The late medieval VM has resisted decryption and was considered a meaningless
hoax or an unsolvable cipher. Here, we provide evidence that the VM is written in
natural language by establishing a relation of the V alphabet and the Iranian Pahlavi script. Many of the V characters are upside-down versions of their Pahlavi counterparts, which may be an effect of different writing directions. Other V letters can be explained as ligatures or departures from Pahlavi with the intent to cope with known problems due to the stupendous ambiguity of Pahlavi text. While a translation of the VM text is not attempted here, we can confirm the V-Pahlavi relation at the character level by the transcription of many words from the VM illustrations and from parts of the main text. Many of the transcribed words can be identified as terms from Zoroastrian cosmology which is in line with the use of Pahlavi script in Zoroastrian communities from medieval times.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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