ANCIENT SITES ON THE ANCIENT SILK ROAD IN KAZAKHSTAN
Ancient sites on the Silk Road in Kazakhstan consists of ancient settlements, towns and cities and burial ground. Barrows and burial mounds of the nobility and ordinary public nomads of an epoch of the early Iron Age and the early Middle Ages can be seen in Kazakhstan everywhere: in steppes and semi-deserts, intermountain valleys, in mountains and foothills, in valleys of the rivers.
They are especially numerous in Zhetysu-Semirechye, in foothills of Dzhungar and Zailiyski Ala Tau, in mountains of Central Tien Shan. This is a burial ground of Besshatyr on the right coast of the river Ili, in a narrow canyon between the river Ili and a mountain ridge of Zhelshalgyr. The Burial ground of Besshatyr of 6th-4thI centuries B.C. is one of monuments of Saks (Scythians) from Semirechye. Similar burial grounds have been found Zhetysu. Among these is the well-known Issyksky burial ground where the barrow of Issyk and the “Gold Man” were found.
The Early Period of Silk Road Formation (Prehistory) includes: 1) Boralday Necropolis; 2) Issyk Necropolis; 3) Besshatyr Necropolis.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Beginning its existence from the 2nd century B.C. and till the end of 15th century of A.D. this network of roads starting from Chan’an (modern Xian) and spreading from East Asia to Mediterranean to West and Southwest and down to Indian subcontinent, was contributing and creating conditions for intercontinental trade. [Source: UNESCO]
“In its turnover there were cultural and material values of different nations and countries. Chinese silk was one of the most valuable goods, but also there were many other goods distributed by these roads: precious metals and stones, ceramics, perfumery, incense and spices, goods made of cotton and wool, glass, wine, amber, carpets and thoroughbred horses. This trade, connecting various civilizations, existed during centuries and was supported by system of caravanserais, commercial centers, trading towns and fortresses extending for more than 10 thousand kilometers, which probably makes the most long cultural route in the history of humanity.
“However, The Silk Road transported not only goods.The Silk Road transported Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, Zoroastrism and Manichaeism. Scientific and technological achievements also spread by this route, for example such ones from China: paper, powder, magnetic compass and porcelain, whereas engineering achievements (particularly, bridge construction) and growing of cotton, cultivation of grape vine were spread from Central Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean and West. The exchange of medical knowledge and medicine also was happening. The same road went diplomatic missions, establishing international contacts.”
Silk Road in Kazakhstan
The northern spur of the Silk Road runs through part of southern Kazakhstan. The Silk Road is a network of routes linked Europe and Asia, passing through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. In Kazakhstan one of the main, the route went through the Tien Shan Mountains, Otrar, Taraz and Chimkent (Shykment). The Silk Road in Kazakhstan was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
Scientists have divided the Silk Road in Kazakhstan into four sections:According to a report submitted to UNESCO: 1) Semirechye, 2) The Syr Darya, 3) Saryarka and 4) Mangyshlak (Uralo-Prikaspiyskiy). Each of these parts is characterized by its natural- geographical conditions and historical development, including urban with clear influence on process of formation, development and stagnation of historical and cultural monuments, situated in these regions of Silk Road routes. These complicated processes of indissoluble connections of culture, natural, historical process, influence with communications show not only means of human adaptation to different kind of climate conditions, but also ways of mutual enrichment by exchange of human values and cultural traditions, which reflected in preserved cultural monuments which in present mark the important human communications. [Source: UNESCO]
The routes of the Silk Road were not static. Over the centuries different routes and branches opened up. Some routes died died out totally, and towns and trade stations that served them also died out. In the 6th-8th centuries the main line was Syria – Iran – Central Asia – Southern Kazakhstan – Talas valley – Chu valley – Issykkul kettle – Eastern Turkestan. A branch of this road lead to the places mentioned above from the Byzantine area through Derbent in Prikapispiyskiy steppe, and Mangyshlak, in Priaralye, in Southern Kazakhstan (in Sasanid Iran, after concluding trade-diplomatic union between the Western Turk Khanate and Byzantium). In 9th-12th century this route was used but there was less traffic. In the 13th-16th centuries activity picked up again when it was part of the Mongol Empire).
