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INSTITUTE
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named after
A. Kh. MARGULAN

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The Southern-Kazakhstani complex archeological expedition (the SKCAE)

The Southern-Kazakhstani complex archeological expedition (the SKCAE) was organized by the Decree of the Presidium of the Academy of sciences of the Kazakh SSR dated December 24, 1970. There before the expedition was set the task of studying the ancient and medieval history of Southern Kazakhstan based on the data of researches of the archeological monuments of the region. The complex nature of the researches from the very beginning supposed the studying of monuments of the wide chronological range – from the epoch of the Stone age up to the XVIII-th century. Among the studied trends there were included also ancient irrigation, numismatics, paleo-ethnography, paleo-zoology and paleo-anthropology.     

As the main objects of the multi-year stationary researches there were chosen the monuments of the Otrar oasis: the ancient sites Otrar-tobe, Kostobe, Kok-Mardan, Kuiryk-tobe, the burial-ground Kok-Mardan; the ancient sites of the Northern slopes of Karatau: Kultobe, Ran, the rock paintings, the Borizhar burial-ground in the Arys valley.

There in 1971-1975 there were made excavations of the upper layers of Otrar dated by the end of the XV-th – beginning of the XVIII-th cc. The excavated site constituted approximately 7 hectares. In 1970-1982 and 1981-1985 there were excavated the parts of the city erections of the XIII-XVI cc. during these years there were excavated the brick-firing shops of the XIII-XVI-th cc.; the ceramic shops in two building horizons of the end of the XIII- the first half of the XIV cc. and the second half of the XIV-th- the first three decades of the XV-th cc. There were studied the public erections: the bath of the XIII-XV-th cc. and the cathedral mosque of the XV-th c.

In 1977-1979 on the area of 5000 square meters were excavated the layers of the ancient site Kok-Mardan dated by the VI-VII-th cc.

In 1978-1979 there in Otrar were excavated two baths dated by the XII-th – beginning of the XIII-th cc., in 1983-1985 there was studied the city erection of this same period.

Beginning from 1980 there were carried out the excavations of the ancient site Kuiryktobe – the capital of the district Otrar-Farab in the X-Xi-th cc.

From 1980 there were carried out wide-scale excavations of the central part of Otrar, there on the area of 1500 sq.m. were studied the layers of the XII-XVIII cc. There were started excavations in the Southern-Eastern part of Otrar where there had been situated the cathedral mosque.

From 1986 there on the ancient site Altyntobe were carried out wide-scale excavations of the central part of the ancient site Shakhristan and the city walls.

In 1986 there were started  and continued in 1987 the excavations of the ancient cite Kuyik-Mardan.

In 1988-1989 beside the ancient site Kuyik-Mardan there were carried out the excavations of the burial-ground Konurtobe.

Wide-scale excavations were carried out also at the ancient-sites of Turkestan (XVIII-XIX-th cc.), Kultobe and Ran on the Northern slopes of Karatau (the XVI-th – beginning of the XVIII-th cc.).

The prospecting detected a number of new monuments in the Arys valley, on the left bank of Syr-Darya, in the foothills of Karatau.

In 1991 there took place considerable changes in the organization of academic archeology in Independent Kazakhstan.

There by the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Kazakhstan #496 dated August 28, 1991 and the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Kazakhstan #73 dated September 6, 1991 on the basis of the Archeological centre of the Institute of history, archeology and ethnography after Ch.Ch.Ualikhanov of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR was created the Institute of archeology after A.Kh.Margulan. It was headed by the outstanding Kazakhstani scientists K.M.Baipakov, whose scientific activity was closely linked with the work of the SKCAE.

The SKCAE continued its work on the basis of the projects implemented by the Institute of archeology. In 1990-1993 there continued the excavations of the cathedral mosque of Otrartobe.

After that there is a respite in the work of the Southern-Kazakhstani complex archeological expedition.

There in the implementation of the tasks of total studying of the territory of Kazakhstan and organization of the wide-scale systematic excavations set before the Kazakhstani archeology by the independent state, the important role was played by the initially planned organization of large archeological expeditions. TheSKCAEresumeditsworkin1998.

