A SHORT HISTORY OF KAZAKHSTAN ARCHAEOLOGY,
The development of archaeology in Kazakhstan began with a number of exceptional orientalists and historians. These outstanding scholars were representatives of the progressive Russian intelligentsia and included V. V. Bartold, V. V. Radlov, P. I. Lerkh, Ch. Valikhanov.
Together they made a valuable contribution to the history and culture of the Kazakh people. A well-know cultural worker, V. V. Stasov stated that the archaeological old relics and monuments of Kazakhstan are of no less interest than the classical old relics of Rome. “The old city near Dzhankent (ruins on the Syr-Darya riversides near Kazalinsk) is our Pompey”, - he wrote in one of his works.
The role of scientists from Moscow and Leningrad were great in the formation of the archaeological science during the Soviet period (S. P. Tolstov, A. N. Bernshtam, M. P. Griaznov, S. S. Chernicov, S. S. Sorokin, O.O. Krivtsova-Gracova, L. R. Kyzlasov) but independent study was also carried out in Kazakhstan.
A department of archaeology was first established in 1946 as an independent scientific branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh Soviet Republic. This branch was a department of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography named after Ch. Valikhanov. A. Kh. Margulan was the founder of this department. He led the first archaeological expedition in Central Kazakhstan. From 1955 till 1989 the department of archaeology was directed by K. A. Akishev who made a valuable contribution to the formation and development of the Kazakhstan archaeology.
Between the end of the Word War II and the late 60 a number of big scale expeditions and studies were conducted in the area of the Virgin Land, in the Paleolithic sites of the Karatau mountain, in the Sary-Arka sepulchral sites, in the ancient settlements of the Irtish river areas, Semirerchye and Aral sea region and in the southern towns of Kazakhstan in Taraz, Baba-Ata and other medieval towns. K. A. Akishev, A. G. Maksimova, E. I. Ageeva, G. E. Patsevich, T. N. Senigova, G. A. Kushaev, M. K. Kadirbaev, H. A. Alpisbaev, A. M. Orazbaev, V. E. Sadomskov took an active part in this expeditions and studies.
The next period of archaeological work was marked by the appearance of new departments, laboratories of archaeological technology, branches of medieval archaeology, the museum of archaeology, branches of emergency excavations in site under construction (Novostroechnykh) and the department of encyclopedic records of monuments. In 1989 all of them were united into the Institute of Archaeology within the structure of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography headed today by K. M. Baipakov.
Some chronology about the main excavation:
In 1969 the Issik kurgan (burial mound) was excavated. The findings from this excavation helped to resolve many questions regarding the social and cultural life of the Sakae.
In 1971 important archaeological expedition were led in South Kazakhstan. This started long term large scale excavations in Otrar, Kuyruk-Tobe, Kok-Mardan along with other works at the hills and at the slope of the Karatau mountain (K. A. Akishev, L. B. Erzakovich, K. M. Baipakov, S. M. Akhinzhanov, B. N. Nurmuhanbetov, V. A. Groshev, E. A. Smagulov, S. Zholdasbaev, E. F. Kuznetsova, A. K. Akishev, T. M. Teplovodskaya, R. Z. Buranasheva, U. A. Motov).
In the 70-90 years Saka memorials were investigated as well as memorials of the Stone Age, the paleolithic culture in the East of Kazakhstan and Semirechye, the monuments and settlements of the Bronze and Iron Age in the Central and Eastern part of Kazakhstan and the medieval towns (A. Kh. Margulan, T. H. Senigova, A.G. Maksimova, M. K. Kadirbaev, M. S. Mershiev, Z. S. Samashev, H. A. Alpisbaev, A.G. Medoev, Zh. K. Taimagambetov, Zh. K. Kurmankulov, L. A. Makarova, T. N. Nurumov, T. V. Savelieva, M. K. Khabdulina, A. S. Ermolaeva, Zh. Shardenova, D. A. Toleev, A. Z. Beisenov, Zh. E. Smailov, A. M. Dosimbaeva, G. A. Ternovaya, M. S. Kasenov, G. G. Peteneva, S. M. Aitova, G. Djumabekova, O. V. Kuznetsova).
