[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: VMS -- Botany, A Daunting Quest

Dear Adam,
I thank you for your comments and agree with you that not having access
to the ancient herbals is a true limitation in the quest to correctly
identify the botanical illustrations. Those of you who may have access
to these herbals and a botanical/ herbal inclination may be interested
in pursuing your recommendation. I would certainly be delighted to be
able to study the historical manuscripts. Unfortunately, I am working
under serious limitations here. I am certainly aware of all the
complexities for making accurate and meaning recommendations and
suggestions for reasonable/meaningful matches. It is necessary to
estimate the stage of plant growth, degree of blossoming, root
structure, shapes and structures, etc. It is a daunting task and I
certainly do not profess to be absolutely accurate in ever instance. In
fact, I might state that there are often elements of doubt in my
assessments; however, I find it important to at least attempt to
establish a basis for further examination and analysis. Once this has
been done, we can then fine tune our analysis. I have no doubt, for
example, that f09v represents the genus Viola, and am currently
accepting the species designation of tricolor; however, without actually
seeing the original folio or a color copy, it is certainly difficult to
make a precise match. So, for now, I am content to accept what may be a
best guess approximation until further evidence is provided. The
questions of where and when (Western Hemisphere, Europe, Africa, Asia,
pre- or post-Columbus) these plants were first made known certainly
presents room for error and requires careful consideration. I do try to
pay reasonable attention to these limitations as they might apply to the
VMS; however, at this point it is difficult enough to just make an
hopefully intelligent approximation. With the rate of evolution among
plants and the great variety of species, subspecies, cultivars, forms,
hypbrids, etc., and the inherent errors introducted when following a
tradition of copying herbals to be passed down from generation to
generation among the ancients I am willing to take a modern risk and
reference the pictures the herbals that I have access to today. I
welcome all illustrations, pictures, and samples in situ. As you have
pointed out, the amount of time spent in this pursuit with available
resources in truly daunting and I am beginning to see a need to
rearrange my priorites and get back to other issues that require my
immediate attention. For the short amount of time that I have addressed
the botanical drawings in the VMS, I begin to understand why progress in
indentification of the illustrations seems to have been retarded. I do
have a few more observations to suggest as potential matches. Again, I
thank you for your caution that I may not be focusing my efforts as
propitiously as might be benefitial to a proper assessment and most
accurate analysis in the identification of the botanical drawings in the

Sincere Regards,
Dana Scott

Adam McLean wrote:

> >Sempervivum Spangles: (page down and take a look at the flowers for
> >comparison)
> Dear Dana,
> Much as I admire your tenacity and efforts to identify the
> plants in the Voynich,  I think your methodology may be
> slightly flawed.
> You cannot really use "varieties" of plants. These are
> modern - entirely modern. Spanges is a modern variety
> probably only a few decades old.  A rose in the 14th/15th century
> was very different from the roses most of us have in our
> gardens today. You should be looking at the plants as they
> were at the time the Voynich MS was created.
> Also what you should be using as sources for identifying these
> plants are the other herbals of the period - from Dioscorides
> onward. These often don't actually represent the plants in
> the exact way in which we expect of drawings today.
> Indeed some of the plants in the early herbals are difficult
> to identify from the drawings. The herbals copied from one
> another. Knowledge in that period was traditional, copied from
> past versions. People did not value at that time an empirical
> approach but accepted without question the authority of the
> past. Thus Aristotle's science still ruled in the 14th/15th
> century even though it really belonged to the mindset of
> the classical Greek period 1800 years earlier. People just
> did not see any need to update this knowledge. The old
> herbals of Dioscorides were then taken as the fount of
> knowledge. It was only in the modern period from the
> late 16th and 17th centuries that these authorities were
> questioned.
> The creator of the Voynich Herbal section would have
> taken these images from other herbals, rather than
> going out into the fields and hedgerows with his
> parchment, pens and brushes.
> I do wish you luck in your search but I would hope
> you do not waste your time unnecessarily.
> If you can, try and get access to a facsimile of the
> Dioscorides, or even one of the later printed book
> herbals which were published from about 1500
> onwards. You won't find these on the internet, but
> in a good quality University Library. In these
> source documents you will  find your plants.
> Best wishes,
> Adam McLean
> ----------------------
> E Mail :   alchemy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Web site:    http://www.levity.com/alchemy/home.html
> Alchemy Web bookstore:    http://www.alchemy.dial.pipex.com
> Paintings:   http://www.alchemy.dial.pipex.com/paintings
> Study Course:    http://www.levity.com/alchemy/study_courses.html