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Rohonc Codex: The Historical Mystery Book

Satyajeet Vispute
Rohonc Codex is a book which literally cannot be read, at least till now! Confused? Read this Mysticurious write-up to find out why.

Give it a Shot!

Partial sections of the Rohonc Codex can easily be found on the Internet, which have been put up for the benefit of amateurs who wish to try their hand at decoding it.
Books are a wealth of knowledge. But what if this wealth is locked up behind an impenetrable door of cryptography? Such is the case with the Rohonc Codex - one of the most mysterious of historical volumes.

In the following lines, we shall look at the history of this book, followed by an exploration into the reasons why it seems to be impossible to read.

Rohonc Codex History

Rohonc Codex first appeared in Hungary in the 19th century. It was a part of the collection of a nobleman by the name of Count Gusztáv Batthyány, who donated his entire personal library to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in 1838.
The Codex is listed in the catalog of Batthyány's library. However, information on the book's origins is unavailable. The book was named after the city of Rohonc, in Wester, Hungary, where it remained till it was donated.

Facts and Mystery

The true origins of the Codex are unknown. The best trace on it is the year 1743, when it was entered in the catalog of Batthyánys' Rohonc library as 'Magyar imádságok, volumen I in 12', which when translated means 'Hungarian prayers in one volume, sizeb duodecimo'.
The book comprises a total of 448 pages of indecipherable text, apparently arranged from right-to-left, and includes both straight and round characters, similar to other old Hungarian scripts. However, the number of alphabetic characters are much more in number than any known archaic language which was used in or around Hungary at that time.
Historians and scholars opine that, the language of the text could be either Hindi to Hungarian, even though it clearly lacks the characteristic elements of these.
The paper in the Codex is watermarked with a unique symbol. It consists of a what appears to be an anchor inscribed within a circle, which is again present inside a six-rayed star.
This watermark dates back to 1529 - 1540, though the book itself seems to have been written earlier than that. Most likely, the Codex was transcribed after its initial creation, which makes it difficult to establish the date of its origin.
The mysterious characters and symbols in the Codex are also accompanied by 87 illustrations. These include depictions of wars, landscapes, and religious icons hinting at several different religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.
This does increase the ambiguity, but may even indicate that perhaps, the writer belonged to a culture where these religions might have coexisted.

Decoding Attempts and Forgery Claims

For several years now, researches and amateurs have tried to decode the contents of the Rohonc Codex, and translate it into a modern language. However, till date, no one has been successful at it.
Hungarian scholars had already begun attempting to make sense of the writing in the Codex back in the 1840s. Similar efforts were made in 1884 and 1890, but none of them reached a solid conclusion.
Over the years, many partial translations have come up, each offering its own unique explanation. One scholar proclaimed that the Codex is a religious document, while another noted that it described the history of the Vlachs - a Latin culture believed to have existed in Romania. Unfortunately, however, none of these claims are supported by enough evidences.
In 1866, Hungarian historian Károly Szabó declared that the Codex was actually a forgery, and therefore a fake. He stated that, it was actually written by an antiquarian named Sámuel Literáti Nemes (1796 - 1842).
Nemes was known to have produced a number of forged documents and books, and so it wouldn't be a surprise if the Rohonc Codex was made by him. However, numerous attempts to conclusively link Nemes to the Codex have all been unsuccessful.
In modern times, attempts have been made at deciphering the Codex using methodical procedures as well as computers and other powerful tools. Still, the veil of mystery over this book hasn't been lifted yet.
The origin and content of the Rohonc Codex continues to remain a mystery even today. Many have tried to decipher it in the past, without success. But it is possible that with further studies, one day we may be able to unlock the knowledge that it hides.