Awesome discovery: a kid’s drawings from the middle ages

Sketches by a seven year-old boy from medieval Russia were recently discovered. And they're the best.
One of Onfim's doodles shows him as a warrior riding a horse and using a spear to slay an enemy. (Courtesy the State Historical Museum, Moscow)


Veliky Novgorod is a city is Russia that is famous for once being one of the largest cities in medieval Europe. In fact, between the 12th and 15th centuries, it was the capital of the Novgorod Republic (today, the republic's lands are a part of Russia and Finland). With all of this history, Veliky Novgorod is home to lots of important monuments, buildings, and artifacts.

Birch bark window to history

It is also full of thousands of "pages" of birch bark. Birch bark was essentially the paper of the time and place, and many of these pages contains notes, personal letters, even financial records about who owes who what for those fish they took last Friday. Documents such as these can tell researchers a lot about the everyday life of people in Novgorod. But best of all? There are also a bunch of doodles by a seven year-old boy named Onfim.

Onfim's sketches date back to about 1220CE. They show him as a warrior, a beast... he even took the time to sketch his mom and dad. And how are his drawing skills? You know what? Not bad, Onfim! They're pretty similar to what you'd find a lot of seven year-olds drawing these days. (Minus the whole drawing on birch bark thing...)

But, hey, pictures are worth a thousand words, so why not check out some of his artwork below for yourself?
Medieval_Doodles_7-Year_Old_Boy_Novgorod_3
This doodle shows Onfim claiming "I am a wild beast". It also has a sign saying "Greetings from Onfim to Danilo", which makes this an 800 year-old note passed between friends during class. Amazing, right? (Courtesy the State Historical Museum, Moscow)

Medieval_Doodles_7-Year_Old_Boy_Novgorod_1
These are Onfim's parents. We're guessing that they may not have looked exactly like this in real life. But then again... (Courtesy the State Historical Museum, Moscow)


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  1. It’s cool to see that kids weren’t so different then than they are now.(other then the fact that we have modern technology now) The drawings are similar to my younger sister’s (who is eight)! 🙂

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