The word “anchiton”
Posted: 14 April 2017 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello!
My name is Yulia. I am a newcomer to this forum. Although I’m not a linguist, not a paleographer, I’ve tried to examine an origin of a certain word in connection to my main research. I need an opinion of experts in the field of philology and hope you will have a nice time reading my post.
I was thrilled that this forum contains a few threads about the MS 408 (the so called Voynich manuscript), as it is an object of my interest. The marginalia on its last page include the word “anchiton” (the first word of the second line). Some read “michiton”, but there are two arguments for “anchiton”: 1) many experts and researchers consider the first letter to be “a”; 2) the word “michiton” seems to make no sense in the introduced reading. In the same time, “anchiton” appears in a few late medieval texts. I think, it can be especially interesting, since 1) its origin is still unclear, 2) it is appeared in quite different texts, 3) descriptions of properties of the object named “anchiton” are pretty similar.
The aim of this study is to find a sensible explanation of this word, as I don’t believe that this is an accidentally distorted word or a meaningless magical word.
I think, this word appeared in different times and different sources not by accident. It really existed, but it seems, we just lost its roots after centuries, which, likely, were more ancient, than we think. Maybe, its etymology is just unrevealed yet and not examined well.
Please, read my paper. What do you think? Does it make sense?

[ Edited: 16 April 2017 06:37 AM by Yulia ]
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Posted: 14 April 2017 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Do you have an image of the page? The link you provide requires a login. I can’t say much about it it without looking at a facsimile. Neither anchiton nor michiton appear in either the OED or MED, and without some context, there’s not much to say. I don’t even know what language it’s supposed to be. Latin?

(And nitpicking, but it’s “Beinecke MS 408.” There’s lots of MS 408s floating about. You need to identify the library and or collection, in this case Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.)

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Posted: 14 April 2017 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Most scholars now believe the Voynich MS to be a medieval hoax. It’s certainly a clever one but most unlikely to contain any profound secrets or startling new knowledge.

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Posted: 15 April 2017 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you for your replies!
Yes, the last page (f116) of the Beinecke MS 408 was meant.
In fact, I want to study the word “anchiton” in the historical context previously, then I could decide whether it could make sense in the marginalia of the Voynich manuscript. On my view, the history of this word is interesting itself.
All my links are inside of the document (234 kB), but I can’t attach it here, because of the limit for attachments (75 kB). Please, advice me, what to do.

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anchiton f116v.jpg
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Posted: 15 April 2017 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Although those letters look a bit like “anchiton”, on closer inspection of the whole document, they are six Voynichian characters. It’s just more gobbledygook.

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Posted: 15 April 2017 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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They’re not quite Voynichian characters. It’s Latin script with some Voynichian characteristics. It’s still gobbledygook though.

Fol. 116v is in a very different hand from the main text in the manuscript, possibly even by a different scribe.

I doubt there is any meaning that can be extracted from it.

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Posted: 15 April 2017 04:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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OP Tipping - 15 April 2017 01:41 AM

Although those letters look a bit like “anchiton”, on closer inspection of the whole document, they are six Voynichian characters. It’s just more gobbledygook.

What’s a very striking thing is that the half part of the “Voynich” characters were common Latin letters and abbreviations in medieval times.
This is not so essential now, so I’ve changed the name of the thread.
I see that you need to see my paper to understand, what I mean on the whole, therefore I’ll put my study into posts divided into parts, but without links (I have no time to duplicate all of them).
Part 1.
The marginalia on the last page of the Voynich manuscript (MS 408, Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library) include the word “anchiton” (the first word of the second line). Some read “michiton”, but there are two arguments for “anchiton”: 1) many experts and researchers consider the first letter to be “a”; 2) the word “michiton” seems to make no sense in the introduced reading. In the same time, “anchiton” appears in a few late medieval texts. I think, it can be especially interesting, since 1) its origin is still unclear, 2) it is appeared in quite different texts, 3) descriptions of properties of the object named “anchiton” are pretty similar.
The aim of this study is to find a sensible explanation of this word, as I don’t believe that this is an accidentally distorted word or a meaningless magical word.
I think, this word appeared in different times and different sources not by accident. It really existed, but it seems, we just lost its roots after centuries, which, likely, were more ancient, than we think. Maybe, its etymology is just unrevealed yet and not examined well.
As it turns out, Nicolas de Lyre (1270-1349) used the word “anchiton” instead of “amianton”. Was it a conscious substitution or an accidental mistake? It is hardly to imagine, how much possible making of the error in 3-4 letters due to the transliteration.
1. The Biblia Sacra: ... continet Pentateuchum, Nempe Genesim, Exodum, Leuiticum, Numerum, & Deuteronomium. T.1.
“Et de huiusmodi lignis, quae ex sentencia Hieronymi putantur esse de lignis paradisi, censetur esse constructum altare holocausti, ne a vicino igne eius structura concremaretur. Imo dicunt esse aliud genus ligni, quod dicitur Anchiton: quod quidem quanto plus arserit, tanto mundius euadit.”
2. The Index alphabeticus: selectas omnes continens sententias ex ... Nicolai de ... 1545
Wikipedia (page: Nicholas of Lyra):
[He (Nicolas de Lyre) deplored the tortured and elaborated readings being given to Scripture in his time. The textual basis was so important that he urged that errors be corrected with reference to Hebrew texts...]