Boralday Necropolis (northwestern Almaty) is burial mound area dating to the 5th to 3rd centuries B.C. situated between the Big Almatinka river in the east and Boralday in the west and is near the village of Boralday. The site is one of the largest ancient burial grounds in Kazakhstan and is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: There are dozens of barrows among which the biggest barrow is 20 meters high with a diameter 150 meters. There are 52 earthen barrows. The diameter of barrows varies from three to 150 meters; the height of barrows varies from 0.1 to 14 meters. Forming groups, they are stretched as a chain from north to the south. The southern group of a burial ground has large barrows; the northern group, smaller ones. Barrow No. 16 contains the remains of stone altars around and a stone obelisk with the image of a scene of torment executed in animal style. The southwest and western part of a plateau has a third and fourth groups of barrows that are small in size. [Source: UNESCO]
Issyk Necropolis and the Golden Man
Issyk Necropolis (near the town of Issyk, 50 kilometers to the east of Almaty) is a burial ground dating to the 5th to 3rd centuries B.C. on the left bank of Issyk mountain river with links to the Semirechye Saks (Scythians) and Uysun peoples. It is also part of the Silk Road in Kazakhstan was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The burial ground consists of 45 big imperial barrows in diameter from 30 to 90 meters and height from 4 to 15 meters. Most of Issyk burial grounds have stone-earth embankments. The Issyksky burial ground is similar to many similar monuments of Sak epoch. The burial ground is related to the tribal group of Semirechye Saks, which was one of the first in Kazakhstan who came to the creation of statehood. [Source: UNESCO]
“The central burial place has been repeatedly plundered. The lateral tomb was found to be not disturbed; remains of the buried person and buried stock have completely remained. The funeral chamber was made of processed logs of a fur-tree. Remains of the buried person were found in the northern part. There has been over 4 thousand gold subjects, an iron sword and a dagger, a bronze mirror, clay, metal and wooden vessels found in the funeral chamber. All subjects have been found in their initial position and that gave the chance to create the unique reconstruction of the clothes which have received the name “Gold man”.
Besshatyr Burial Ground: Kazakhstan’s Stonehenge?
Besshatyr Burial Mounds (western part of Altyn-Emel National Park, on the right bank of the Ili, River in Shilbyr hole.near the Terekty Petroglyphs) is a 5th – 4th century B.C. Iron Age site comprised of 31 Scythian kurgans (ritual burial mounds), believed to be final resting places of tribal leaders and distinguished warriors. The largest is 17 meters high. The kurgans were excavated in the 1950s, and their weaponry, bones and pottery now sit in museums.
Besshatyr means ‘Five Tents’ in Kazakh, a reference to a complex of five royal burial mounds found there which look like natural hills, about 20 meters in height. According to historians, Semirechye Saka (Scythian) rulers of the 5th to 4th centuries B.C. are buried there. Forty-five solid blocks of stone, carved with images of animals, are lined up along the burial mounds. According to tourists visiting this place, these stones can be compared with famous Stonehenge in England.
Besshatyr is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The site “consists of 81 barrows. Depending on sizes of embankments barrows of the burial ground are subdivided into big, average and small. Diameters of the big barrows vary from 45 to 105 meters, their height from 6 meters to 18; and average accordingly — 25-38 meters and 5-6 m; small — 6-18 meters and 0,8-2 meters. Besshatyr barrows provided dated material (dagger, spearheads), new types of monumental gravestone constructions. [Source: UNESCO]
Ancient Sites in North Kazakhstan
Ak Iry is (near Dolmatov Village on a joint of Ishimsky plain and the Western-Siberian lowland) is an Iron Age hill fort The site covers 25,000 square meters and was given the rather romantic name “Ak Iry” (meaning “a white paradise”) by archaeologists, who the fortifications belonged to the steppe Saki (Scythians), who worshiped fire and were the adherents of Zoroastrianism. This religion started its development in the steppes of Eurasia during the Bronze Age and took roots in the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C.
It is surprising, that the characteristic of the Japanese and Mediterranean Sea cowrie shells, were found on the territory of the site. Possibly they carried out a function of money, and hence, the Saki had wide enough geography of external relations. Another interesting detail is that elm was used as a waterproofing material in the rampart base. The kilns intended for clay firing and metal melting were also found there. These finds allow putting forward a hypothesis about the tribes occupying this territory and having deep roots in cultures of previous historical stages.