For the 52 years of its existence the Kazakh archaeology has not only enriched the scientific world by its remarkable discoveries but also revealed the main phases of the ancient and medieval development of the society of Kazakhstan.
In addition, the integral development of the ancient history of Kazakhstan including the history of culture was reconstructed. Moreover those archaeological discoveries got official recognition in certain regions and countries and a positive echo in the world. In the field of Paleolithic studies, ancient sites and working places were discovered and it was also proved that the territory of Kazakhstan was inhabited approximately one million years ago.
The importance of the Paleo-economic development of Kazakhstan Bronze Age has been proven. It has also been determined that the territory of Kazakhstan was one of the region where cattle-breeding tribes transformed into early nomads. The archaeological science has also significantly advanced in the study of the urbanization process and of the development of settled and urban culture. The Great Silk Road, considered to be one of the most significant achievements of the Eurasian civilizations passed through the territory of Kazakhstan.
The archaeological materials indicated that the Kazakhstan culture consisted of various multiple structures and that the interaction and interrelations of these cultures were the major factor in the cultural life of the people. Archaeological data has revealed for example that the Western Turks, then the Turgesh and Karluk Kaganates and also the Karakhanides and Kipchak centres were medieval states that formed different cultural ethnic traditions coexisting in harmony in the territory of Kazakhstan.
Essential developments of Kazakhstan archaeology.
The archaeological findings allow us to consider that the territory of Kazakhstan as one of the centres of the Homo sapiens development and that the Paleolithic culture must be included in the system of the development of the ancient man.
In IV-III B.C. in the steppe zone of Eurasia the climate was becoming wet. This condition caused changes in the life of ancient Kazakh people: earlier nomadic hunters and fishermen gradually began to settle in the valley of the Ishim, Tobol and Irtish rivers. Qualitative changes in the life of people led to the development of housekeeping lifestyles; from cattle-breeding to farming. The horse-breeders industry was also developed as is know from excavations of Botay settlement.
Its residents inhabited huts of 25-70 m2. The taming of horses by Botay people was proved by the analyses of osteologic materials (90% of bones found at the settlements belonged to horses). Botay inhabitants were able to weave, they were experts in pottery cases, woodworking and bone cuttings. They were some interrelations with the population of the Ural regions, Siberia and Middle Asia. The taming of horse by ancient Kazakhs played an important role in the development of the entire civilization of Eurasia.
At the beginning of the 1980 some memorials of Prototown civilization were discovered in the steppe zone. They are dated from XVIII-XVI centuries B. C. – the earlier Bronze Epoch. Chronically Prototown culture in Eurasia follows: Trojan VI in the Minor Asia; Early Mycenes in Greece; the epoch of Middle Egypt; the well-developed culture of the Mesopotamian city-states.
Archaeologists studied the civilization of this epoch like Arkaim and Sintash through excavations. The settlements of that time were rectangular or rounded and were surrounded by walls made from a special mixture of gypsum and clay blocks. The walls had the parapets, towers, labyrinthine entrance, ditches and external fortifications. There were dwellings of nobles and common population and some working places. A central stadium provided space for meetings and ritual celebrations. These settlements, or Protowns had a system of street communications and a system of water collectors. Dwellings ranged from 150 up to 300 m2 and were two-storied.
A great amount of weapons, tools, bronze ornaments were found. Blacksmiths and steel-makers had privilege in the society as did military men. Rich buries were found in the necropolis near the Prototowns. Temple complexes were also found along with small stone in the shape of men. The pictures of deities found in the Protowns resembled those to whom the inhabitants of the ancient Mesopotamia prayed during annual festivities. Clay “tablets” with the different signs were found that probably indicate the development of a written sign system. This factor is of great importance for the understanding of the level of culture in the society. The appearance of written language was connected with the emerging of State organization.
The inhabitants in Prototown were farmers and cattle-breeders who had developed technology for simple irrigation and cattle-breeding. The production, melting and metal processing of copper and bronze had reached a high level. The metallurgy of bronze was the economical basis of this civilization.
It is important to note that during this period the basis of the future Silk Road connecting West and East had begun.
Recently, other “Prototown” younger than Arkaim was discovered in Mangistau at the location of Toksanbay. The memorials of the Late Bronze Age are also know which can be related to “Prototowns”. This is Kent in Central Kazakhstan.
