of merlon, I’ll say again here, may be no more than decoration. It need not literally represent the appearance of the structure as it was. I have referred to other uses of the type, both in f.86v and in other maps and texts, including the Zibaldone da Canal.

In any case, that site plainly lies on the eastern side of the Mediterranean sea (depicted only in the north roundel), and thus cannot be meant for any castle in Italy.

If you use the ‘search’ to look for “86” or look in the category “Voynich – geography” you should find 26 posts turn up.

Here’s the time-line for my publications.  The whole of the research will be re-presented as an essay in my forthcoming book.  The publisher’s ‘blurb’ for the Map essay has been separately published on


At ‘Voynichimagery Notes’ (Blogger) posts
‘Orientation marks: North and North-West’   September 29th., 2011.
The Western Quadrant‘,     October 2nd., 2011
Eastern Quadrant..’ October 9th., 2011
South (and far East) Quadrant’    October 23rd., 2011
North Quadrant:
The summary ‘mimimap’ [inset] in fol.86v – northern quadrant, which included several posts, the first on  May 4th., 2012 with some additional notes   October 22nd., 2011

Link to the ‘Etymologies-Computus’ map (8thC AD)  May 8th., 2012

.Concluding remarks March 17th., 2012.

By 2012 I was already feeling some concern about the simultaneous refusal by those espousing an “all Latin European” or “central European” theory to recognise my work, and in parallel, the adoption and distortion of original conclusions by some few of the most amateur Voynicheros.

I decided not to publish online the analysis of the west roundel, or of the central roundel, though I made my identifications public.

Here is the list of posts to Voynichimagery:.


Map: Mediterranean to China (made in 12thC Sicily)              2012/07/16

fol.86v: Introduction to a map ~ geog.                                        2012/07/22

fol. 86v: emblems of direction Pt1                                               2012/07/26

fol 86v: Emblems of direction Pt 2 ‘west’ (shortened)              2012/07/29

fol 86v: A Curious orientation ~ principles                                 2012/07/31

fol.86v Emblems of direction: South and East ~ principles      2012/08/02

[The north roundel, an inset ‘minimap’}

fol 86v: the inset ‘minimap’ Pt1: from the Black Sea ~ geog    2012/08/05

Hierapolis ~ incidental post                                               2012/08/09

fol 86v The inset ‘minimap’ Pt2: the Egyptian shore                2012/08/11

fol 86v minimap ~ some footnotes ~ comment                          2012/08/13

fol 86v Patterns and points ~ comment                                      2012/08/14

fol.86v: of Portolan charts and Trabizond ~ historical background     2012/08/15

The north-west roundel – Angel of the Rose                              2012/08/19

More on Trebizond ~ historical background                                2012/08/21

[between north and east]

fol.86v Ways to the east: the river roads – Revised post             2012/08/22

fol 86v Ways to the east: the desert road                                         2012/08/25

fol.86v Roads east: Beacons ~ stylistics                                            2012/08/28

Across the North – intro: fol.86v and prototypes for the Month-emblems  2012/11/21

A matter of scale – methodology note                                               2012/08/29

Who knew? ~ comment                                                                       2012/09/02

fol.86v The Square world ~ stylistics                                               2012/09/03

[East roundel]

Fol 86v East roundel: Lotus and Paeony ~ geog; stylistics            2012/09/08

Select fol 86v: from East to the South ~ incidental post                 2012/09/12

[South roundel]

fol.86v The great sea ~ Pt1                                                      2012/09/17

fol 86v: The great sea: Part 2                                                   2012/09/19

Trade routes and scripts ~ historical background                 2012/09/20

Afterword to ‘Routes and Scripts’                                           2012/11/16

fol 86v: South toward West: stage 1 The Sahel                     2012/09/24

fol 86v: South towards West Pt 2 ~ geog.                               2012/09/26

fol 86v West roundel – Password protected                            2012/10/02

NMB – script. ~ speculation                                                       2012/09/29