Birchbark scrips and Russian Graffiti.

Once again thanks to the wonders of archaeology, we are able to recover artifacts such as birch bark writings and graffiti embedded into the deep layers of walls in several cathedrals in Russia. There are approximately 700 different birch bark writings that have been found around modern day Russia. Embedded deep in many meters of damp soil these scripts can be extracted. The dampness is responsible for the preservation of the writings. (p-71) Although we are able to clearly see characters inscribed in the birchbark, they are very tricky to read as they come in small fractions of a whole. (p-71) From these various writings that can be anything from a simple business note or a doodle to an intimate letter we can take away how they ate, what the currency was, and what they wore. (birchbark script n-384, p-72)

The other form of writings recovered from ancient Russia, graffiti, can be found on the deep layers of cathedral walls. These writings were very brief and most of the time the authors name is rarely revealed. Likewise, dates that can not be unveiled can be dated by a reference to a god, like in the case of #10 inscription.  (p-72) On the surface of the walls, the naked eye could only see a normal wall, however during restoration periods the graffiti was uncovered.

Discussion questions post reading…

1.) What type of people would be writing these birchbark scripts? For instance, businessmen and bureaucrats were most likely able to write, but who were responsible these random doodles? What percentage of the population could read and write? My assumption is that birch bark wasn’t very hard to come by, so was everybody writing?

2.) How well do the stories in the chronicle line up with the grafiti in the cathedrals? why is this so critical to what we know about Russian history.