Pit-Grave culture (or Yamna culture from yama [pit]). A Copper Age–Bronze Age culture of the late 3rd to early 2nd millennium BC that existed along the Dnieper River, in the steppe region, in the Crimea, near the Danube River estuary, and in locations east of Ukraine (up to the Urals). Sites have been excavated since the mid-19th century, and the culture was classified by Vasilii Gorodtsov in the early 20th century. This culture took its name from pit graves used for burials in family or clan kurhans. Corpses were covered with red ocher and laid either in a supine position or on their sides with flexed legs. Grave goods included egg-shaped pottery containing food, stone, bone, and copper implements, weapons, and adornments. The culture's major economic occupation was animal husbandry, with agriculture, hunting, and fishing of secondary importance. Excavations at Pit-Grave sites also revealed primitive carts that were pulled by oxen and stelae bearing images of humans. The people of this culture usually lived in surface dwellings in fortified settlements. They had contacts with tribes in northern Caucasia and with Trypilian culture tribes in Ukraine. Significant culture sites include Mykhailivka settlement and Storozhova Mohyla.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]