First birch bark certificate. Opening of birch bark letters
Birch bark letters are records made on birch bark. They are monuments of ancient Russian writing XI-XV centuries. Their greatest value lies in the fact that they themselves have become sources for studying the history of medieval society, while not only the language, but also everyday life.
By the way, not only the Russians used birch bark as a material for writing. In this capacity, she served for many other nations of the world. Birch bark letter, in a word, is among the most ancient types of writing.
A bit of history
When did birch bark become widespread in Ancient Rus as a material convenient for writing? Apparently, this happened no later than the XI century. However, after five centuries, it began to lose its relevance and went out of use, since during this period in Russia such material for writing as parchment - a special type of paper - was widely used.Nevertheless, some scribes continued to use the usual birch bark, but, as you understand, birch bark began to occur extremely rarely, because on paper it was much more convenient to write. Gradually, bark began to be used mainly for draft entries.
Nowadays, each found bark letter is carefully studied by experts and numbered. Two finds are simply striking: huge birch bark sheets, on which literary works are recorded. One of them has the number 17, it was found in Torzhok. The other, Novgorod, diploma is known under the number 893.
Scientists have found them on the ground in the unfolded state. Perhaps they were once thrown away because they lost their relevance, but maybe there was once an archive or other institution in which they were kept in this place.
Nevertheless, the Novgorod birch bark letters were found in such large numbers that it clearly indicates that some office was once located in the place of discovery, which was engaged in archiving various documents.
Description of finds
Usually, searchers find letters etched on birch bark in the form of a rolled-up scroll. And the text on them is usually scratched: either on the inside, or on both sides.However, there are cases when the letters are located underground in the expanded state. The peculiarity of these letters is that the text is placed in a solid line in them, that is, without division into separate words.
A typical example of this is the birch bark number 3, found in Moscow. Among the finds were found scraps of birch bark with scratched letters. Historians believe that the owners of these letters in order to keep secret the information contained in them, tore and bark into small pieces.
Opening of birch bark letters
By the way, the fact that in Russia there existed such writing material as birch bark documents was known long before archaeologists discovered them. Indeed, in some archives preserved entire books written on stratified bark. However, they all belonged to a later period than those found.
The first birch bark certificate dates back to the 11th century, and those books that are kept in churches and archives date back to the 17th and even 19th centuries, that is, the period when parchment and paper were already actively used by scribes. So why were these manuscripts made on bark? The fact is that they all belong to the Old Believers, that is, conservative. In the Volga region, near Saratov, in 1930, archeologists found a birch bark Golden Horde script of the XIV century.Unlike the first, the record was written on it in ink.
The nature of birch bark letters
Most of the records found on birch bark are both private and public. These are IOUs, household instructions, lists, petitions, wills, merchants, court records, etc.
However, among them there are also letters containing church texts, such as prayers, teachings, etc. Of particular interest are birch bark manuscripts, which are literary works and educational materials, such as alphabet, school exercises, homework with children's scribbles, etc. d.
The birch bark letters found in the 50s containing the drawings of the boy Onfim are very interesting. They belong to the 13th century. A distinctive feature of any and all letters is short and pragmatic. Since they do not pray to be large, the scribes here recorded only the most important. However, love lyrics were not alien to our ancestors, and among the manuscripts you can find love notes written by the hand of a woman or a man in love. In a word, the discovery of birch-bark certificates to some extent helped those in love with expressing their secret feelings.
Where were the manuscripts from birch bark found?
The environs of Veliky Novgorod are the places where Soviet archeologists found bark. Along with it, metal or bone sharpened rods were also discovered, which were primitive writing tools — original medieval pens. Rather, they were found before the discovery of the bark letters. Only archaeologists initially believed that the pointed objects they had found were either hairpins or nails.
However, their true purpose was established only after the discovery of letters, that is, after 15-20 years, in the 50s of the last century. Indeed, because of the Patriotic War, the expedition, begun in the middle of the 1930s, was suspended. Thus, the first letter was discovered in July 1951 at the Nerevsky excavation site. It contained "land" and "gift", that is, records of feudal duties in favor of Thomas, Ieva and Timothy. This diploma was found by archaeologist Nina Akulova from Novgorod. For which she received a prize of 100 rubles, and the day of discovery, July 26, became the Day of Birch Bark.
After the death of an archaeologist, a monument was erected at her grave with an inscription indicating this event.During that archaeological season, 9 more birch bark documents were found. And among them is the one that more interested scientists. The story was written on the letter. Birch bark letters of that period were mostly business-like, but this could be attributed to fiction.
As noted above, the bark, adapted for writing, did not have large sizes, so everything contained in it was described briefly and concisely. “About the unlucky fellow” is a real story. Birch bark letters were used as the main material for writing, just as in the mountain peoples for this were rocks or walls of caves.
List of cities where birch bark certificates were found
Up to 2014, about 1060 letters on bark were found on the territory of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. We present to your attention a list of cities, near which they were found:
- Nizhny Novgorod;
- Velikiy Novgorod;
- Ryazan and others.
This is the story of birch bark. They once served as writing material.Since birch grows only in certain areas, is a real Russian, or rather, Slavic tree, then this kind of writing was common among Slavic peoples, including in Medieval Russia.