Мелек-чесменский Курган

Melek-Chesmensky Kurgan - Melek-Chesmensky Mound

Useful Information

Location: Haidara St, Kerch (Bus Station) (Керчь (Автостанция)).
(45.362954, 36.470348)
Open: OCT to APR Tue-Sat 9-17, last entry 16:15.
MAY to SEP Tue-Sat 9-16, last entry 17:15.
Fee: Adults RUR 50, Children (0-16) free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Tomb
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: Mound: H=12 m, Ø=63 m.
Burial chamber: L=3.7 m, W=3.7 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve, 298320, Republic of Crimea, Kerch, st. Sverdlova, 7, Tel: +7-36561-64769, Fax: +7-36561-64769. E-mail:
Melek-Chesmensky Kurgan, Tel: +7-36561-6-20-39.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1857 stones found at the mound started an archaeological excavation.
13-DEC-1858 central burial chamber discovered.
1871 opened to the public.
1994 full reconstruction of the mound.


The Melek-Chesmensky Kurgan is located on a bus station, or actually the bus station was built at the Scythian burial mound. However, it is now in the middle of the central bus station of the city Kerch. At least its pretty easy to get there by public transport.

This mound is much smaller than nearby Tsarsky Kurgan, but very elaborate. It is actually the most technically and artistically perfect among the Bosporan stepped crypts. It was the grave of a small boy, thought to be a Bosporan prince. The mound was named after nearby Melek-Chesme river.

The place around the mound was used as a cemetery for some time, so there were numerous normal graves around the mound. Later this was forgotten and people dug for clay in the area when they needed clay. As a result numerous graves were destroyed, but old descriptions tell they were destroyed before, probably by grave robbers. Finally quite special stones were discovered at the foot of the mound which triggered an archaeological excavation in 1857. At this time the archaeologists simply dug trenches across the mound. And one year later they found the central burial chamber in the middle of the mound. On 13-DEC-1858 they found the wall from the outside, and after some safety measures the removed to slabs of rocks. So they found the pyramidal crypt and the entrance tunnel from the west. While the structure was quite elaborate and well preserved, the crypt was looted. The remains of a child, four square stones and several boards from a child's coffin were found in the north-western corner. The guess is that the grave robbers took the valuables and left the wood and bones.

In the following years numerous excavations were made, numerous burials discovered and the mound dated to the 4th century BC. However, there were always problems with people stealing rocks, and so it was planned to reconstruct the burial chamber, fill in the ditches, open the original dolmen and secure the whole mount. The problem was the lack of money. Finally in 1871 the works were executed by engineer Major General Sedergolm, who built the fortress of Kerch. The works were financed by the Kerch Honorary Citizen Konstantinov. The mound was given its former cone-shaped appearance and in July 1871 the mound was opened to the public.

The multitude of finds formed the basis of the new Melek-Chesme Museum which soon became the most visited. With Soviet times the Melek-Chesmensky Kurgan was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Kerch Museum. The work of the 19th century was quite ambitious, but during more than a century the knowledge of the archaeologists increased and so finally a complete reconstruction of the mound was made. It was completed in 1994.