The Fascinating Archeological Site of Merheleva Ridge

Believed to have built around 4000 BCE, and therefore corresponding to the early Yamna or Dnieper-Donets culture of Ukraine, Merheleva Ridge was discovered in 2004 by a group of school children from Alchevsk while on an archeology camp with their history teacher. Although the teacher, Vladimir Paramonov, had been taking students to the hilly area near Perevalsk, in the Luhansk oblast, since 1995, this was a new discovery and it created quite a stir of excitement in the archeology community.

Upon further excavation the site of Merheleva Ridge was declared to be an early Bronze age – also known as Eneolithic or Chalcolithic age – complex of temples, sacrificial altars and burial grounds. The complex consists mainly of four large stone burial mounds located on a hill, with the hillside having been sculpted into steps leading to the complex. These types of burial mounds are also referred to by the Turkic term kurgan in Central Asian and Eastern European archeology. Human remains, ashes and ceramics have been uncovered at Merheleva Ridge and experts believe that it is very likely that the kurgans were the final resting place of sacrificial victims, rather than the burial grounds of a community.

The fourth kurgan to be excavated revealed 13 graves and sacrificial pits. The deepest graves are believed to date back to the Catacomb culture of the Early Bronze Age, with graves of the Scrubna (Timber grave) culture of the Late Bronze Age built on top. Four stone statues were found near the graves, and one of the skulls discovered in the graves has been dated to circa 3000 BCE.

Archeologist, Viktor Klochko, from the Department of Science, Tourism and Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Luhansk regional administration was reported as saying thas, as the first monument of its kind to be found in Eastern Europe, Merheleva Ridge was of international significance. He noted that the archeological site changed the accepted conception of the social structure, as well as the level of development, of the farmers and cattle breeders from whom most European peoples descended.

The discovery of Merheleva Ridge was officially announced in September 2006. As the archeological site is located a mere thirty kilometers southwest of the city of Luhansk, it has become one of the many fascinating attractions to visit in this charming region of Ukraine.