LUXEMBOURG-VILLE — A woman who is relatively new to the Grand Duchy has found herself “totally perplexed” by a cryptic booklet she mysteriously received in the mail last month.
Michelle Hedeman, an Amazon employee who was transferred to Luxembourg in March, says that immediately upon inspecting the 122-page manuscript, she knew it contained secrets.
“Page after page of words in a weird and possibly extinct foreign language,” she said. “Is it a sacred text from an ancient civilization? A coded message from a long deceased military intelligence officer?”
Hedeman showed the manuscript to her group of expat friends who were also stumped by the odd symbols. One pointed out that it resembled the Voynich manuscript — the cryptic mediaeval collection that continues to puzzle scholars.
Desperate to understand the manuscript, the 41-year-old manager contacted London-based cryptographer Simon Bunting, who studied it for several weeks before admitting that he was perplexed and couldn’t say with certainty what it was — or why it had been slipped into Hedeman’s mailbox.
“The paper material appears to be derived from wood, and carbon dating suggests it’s four or five months old, but I cannot be certain of its provenance,” Bunting explained. “As for the mysterious characters on the pages, they seem randomly placed and I can’t make sense of them, but they appear to be Germanic or Latin-based, or some combination of the two.”
“As for the content itself, in my opinion it’s pure gibberish, the product of a madman or a prankster, and a very dedicated one at that,” he added. “Yes, a rich prankster with a wild imagination, plenty of free time, and his very own printing press.”
Unsatisfied, Hedeman decided to ask a local for help. She showed the manuscript to her Luxembourgish neighbor. The former civil servant hypothesized that the manuscript might be some kind of official report sent by the commune. He said that although he has been getting similar booklets for years, he has never actually opened one.
Hedeman, however, discounts the theory as “ridiculous.”
“Why would officials waste all that time, paper, and money creating this thing and sending it out, especially when people like me can’t even read it?” Hedeman said. “And even if it was some kind of official report and I could read it, would I?”