Other theories argue that the text’s meaning is concealed in tiny markings on the individual characters themselves, or that it contains a naturally occurring, non-European language that has been rewritten with an invented alphabet. In 2003, Gordon Rugg, a computer scientist at Keele University, claimed to have created a bogus language similar to Voynichese by using a “grille” to place invented letters on a page at random. But doubts about the claims have since arisen. “I don’t really think he proved or disproved anything,” says Dr Hodgins.
One of the theories that has gained ground in recent years, says Prof Rubio, is that the manuscript employs steganography to conceal its contents. This means that some or even most of the text is nonsense, and that only parts or even individual characters form part of the language. If this method was indeed employed, in addition to a cipher, then translating the contents might be exceedingly difficult.
Put on the spot, Dr Hodgins says: “It’s either a secret alchemical text, with the pictures telling a story