Valeriano, 1556

An image of adoration from Valeriano. (Valeriano, 1556)

The most mysterious of all codes were the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, the land of Hermes Trismegistus, which many scholars of the occult believed disclosed "the true nature of things divine and human” (Hieroglyphica, sive De sacris Aegyptiorum literis commentarii, 1556).

Pietro Valeriano's study of Egyptian hieroglyphics, published in Basel in 1556, is a  compilation of all the hieroglyphic knowledge of his time and was derived from late Greek sources including a text discovered in 1422 on the island of Andros. Valeriano dedicated his book to Cosimo  de' Medici.

The most important scholar of Eygptian Hieroglyphs during the Renaissance was polymath Athanasius Kircher. Kircher was a prolific scholar and inventor, and cat-crazy - he insisted that his own cats dress for dinner.  

Kircher, 1667

Hieroglyphs interpreted by Kircher. Presumably these are Babel fish.(Image from Kircher, 1667)

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