There in the archeological works the SKCAE used the traditional and new methodologies of research in archeology.

The wide reconnaissance and micro-prospecting embraced the whole region of Southern Kazakhstan. There was composed the archeological map of the monuments situated, there were detected separate groups of new ancient city sites on the left bank of Syr-Darya, on the Southern and Northern slopes of Karatau, in the Arys valley.     

While studying the monuments there was used visual research in combination with the instrumental photo-shooting and aero-methods. While studying the ancient sites there were used the prospecting shafts and cuts for the purposes of clarifying the stratigraphy, chronology and dynamics of development. There at the basic monuments was used the method of excavation of wide areas: the total opening up of the residential blocks, complexes of handicraft shops, public erections.  

As the result of the above-mentioned works there were received the archeological materials on the Ancient-Stone age, the Bronze epoch, on medieval city culture, its links with the agricultural-cattle-breeding cultures of the end of the first centuries B.C. – the first centuries A.D.

The studying of the monuments of the Ancient-Stone age has a significance for the understanding of the process of population of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, for the singling out of that very basis upon which there happened all the subsequent development of the man himself, of technology, economy, public relations, culture. The discoveries in the region of the ridge Karatau (Borykazgan, Tanirkazgan, Tokaly etc.)II have an important role for the studying of the most ancient periods of development of man in this region. Of great interest is the studying of the monuments of the epoch Myustye, the upper Paleolithic, Neolithic periods. 

Within the SKCAE there studied the Paleolithic, Neolithic periods the team headed by Kh.A.Alpysbayev. the earliest tools were discovered at the stopping-place Kzylkindyk. According to the researchers’ opinion, it is one of the earliest monuments of the Shell-Ashell Paleolithic epoch in Southern Kazakhstan.

The next in time stopping-place Zhanatas was timed as belonging to the late Ashell-Myustyer period.

A special attention was given to the search of the monuments of the transition period from the late Paleolithic to Neolithic period. There were discovered the Mesolithic and Neolithic stopping-places Zhanachilik I-III connected with the second terrace of the river Chayan; the Mesolithic stopping-place Mayatas in the region of the station Timur. There was studied also the stopping-place Chilik, which was timed as belonging to Neolithic and early Bronze epoch, the Neolithic stopping-places Darmene I-IV. OfinterestalsoistheNeolithicsettlementTaskotan.

There was a proposition put forward about the co-existence of two cultures in the Neolithic epoch – for one of them (the stopping-place Karaungur) there is characteristic the presence of ceramics, the other one (the stopping-places Arys I, II, Darmene, Taskotan) had no ceramics.

The Bronze epoch is one of the most weakly studied periods at the south of Kazakhstan.

The only one sufficiently studied monument of the Andronov cultural community is the burial-ground Tautary situated at the Northern slopes of Karatau. Later there was studied the burial-ground Kuyukty in the ravine Bes-Aryk. 

Of great scientific interest is the problem of the appearance and development of the agricultural culture at the south of Kazakhstan closely linked with the “Kangyui” problem. The latter includes the whole number of questions connected with the localization of the state association Kangyui, the chronology of the complexes of the Kaunchi, Otrar-Karatau and Djetyasar cultures, their ethnic “attribution”.

The Kangyui thematic is actively worked upon in the SKCAE. There were carried out the searches and detection of new settlements on Syr-Darya, Arys. The excavation works were carried out at the settlement Kok-Mardan, Pshuk-Mardan, Kostobe, Botaitobe, Altyntobe, at the burial-grounds Kok-Mardan, Konurtobe and Konurtobe I, Kyrkkesken, Altyntobe, Borizhar.

There on the left bank of Syr-Darya the central monument of the epoch including Kangyui, was Oksyz.

The archeological researches and first of all the wide-scale excavations gave a lot of information about the structure of the city of the early and developed medieval times, about the character of the dwelling and its evolution, about the public erections, the ideology of the city population.

