Archeologists have found a well-preserved ancient Russian bark document in Veliky Novgorod, which is the administrative center of Russia's north-western region, July 22.
The document was found at the Troitsky excavation site the other day by first-year history-department students from Moscow State University. This excavation site is located not far from Veliky Novgorod's kremlin.
According to experts, this 28-centimeter message from the past, is almost intact. Judging by the culture layer, this letter was presumably written in the late 12th century.
This ancient Russian bark letter is signed by a man named Radko, who is writing to his father. Radko is telling him about some commercial conflict; the letter also mentions a trade partner's murder, as well as the city of Smolensk, to where some consignment had been sent.
The letter's author says that he faces a prison term; a man named Foma must either come and bring 400 grivnas with him; or he must transfer this sum total; this is the only way to avoid being imprisoned. (400 grivnas totalled about 20 kg of silver in ancient Rus - Ed.)
According to experts, the letter's author was quite laconic; his handwriting was also good enough. Historians haven't yet deciphered only one word from this rather long text.
This is the second ancient bark document to be discovered by Russian archeologists in 2004, say people at the Novgorod-based center for organizing and supporting archeological expeditions. The first such bark document was found in Veliky Novgorod in 1951; meanwhile archeologists have unearthed 952 bark documents to date.
Academician Valentin Yanin, academic supervisor of the Novgorod archeological expedition, estimates that local culture layers may contain as many as 20,000 similar bark documents.