Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs of Tamgaly.

Petroglyphs of  Tamgaly were carved out in stationing (piketage) technique by stone or metal tools. All of them were divided into 48 rather independent complexes during the implementation of documentation of the complex. Completely original masterpiece of rock art of Tamgaly, as considered is the plane, considerable by its sizes, with the impressive images of 6 "sun-headed" deities that were carved over small images of dancing and praying people. The large size of early petroglyphs, their unique graphic contents and an iconography place them in one row with the most valuable images of rock art of Central Asia.  

Fig. 5. The modern building and the territory of the visit-centre of Reserve Muzeum of Tamgaly.

Petroglyphs of Tamgaly. The main part of excursion passes through the rock art sites, petroglyphs, united in big units - groups. The homogeneous series of the most ancient images created in the midterm of the XIV-XIII centuries BC during the development of Southeast Kazakhstan (Semirechye) by nomadic tribes of an Andronovo Cultural and Historical Community. This basic rock art is especially distinguished from thousands of petroglyphs of Tamgaly. Petroglyphs of the Bronze Age of the Tamgaly testify to the highest level of development of this type of graphic creativity during its blossoming and a wide circulation in the territory of Central Asia. Specifics of these drawings, according to the fair conclusion of A.E. Rogozhinsky (the large sizes from the 25-75 sm to 1,0m, the technique, style,  iconography, repertoire and existence of a narrative design) allow distinguishing them especially as the Tamgaly type of petroglyphs.

The rock with group of petroglyphs II, an indexed panorama.

Petroglyphs, group II (the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age). There are more than 400 petroglyphs in this group. Images of the Bronze Age (14-13th cc. BC) which represent the most ancient and most expressive series of the petroglyphs of Tamgaly are prevailing here. Among them are depictions of wild animals (deers, horses, bulls, wolves, etc.) and of anthropomorphous figures, including fantastic ones (disguised people, zoomorphic beings dressed in furs). Drawings are large (25-75 cm) and deeply cut in a sharp way on the stone surfaces. Some other images of animals, were made in Saka "Animal Style", were created in the 1st millennia BC.

The central panel of group II with images of the Bronze age.

The "Masked" anthropomorphous beings, the Bronze Age, the group of petroglyphs II.

Petroglyphs, group III (the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age and Middle Ages). There are more than 400 petroglyphs in this group. Images of the Bronze Age (the 14-13th cc. BC) are dominating here, often they are renewed in later periods. Among the main subjects are the scenes of hunting on wild animals (onagers, mountain goats), sacrificing of a bull, etc. Masterpieces of the rock art are the figures of "sun-head deity" on a bull and the “incalver” of the "pregnant" cow.  The scene of a human sacrificing refers to the period of the Late Bronze (the 14-13th cc. BC). The figures of animals in the "Animal Style" and a scene of dancing warriors with axes are dated by the Sakae Period (mid. of  the 5th c. BC). 

The image of "sunheaded" on a bull.

One more mythological image of the group III, the incalver cow.

Petroglyphs, group IV (the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Middle Ages, the New Time and, recent times). This rock with petroglyphs is the main dominant and semantic center of the sanctuary of Tamgaly "open-air temple". More than 700 images could be found there. The unique is an image of 6  "Sun-head deities", dated by the Bronze Age (14-13th cc. BC). It was supplemented with other drawings in the Early Iron Age (the 6-5th cc. BC) and in the Middle Ages. Turkic runic inscription was done on the rock in 9-10th cc.; Oirat prayer "Om mani padme hum" is dated by the mid. of 17th - mid. Of 18th cc.; the tamga/sign of Dulat  - the Kazakh tribe of the Senior Zhuz (tribal unity) was carved on the rock surface in the late 19-early 20th cc.

In the central part of the group on the top terrace of Tamgaly Canyon, the so-called "Pantheon" of the Bronze Age and the Picture of the Universe is situated. Group IV, the pannel 118. The vertical rock with petroglyphs is the highest in a canyon of the Tamgaly and forms the semantic center "the temple open-air". The surface with drawings is turned to the south, and all characters represented on it respectively are focused over the four corners of the earth. Petroglyphs belong to different historical eras; in total there are 52 carvings.

Images of "sunheaded", group IV, the Bronze Age.

The panel with images of "sunheaded", and also anthropomorphous, the Middle Bronze Age. Probably, served as the sanctuary altar.

The Bronze Age. The frieze consists of images of "sunheaded": six large anthropomorphous figures differing in the height (from 52 to 74 cm), by form of its "nimbuses", position of hands (are lifted up or lowered), a turn to the left (West), to the right (East) or frontally (South/North). From above over them a figure (a torso and the head) of the seventh (?) "sun-headed" character. From below at the left – two figures of people stand opposite to each other in a prayful poses ("adorants"); above – a scene fragment of "sacred marriage".