The excavations of the citadel of the ancient site Kuiryktobe showed that in its base there was the palace erection of the castle type put upon the сlay wall 5,5 meters in height with the side of the base approximately of 60x60 meters. 

There are traced two building periods in the VII-th – second half of the IX-th c. The organizing nucleus of the whole complex of the rooms of the citadel was the parade hall approximately 160 sq.m. in area. When clearing the debris there on the floor of the hall (there were cleared two corners and part of the centre) in the cultural layer with the thickness from 0,3 to 0,7 meters were found the remnants of the wooden ceiling and the wooden frieze mixed up with the parts of the wall and the earthen roof decorated with the highly-artistic carvings. The castle perished from fire probably at the beginning of the IX-th c and the collapsed burning ceiling was conserved by the fallen roof and walls. Thus, the researches made by the SKCAE were an important stage in the development of archeology for the organization of field researches, the methodologies of excavations as well as in the accumulation of materials which led to the qualitatively new information level and elaboration of a number of new scientific trends which found wide  reflection in the analyzed scientific literature.   

It’s quite expected that the accumulation of material by the topography of the cities of the oasis and Otrar itself on the basis of the wide-scale excavations; the volume of data in home-construction and architecture; numismatics; crafts, trade laid the logical basis for the appearance of the summary works which finalized the twenty-cycle wide-scale archeological researches.  

The wide-scale works are carried out from 2004 in accordance with the “Cultural heritage” State Programme initiated by the President of the country. The diversity and richness of the cultural heritage are the basic indication of a civilized society, integration component of national and state self-consciousness. The material block of cultural heritage is in itself a kind materialized memory of the people. An important part of this block is the archeological cultural heritage.

The year 2003 was a stage in the changing of the approach to the studying, preservation and use of the cultural heritage of Kazakhstan, including the archeological heritage.

The archeological objects proposed for studying according to the programme including the wide-scale excavations, were chosen depending on their significance and availability of a certain reserve in previous researches. These are in fact the etalon monuments which carry in themselves an important historical-cultural load and which are milestones for the genetic memory of the people and also they were included into the list of the future nominees of the World cultural heritage.      

The researches by the programme were carried out on a complex basis, after the excavation works and together with them there followed the activities connected with the preparation of a project, after that the conservation, the revival of the excavated objects and their museumification.

The museumifisied monuments are included into the system of the Kazakhstani state and international tourist routes, they become special nodes of the developing tourist infrastructure.

One of the uttermost tasks of the programme is the preparation of the Register of monuments of history and culture and strict registration and revision of historical-cultural heritage. The Register is the foundation of all the work for the studying and protection of monuments.

The past years were the time for the preparation of the regional and sitrict registers of monuments of history and culture.  

The SKCAE actively participates in these works. For the previously prepared Registers of monuments in the Southern-Kazakhstani and Zhambyl regions vi , in which the workers of the SKCAE participated most actively, there was added the Register of monuments in the Kzylorda region, vii there is prepared the Register of monuments in the Almaty region (under way).

There is prepared the Register of monuments for the Otrar district of the Southern-Kazakhstani region and for the districts of the Zhambyl region: the Kordai, Talas, Baizak, Merken, Lugovskoi.

The wide-scale archeological works of the SKCAE by the “Cultural heritage” State Programme began in 2004. They were carried out in Zhetysu, Southern Kazakhstan, near the Aral region, in Western Kazakhstan. ix Of great interest were the works for the studying of the burial ground Issyk and the settlement Rakhat.

One of the most ancient sites of Northern-Eastern Zhetysu is the ancient site Antonovka, which was identified as the city Kayakyk – the capital of the Karluk Djabgu.

There were carried out large-scale researches of the ancient city site Talgar which is identified as the medieval city Talkhiz-Talkhir. There were studied its city planed construction, the city blocks and dwellings, the fortification, there was determined the role of the city as a large centre of crafts and trade, agriculture and culture. The scientists managed to establish the role of Talkhir as a large centre of blacksmith production in which there were used the modern technologies in the production of iron, crude iron and Damascus steel. There was carried out the conservation of the central street and city blocks.