Bekteniz (on left bank of the Ishim River, near the Sergeevsky reservoir) is an archaeological site comprised of 10 low hills organized in a chain on the river bank. The site was named after a small aul Bekteniz. The majority of the excavated mounds belong to the Bronze Age.. Excavations have revealed bronze mirrors, altars and female ornaments and burial area for people belonging to a special social group, perhaps priests. In the ancient times mirrors were believed to possess magic powers and were as an obligatory possession of Sarmatia priestesses. Mirrors were put in a tomb together with stone altars and ornaments. Sarmatians lowered purposely-broken mirrors into tomb. Some of them were exposed to fire.
Zhuantobe Ancient Settlement
Zhuantobe Ancient Settlement (left bank of Arys river, northeastern outskirt of Kultogan village) dates to the 1st century B.C. – A.D. 9th century. Occupied by the Kauchin culture, Kangar-Pecheneg, Oghuz Turks and Sogdians, it is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “ The site of ancient settlement has two-part structure: the central part looks like “tobe” with a ground at the top and the territory looks like a “ring-shaped hilling” surrounding the central part, distant with 20 to 60 meters from the central part. The first is a hillock of conic form with abrupt walls and a ground at the top. Its sizes are 85x75 meters and the ground is 65x55 meters, the height of “tobe” is 17 meters. The three corners of it (except the northern one) have some remains of towers and it can be seen rather well. Around it, at a foot there is a ditch with the width of 40 meters and depth of 1.5-2 meters, and there is a development behind the ditch looking like a ring roll with the width of about to 60 meters and height of 6-7m. The east corner has a rupture with the width to 50 meters. The total area of the ancient settlement makes about 14 hectares. [Source: UNESCO]
Karaspan Ancient and Medieval Settlement
Karaspan Ancient Settlement (50 kilometers west of Shymkent) was occupied from the A.D. 1st century to the 18th century. Situated at the left bank of Arys river, to 2 kilometers to the east from Karaspan village. It was part of the Otrar-Karatau culture and was home to Sogdians, Turks, Sarts and Kazakhs. It is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The central part of the ancient settlement is a high subdirect square in the plan “tobe”, the basis of it is 220-260 meters and the height is 22 meters. Around the ancient settlement there is a shakhristan development surrounded by roll. The sizes of its territory are 850х 600 meters. Outside of shakhristan the remains of rabid can be observed, but it is impossible to determine its sizes because it was thrown open and built up. [Source: UNESCO]
“The settlement is identified with Karasaman town, known to the sources of 14th to 18th centuries. The ancient settlement was explored by the South-Kazakhstani archaeological expedition (1948-1951) and the excavations were recommenced in 2004, 2008 by the South-Kazakhstani complex archaeological expedition.
Borizhar Ancient Burial Grounds
Borizhar Burial Grounds (60 kilometers northwest of Shymkent, on the left bank of Arys river, near where the Badam River flows into it) dates from the 2nd century B.C. to the A.D. 7th century. Occupied by the Kauchin culture and Kangyuy, it is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Borizhar burial ground is the biggest necropolis of South Kazakhstan. Burial mounds of earth are spread all over the left bank of Arys’ river, for more than 13 kilometers from Karaultobe settlement to the mouth of Badam river which falls into Arys’ river on the opposite side of Karaspan (Obruchevka) settlement. The width of burial area in some places reach 1-2 kilometers covering the upper river terrace. River bank in that place is indented with ancient ravines. Hundreds of unsystematically situated burial mounds occupy slopes and surface of uplands. This huge burial field consists of burial mount complexes of different periods, separate burial mounds which over time became a one huge massive. [Source: UNESCO]
Kultobe Ancient and Medieval Settlement
Kultobe Ancient Settlement (50 kilometers west of Shymkent) was occupied from the A.D. 1st century to the 17th century. Situated near to Karaspan village and Karaspan ancient settlement, it was home to Kangyuys and Kazakhs. It is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The monument’s citadel is almost destroyed by waters of Arys’ river. The remained part represents a rib with height of 7.5 meters and area of about 150 square meters with precipitous west slope. The slope cutting revealed building constructions made of “pakhsa” and rectangular mudbricks with size of 35x30x10 centimeters. Kultobe “ground” has an irregular trapeziform layout with the following side sizes: 210х150х100х180 meters. The steepest slopes are in the west part of the monument: central and north parts show some lowering. South part has round rising grounds; most probably these were defensive towers. An average height of Kultobe ground is 5-6 meters.