The panel contains all main “sunheaded” types of characters of Tamgaly site, representing the collection of the "all gods" (pantheon) and ritual worship. This composition has no analogs.

The Early Iron Age. Eleven anthropomorphous figures: ten dancing warriors with axes, in the center – the figure of the woman in labor. Higher the rider on a horse, the wild boar and other animals in the Saka "Animal" style are represented. Some figures block images "sunheaded", but in general harmoniously supplement composition of the Bronze and transfer the Universe Picture in representations of the Ancient nomads. Other petroglyphs were created in the Middle Ages and later.

Petroglyphs, group V (the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Middle Ages). There are more than 1000 petroglyphs in this group. Among them are the large compositions with images of animals (bulls with lines inside the body, horses, a boar, etc.), chariots and a vehicle harnessed with a camel, as well as anthropomorphous figures, including "sun-head deities" – all dated by the Bronze Age (14-13th cc. BC). Compositions with images of the deer, made in the  “Deer style” from Mongolia and in Sakae "Animal style", are dated by the first half of the 1st millennia BC. In the Middle Ages on the rock were cut images of an anthropomorphous deity with beams around the head and sitting in a "feasting pose", horse riders, deer, and also tamgas/signs of the Early Turkic tribes.

The drawing of the sitting anthropomorphous deity, the V group (by A.E. Rogozhinsky). 

The Early Turkic Period.

Images of deers in "animal" style, the Early Iron Age, group V.

The top panel of the group V which is densely hammered with images of the Bronze Age.

The general view of a hill with petroglyphs of Sunkarsay dried valley.

To the moment the touristic route by the Tamgaly Gorge

One of the central panels of group VI with images of various eras.

Petroglyphs, group VI. The new route were prepared in 2013 and officially opened in 2014. The rocks of this group is situated at distance little more than 1 km from the central zone of the Tamgaly Natural Boundary, consists of more than 150 panels. Their images are dates with the the Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, Middle Ages. Some compositions with animals and people refer to the Bronze Age (14-13 centuries BC). Dominating here are the petroglyphs from the Early Iron Age, but especially many images are from the Medieval times, such as scenes of hunting, horse riders holding banners, tamgas/signs of Turkic tribes. The Early Turkic petroglyphs often have been supplemented to the ancient figures, overlapping images of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. On this location change of priorities of petroglyphic graphic activity as traditional channel of communication of nomads is traced: the sign-tamga and the short runic text become the integral attributes of a graphic row reflecting social and legal status of their founders, owners of the territory; meetings the tribal signs that fixed hierarchy of nomadic clans, their political integration.

The indexed panorama of group of petroglyphs VI.

Images of the standard-bearers, the Early Turkic Period, group VI.

Despite of the diversity of tours the large part of the Reserve-Museum’s territory and a wide spectrum of monuments of the archaeological complex are staying aside of the excursion routes.  The special advantage of the landscape of Tamgaly emphasized with the conducted researches of scientists, confirmed by the World Heritage Committee is its cultural component, unique petroglyphs reflecting the bases of understanding of the universe of the population of this territory during an era of average bronze which are beaten out on the most suitable large planes in full sense masterpieces, certainly, are the site of the World Cultural Heritage. Obviously what exactly this territory on a joint of low mountains, at an exit of the small small river from the natural boundary on the extensive valley, most was suitable for reflection of pictures of the universe on rocks.

 The so-called "the encyclopedia of tamgas-signs", the collection of signs of the Turkic tribes and occupying the Natural Boundary and its vicinity in the Early Turkic Period.

Ancient burials ( burial grounds) constitute one of the widely spread types of monuments of Tanbaly complex and spread as in the hilly so in the plane territories of the gorge. At present monuments of the Bronze Age period are surveyed best.

Mainly, the cultural landscape "is operated", now in Tamgaly Reserve-Museum however this operation is most careful. The general principles of the organization of tourist routes on landscape monuments, were formulated by architects., Imanbekova K.I. and  Yatsenko E.L., which clear understanding, was reached at the organization of the main route for the central gorge: "openness and availability of the site …, using of the site without prejudice to it, balance of methods of management …".

 The excursion for exceptional children from the UNESCO camp.

Ancient burials (burial grounds) are one of main types of archaeological sites of the complex of Tamgaly and settle down as in hilly, and also in flat part of the Natural Boundary. The Bronze Age sites are better studied now and, burial grounds of this period Karakuduk II, Tamgaly II are exhibited for tourists.

