"Magical mud" of Novgorod reveals treasures

“Send me a shirt, towel, trousers, reins, and, for my sister, send fabric. If I am alive, I will pay for it,” wrote a 14th century father, Onus, to his son, Danilo, in the block letters of Old Novgorod language on a birch bark scroll. The note, among a dozen others, was discovered recently in the "magicial mud" of Veliky Novgorod, Russia.

The scrolls are among a growing trove of artifacts found at the site, "including coins, official seals, kitchenware, jewelry and clothing." David M. Herszenhornoct of the New York Times offers a feature article on Novgorod and its impact on Russian archaeology and history.