“In scientific area the settlement became well known due to the scriptial monuments that were found there. Historical interpretation of the inscription was made by the French explorer, France Grenei. Probably, the inscription informs about a building of a city on a place of Kultobe ancient settlement by “the leader of army”, most possibly, “the leader of army of the Chacha people”. Probably, he headed the army in the name, or jointly with leaders of four basic cities-states of the central and southern Sogdiana: Samarkand, Kish, Nakhshab and Bukhara. “The land belonging to (our) people” and “[the land belonging] to nomads” can be understood as the land conquered from nomads and divided between Sogdians. More possibly, it could mean that the borders between the arable lands belonging to Sogdians and pastures of nomads were determined by the mutual consent. It seems that "city" was located on this border or behind it. This city could be a part of a line of the boundary posts stretched along the river Arys’.
Otrar Ancient and Medieval Settlements
Ortrar (170 kilometers northwest of Shymkent, 10 kilometers to the west from Timur railway station) is a ghost city on the Silk Road was once so city great it drew Genghis Khan to Central Asia. There is little of the ancient city today other than an expanse of ruins and an 11th century mausoleum that is in surprisingly good condition.
Otrar Ancient Settlements and Monuments of Otrar oasis was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. Otrar oasis is an area of 200 square kilometers with archaeological remains of medieval towns and structures of irrigation. The main town is Otrar (A.D. 1st to 16th centuries). Other towns are Kuyruk-Tobe (A.D. 1st to 15th centuries) Altyn — Tobe (A.D. 1st to 11th centuries), Pshakshi-Tobe (A.D. 1st to 12th centuries), Mardan-Kuyk (A.D. 1st to 15th centuries) and Kok-Mardan (A.D. 1st to 7th centuries). “Tobe” means hill.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Otrar town is the largest medieval hillfort of Kazakhstan with an area of 170 hectares: in the A.D. first century it was part of the Kangju empire; at the beginning of the 8th century it was the capital of the Kangars tribal confederation (Petchenegues) with the name of Kangu-Targan and later of Farab. Abn Nasr Farabi was born here in 870 and Timur died here in 1405. It has all the typical features of a medieval Central Asian town: citadel, shahristan (a town in itself), rabat (suburbs) and fields, everything surrounded by walls.
“Today the landscape is reduced to semidesert and the towns are in ruin, but, until the 15th century, Otrar, together with the rest of the oasis, represented the main urban centre on the marginal zone between southern towns and northern steppes, between settlers and nomads of Central Asia. The oasis constituted a peaceful economical and cultural complex, an avant-post in attracting northern nomads, settling them down, and so importing elements of the nomadic culture into the sedentary societies. This is reflected in the town planning, architecture, in the art of pottery and jewelry.
Yassy: Ancient Turkistan
Yassy ancient Turkistan was a settlement that dates back to the beginning of the A.D. first millennium and was occupied over the centuries by the Otrar-karatau culture, Sogdians, Turks and Kazakhs. Located in the center of the modern city of Turkistan, 350 meters to the south of Khodzha Ahmed Yassaui khanak. It is part of the Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The citadel of the ancient settlement with mausoleum of Hodzha Akhmed Yassaui is located in its northwest part. This is a pentagonal hillock in the plan with the following sides: southeast side is 130 meters, northeast side is 90 meters, and northwest side is 130 meters, southwest – 200 meters. There is a wall with towers around the citadel that was made from mudbricks. Now the walls and gate are reconstructed. The western wall of the ancient settlement remained in a good condition; its length is about 350 meters. As to number of gates — there were four of them. The city was crossed by three main streets connecting the four gates. The caravanserai was situated in a southern part and the market was situated close to it from the external side of the wall.[Source: UNESCO]
“The site of ancient settlement with its late-medieval sizes, probably, repeats the sizes of pre-Mongolian cities of Yassy. The findings of materials of 7th-12th century at the whole area of the ancient settlement testify it. In the boundaries of the “big city” are also included earlier monuments and among them the largest one is Kultobe.