There are seven burial grounds of the Bronze Age period (TanbalyI,II, IV-VII, Karakuduk II) on the territory of the Gorge, clustered preferably along the main valley, on the both banks of the Tanbaly River. Tanbaly I,II and Karakuduk II cemeteries are situated in the foothill plain. All monuments occupy elevated platforms (debris cones, flat hillsides) and covered with deluvial layer. The area occupied by Tamgaly I, IV, V, VII burial grounds and quantity of burials are comparatively small: 15-20 graves are scattered on the territory not exceed 250-400 sq. meters.  30-35 burials of the largest Tanbaly II, VI and Karakuduk II cemeteries are spread at an area of  500-1500 sq. meters.

Ceramic pots from burials of  Tamgaly burial grounds of the Bronze Age.

Archaeological surveyings of all these sites have been conducted for several times. Despite of the different investigation data received helps to determine the absolute dating and define the cultural and chronological attribution. 

Burial grounds of the Bronze Age period refer to Andronovo Cultural and Historical Community of Central Kazakhstan (Atasu) and Semirechiye types, reflecting migration and diffusion character of the formation the Late Bronze Age population in South-Eastern Kazakhstan.

Tamgaly I, V, VI burial grounds determined as the earliest monuments functioned synchronous in the second half of the XIV - XIII cc. BC. Their peculiarities characterized with obsequies rite of buried in foetal position in large-seize stone hinges inside round or rectangular stone fences erected of vertically installed stone slabs. Funeral inventory was presented with hand-made modeled ornamented pottery and bronze jewelery.

The scheme of an arrangement of burials of burial grounds of Tamgaly-I and Tamgaly-II.

Cemeteries of Tanbaly II, IV and Karakuduk II, regarded to the Bronze Age monuments of the Semirechenski type, have been originated at the turn of XIII and XII cc. BC. A distinctive feature of this type is the rite of corpse burial and cremation in stone henges and cists, coarse hand–made earthenware and specific set of bronze jewelry objects. Several stones in three cists of Tamgaly-II and Karakuduk II cemeteries are covered with rock carvings presented with anthropomorphous figures images and animal images performed in style and technique of the earliest series of Tanbaly petroglyphs.

The most ancient burials of the Bronze Age were discovered at the periphery of Tamgaly VI and Tamgaly VII necropolises and attributed to the X-XI cc. BC.

Burial mounds were found in all parts of the gorge and represented by several types differ in shape of embankments and burial construction. The largest cemeteries, consisted of 20-30 structures, occupy the foothill plain.

Petroglyphs of Sunkarsay (VII group). The Gorge of Sunkarsay is situated in 700 m to the northwest from the central Gorge of Tamgaly. It represents the superficial short valley among typical low mountains of Chu-or with the small stream which had the seasonal drain providing population  of the gorge, now existing only in the spring. The greatest congestion of petroglyphs is on a hill at an exit from the gorge. The congestion totals 150 planes with more, than 500 petroglyphs which are dated with the period of the Late Bronze, Saka Period, and also the Middle Ages. Often, petroglyphs were renewed in the Late Time, new images were sometimes added. The full documentation of petroglyphic art of the main hill was done by L. Herrmann and B. Zheleznyakov in 2011, the tourist route that opened access to its petroglyphs was opened in the same year. The excursion visit of one more interesting site in Tamgaly complex  was organized in 2011.

The scheme of visiting of Sunkarsay pertoglyphs.

The majority of rock carwings represents animals, in particular goats and camels which image partially belongs to the Bronze Age, but the most part to the Early Iron Age. It is especially characteristic for this era of the image of a deer with horns in the form of "the Tree of Life ". Images of the Early Iron Age and the Middle Ages obviously prevail in Sunkarsay. Early Turkic images also rather accurately underline characteristics of the period: some scenes show riders with banners, hunting scenes with bows or a bird of prey. The signs-tamgas represented as separately and among a big scene occurring at different times – a palimpsest are known. Tamgas, obviously, marked the settlement existed here in the Early Turkic time above layers of settlements of earlier times. Near the gorge, on the plain, there is a barrow "with moustaches".

The scheme of the precise localization of the main planes with petroglyphs of medieval time on the topographical plan of Sunkarsay valley.

The barrow "with moustaches" in piedmont part of the plain at the valley Sunkarsay.

During this touristic route it is possible to visit of the next site: 8. Barrow with" moustaches" (stone pavements). The monument was excavated and partially investigated in October 1-5, 1957 by Semirechensky group of the Southern Kazakhstan Archaeological Expedition of AS Kaz.SSR under the head of  A. G. Maximova. The dating: the Early Iron Age – the Early Middle Ages. The construction consists of the central barrow (a stone embankment of d – 6 m, h – 0,5 m) and two bow-shaped stone pavements  ("moustaches") departing from it to the northeast and the southeast; on the ends of both pavements there are small barrows (d – 2 m, h – 0,2 m). At excavation of barrows of burial aren't found; excavation of bow-shaped calculations - "moustaches" wasn't carried out. Purpose of a construction isn't established. The monument was reconstructed in 2005.

