The Cipher

Nada Aldarrab, Kevin Knight, Beáta Megyesi

The cipher

The Cipher is a 408 pages manuscript, probably from the 17th century. The manuscript is located at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, called

The cipher consists of 34 different characters, comprising all from abstract, esoteric symbols to Roman letters, and some diacritics. Catchwords (preview fragments) of one to five characters are often written at the bottom of left–hand pages. The entire manuscript is endoded with the exception of the first and last two pages, and some headings in Latin that can be found in the first part of the manuscript.

The book is transcribed, transliterated and deciphered and brought to light a text in Latin (and partly Italian) describing how to treat various kinds of symptoms and diseases and reveals other pharmaceptic knowledge or secrets of that time.


  • Text in transcription: txt
  • (Automatically) deciphered Latin text: txt
  • Corrected Latin text with translation: txt [by Urban Örneholm]
  • English translation: txt [by Urban Örneholm: Comments]
  • Key: txt
  • Key

    decipherment table

    Contact information

    If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: Nada Aldarrab, Kevin Knight, or Beáta Megyesi.


    We would like to thank Delio Proverbio at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana who directed our attention to the encoded manuscript, Kajsa Johansson for helping us transcribing almost the whole the manuscript, Urban Örneholm for the correction of the automatically deciphered Latin text and for the English translation, Ambjörn Sjörs for the interpretation of the first page, and Hans Helander for advice concerning the Latin text.

    This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council, grant E0067801 DECODE: Automatic decryption of historical manuscripts.

    Last Update: January 22, 2018