The works by the programme “Cultural heritage” were carried out at the ancient site Aktobe in the Chu valley.    

There at the monument Akyrtas were carried out the excavations of “the palace”, castle and caravan-sarais. The studying of the objects after the completion of the cycle of excavation works were conserved and museumified.

In Southern Kazakhstan the archeological works were carried out at the ancient city site Shymkent which is in the centre of the city.

In the middle Arys scientific works were connected with the studying of monuments of the medieval district Kendjida-Kendjde and also such well-known ancient city sites like Zhuantobe, Karaspan and the largest necropolis of Kazakhstan – the Borizhar one.

The excavations of the Borizhar burial-ground made it possible to single out the burials of two chronological periods: the Kangyui one and the early-middle medieval one, the transitional from the late-Kangyui stage of development of the Otrar-Karatau culture to the period of the ancient Turkic kaganats.  

There were studied the burial rites, material culture and ideology. xv

The excavations at the ancient city sites of Zhuantobe and Karaspan made it possible to trace the development of urbanization in the region of the Middle Asia in the course of a two-millennia period and also elucidate the role of this region in the dialogue between the settled-agricultural and city cultures and the culture of the nomads of Iran and Turan.

One of the main objects of researches was Otrar and the monuments of the Otrar oasis. At the Otrar ancient city site itself there were carried excavations in the central part by the level of the layers of the X-XII-th cc.; there was studied the southern entry complex; there were carried out the researches of the cathedral mosque of the end of the XIV-th beginning of the XV-th cc. and the mosque of the XVI-th c.

There were carried out the works at the ancient city sites Kuiryktobe, Altyntobe, Kuyik-Mardan, Zhalpaktobe. The conservation works were made at the mosques, bath of the XIII-XIV-th cc., the pottery shops of the XIII-XIV-th cc. There by the “Cultural heritage” programme were published scientific monographs and albums.

There was studied the ancient city site Sauran, one of the large cities of Kazakhstan, the former capital of Ak-Orda and one of the centres of the Kazakh khanate. There at the city site were discovered, studied and conserved the madrasah, the cathedral mosque, a section of the highway street, the fortifications. There was studied the agricultural district of Sauran and the unique system of the Kyariz irrigation and water supply.

One of the regions of researches was the Northern-Eastern Aral one, where for many years there worked the Khorezm archeological-ethnographic expedition of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. 

There were carried out excavations at the ancient city site Zhankent – medieval Yangikent and the works at the ancient city site Myntobe whch is identified as Yangikent of the late-medieval times. The researches and excavations of the so called “quagmire ancient city sites” of the Guzes and first of all Kesken-Kuyukkaly made it possible to find the dynamics of formation of these cities, the construction inside and also pose the question about the two capitals of the Oguzes – then new city Yangikent and the old capital – Djuvara-Khuvara-Khora which was situated  at the place of the ancient city site Kesken-Kuyukkala. There were studied othere cities of the Oguzes of the Aral region as well, in particular the ancient city site Djan-kala, which was identified by S.P.Tolstov with the city Djend.

The unexpected discovery was made while studying the dry bottom of the Aral sea after the drain of the water. Here at the bottom of the sea were discovered the ruins of two ancient city sites with the necropolises and the remnants of the irrigation systems beside them. These cities are dated by the middle of the XIV-th c., and most likely they formed on the basis of the caravan-sarais that came to existence at the new section of the caravan way which connected the Golden Horde, Khorezm and the Aral region with the cities of Central Kazakhstan. Important is the fact of “the drying up” of the Aral sea which took place in the ancient and medieval times.

In Western Kazakhstan the SKCAE by the “Cultural heritage” State Programme continued the excavation works at the ancient city site of the XIII-XIV-th cc. Zhaiyk discovered near Uralsk city and at the necropolis Kyryk-oba.

The wide researches by the “Cultural heritage” State Programme were carried out on the monuments of Almaty, Taraz and the Zhambyl region. The results of these works require summarization partially which widens our knowledge about the ancient and medieval history of Kazakhstan. 

 
 
   
 
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