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Re: VMs: Re: Re: Inks and retouching

Hi GC,

At 02:49 28/07/2004 -0600, GC wrote:
Why would I reach such a conclusion?  If you remember in an earlier email I
asked why the dark ink tends to run in "veins"?  Let's take f3v as
demonstration that my theory has basis in observable fact.  There's more
than one mechanical (or chemical) effect observable on this folio, but right
now I'm only interested in one.  Here we see the image of the paint from
f3r, and notice that the moisture from the paint on the other side of the
folio causes some of the soluble portion of the ink to adhere better,
causing the ink to appear darker.  We see many dark portions on the edges of
the painted image, and in a few places we see a glyph split between the
painted image and regular vellum, where the portion of the glyph inside the
painted image is dark, but that outside is faded.  f3r, line 5, the <ch> in
word 2. (f3v.5.2 for reference.)  The o and <s?> in f3v.8.2.  (not up on my
EVA).  The last glyph in f3v.9.1 and the first half of the o beginning
f3v.9.2.  And most exemplary, the ending compound gallows and the o in
f3v.11.2.  This series gets dark EXACTLY at the border of the painted image.
Many dark glyph effects occur inside the painted image.

Well... some do and some don't, but what does that really tell us? For example, look at the word-final "s" of f3v.4.2 (EVA <chs>) - this crosses in and out of a patch of green bleed-through. Those parts of the letter inside the bleed-through are slightly darker than those outside it.

IMO, what examples like these tell us about the VMs' ink is that, for the most part, it simply hasn't got a thick enough consistency to completely cover the vellum - in image processing terms, it's "semi-transparent". This means that not only you can see the vellum beneath it, you can also see any bleed-through through it. No need to invoke mechanical / chemical effects at all.

But hold on a minute: look again at the top line of the same page, and you should see some very unVoynichese Voynichese going on. Words three and four (EVA <qotoa sha>) break most of the structure rules we're used to (no word-final a's, etc) - and in fact, I think you can see a faint tail on the sidfile beneath the first word-final <a>, where the original word was <qotoy>. Also, the second "o" of "qotoa" has a slightly different shape from other o's (it has a "v-notch" at the top) - IMO, these letters were retouched by someone who was not the author, who simply did not understand Voynichese. FWIW, the "a" of the "sha" word looks (IMO) more like a Renaissance hand, where the leftmost down-stroke of the "a" starts thicker but becomes thinner, rather than starting thin and broadening out - compare it (for example) with the third glyph on the same line.

Really, I think your selection of dark-letter evidence from this page does not support the theory you describe - sure, some are slightly darkened by the green bleedthrough (but that's surely because the ink is too thin to completely cover the vellum?), some strokes are obviously reinking splodges (as the ink-flow settles down after dipping the quill in the pot, analogous to the page I tried to mark up in an earlier mail) - but some are from retouching, which was done by someone who did not understand Voynichese... someone who was *not* the author.

This is just one page, but the effect holds for other pages as well.  In
some cases, if you want to know why certain portions of text are darker when
no reverse image is present, mirror and overlay the preceding page.  I'm not
certain if the paint itself absorbs and retains moisture in damp locations,
but I suspect it does, as it has had an affect on the text over the years.
Certain other folios have clear stains on them, and the ink within these
sections exhibits similar properties.  These stains were probably made in
the first two hundred years or so of the manuscripts life, just as a guess.

...which probably means we can rule out WMV, but not really anyone else. :-o

The ink and its various compounds has to be identified.  The fact that color
techniques demonstrate two types of ink may simply be that there is more
than one component to the ink, and it depends on which component survived
the best in the area you're examining.

Alternatively, if the same retouching ink was used (for example) for the foliation, then we might then be able to argue for the retouching's having been done after the VMs had been misbound. Personally, I think that we should be able to differentiate the retouching not only by ink colour, but also by quill technique - ie, from the precise shapes of the strokes. This kind of dual identification would surely be enough to prove different authorship.

The answer is simple - no one went through and touched up a portion of a
glyph here, a portion of a glyph there.

This is right - where he/she retouched a glyph, the retoucher seems to have retouched the whole glyph. Dark strokes seem to be largely from reinking: and dark parts of strokes seem to have arisen (especially in weak strokes) from bleed-through.

  The ink itself has a minimum of two
incompatible components, and one of them did not survive well.  Incompatible
as the components are, even their ability to exist in solution for any
period of time is questionable.  What may have appeared to be a uniformly
pigmented application when new is now discovered to be somewhat less than
uniform, as the water-soluble component (the pigment portion), was rarely
mixed well enough to be applied uniformly.  Those pigments exposed to
moisture early on had a better chance of survival, and when the ink was
thicker, as in the down strokes or o's, the chances of survival increased to
some degree.

I think this theory fails to explain away all the variations in darkness in the kind of systemic way you originally claimed. However, the ink splodge on f103r does seem to show two components to (what could well be) the brown ink: perhaps this would be a good place for Raman spectroscopy to try to separate out the physical makeup of those two components.

I have over 200 pages of physical evidence to support my conclusion, and a
great deal of time involved in examining these pages.  I don't understand
the need to introduce "copyists" "painters", or even "retouchers" when
considering the physical evidence, but I've seen other more misguided ideas
take hold.  I don't know who I will convince on the evidence itself, as it
is rarely brought to bear on a problem.  But I know that only one person
wrote this, one person drew it, one person colored it, that no other hands
were present in its creation.  Everything else can slide but the text.

Ultimately, I suspect that it will indeed turn out that (as you assert) only one scribe wrote the original text - but I also think that we will be able to systematically identify retouchers, and hence work out that which was added (in good faith, but perhaps also in error) to that original.

Why decode noise when you can decode signal? :-o

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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