Kyiv Rus heritage: Saint Sophia's graffiti: what medieval Ukrainians asked God for

18:54 Nov. 16, 2016

Saint Sophia's graffiti: what medieval Ukrainians asked God for

Inside Saint Sophia (Source: whc.unesco.org/en/list/527/gallery/)

Love confessions, curses and help requests: analysis of graffiti in Saint Sophia's Cathedral disrupts crucial myths about 11th century Kyiv  

One of the coordinators of the National Preserve, "Sophia of Kyiv", Vyacheslav Kornienko, gave a lecture on graffiti, scratched on the walls of Ukrainian ancient temple. His research denies the belief that the majority of medieval people were illiterate and only the clergy and the elites could write.The study of graffiti indicates that the literacy was more wide-spread than it had been previously acknowledged. 

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The analysis of the writings reveals that many ordinary people, faithful to God, created the inscriptions with their requests or prayers to the Saints. What's more, the graffiti analysis shows that women often asked God to help them with love affairs. One of them, named Olena, made a writing on the icon of Saint Olena with the request to help her win attention of a man. This finding can put to doubt the historical claim that very few women knew how to write. 

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Despite that Saint Sophia Cathedral was a sanctuary, 11th century Kyiv residents had created graffiti with curses and swearings.608xXGraffity says: "Kozma is a thief. Stolen meat. Let your legs twist. Amen."

These acts deny the piousness of the public and put to question the idea of "the golden age" when all the medieval people were extremely religious and god-fearing.

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The researchers have also found that the images of cats were quite common on the walls of Saint Sophia. It can provoke a joke that people loved sharing cat pictures before the advent of the Internet and before it became mainstream. 

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Around 300 graffiti of great historical value have been preserved on the walls of Saint Sophia Cathedral. 

Saint Sophia Cathedral is an architectual monument of Kievan Rus' which was built in the times of Yaroslav Mudry. The historical place is included in World Heritage List.

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