by Sergei KORENEVSKY, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), RAS Institute of Archeology, Moscow, Russia
The first burial mounds appeared in Eurasia about 6 or 7 thousand years ago, just on the eve of the Iron Age. They were built by numerous tribes such as the Huns, Scythians, Sauromatae, Alans, Polovtsians (Cumans), Mongolians, Celts, Slavs and Teutons, who lived in the ancient times and in the early Middle Ages and who are well known from written evidence. The same custom held independently also on the American continent among the Hopewells inhabiting in the 1st-5th cent. A.D. the northeastern and mideastern parts of what is now the United States, and the Mississippian tribes populating the Midland between the 7th and 17th centuries of the Common Era. This tradition went out of existence only with the spreading of Christianity and Islam, largely in the 10th to 13th centuries.
Kurgan burial mounds are as much a part of the landscapes of Russia's steppe, forest-steppe and forest belts. Many legends haunt these monumental testimonies of bygone ages. Now what is the origin of the word kurgan? The Etymological Dictionary of the Russian Language (Alexander Preobrazhensky, 1959) says it comes from the Cuman kurman, or a fortress. The same interpretation is in the Dictionary of the Russian Language of the 11th-14th Centuries (Nauka Publishers, 1981).
Burial kurgans are the artificial barrows raised over the tomb, sometimes with a ring of undressed stone blocks around them. That's the actual meaning... But if we take The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Old Russian published in 1893 by Izmail Sreznevsky, a Slavonic philologist, ethnographer and paleographer elected to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1851--this dictionary gives several meanings of the kurgan, and does not trace it to the Turkic roots. The author dates the earliest written evidence when this
word was first mentioned to 1223, the year of the battle of the Russians and Cumans against ... Читать далее