Sidak Ancient Settlement
Sidak Ancient Settlement (18 kilometers to the west from a city of Turkestan) dates to the A.D. 1st to 8th centuries. Occupied by the Otrar-karatau culture, Oghuz Turks and Sogdians, it is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Topographically the settlement is referred to the type of so-called “tobe with ground”. Total area of the main hill of the settlement has quadrangle shape with rounded angles is 340x180 meters. The long axle is oriented to the side of northeast-southwest direction. Average height of the ground is 7-9 meters. In the central part there is a huge hill of the citadel in height of 12 meters. The ground is from the both sides – from the south and east. To the north from the citadel there is one more ground – “northern”. The citadel and southern ground is represented by typical “tobe with ground”. If the slope of the citadel to the “southern ground” is gentle, then to the northern one it is sharp and it is separated from the hill of the citadel by wide hollow. Northern ground is a construction complex structurally separated from the settlement. The existence of such an extraordinary part of the settlement (northern ground) complicates the traditional topography of such types of the monuments. [Source: UNESCO]
“Sidak ancient settlement is a unique monument of the early Middle Ages on the territory of Southern Kazakhstan. It is the temple-communal center of fire worshippers; the city itself was formed on the basis of a temple complex. The city stood on the Silk Road. The artifacts that were found at the monuments confirm its communications with cities of Central Asia, Iran, probably India, and also with the Eastern Europe. This is evidenced by findings of amber and a cowry bowl, and also of Sasanidian gem. Findings of Sasanidian and Khorezm coins are indicative of wide economic relations of Sidak.
Sauran Ancient Settlement
Sauran Ancient Settlement(40 kilometers northeast of Turkestan) was occupied by Oghuz Turks, Kipchaks and Kazakhs. The early Sauran city history is related to Karatobe ancient settlement located three kilometers to the south of late-medieval fortress and having cultural layers dated by the middle of 1st millennium of B.C. to the A.D. 13th century. Sauran Ancient Settlement is part of the Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “It represents an oval ground in the plan surrounded by a wall with remained slid down parts with the height from 3 to 6 meters. It extends from the northeast to the southwest for about 800 meters and from the northwest on the southeast for about 500 meters. The area of a site of ancient settlement towers over surrounding district for 2-2.5 meters. The wall of the ancient settlement is built on stylobate with height of 2-3 meters. Detailed visual inspection of the total length of the walls, especially of the well remained rests has shown that the fortification has experienced at least two periods of building. [Source: UNESCO]
“Two gates lead inside the ancient settlement. The main gates are in the northeast part of a wall and represent a powerful fortifying construction, flanked with two projecting towers which had two floors. The entry represents a twenty-meter corridor-shaped pass formed by the projecting pieces of a wall. The street paved with a stone begins from it. The ditch with depth to 3 meters and width of 15-20 meters has been dug out outside the wall.
Dzhetyasar Oasis Monuments
Monuments of Dzhetyasar Oasis (45 to 90 kilometers south of Baikonur) is a complex of settlements and burials dating from 5th century B.C. to the A.D. 9th century and located in the basin of ancient channels of Syr-Darya — Kuvandarya and Pra-kuvandarya (Eskidaryalyk) Occupied by the Dzhetyasar culture and the Kangyuy, the site is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Dzhetyasar is situated in the Lower The Syr Darya river and is a unique concentration of the towns, settlements and burial grounds collectively known as the Dzhetyasar culture. During the first two stages of culture development the vast majority of Dzhetyasar settlements had oval or rounded two-layer mound-tobe ranging in height from 8 to 25 meters and covering areas ranging from 0.5 to 18 hectares. [Source: UNESCO]
“All settlements are represented by strongholds with a developed fortification and solid inhabitant building inside. At the third stage of culture development several strongholds are being constructed, which are sharply distinct from the rest in its layout and fortifications. Some of the high strongholds with solid multi-residential buildings typical for the early stages of Dzetyasar culture, additionally put intothe ring of new stronghold walls with protuberance oval towers, but a large space inside such walls are lack in any residential building traces. The core of the town is a solid multi-storey building. Upper platform is bordered by a second one, much lower, and then the third area, each of which is limited by a system of strongholds. Originally on the second tier, there were areas such as frame buildings like animal shed with separate stalls, and possibly open enclosures, and later the second platform was built up with two three-room residential-sections.