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Posted: 15 April 2017 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Part 2.
Domingo Banez possibly uses Lyra’s quote, therefore it is the same:
Scholastica commentaria in primam partem ... S. Thomae: a quastione LXV Domingo Banez
There are a few other books from XVI to XIX cc. with the same word “anchiton” in the same fragment. Most likely, it is because they used the same source and quotes of Nicholas of Lyra.
The original word, transcribed in Latin is “amianton" (ἀμίαντον), which means “undefiled”, “uncorrupted”, “unpolluted”, i. e. “pure” in Greek.
Saint Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia. About Fasting (De jejunio), Sermon 1 (translation from the original Greek text):
[Once fasting was discovered, all the saints were led by the hand into the divine way of life. There is a certain kind of substance, that the Greeks call amianton, that is impervious to fire. When it is placed in the flame, it seems to be made of coal, but when it comes up out of the fire, it is cleaner than if it had been washed in water. That’s what the bodies of those three children were like; they had bodies of amianton from fasting in Babylonia. For in the great fiery furnace, their nature being like gold, was then demonstrated to be superior when they were drawn from the fire unhurt.]
But there are many examples with the original spelling “amianton” in the other works in the same quote of St. Jerome that Nicolas de Lyre used:
It is correct in all (early and late) publications of works of Beda (Venerabilis).
Luigi Lippomana, Jeronimo de Prado and others use this word in original state, the Commentaria in Exodum contains original spelling in comments and Latinized - in the text, Catena in Exodum ex auctoribus ecclesiasticis plus minus sexaginta ... connexa 1550, 1557 – original Greek spelling.
Omnia Opera: Index In Tomos Omnes Opervm Diui Hieronymi:
a) 1520 (amianton lignum)
b) 1538 (amianton linum) It is interesting to see this variant (linum = flax) here, as from the early times asbestos was called “stone flax” or “mountain flax”.
Just a thought: Maybe, someone considered “linum” an error and corrected it into “lignum”? 
By a lucky chance :-) this word (αμίαντος, -ον) is one of Greek names for asbestos.
To the note - from the commentaries to the “Historia de praeliis”:
[the fabric, which resists fire and iron, which he (Alexander the Great) overmold the iron gates <is called here>: antichiton and anchiton. The true spelling of this word is uncertain <there is a also a useful footnote>. Muller believes that asbestos is meant.]
1.Verslagen en mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afdeeling Letterkunde:
[ ...boreum (in de Hebreeuwsche vertaling zijn uit dezen naam twee gemaakt en heet de eene berg Practanicon, de andere Boreon), en de stof, die vuur en ijzer weerstaat en waarmede hij de ijzeren poorten omgiet: antichiton en anchiton.]
2.Revue des études juives, 1881 (Journal of Judaica)
[Tune continuo deprecatus est deum Alexander impensius exaudivitque ejus deprecationes et precepit deus duobus montibus quibus est vocabulum promunctorium boreum, et adjuncti sunt ad invicem usque cubitos xii, et statim construxit portas heneas et circumfudit eas antichiton quod a ferro non corrumpitur nec ab igné solvilur.Talis est enim natura anchiton, quod ferrum consranget (constringet?) in comminationem ignemque, ut aqua extinguit et nullus prevalet ad eos intrare nec illi ullo modo exinde exire.]

