what is a gramota?

Good question.

A berestyanaya grámota is a totally awesome archaeological artifact.  The ancient Western Slavic people that lived in the renowned city Novgorod would take the soft inner portions of birch bark and inscribe messages on them with small metal styluses.  This branched out, probably from Novgorod, to other parts of ancient Rus’.

So, besides being a really cool archaeological artifact, why should you care?  Further, why name a blog after it?

Old Church Slavonic” played  a similar role as Latin in the European middle ages.  It was the official language of the church, government, and upper echelons of society.  The lower classes—the bulk of society—spoke in vernacular dialects of ancient Slavonic, or even ancient Finnic languages, such as old forms of Karelian.  The Novgorodians were a highly literate people and even an average Joe—or Sergei, as it were—might know how to read and write.  How do we know?  The gramotas!  The fact that many are written in vernacular tells a lot.  Moreover, the gramotas had everything from shopping lists to children’s masterpieces, showing that they were used in menial, everyday life.

Pretty awesome.

So, someday when digital archeologists sort through the mess of the internet, they can read the menial, everyday stuff Danny Cardoza wrote too.  Good luck.

Welcome to the Gramota.


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