Apr 17, 2023

The Voynich Manuscript, And Other Enduring Human Mysteries

Some mysteries are easily solved, while others take a lot of time and tenacity to get to the bottom of – and then there are those that, for whatever reason, continue to endure.

These mysteries have been around for centuries, and it doesn’t seem like we’re going to have all of the answers we want anytime soon.

The Total History Of Humans

That most of human history is undocumented and we will never know our entire history as a species. We didn’t start recording our history until 5000 BCE, we do know we shifted to agrarian societies around 10,000 BCE but beyond that we have no idea what we were like as a species, we will never know the undocumented parts of our history that spans 10s of thousands of years.

We are often baffled by the technological progress of our ancient ancestors, like those in SE asia who must have been masters of the sea to have colonized the variety of islands there and sailed vast stretches of ocean to land on Australia & New Zealand.

What is ironic is we currently have an immense amount of information about our world today & the limited documented history of our early days as a species but that is only a small fraction of our entire history.

The Voynich Manuscript

I dont know about “biggest”, but I always thought the Voynich Manuscript was very interesting. A huge book written in an unknown language or cipher that has never been translated or decoded with diagrams of plant species that don’t exist.

Lots of theories surrounding it, but no definitive answers as to the origins or the content.

As a mental health nurse who often is presented with pages of gobldegook by patients, I think it may be the writings of somebody who was suffering a mental health episode.

The Antikythera Mechanism

Not sure if it’s THE biggest mystery.

But the Antikythera mechanism is pretty wild.

Dated to at least 60BC, possibly as old as 200BC, it’s as complex as clockworks that didn’t show up until the 1400s, over a millennium later!

It’s just such a strange technological anomaly. Who made it? What else did they make and why haven’t we found more stuff as advanced?

“The Antikythera mechanism (/ˌæntɪkɪˈθɪərə/ AN-tih-kih-THEER-ə) is an Ancient Greek hand-powered orrery, described as the oldest known example of an analogue computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.”

The End of The Bronze Age

Between 1200 and 1150 BCE, most of the civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean region were either greatly depleted or collapsed entirely, bringing an abrupt end to the Bronze Age. These civilizations were massively depopulated, their palaces and cities were destroyed or abandoned, and some transformed into small, isolated village cultures or nomadic herders. The Greek Linear B script was lost, and there is no written record of the following period of Greek history, meaning that Greeks of the time were probably illiterate.

This rapid decline affected – to one extent or another – major historical powers like Mycenaean Greece, New Kingdom Egypt, the Hittite Empire, and Assyria, among others.

And we don’t know why it happened.

These were sprawling, thriving civilizations, with healthy economies, elaborate trade networks, complex bureaucracy, written language, and large-scale agriculture, and they just…died. For some reason. There are plenty of theories, of course, but ultimately there’s no conclusive evidence that tells the story of how the Bronze Age collapsed into the intermediate period that preceded the Iron Age.

I don’t know about you, but I’m about to fall into a rabbit hole.

Or a few, I suppose. No regrets.

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