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Posted: 15 April 2017 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Part 3
Naturally, the word antichiton or anchiton looks like a Greek word built of anti(pref.)-chiton(root) or an(pref.)-chiton(root), where an- and anti- are prefixes: a- or an-, “not, without”; anti- “against, opposed to, opposite of, instead”; and the root “chiton”, which can be a Latin transcription of “χιτων” (a tunic) or “κητων” (a whale), etc. Obviously, there is no sense in this combination in the needed context. Hebrew (khettonet) and Aramaic “cheton” (also “keton”, “kheton”, etc.) originally implies flax or linen, or linen clothes.
Read here and here .
As it was mentioned, asbestos frequently was called “flax”, “stone-flax”, “mountain flax”, “linum vivum” (Pliny the Elder), etc. So, I see here a strong possibility.
1."Asbestos and Fire: Technological Tradeoffs and the Body at Risk” (read a very detailed and interesting history here)
2.Asbestos and Other Fibrous Materials: Mineralogy, Crystal Chemistry, and ...
I suppose that the original word was “antichiton”, indeed, afterwards it was shortened to “anchiton”. This word, on my opinion, is a connection of the Greek preposition “anti” and the borrowed Hebrew word “cheton” (linen), which means “instead of linen” or “as a substitute for linen cloth”. Perhaps, it implies rather asbestine (linen) cloth, then flax or asbestos itself.
It is notable, as well:
1.Cod. C (III cap.26 ed. Didot p. 138 b)
[Alexander praised the Deity and built copper gates, which he smeared with “asicheton”, a substance which would make it impossible to “decopper” the gates, i.e. it would make it impossible for fire or iron to damage the copper plating. Inside of the gates, until the plane, he planted thorns, which ended up covering the mountains.]
2.Cod. B (III cap. 29 ed. Didot p. 142 (?) seq.)
[The Lord makes the mountains move again and Alexander builds a copper gate. He covers it on both sides with “asochiton” (or asichyton, asycheton), so it would become impossible to “decopper” them. Because it extinguishes fire and crushes iron.]
So, the Legend about Alexander the Great was translated in X century, reedited in XI c. and in XIV c. with corrections. Most likely, editors doubted in the word of our interest, therefore changed it every time. I have no idea, whether the original Greek text is spared or not, it would be great to check it.
On my opinion, the word, transcribed as “asicheton”, “asychiton”, “asycheton” or “asochiton”, in fact, likely “ασικητον”, could be an alternative (ancient?) spelling of the word “αθικτος,ον" (athiktos,on), where the sound “th” was changed to “s” (Question: Is it possible?). This word means intactus, integer, illibatus, intemeratus (Latin), in English - not to be touched, intact, inviolable, undamaged, undefiled, pure, sacred. For what it worth, it is an almost absolute synonym of the word “amianton”, which is an adjective with the meaning undefiled and a name for asbestos.
Conclusions:
1) Anchiton can be a shortened version of the word antichiton, which can mean a substance, similar to / replacing linen cloth ("anti cheton"). It seems that it has very ancient roots;
2) Amianton is well known name of asbestos in Greek nowadays, literally it means “not polluted”, “not defiled”, “pure” or “virgin”, but there is a word with the similar original meaning and the same meaning in tote. This word is “αθικτος” (athiktos), in English – literally “not touched”, “intact”, also “virgin”, “pure”, “sacred”. Latin glossaries translate the Latin word “intactus” into Greek as “αθικτος” and “αμιαντος”. The word athiktos is a quite consonant to the word “, probably, “ασικητος”, mentioned in translations of the legend about Alexander the Great, Gog and Magog, as a fabric, which was to protect the Iron gates from corrosion and fire;
3) Asbestos and, quite possibly, asbestine cloth was known to people from early times. But medieval scholars most likely only met mentions about this enigmatic and sacred thing in ancient documents and seem to not understand clearly, what this is until the end of XVI century, therefore transcriptions of Greek words, which implied this substance were often distorted and their meaning – substituted by another things (soapstone, lime-stone, plants, wood, etc.)
I find very strange and interesting that the “Historia de proeliis” translations of X-XIV century describe a substance (protecting gates from fire) with pretty similar properties as “amianton” of Saint Basil and Hieronimus, and “anchiton” (ligni genus vel ligno simile) of Nicholas of Lyra. Was there another earlier sources with the same word and its transcription? It is a riddle.

P. S.
I can’t be sure that exactly Nicholas of Lyra, using St. Jerome’s (or Beda’s?) quote, changed the word amianton to anchiton in his critical work. Both: Domingo Banez in his Scholastica commentaria in primam partem ... S. Thomae: a quastione LXV and Nicholas of Lyra in the Biblia Sacra: ... continet Pentateuchum, Nempe Genesim, Exodum, Leuiticum, Numerum, & Deuteronomium. T.1. use the same substitution. It’s notable that Banez’s work refers to Thomas Aquinas critique, as well, Wikipedia says that works of Thomas Aquinas also were a source for Lyra’s studying and texts. I just couldn’t find the needed evidence in the texts of Aquinas, which are publicly available in the Internet, besides, I can’t read and clearly understand Lyra’s and Banez’s texts, because of difficulty of translation from Latin.

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Posted: 15 April 2017 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I see that the limit for PM attachments is larger, than for posts, so I can attach my paper with all the links in a PM for all comers.

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