Zhankala Ancient Settlement
Zhankala Ancient Settlement (southern bank of Zhanadarya, approximately 300 kilometers to northwest of Kyzylorda city) was occupied from the A.D. 5th to 17th centuries by in order of succession Kanguyu, Oghuz Turks and Kipchaks. It is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The “settlement is located 6 kilometers east from the Zhanadarya riverbed. Like most of medieval towns it has citadel, shahristan and rabad. The Citadel is represented by several elements — a palace, surrounding it outer wall and the northeastern corner tower. The outer wall of the citadel of 1 meters in width surrounds the palace, and forms the interior of the citadel in size of 75x75 meters. Central building, tentatively called the Palace, has a size of 37x28 meters and, finally, an octagonal tower with a diameter of 8 meters, arranged in the northeast corner of the outer citadel. The outer wall is surrounded by a moat, which width varies from 20 meters in the western part, where there is an original reservoir dug out, to a width of 4 meters, that is well fixed from the northern side. [Source: UNESCO]
“Shakhristan of the settlement is surrounded by a wall with width of 5 meters. It is destroyed, its height varies from 0.2 to 3 meters. Shakhristan covers an area of 23 hectares. Directions of shakhristan walls repeat directions of the walls of the citadel. From the south, east and west sides the walls of shakhristan are direct and the shape in general resembles a rectangle. On the territory of shakhristan there are several major objects. Among them, two can be interpreted as a caravanserai. Dimensions of the first caravanserai is 19x19 meters, the second is 17x17 meters.
Zhankent Ancient Settlement
Zhankent (Yangikent) Ancient Settlement (between the Aral Sea and Baikonur Cosmodrone, 20 kilometers from Kazalinsk, on right river bank of Syr-Darya) was occupied from the first centuries B.C. to the 18th century by, in order of succession, Kangyuy, Oghuz, Kipchaks and Kazakh. From the A.D. first centuries to the 12th century the site was occupied by the ancient settlement of Zhankent. From the 13th to 14th centuries it occupied by the settlement of Myntobe. The site is part of the Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The ancient settlement has subdirect shape in the size of 375х225 meters. There is a citadel in the size 100х100 meters and height of 7-8 meters in a northwest corner. The topography of ruins shows the direction of the main street connecting the gates in east and western walls. Intra-quarter small streets depart from this. The burial ground of Myntobe consisting of hundreds burial embankments was found to the North trap of the ancient settlement in 1986 by archaeological expedition of the Arch of monuments of Academy of sciences KazSsR. The people here have been buried from the first centuries B.C. till 18th century. The destroyed mausoleums of 13th-14th centuries represent some interest, once they were revetted with majolica tiles and bricks. The scheduled archaeological researches are conducted on a site of ancient settlement since 2006. As a result of excavations the streets and premises of shakhristan have been revealed, dated by 12-13th centuries. The street with both parties covered with premises of manors of the nobility of a city was found on a citadel as a result of excavation was partially dug out. A pagan Oghuz altar was found in one of the premises, with “protoms” in the shape of lamb heads. The altar is dated by 11th-12th centuries. [Source: UNESCO]
Kesken-Kuyuk Kala Ancient Settlement
Kesken-Kuyuk Kala Ancient Settlement (near Zhankent, 20 kilometers from Kazalinsk, on right river bank of Syr-Darya) was occupied from the middle of 1st millennium B.C. to the A.D. 12th century. The Kangyuy, Oghuz Turks and Kipchaks lived there. The site is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The citadel and shakhristan in the form of a quadrangular hillock can be seen in the topography of a site of ancient settlement with the size of 230х210 meters. and height 3 meters. The site of ancient settlement of Kesken-Kuyuk kala is located on southern coast of currently dry channel which has densely grown with a bush of ancient delta. Following the curvature of external walls, the site of ancient settlement has got the shape of irregular approximated outlines. The size of the ancient settlement on a line the north-south can be determined as 840 meters, on a West-east line it is 820, a total area is over 530 thousand square meters. [Source: UNESCO]
Chirik-Rabad Ancient Settlement
