Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Prince of the Great Kurgan Volume 50 Number 5, September/October 1997
by Jan Chochorowski and Sergei Skoryi

[image] Larger image shows detail of the burial chamber. (Jan Chochorowski) [LARGER IMAGE]

The only unlooted tomb of a Scythian chieftain ever found is yielding evidence that these warlike nomads did not vanish from the eastern European steppes following their defeat by Philip II of Macedon in 339 B.C., as previously believed, but continued to rule the northern fringe of their homeland, gradually adopting the agricultural life-style of their subjects. The tomb's surprisingly late date--possibly the second quarter of the third century B.C.--will force scholars to reassess the chronology of previously documented Scythian tombs in the region. Found last year in a 30-foot-tall kurgan (burial mound) 75 miles south of Kiev near the village of Ryzhanovka in Ukraine, the tomb contains a mock hearth, the first ever found in a Scythian context. Symbolic of the warmth and comfort of a farmhouse, the hearth may well indicate a transition from a nomadic to a more settled farming life.

Jan Chochorowski is a professor at the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland. Sergei Skoryi is a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology, National Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev, Ukraine.

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America