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Kazakh archeology: history of investigation and today’s development

09 September 2013
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U.T. Akhmetova

West Kazakhstan State University named after M.Utemisov

Republic of Kazakhstan, Uralsk

Development of the archaeological science of Kazakhstan, first of all, is known through medieval manuscripts reached us. Formation of the Kazakh archeology was carried out in connection with the policy of colonization of the Russian Empire. The first academic expedition organized by the Russian researchers in 1733 at the head G.F. Miller collected the first data on archaeological monuments. They were interested in investigating under-ground and above-ground natural riches of Kazakh land, nature, climate, fauna and flora. Also they left a lot of data about people who had lived on Kazakh land, their history, culture and archeology.  At the beginning of XIX century researches had been carried out by military and topographical office of a General staff of Russia (1812), scientific committee (1834), agricultural scientific committee at the Ministry of the state property, scientific societies at the Russian universities such as Russian ancient and historical societies at Moscow university (1804), society on environment protection (1805), physical-medical society at Petersburg university (1805), society on mineralogy (1817), wood society (1814), they collected a lot of material about Kazakh steppe in various types of scientific research. [1, p. 3]

After Moscow university in 1878 “Society of archeology, history and ethnography” at Kazan university was created, and till October revolution its 11 scientific societies had done a great deal of work in different directions. Kazan university published a large number of articles about the culture and history of Kazakhs such as: “Kazaks of Kostanai district Torgai region”, “Archeology in Turkistan”, “Kazakhs going to funeral in 1892”, “Ethnographical report of Kazakhs”.

Turkistan subdivision of Moscow society of “Fans of natural sciences, anthropology, and ethnography” was opened in 1870 and worked till 1894. This subdivision adopted the decree in investigating the south and the east of Kazakhstan, Central Asia. In the parts of the decree all the planned work in natural, anthropology and ethnography spheres had been clearly defined. As a result library, collection of works of the society members appeared. In the collection of Turkistan society of “Fans of natural sciences, anthropology, and ethnography” the following materials were published: “Statistical date on Sirdariya region”, “Statistical data on Zhetysu region”, which didn’t loose scientific value. [2, p.95]

Archeological science on Kazakh land developed in connection with the renewal works of the Russian scientific societies and organizations at the beginning of XIX-XX. One of them was Imperial Russian Geographical society created on August 1845. This society collected materials about social-economical development of Russia and its people till the reform in 1861 [3]. On July 17, 1867 Orenburg department of the Russian Geographical Society was opened. On the first meeting on January 14, 1868 statements were accepted from those who wanted to be a member of the society, rules were established [4, 27-p]. Subdivisions of Orenburg department of the Russian Geographical Society in Kazakhstan were: the Russian Geographical Society in Omsk, opened on May 10, 1877, Turkistan geographical society in 1897, Zhetysu subdivision of the West-Siberia department of the Russian Geographical Society was opened in 1902.

Orenburg Scientific archival commission, created and worked during the period 1887-1918 in Orenburg played a great role in development of archeological science in Kazakhstan [5,11 p.]. The scientific commission’s main role was to collect office-work documents of the office of Orenburg general governor, which was a center of colonization of the Kazakh people, and to transfer them to the central archive, which was planned to be opened in Orenburg [6,9 p.]. Scientific archival commission passed all the documents, which described history, archeology and ethnography, to Orenburg archive. Especially, the member of the commission I.A.Kastanye did a lot of work in finding, registration of historical, archeological and ethnographical monuments. In 1910 I.A.Kasatanye’s book “Kazakh land and ancient monuments of Orenburg area” was published. In his introduction called “Report on a short history of the Kazakh land” the author wrote that the territory of Kazakh nation began from ancient Stone Ages, and he described a short history of people, lived on our land. Monograph of the scientist can be considered as a powerful research about history and archeology of Kazakh people till October revolution [7, p.1]. I.A.Kastanye’s this work was a result of research work of the members of Orenburg archival commission.

After October revolution in 1917 archeological investigations were continued by history academy of material culture, created in 1919 in Saint Petersburg, and by Turkistan commission, organized in Tashkent in 1920 to keep

art and nature, museum and ancient monuments. This organization according to B.B.Bartold's proposal started to make Turkistan’s archeological map [8,141 p.].

  In 1946 in connection with the opening of institute of history, archeology and ethnography named after Sh.Sh.Ualihanov, a lot of scientists with A.Kh.Margulan at the head opened new possibilities for the development of archeological science. Archeological expeditions were organized to the south, central Kazakhstan under the direction of A.Kh.Margulan, A.Kh.Bernshtam and E.I.Ageyeva. Moreover in 1954 K.A.Akishev organized an expedition to Ilye. Of course, expeditions were of great success.

  From the moment when our country became independent, archeological science began to develop quickly. “Cultural heritage” program created by our President N.A.Nazarbayev worked for investigating, keeping and propagandizing cultural heritage and ancient monuments. At this time a lot of works are carried out about the creation of archeological parks called “Boralday saks fortresses”. Through the museum, situated on the place of archeological researches under the sky  you can get acquainted with the history and traditions of our ancestors [9,9 p.].

Investigations of K.M.Baipakov prove the existence of nomadic civilization of the people  lived on Kazakh land and city culture of the settled people in XI-XII centuries.

He is investigating that not only nomads but also city culture of the settled people has been the main attributes of the country.

  Nowadays Kazakhstan is trying to achieve success at world level by developing traditional and developing archeological science.

List of used literature:

1. U.T.Akhmetova. “Kazakh nation in XVIII-XIX centuries and Russian research societies”. Eurasian humanitarian institute’s bulletin. Scientific magazine.-Astana.2008.№1, pages 5-10.

2. B.V.Lunin. “Scientific societies of Turkistan and their progressive activity. End of XIX-beginning of XX”. Tashkent. Publication of Academy of Science of Uzbekistan SSR. 1962. page 275.

3.L.S.Berg “All-Union Geographical Society for 100 years 1845-1945. M.1946.-page 263.

4. Russian Federation Orenburg regional state archive. (further RF OrRSA)94-line,1-list,case-7.

5. RF OrRSA 96-line, 1-list, case-69.

6. RF OrRSA 96-line, 2-list,case- 45, 9-section.

7. A.I.Kastanye “Antiquities of the Kirghiz steppe and Orenburg region”//Works of OSAC. Edition 22. – Orenburg city: Typo-litography «Karimov, Khussainov and К», 1910. – page 321.

8. Historical science of Kazakhstan. - Almaty: «MerSal», 2005.- page 600.

9. D.A.Aliyev, G.Kh.Khamidullin “Boralday saks fortresses” archeological park on the basis of state cultural heritage. / “Medieval city culture and nomadic civilization of a river basin Ural”. / Materials of the international conference / Under the edition of prof. M.N.Sdykov. –Uralsk, 2012 – page 464.


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