Shared posts

29 Oct 11:07

A Child’s Drawings Preserved over the Centuries by “Magical Mud”

by Allison Meier
One of Onfim's drawings (1240-1260) (via Wikimedia)

One of a boy named Onfim’s drawings (1240–60), scratched on birch bark and discovered in Novgorod, Russia (via Wikimedia)

In one region of Russia, the consistency of the earth is just right that manuscripts dating back centuries emerge almost perfectly preserved. Over the past year, more than 1,000 of these birch bark artifacts from the 11th to 14th centuries have been exhumed from the soil of Novgorod, adding to a growing archive of written history.

A birch bark document involving the case of a buying a stolen slave (12th century) (via

A birch bark document discussing the purchase of a stolen slave (12th century) (via (click to enlarge)

David M. Herszenhorn recently explained this phenomenon in the New York Times, writing, “Experts say the wet, clay soil that lies under Novgorod, and contains little or no oxygen, has the unusual chemical quality that preserves both hard artifacts made of metal and items made of softer material like leather.” This “magical mud,” as the author puts it, has made Novgorod a sort of archaeological center for the country. In the Times piece, Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology Pyotr G. Gaidukov proclaims: “Novgorod for Russia is like Pompeii for Italy [...] Only Novgorod is still alive.”

Well, sort of — except Novgorod is not quite so ancient. But there are similarities, in that both places have a natural reason for their incredible preservation: in Pompeii it was the layers of ash and rock from the volcano that destroyed it, and in Novgorod it’s the preservative ground (a sort of Pet Sematary of archaeology). Historians started finding the birch bark documents etched with writing in Old Novgorod back in the 1950s. Birch bark texts haven’t just been found in Russia, however; there are Buddhist manuscripts on the wood from in Afghanistan that date to the 1st century. The soft wood, when scratched with metal, wood, or bone, was widely used as writing material before the availability of paper.

One of the Onfim birch bark drawings (1240-1260) (via

One of the Onfim birch bark drawings (1240–60) (via

Besides the scrolls being impressively intact, almost as if they were buried yesterday, there’s another reason they hold our interest. Since the bark was accessible to almost everyone, the remnants of text and drawings aren’t just by the elite, but anyone from paupers to merchants to imaginative kids. The most famous of the birch bark texts are the scribblings of a boy named Onfim. Estimated to have been between six and seven years old when he made them, Onfim idly drew himself as a grown warrior and disguised as a beast; the aspirational art isn’t much different from the drawings of children adorning refrigerators today. Often these seemingly inconsequential relics don’t survive the passage of time.

There are also the remains of less savory history, like slave trading, crime reports, as well as business records and personal letters. As book historian Erik Kwakkel explained earlier this year, there are even marriage proposals, including one that states directly: “Marry me — I want you and you want me, and the witness to that is Ignat Moiseev.”

An online database (in Russian only) allows viewers to search by year, location, excavation, and type of document through the hundreds of birch bark examples; the results include transcriptions of their contents.

One of the Onfim birch bark drawings, showing the boy disguised as a beast (1240-1260) (via

One of the Onfim birch bark drawings, showing the boy disguised as a beast (1240–60) (via

You can view the archive of Novgorod birch bark manuscripts online (the site is only in Russian).

29 Oct 08:26

whoopsie daisies

31 Oct 16:25

Michael Penna happy halloween from the flux machine!

Michael Penna

happy halloween from the flux machine!

31 Oct 16:38

by (Carolyn)

31 Oct 17:34

It's usually the reason why

28 Oct 14:09

Simon Tourneboeuf – Arm Lamps, Clavicle Knives, and Beyond

by Vanessa Ruiz
Arm, Lamp, 2013

Arm, Lamp, 2013

Arm, Lamp, 2013

Arm, Lamp, 2013

Thoracic cage, Perch, 2014

Thoracic cage, Perch, 2014

Skull, Mortar, 2014

Skull, Mortar, 2014

Clavicle, Knife, 2013

Clavicle, Knife, 2013

Clavicle, Knife, 2013

Clavicle, Knife, 2013

Radius/Ulna, Nunchaku, 2014

Radius/Ulna, Nunchaku, 2014

Fracture, Salt and pepper mills, 2012/2014

Fracture, Salt and pepper mills, 2012/2014

simon tourneboeuf functional skeleton simon tourneboeuf functional skeleton skull

A longtime follower of Street Anatomy, French sculptor Simon Tourneboeuf recently shared his transformations of human anatomy into functional wooden sculptures. Thus the skull becomes a mortar, the arm a lamp, the clavicle a deadly knife, all giving a unique take on the concept of functional anatomy. Each wooden tool seamlessly fits into a complete skeleton.

