If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

The Ulytau National historical, cultural and natural Reserve-museum

Ulytau is a geographical and historical centre of Kazakhstan, the most important region in the history of medieval Eurasian culture.

Ulytau is a geographical and historical centre of Kazakhstan, the most important region in the history of medieval Eurasian culture.

The Nature — cultural landscape of Ulytau retains in its memory about the outstanding historical events, personalities keeping the traits of sacred place.
It is a place where the mausoleum of Zhoshy khan, the ancestor of all Kazakh khans and Alashakhan, the legendary founder of all Kazakh zhuzes are located.

Ulytau is famous for its archaeological monuments: the petroglyphs of TerektyAuliye, metallurgical centers of bronze epoch, the sack burial Mounds, Turkic stone sculptures, towns of oguzes andkypchaks.

«The Ulytau historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve — Museum» was established on November 29, 1990 by order № 466 of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR, in order to preserve historical and archeological monuments and rare flora and fauna. The aim of the Reserve — Museum is preservation, studying, public presentation and popularization of historical, cultural heritage and historical landscape.
The main directions of museum’s activities are:

  • Realizing, protecting (guarding) activities on the territory of historical-cultural complexes
  • Organization of scientific research works in archaeology;
  • Restoration;
  • Organization of scientific and ethnographical research works, both specialized and complex expeditions;
  • Carrying out cultural and educational, informative and advertising, exposition-exhibition and publishing works.

Total area

The territory of the Reserve — Museum «Ulytau» consists of 25 historical, cultural complexes in area 14 7246 hectares. The number of monuments in this territory is more than 200 objects. Research works on making more exact numbers of monuments and certification is being continued. 3monuments of history and culture have been certificated. Among them 11 monuments of Republican significance: Airanbai, Makat, Zhoshykhan, Alashakhan, BolganAna, Baskamyr, Ayakkamyr, Duzen, Dombaul, Ketebai, mazars of Labak.
Stuff number: the stuff number of the Reserve — Museum is 22 employees.
The Director is B. S. Kozhakhmetov. The museum presents 4 departments: Fund Department, The Department of Archaeology, Architecture and Tourism Department.
The building consists of 2 floors in area 566, 2 square meters.

A brief description of the Museum’s exhibits

The exhibits comprise 342, architectural and archaeological artefacts and monuments located within the storage room and display hall of the museum and in the open air. The museum has two expositions the Archeology Hall and the Hall of the Kazakh Khans.
The Archeological Hall: Stone Age implements (axes gavels, picks, and other stone tools), Bronze Age ceramic tableware and decorative items made of bronze, cooper, bone and sea shells, tools, weapons and harness; Mediaeval stone monuments, various mills and grinders, samples of fired bricks, jewelers tools, ceramic tableware fragments and various other ethnographic exhibits.
The Hall of the Khans: Information about the history of the Golden Horde and the Kazakh Khanate, including photographers, a list of khans and their biographies, coats of arms and flags, and samples of fired bricks from mazars of the Golden Horde period. There are also household and other items.
The difference between the reserve-museum and the museum of regional studies lies in the location of their exhibits. The exhibits in the museum of regional studies are located within the building, whereas the displays of the reserve-museum are in the open air. The Ulytau reserve-museum’s main relics are architectural and archeological monuments located within 25 mausoleums.

Aulie Tau

There are unique sacred places in the universe which are thought to be especially favoured by the Creator. These places are referred to as shrines and worshiped b mankind. From early times, people have believed that the air and the water of these places can heal their diseases and this is one of the reasons, people cherished them. Ulytau (Aulie Tau) is a natural shrine of the Kazakh people, imbided with the spirit of our ancestors and acknowledged by scientists as a special place connected closely with the cosmos.
The Ulytau Mountain Range is located two kilmoteres to the west of the village of Ulytau and is visible from a great distance. According to legends, people who go to this mountain can recover from their illnesses, avoid troubles and misfortunes. People truly believe in this healing power and Ulytau has become a Mecca for worshipers from all regions of Kazakhstan and even from neighboring countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Zhoshykhan Mazar

Located 55 kilometers from Zhezkazgan city, this mausoleum was built over the grave of Zhoshy, eldest son of Genghis Khan. Zhoshy Khan died in 1227 of unknown causes, while hunting in the area. Rashidad-Din-Zhuzzhani and other historians have suggested that Zhoshy Khan may have been killed on the orders of his father. The Kyui Aksak Kulan commemorates this event. Zhoshy Khan is the ancestor of all the Kazakh khans.
Close to the Zhoshykhan Mazar are located the remains of the medieval town of Orda Bazaar. Archeological excavations indicate this town was the first capital of the Altyn (Golden) Horde.

