Chertomlykskii Kurgan

Located on private lands northwest of Nikopol in present-day Ukraine, this enormous barrow was hoped to provide as rich a find as the Tsar Kurgan. But I. E. Zabelin’s initial forays, beginning in 1862, revealed that the site had been raided centuries ago. There did remain, however, remain a thin gold lining with decorations identified from the Trojan War. Therefore, it belongs to both Scythia and Greek antiquity. In 1652, a Cossack sech’ had been founded in the area.


One of the Greek colonies on the northern shore of the Black Sea, Olvia lies close to the Borysthenes, the main river that gave it commercial meaning by connecting the fertile Ukraine to the sea. The Scythians later called this waterway the Dānu apr, or the name it bears today, the Dnepr. Herodotus wrote of Olvia,and Strabo also mentioned it.


One of the Greek colonies founded early in the 6th century, Panticapaeum, present-day Kerch, became the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom in the 5th. Destroyed by an earthquake circa 70 BCE, it was rebuilt by the Romans before being destroyed by the Huns in 370. A number of important kurgans lie nearby.

Semibratnii Kurgan

Located on the lower Kuban River, because of the number of kurgans, this was thought to be the burial grounds of 7 Brothers. Although most had been vandalized for the gold treasures they held, nos. 2 and 6 were untouched when Tizengauzen began his excavations in 1876. The Greek and Scythian artefeacts dated from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.

Solokha Kurgan

This find on the East bank of the Dnepr contained two royal tombs, and was especially noteworthy because it confirmed one of Herodotus’s accounts, dating back to the second half of the 5th Century BCE. Excavated first by N. I. Veselovskii 1912-1913, Boris Farmakovskii descried it as both “his apogee and his swan song.”

Bolshaia Bliznitsa

Opened in 1864 by A.E. Lutsenko, director of the Kerch Museum, this extraordinarily unique kurgan contains paintings of funerary practices performed by women, associated with the Eleusinian cult. Although plundered of artefacts, the painted walls feature an especially vivid painting of Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, circa 330 BCE.

Tsar Kurgan

This Scythian kurgan was stumbled upon by the Voronezh Infantry detachment quarrying rock for building in 1830. Known as Царский курган, or the Royal Kurgan, it was one of the most important examples of architecture, mixing a Scythian exterior with a Greek interior. The great size of the tomb led to the assumption that someone of stature had found his place of eternal peace, as Anton Ashik, another who excavated it in the 1830s, romanticized the kurgan. Unfortunately, the kurgan was not well guarded and much of the wealth was looted.

Kul-Oba Kurgan

Kül Oba, or “hill of ash” in Crimean Tatar, was the first Scythian royal barrow to be excavated in modern times. Uncovered in 1830, the stone tomb yielded a wealth of precious artifacts which drew considerable public interest to the Scythian past, as the most beautiful gold artefacts were sent to the Hermitage Museum. The tomb was built around 400 to 350 BC, probably by a team of Greek masons from Panticapaeum/Kerch.