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Археология институтының журналы. А.Х.Марғұлан


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The Chirik-Rabat archeological expedition

The valley of the river Syrdarya is one of the regions of Kazakhstan in which there are gathered together multiple monuments of the ancient civilization. Syrdarya which is known by the works of the antique Grecian and Roman historians, travelers and by the medieval Arabic sources like Yaksart and Seikhun was populated from the Stone age. The first mentions about the ancient monuments localized in this place one can meet in the works of the antique authors. The antique historian and geographer Strabon there in his works describes the tribes of the Massagets, “that lived in the marshy places” on the shores of the Aral, and also there are the chroniclers that depicted the military trip of Alexander the Great who single out the four tribes: the Apasyaks, the Tokhars, the Augases, the Sakaravaks

These tribes lived in the I-st millennium B.C. in the valleys of the rivers today already dried – Karadarya, Inkardarya, Zhanadarya, Kuvandarya, Eskidarya and Zhetyasar.
At the present time near these rivers there are fixed more than 200 monuments, the largest of which are the ancient city sites Babishmolla and Chirik-Rabat, the kurgans Alypa and Kabyla, the settlements with the defence erections Zhetyasar, the mausoleums Sengirtam and Balandy.

The purposeful scientific researches of the monuments of antiquity carried out in the XVIII-XIX-th cc. one can find in the works of I.Gladyshev, D.V.Muravin, S.Remezov, P.Rychkov, A.I.Levshin, I.Castange and others.. The first archeological excavations were made in 1867 at the ancient city site Zhankent by I.Lerkh.. The systematic archeological researches in this region started in 1946.

As a result of the wide-scale prospecting works of the Khorezm archeological-ethnographic expedition under the leadership of S.P.Tolstov, there in the middle stream and in the deltas of the ancient river-bed of Syrdarya, Zhanadarya and Inkardarya were discovered several dozens of stopping-places of the Stone age, the burial grounds of the Bronze epoch, ancient city sites and kurgans of the early Iron age, and also settlements and separate country-seats of the middle ages. Among them small excavations were made at the ancient city sites Chirik-Rabat, Balandy, Babish-mulla, at the burial-grounds Yigarak and Tagisken. There upon the materials of the studied monuments was elaborated the preliminary periodization and chronology.

More than half a century has passed since those times during which the archeological science has undergone substantial changes. There was elaborated and inculcated the perfected methodology, there were developed the methods of field researches, there are used today the high-precision apparatuses. In this connection by the appeal of the Institute of archeology there into the list of the unique ancient monuments of Kazakhstan was included the studying of the ancient city site Chirik-Rabat.

In 2004 within the framework of the “Cultural heritage” State Programme there was crated the Chirik-Rabat archeological expedition under the leadership of Zh.Kurmankulov which continues the studying of the ancient city site and the near-by monuments.

The ancient city site Chirik-Rabat is situated 300 km to the south-west from Kyzylorda city, 110 km to the south from the village Zhanakala of the Karmakchi district on the left bank of the ancient tributary of Syrdarya- Zhanadarya. The city site occupies the whole area of the natural hill with the size of 850 x 600 m. This ancient city site is fortified with the mighty fortification system. At the foot of the hill there was dug a trench which in some places was 40 meters wide with the depth being up to 4,5 m., there from the earth dug out from the trench was built the external rampart. Its height at the present time is 3 meters, the width at the base reaches 8-10 meters.

It must be said that the ancient city site was populated several times. The most ancient part of it is the northern higher part of the hill where there are situated two large kurgans and three circular erections with high walls. Besides this part of the space between the kurgans as it was elucidated in the past years was filled by rectangular and oval burial constructions when seen from above. Thus, initially upon the higher part of the hill there appears the burial ground. Then maybe at the same time there in the southern gently sloping part of the hill are built residential erections. At this time there upon the external rampart is built the new mighty pise-wall 4 meters high and 4,5 meters wide and there in the wall is the shooting gallery 1,8 meters wide. This wall is fortified with turrets of rectangular and mostly oval form which protruded from the surface of the wall by 6 cm and communicated inside with the shooting gallery. This fortified wall and the turrets have arrow-shaped loop-holes cut in them.

In the course of prospecting in the places near-by around the ancient city site there was detected the whole system of an artificial irrigation network which begins from the main river-bed of Zhanadarya. There are well-fixed the traces of the main-line canals and irrigated fields. Along the canals 40 km in length there were situated the rows of settlements consisting each of 7 -8 houses. What is of interest is that in the middle of two or three such settlements is situated the fortified erection of the Tortkul type rectangular in form with the sides of 60-80 meters and with turrets at the corner. They are marked with distinct configuration and the height of the walls up to 1-1,5 meters. So far there were fixed around Chirik-Rabat three such settlements. Judging by the finds scattered in the radius up to 300-500 meters around the settlements they existed for quite a long period of time, among the finds in great quantities one can meet the fragments of ceramics of manual make as well as made with the use of the machine-tools typical for the Sak period. Often one can meet the stone and glass beads (some of them with the paintings), the fragments of the copperware. The bones of the animals are very rare which indicates the agricultural inclination of the economy of the residents of the settlements.

The finds from the researched objects of Chirik-Rabat testify to the high social level of the residents of the ancient city site and the settlements, at the head of which stood the tsar and the military aristocracy. The society was subdivided into several hierarchical categories. At the top level, when judging by the kurgans of such a huge size, there stood the personalities from the tsar family, after them came the priests and military aristocracy, one of the burial grounds of whom was investigated in 2005. At the lowest level there stood the remaining members of society who populated the multiple settlements of the non-fortified type in the vicinity of the ancient city site Shirik-Rabat. The culture of the tribes of the region developed in close contact with the tribes of the near East, the civilizations of the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt. The further researches no doubt will open the new pages in the history of ancient Turan.

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