An important culture of the Bronze Age was also found in the Begazy-Dandibai culture of Central Kazakhstan. It was discovered by the archaeologists with its monumental architecture and many settlements devoted to copper melting. Central Kazakhstan became one of the largest centres of copper and bronze production and consequently weapons production. Therefore, the further researches in the archaeology of Bronze Age went forward to the global level of cultural and social matters.
In Kazakhstan the culture of the ancient nomads was formed during the Bronze Age. The Kazakh archaeologists give priority to the study of this culture. Civilization came to the steppe with some distinctive features such as the creation of state organizations, constant trade, cultural and political relations between the steppe and mountain zone and cultural world conception (proved by the funeral sanctuary architecture reflecting the ideology and social stratification of the society).
Discovery of famous monuments of the Saka culture like the kurgan (barrow) of Issik, Chilik, the mausoleum of Tegisken and Yagaraka, the Saka cities of Chirik-Rabat and Balandy make it possible to gain more historical data. Based on findings of written language and famous cultural art works it has been determined that the ancient Sakae emerged in the territory of Kazakhstan in the middle of the last millenary B. C.
Therefore, the beginning of the state formation in the territory of Kazakhstan goes nearly one thousand years back. It may have been contemporary with the ancient states of the Achaemenids in Iran and the ancient Greece, Chinese Han dynasty, Bactria, Chorezmia.
From the III century B. C. onward, the territory of Kazakhstan were inhabited by communities of state formations such as the Usun in Semirechye and the Kangiu in the South of Kazakhstan. The population of these states were busy with cattle breeding and farming. In the territory of Kangiu fortified settlements with stationary dwellings of green bricks appeared and urban construction was developed. Highly developed settled and urban culture were formed in the Aral sea area, around the Djety-Asar hills. A number of major settlements were surrounded by necropolis, however they were connected with the dissemination of the Sogdian population along the international trade roads.
Turk cultures settled in the oases and cities of Central Asia (Chash, Usrushana, Ferghana, Tokharistan), greatly influenced by the development of cultural life in the towns of Central Asia.
During the late medieval centuries, the cattle breeders, settled populations and dwellers were interacting in the same natural ways as in the earlier periods of history: through economic and cultural relations within the framework political unity such as the Karakhanid State. The town and steppe were not two opposed world; they had mutual economic foundations. The growth of towns in Central Asia from IX century to XIII century in most cases was connected with the process of the nomads settling. The settled nomads brought much steppe folklore into urban life and in this way the urban culture was formed. The culture was distributed not only in the South but in Central, West and East Kazakhstan.
The cultural and economic relations of nomads and town dwellers were revealed later by the study of the history of the development of Ak-Orda, Mogulistan and the Kazakh Khanate.
The latest towns of the Middle Ages Sairam, Sauran, Signak and Suzak were centres for the establishment of the economic connections between nomads and farmers. Here the cultural and trade exchanges took place not only between the town dwellers of Southern Kazakhstan and nomads of Sari-Arka but also with the people of Central Asia, the Volga region and East Turkestan. These exchanges were of great importance for the political, economic and cultural life of the Kazakh Khanate.
The study of archaeological monuments in Kazakhstan enabled the scientists to reconstruct the mechanism of interrelation between these different cultures. This work provided evidence that the territory of Kazakhstan was one of the historical-cultural centres and that interactions of nomads and settled populations led to a mutual enrichment of both cultures. Many achievements of Kazakh culture lie in the heart of such synthesis.
The achievements of the Kazakh archaeological science have been acknowledged at a number of general meetings and international conferences. In addition Kazakhstan archaeologists have participated in the development international projects, including UNESCO “Great Silk Road: roads of dialogue” and joint scientific researches with the archaeologists of Russia, France, Belgium, the USA and Poland.
The communication centre of the Institute archaeological achievements is the Museum of Archaeology depending on the Academy of Sciences and directed by R. A. Bektureeva. Materials from this museum were successfully displayed at exhibitions in the USA, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Egypt and Italy.
Specific projects have focused on the protection of archaeological monuments and the history of culture. There has also been a complete and partial rating of the monuments discovered in all the regions of Kazakhstan. This includes the first volume of the “Code for Monuments of History and Culture of Kazakhtan, South-Kazakhstan region”, issued in 1994 .