Chirik-Rabad Ancient Settlement (300 kilometers to the southwest of Kyzylorda, in the Kyzyl Kum Desert on an ancient channel of the Zhanadarya) has been dated to the 5th century B.C. to A.D. 4th century and, according to S.P.Tolstov, was a capital of the Scythian territory Saks-Apasiaks. .The site is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Chirik-Rabad Ancient Settlement “is fortified with two rows of walls with towers and a ditch. The monument occupies all territory of a natural hill with the area of 850х600 meters., extended from the north to the south. The site of ancient settlement is fortified by powerful fortification system. The site of ancient settlement is surrounded by a ditch with width of 40 meters and depth of 4.5 meters. The ditch in width to 40 meters. was dug at the hill basis with depth to 4.5 meters. There is a thick external shaft made of ditch discharge, the height is to 3 meters, width at the basis is about 8-10 meters. There is another shaft on the internal perimeter of a ditch. Besides, the top of a hill is surrounded by the third row of the roll. [Source: UNESCO]
“The external wall is fortified with towers of rectangular shapes which projected from a wall plane to 6 meters. The fortification wall is cut with arrow-shaped loopholes. Thus, fortification system of the ancient settlement is an obvious imitation of Khoresm samples. At first, Chirik-Rabat most probably was the fortified ancient settlement — refuge for local tribes. Internal lines of fortifications could have appeared a bit later, when the constant settlement was formed on the territory of the ancient settlement. A huge ancient settlement of Chirik-Rabat is a unique monument and is the most ancient monument of this region. Historical reference: In the settlement lived Sak tribes bearers of Chirik Rabad culture, who had cultural and historical relations with Khorezm, Sogdiana and Achaemenid Iran.
Babish-Mullah Ancient Settlement
The site of ancient settlement and the mausoleum the Babish-mullah ( 40 kilometers northeast of Chirik-Rabad and 250 kilometers south of Kyzylorda,) dates to the 4th to 2nd centuries II B.C. and was occupied Chirikrabarat culture and Saks (Scythians). It is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan, which was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012.
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Babish-mullah settlement is fortified town which has irregular form and it is much less in the sizes than Chirik-rabad. There is a citadel of the square shape in its northern part made of “pahksa” walls with small roundish towers on corners and in the middle of east wall. The square building is located in a citadel which had received the name of “Big house”. Walls of a citadel and of “the Big house” are cut with threefold arrow-shaped dispersing loopholes of characteristic type for Khoresm. Ruins of one more large building conditionally called “donzhon” adjoin the southwest corner of a citadel from outer side which walls have remained with the height of 4-5 meters. From the south “donzhon” is attached by the city territory with a thick wall with semicircular towers the walls of which are made of mudbrick.
reference: Babish-mulla settlement can be considered as Satrap residence in the northern region of “Saks that are behinf the Sogd” of the Achaemenid empire. Inside the city the development can be seen mainly in a southwest part. The remains of constructions with post designs have been found out here. During excavations not burned fragments of female figurines of archaic shape have been found in them.”
Balandy Ancient Settlement
Balandy Settlement (100 kilometers east of Kyzlkorda) is an archaeological complex used by Chirikrabarat culture and dated on the basis of archaeological data found at the site the 3rd to 2nd century B.C. There are reasons to believe that the mausoleum of the Balandy 2 was constructed in 4th century B.C.. Geographical location: The monument is the centre of the small agricultural oasis which based on the highway channel, allotted from one of the widest channel of Inkardarya. It is part of The Silk Road in Kazakhstan was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012
According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The monument is the center of a small agricultural oasis, which was based on the main channel, set from one of the wide Inkardarya’s inflows. Rectangular monument is surrounded by 80x130 meter defensive wall and oriented to the angles. Near to settlement there is a mausoleum of the Balandy 2. The mausoleum is a round in the plan construction in diameter about 16 meters. The height of walls makes 4.5 meters. The monument represents the low cylinder decorated with a decor in the form of processed twenty five shovels forming sides. [Source: UNESCO]
“The central part of a building occupies a round premise in diameter of 5,5 meters, blocked by a dome. Mausoleum walls, as well as a dome, are covered by a layer of “saman” putties. A floor of a round building is made of earth. The external ring wall of a building stands far from an internal wall on 2.3 meters. Seven premises located between them are divided by radial walls. One of the premises, adjoining to an input, played a lobby role where its four walls had arch doorways.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Kazakhstan Tourism website, Kazakhstan government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020