DNIPRO, Ukraine — Belching diesel exhaust, a bulldozer cut into a 4,000-year-old burial mound, peeling back the soil to reveal the mysteries hidden inside, including a skeleton.
For archaeologists, this excavation in the flatlands of eastern Ukraine holds the promise of discovery. For a developer, it clears the way for new country homes.
In recent years, government archaeologists, developers and farmers, who sometimes also level burial mounds in their fields to ease plowing, have seemingly been the only parties interested in the fate of Ukraine’s vast constellation of ancient graves. And few have paid much heed to preserving the dirt piles.
Hoping to correct this history of neglect, a Ukrainian nongovernmental group is agitating for the preservation of the burial mounds of Scythians and other ancient warrior cultures, partly on the grounds that they hold particular significance for a country at war today.
Guardians of the Mounds, two years ago. It has been gaining traction as a national movement since.
Russian invasion, as the Russian Army massed tanks and soldiers on Ukraine’s border, a succession of nomadic warrior cultures, including the most famous, the Scythians, built the mounds on the steppe.