Rich in cultural-ethnographic monuments of different periods, the Saryarka region takes a special place in the history of Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries.
The history and culture of any nation, including Kazakhstan, is inextricably linked with the history of neighbouring peoples and develops in mutual influence. Written sources, archaeological excavations and finds confirm the interconnectedness of the historical roots of peoples of Central and Southwest Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Altai, Ural and Volga regions and numerous contacts of nomadic and sedentary cultures of Eurasia.
A high cultural level in central Kazakhstan was achieved in the Bronze Age, the second millennium B.C. Rich deposits of copper ore and ancient metallurgy, which stretched from the Minusinsk hollow to the Volga Basin, allowed the Saryarka tribes to take a special place in the historical and cultural community of the period. Similar design of burial mounds and dwellings, the same type of labour tools and characteristic shapes and patterns of ceramic tableware speak to the close contacts of the tribes living on this vast territory. Thus, Kurgan and the fence of Myrzhyk, Aksu Ayuly, Terisakkan and the settlements of metallurgists in Atasu, Milykuduk and Taldysai in the Karaganda region are much bigger in size than similar monuments in the adjacent territories.
At the end of the Bronze Age, the local tribes had a new form of business entity. Nomadic husbandry had an impact on the social order, life and culture of later ages and greatly contributed to active interaction of cultures. The nomads occupied a huge steppe space from Manchuria to the blue Danube, rightly called the Great Steppe belt, where they erected impressive mausoleums to tribal nobility, such as Begazy, Sangru and Aibas-Darasy.
The Begazy-Dandybay culture formed the next era of Tasmoly culture, which ran from the 7th to the 3rd centuries B.C. The monuments of Tasmoly culture have much in common with its sister cultures of the Scythian-Saka type from the Altai to the Black Sea; the similarity of mounds, household items and weapons also speak to their close contacts. The Scythian animal style, with its main theme of images of animals and mythological zoomorphic creatures found in the excavations in Kargash, Ulytau, Karkaraly, is thought to have originated in this period. The people built majestic burial structures and monuments, among which are 37 burial mounds of warriors and as well as Aibas.
In the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C., the movement of Hun tribes, which began in the steppes of Central Asia, spread to many nations of Eurasia, causing a big movement of tribes and peoples known as the Great Migration. The Huns’ culture, one of the layers of which formed the Kazakh people, had a great influence on the peoples of Eurasia and the formation of a number of Turkic-speaking peoples of the Volga, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In the middle of the 6th century B.C., a new community of nomads related to the history of the Turkic khanates emerged. Vast areas of land from Mongolia to the North Caucasus became the scene of the formation of the Turkic peoples of Eurasia. Numerous stone sculptures of this age were found in the Altai, Tuva, Kazakhstan and Central Asian regions.
Late in the first millennium A.D., new nomadic states appeared on the ruins of the Turkic khanates. The rise of the Oguz, Pecheneg, Kipchak and Cuman peoples is inextricably linked with the political centre of the medieval age. Ulytau and powerful citadels of the settlements of Baskamyr, Khanaral and Khanshatyr speak to the formation of mighty hordes.
These hordes later became the base for the emergence of new peoples in Asia and Europe. For example, the Kipchak joined the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Bashkirs and other Turkic peoples. The most powerful union of nomads, as well as the strengthening of mutual influence of peoples, began in the 12th century under Genghis Khan. His empire played a prominent role in the history of the Turkic-Mongolian peoples.
The Golden Horde was the cradle of the final formation of the Turkic peoples in the Eurasian steppe. Its state and social system was the base of the Kazakh-Nogai, Crimean, Kazan and Uzbek khanates.
The history of the Kazakh people and archaeological data of the steppe strongly confirm that the interaction of cultures is a natural phenomenon of the development of human civilisation.
The author is Director of the National Museum-Reserve Ulytau.