Excavation of the " barrow with moustaches" in the 1950-th.

The Shoshkaly petroglyphs.  The picturesque gorge is situated in the north-west and northern parts of the “Tamgaly Reserve-Museum”, in the mountainous and broken terrain of its territory. Despite a large number of rocks the surfaces covered with patina are rare. The most significant cluster of petroglyphs is located on the banks of meandering Oisu River-bed, flowing down the Shoshkaly gorge, through primordial landscape.

The images of bulls of Shoshkaly site, dating to the middlle stage of the Bronze Age.

Rock carvings were surveyed and published first by S.A. Potapov. He was the first who reveal specific peculiarities of performance technique of several bull images, resembling those of Kulzhbasy site, and dated by the earliest periods than majority of Tamgaly petroglyphs.  The largest part of pictures was picked on rocks with south-western exposition of the right bank of drying up stream. Over 100 panels are covered with rock paintings carved in different epochs from the Bronze Age (bulls and chariots of archaic type); some of them were renewed or expanded in the medieval period. Significant part of petroglyphs was executed in the Sakae ‘animal style’. Not rare are rock paintings of the third quarter of the 20-th  century with images of the ‘leader of the world proletariat’ and love scenes.  In 2011 practical training within international seminar was held here under the leadership of A.E. Rogozhinsky, which was resulted in working out archaeological map of Shoshkaly Gorge sites.

The Archaeological map of the Shoshkaly Gorge.

Shoshkaly petroglyphs are located at the equal distance from Tamgaly and Karakyr (they are situated 4 km far from both sites, exactly half-way from each other), thus giving impetus for development of excursion tours and understanding by professionals Tamgaly-Shoshkaly-Karakyr cultural landscape. It is exactly the same place to form the tourist path across natural sights of Tamgaly. 

The panorama of the "meander" of Oysu River proceeding across Shoshkaly Gorge.

Panorama of Karakyr Mountains.

Tamgaly Nature

The Physical map of the Zhambyl region of Almaty oblast.

Nature of Tamgaly

Comparative low altitude above sea level and significant remoteness from high mountainous massifs  determines small quantity of precipitation in Chu-Ile Mountains. Specific features of the region are characterized with high summer temperatures and mid-annual amount of precipitation of 250 mm. Precipitation up of 300 mm occurs only in central elevated areas. Thus caused insufficient irrigation  of an area. Exactly all streams flown down from Chu-Ile Mountains have seasonal character.

About 900 species of plants are growing in the area of Chu-Ile Mountains; it is a northern border of natural habitat for 80 southern species.

Here there is very beautiful in spring when slopes are looking like a blossoming carpet. Tuber geranium (Geranium), sweet peas (Lathurus odoratus), rindera (Rindera), aistnik (Eradium), persian rose (Persicum rose), Tatar iksilirion (Ixiolirion), gentian, Gagea lutea are growing in steppe regions. Of particular beauty are bushes with spireya and caragana. Some zones are covered with blossoming Buze tulip, changed with orange flowers of roemeria (Roemeria refracta),  puppies and feather grass. Picturesque spots of yellow Gagea lutea, valerian, anemones, ferulae, white carnation and kermek (Limonium) are scattered among multi-colored lichen covering rocky slopes. Of great interest are such plants as korolkoviya Severtseva, rinopetulyum Karelina (Rhinopetalum Karelinii), Juno blue, red and yellow Tulipa alberti and unique endemic Tulipa Regeli - the primogenitor of tulips. It has snow-white nimbus with yellow core, short and wide corrugated leaf. Relief depressions are filled with picturesque blossoming bushes of kurchavka (Ataphaxis), chingil (Halimodendron)  and tamarisk. Continuous line of reed flanked river banks; somewhere are growing old willows. By the end of June this colorful symphony burnt out. Hot weather usually lasted till September. It was exactly the time to find out on the rocks a unique plant - nagolovatka moshnaya (Jurinea). Witness of the old geological epochs - Nedzvetskiya Semirechenskaya (Niedzwedzkia) - is another endemic plant of this area.

Thousands of years ago the climate of the region was characterized with more humidity and softness, with deep rivers, dense groves on river banks and fertile pastures. At present the area features with unique endemic flora.

Fauna of the region is slightly surveyed. Nevertheless, endemic Callistene beetle and recently discovered butterflies - Rhymnaria Vavilovi and Rhymnaria Chuilienese- can be found there.