Tsarsky Kurgan – Kerch, Crimea - Atlas Obscura

Tsarsky Kurgan

This ancient burial mound is accessed by an impressive Greek-built archway. 


The Tsarsky Kurgan or Royal Kurgan is believed to have been constructed as long ago as the 4th century BCE, but the lovely vaulted hallway leading to the burial chamber inside looks like it was made much more recently.

A “kurgan” is a type of burial mound where the bulbous pile of dirt and stones is piled atop a burial chamber of some kind. The Tsarsky Kurgan of Crimea is unique among these structures for its entrance hall which is a sharply vaulted limestone corridor that looks almost as though it was created in a much more modern epoch. It was the Greeks who inhabited the area at the time who used their noted building abilities to create the artful entrance.

There are a number of kurgans found in what is the modern Ukrainian city of Kerch. Since the Tsarsky Kurgan is said to hold the remains of an ancient king, it stands out above all the rest. The modern researchers of the site found the burial vault empty, likely looted long before they arrived, but it is believed that a king of the ancient Bosporan state was once interred there. Later Christian scrawlings have also been found in the empty burial rooms, suggesting that the mound was used as a hiding place for the early adherents to the religion.

Today the hallway of the ancient mound can still be entered through the angular hall. Just look for the mound with the giant cleft in the side. 

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