The craftsmanship of Simon’s work is simply incredible! Definitely check out more of his sculptural work at



28 Oct 22:26

I love Halloween

28 Oct 17:32

A facebook feed I would actually enjoy reading

27 Oct 11:23

I admit, I laughed harder than I should of.

27 Oct 04:15

A comic about Seagulls.If you feel like this comic doesn’t...

A comic about Seagulls.

If you feel like this comic doesn’t accurately represent you, and that you personally don’t act like this, good. That means this comic isn’t about you.

If you DO act like this, and are working on a counter argument about how not all _____ are ______ , well that’s just disappointing. 

26 Oct 18:24

historicaltimes: Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart...


Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart wearing an early helmet camera to capture on-board footage, 1966.

26 Oct 20:06

Sometimes when your Bored ... brilliant ideas fill your mind

26 Oct 19:54

19th century spring-loaded carved dick in a box

19th century spring-loaded carved dick in a box

25 Oct 19:29

Sorry you didn't get the job

25 Oct 22:49

Bring your children to work day

26 Oct 04:07

Inappropriate in every sense...

25 Oct 02:00

Using Excel to Watch Movies at Work

by Josh Marsh


The Excel subreddit exploded earlier this week when redditor [AyrA_ch] shared his custom spreadsheet that allowed him to play video files on a locked-down work computer. How locked down? With no access to Windows Media Player and IE7 as the only browser (all plugins disabled, no HTML5), Excel became the unlikely hero to cure a 3-hour boredom stint.

Behind the cascade of rectangles and in the land of the Excel macro, [AyrA_ch] took advantage of the program’s VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) functions to circumvent the computer’s restrictions. Although VBA typically serves the more-complex-than-usual macro, it can also invoke some Windows API commands, one of which calls Windows Media Player. The Excel file includes a working playlist and some rudimentary controls: play, pause, stop, etc. as well as an inspired pie chart countdown timer.

As clever as this hack is, the best feature is much more subtle: tricking in-house big brother. [AyrA_ch]‘s computer ran an application to monitor process usage, but any videos played through the spreadsheet were attributed to Excel, ensuring the process usage stayed on target. You can download it for yourself over on GitHub.

Filed under: security hacks, software hacks, video hacks
24 Oct 17:24

The geography of NFL fandom.

The geography of NFL fandom.

17 Oct 05:29

Hispanic supermarket coming to south Downey

Cary Renquist

Wow. Downey is finally evolving? A few years ago somebody was going to put a supermarket in that building called "Fiesta Mart" -- the city made them change the name to "Fresh Mart" (because old white farts). It never did open...

DOWNEY aS' Vallarta Supermarkets will open a grocery store at the mostly-abandoned Beach's Market property on the southwest corner of Imperial Highway and Paramount Boulevard. Councilman Mario Guerra made the announcement at a town hall meeting he hosted Wednesday night at the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center.

21 Oct 21:26

As a grown man, I thought this was a better use for my ice maker...frozen candy dispenser!

Cary Renquist


21 Oct 23:57

Andy Freeberg Guardians In the art museums of Russia, women sit...

Andy Freeberg


In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, “as old women do.” She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.

1. Stroganov Palace, Russian State Museum

2.Matisse Still Life, Hermitage Museum

3.Konchalovsky’s Family Portrait, State Tretyakov Gallery

4. Veronese’s Adoration of the Shepherds, Hermitage Museum

5. Rublev and Daniil’s The Deesis Tier, State Tretyakov Gallery

6. Michelangelo’s Moses and the Dying Slave, Pushkin Museum

7.Malevich’s Self Portrait, Russian State Museum

8. Nesterov’s Blessed St Sergius of Radonezh, Russian State Museum

9. Petrov-Vodkin’s Bathing of a Red Horse, State Tretyakov Gallery

10. Kugach’s Before the Dance, State Tretyakov Gallery

20 Oct 19:37


20 Oct 19:52

God dammit.

Cary Renquist

At least they are the same color... I had two pairs of shoes that were exactly alike except one was brown and one pair black -- of course wore brown/black at least once. Also did it with a pair of black shoes that weren't even really alike... Not a morning person

18 Oct 21:22

Found Asian Brad Pitt while in Beijing

19 Oct 14:45

Tempest Storm

19 Oct 15:22


19 Oct 21:06

cows cows cows

19 Oct 22:07


20 Oct 01:15

Frozach Submitted

18 Oct 09:06

The Most Interesting Man in the World