kur·​gan ku̇r-ˈgän How to pronounce kurgan (audio) -ˈgan How to pronounce kurgan (audio)
: a burial mound of eastern Europe or Siberia

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Heyd and a large group of his colleagues had set out to survey Yamnaya kurgans, or burial mounds, in eastern Europe. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 3 Mar. 2023 Trifonov and his team suggest that the Maikop people who built the kurgan used the tubes to drink beer from a communal vessel. NBC News, 19 Jan. 2022 The straws, along with one of the beer vessels, were found at the Maikop kurgan, a prehistoric burial mound in the northern Caucasus in Russia. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 18 Jan. 2022 For the past four years, a joint Russian-Swiss team of archaeologists has been excavating a kurgan, or burial mound, in the Russian republic of Tuva in southern Siberia. Andrew Curry, National Geographic, 22 Sep. 2020 University of Sydney archaeologist Gino Caspari and his colleagues searched for Scythian burial mounds, or kurgans, in high-resolution satellite images of a 110 square kilometer (68.4 square mile) area of the Xinjiang province in northwestern China. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, 26 Dec. 2018 An ancient problem Looting is an old tradition on the steppe—as old as the oldest kurgans themselves. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, 26 Dec. 2018 The two apparent plague victims were buried together in a kurgan: a wooden chamber beneath a mound of earth. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, 12 June 2018 That group consisted of herders from the Asian steppes, whose skeletons and genes are known from their burial mounds called kurgans. Jared Diamond, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kurgan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Russian, of Turkic origin; akin to Turkish kurgan fortress, castle

First Known Use

1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kurgan was in 1889

Dictionary Entries Near kurgan

Cite this Entry

“Kurgan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kurgan. Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Kur·​gan ku̇r-ˈgan How to pronounce Kurgan (audio)
city on the Tobol River and the Trans-Siberian Railroad in southwestern Russia in Asia population 333,600

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