Scythian Stan is an open-air museum, a historical and cultural center, and a memorial complex - all in one. There are ancient burial mounds, so called “stone women”, ancient crosses, household items on its territory.
The complex is located on Khortytca at an altitude of 78 m above sea level (57 m above the level of the Dnipro), this is the highest point of the island. Its area is 21 hectares.
Archaeologists estimate the age of the first burials of the complex at 5,000 years (i.e. they were built in 3,000 BC). For comparison, Stonehenge also dates back to 3 thousand BC, the oldest Egyptian pyramids - 25 century BC, and the most famous and largest in Giza - 21 century BC.
On the territory of the complex there are 3 intact burial mounds, 2 restored after destruction, one was investigated by archaeologists and restored, 4 full size models of mounds and the newly made sanctuary of Ares.
The central, highest mound of the group, called Zorova Tomb. At its top, the Cossack observation tower was reconstructed. The second one was built in the south-eastern part of Scythian Stan. The Cossacks used them to transmit information about the attack - a fire was set on the tower, the light of which was perfectly visible at night, and the smoke - during the day. On the neighboring towers warriors noticed a signal, also made fires and thus quickly transmitted information.
You can climb the towers. The staircase there is vertical, without railings and belay. It looks dangerous, but it’s said that everything turns out the opposite - only strong and confident people climb up to the top.
From the tower on the Zorovoy Grave you can see the kurgan complex in all its glory.
The second part of the museum is a collection of stone figures, household items, tombstones, stone crosses and other stone products. Museum workers gathered them here from all over Khortitsa and its environs. The collection is arranged in the form of a circle, symbolizing the solar disk or wheel, which had sacral significance for the peoples who lived on these lands.
The territory of Lapidaria has the following showpieces:
- millstones and mill grains
- threshing rollers (“harmans”) - long stone cylinders, having a star shape with 5-6 rays in profile
- stone troughs that were used as troughs for livestock and stupas for pounding grain
- track pointers made of stone, exactly as described in ephes and painted in cartoons
- there is a large stone disk with a hole in the center in the middle of Lapidaria. Wavy lines are carved on its surface. Because of these lines, looking like the rays, the stone is now considered a symbol of the sun, although it - - was most likely used in antiquity as a millstone.
- around the solar stone - stone crosses, collected from the Cossack graves at the sites of the ancient Siches. Estimated time of their manufacture - 17-19 century.
- there is a Karaite gravestone and an ancient burial box - a dolmen
- the outer row of showpieces on the north of Lapidaria is a collection of “stone women”. Contrary to stereotypes, these are not necessarily female figures. “Baba” is translated from the Turkic dialect as “father” or “senior”. In fact, stone women are an ancient analogue of our tombstones. Before the arrival of the Mongol-Tatars, nomadic Turkic tribes erected such monuments on their graves. Moreover, their manufacture was expensive and time consuming, therefore only the graves of elders or other rich and highly respected people were decorated. One of the largest collections of these sculptures is collected in Lapidaria.
Place of power
The Scythian Stan is considered to be a place of release of special energy, life force, which can be felt and used by people here. In such places you can feel lightness and fullness, the meditative state is easily reached, answers to long-standing questions come of themselves. Of course, it is impossible to check this energy with scientific methods and the only way to understand if you feel something special is to come here in person. Even if you do not feel any supernatural energy, a day in a beautiful place in the fresh air, with slow walks and the opportunity to admire the course of the Dnipro will undoubtedly help you to relax from everyday fuss, switch attention and perhaps look at some issues from a new side.
The first burials appeared on Khortitsa between the 3rd and 4th millennium BC. These were the simplest mounds of nomadic pastoral tribes. In the period from the 16th to the 12th century BC more complex, multi-layered burials with a variety of utensils, weapons and decorations appear.
In the 9th century BC on the territory of Khortytca, Cimmerian tribes appeared, which are characterized by inlet burials - large crypts of logs, often dug on top of the old kurgan. In such crypts buried noble warriors. Burials were accompanied by a large number of weapons and ornaments.
From the middle of the 7th century BC Scythians appear on Khortytca. Their burials are the reference mounds - a tomb made of wood or stone and a large earthen mound, visible from afar. Those they are who began to put “stone women” at the top of the mounds.
The era of the Scythians ended at the end of the 4th century BC, when their fragmented, declining tribes were driven out by nomadic Sarmatians. Sarmatian burials are distinguished by a small height (several tens of centimeters) and a smaller area compared to Scythians (the burial diameter did not exceed 10 meters). However, inside the wooden crypts Sarmatians left a lot of jewelry, weapons, household items, horse harness.
The Sarmatian tribes wandered along the Dnieper steppes of incomplete 7 centuries - only in the 3rd century AD the Goths who came from the north pushed them out. The funeral traditions were ready to construct the simplest burial grounds — pits with a minimum of inventory in them.
Just a hundred years later, in the 4th century, the Huns, in alliance with the Slavs, were forced out the Goths. Their nomadic lifestyle, fragmentation of tribes, ethnic diversity did not contribute to the presence of bright burial grounds. From those times only a few graves of warriors buried with weapons, horse harnesses and ornaments have reached us.
From 1220 to the end of the Mongol-Tatar invasion the Dnipro steppes were inhabited by dozens of small ethnic groups with a variety of beliefs and burial customs. Individual barrows of that time, rich and poor, survived to our days.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to establish exactly which period the mounds of the Scythian Stan belong to, both because of the poor preservation of the kurgan group (from 28 only up to 3 kurgans reached us), and because of the nomadic tradition to build burials on the top of the already existing mounds .
Nevertheless, the mounds of Scythian Stan are some of the oldest objects built by human hands, which was consolidated in 2005 with the assignment of this territory to the museum status and the beginning of the arrangement works of the territory.
How to get there!?
By public transport:
To Zaporizza by bus or train, then from the railway station on the bus number 55 to the stop Tsimezh (next after the stop “railway station Zaporozhskaya Sich”).
After leaving the bus - go to the opposite side of the road and walk back along the bus cource 50 meters to the intersection. Turn right there and go to the sign “Dendropark na Khortytci”. There will be a divarication near the sign - choose the right road and passing the barrier walk 3 km straight - and you are at Scythian Stan.
You can go back from the same stop Tsimezh by minibuses number 10, 36, 55, 58.87, 92, 96. Minibus 55 is a direct route to the railway station. By 92 you can get to the beginning of Victory Ave., then it goes to suburbs. By the others you can reach the Metallurgov Ave., and from there by other bus - to any part of the city.
There is no possibility to set up a tent on the territory of the complex, also there are no water sources. For an overnight stay with a tent the camp on the touristic beach on the opposite side of the island is optimal.
In Zaporozhye by Soborny Avenue or Peremohy street till the turn to the Serhiy Tyulenin street, then on the Serhiy Tyulenin street which is followed by the Preobrazhensky bridge to Khortytca, then turn south and go to the sign “Scythian Stan”.
Near the complex there is a large free of pay (as of 2018) place to leave the car.
Coordinates: 47.8126646, 35.1129055
Translation by: Anna Chernysheva