The corners and the entrance of the Zhoshykhan Mazar building and the external dome were damaged and in 1946, under the supervision of the architect G. Gerasimov, reconstruction work was carried out. The mazar is one-room, square mausoleum with a duplex dome. The external dome ists on a 17-sidedstar-shaped base. The dome and base are both decorated with blue tiles. The internal dome is circular. The walls of the building are smooth and the floor is made of square bricks. A plaque in the shape of a square brick can be seen inside of the Mausoleum. The word «Zhoshy» is inscribed on it in Arabic. The weight of this stone is around 20 to 30 kilograms. The size of the mazar is about 9.5×7.0 meters outside and 5.25×5.25 meters inside, with a height of 8 meters.
Between 1998 and 2000, the building was fully restored by architects from the Almaty Institute of Cultural Monument Preservation. Ulytau is also the place where other members of Genghis Khan’s family were buried, including Alashkhan, Tokhtamysh, Bolgan Ana, Kula Nana, Kutylyk Temir and Kelin Tam.

The Terekty Petroglyphs

The petroglyphs of Terekty are located 88 kilometers from Zhezkazgan city. This
monument consists of decorated granite rocks high in the hills. The rock paintings are variously dated from the Bronze Age (the second Millennium BC) up to the Middle Ages. Although this is quite a popular place to visit, there are still a lot of mysteries that remain to be discovered, and historical facts to be researched in the Terekty-Auliye granite rocks. All over the rocks, and in the caves, one can see various designs and pictures. These drawings are unique and surrounded by legends which have been recounted by poets, and for many centuries bewitched people. The petroglyphs of Terekty Auliye were impressed on the rocks with gravel. Some of the stones were polished in such a way that they still shine. The local people called this place «Auliye syrganak».
The images include hunting scenes, pictures of animals such as camels and bulls, footprints, scenes from the game of togyz kumalak and scenes from the life of nomadic people. ,
In early times, gifted people with special healing abilities walked among these rocks to achieve unity with nature and search for spiritual truths and they passed on the legends of the place.
The petroglyphs were researched by the academician' А.КҺ. Margulan in 1951. He wrote that the Sak, Gup, and Uyisin tribes, who were famous for their braveness, wore silver and shod their horses with it. This tradition was taken up by the tribes of the Kishi (Junior) zhuz and was reflected in the rock paintings. According to Herodotus, the Sakas tribes drew the footprints of their idols and these kinds of images can be encountered on the Terekty Auliye rocks and Ulytau Arganat rocks as well.

Also, a historical researcher and lecturer at Zhezkazgan University, Guzykhan Akpanbekov, mentions these wonderful monuments, stating that in the pictograph, or rock drawing, one of the ancient monuments which has been preserved till modern times, the lives of ancient people, their traditions, culture and knowledge were recorded in the form of signs on the stones. The petroglyphs demonstrate the constant interaction of ancient people with nature.
In addition to Terekty Auliye, there are also many other petroglyphs to be seen in Kazakhstan, such as those at Baikonyr, Tamdy, Tasotkel, Zyngyrtas, Zhetikyz, Bulanty, Arganaty and Zilkara.

Baskamyr (10th-12th centuries)

Located in Ulytau district, to the north of the town of Zhezdi, 23km along the Zhezkazgan-Ulytau road, Baskamyr is a monument of state importance. This monument comprises the remains of a medieval fortress, surrounded by three solid walls, with a citadel and tall towers. At the south-east of the settlement lies a caravan road which connected the Syrdariya and Ulytau regions along the route of the Sarysu River. This historical monument has been researched over many years. Caves where ancient people dwelt and the copper mine where they worked, a Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, the Baskamyr medieval feudal fortress, and other monumentsof the 12th -19th centuries are located within 1.5 km. A water transport system between Sarybulak and the settlement was discovered as a result of archaeological research work at Baskamyr. It was built to supply people in the settlement with water. The settlement was constructed in a square shape with a small trapezoid fortress inside, surrounded by trenches. It is assumed that this was a medieval feudal fortress. There are nine other settlements in Ulytau region: Khan Orda, Khan Aral, Khan Shatyr, Ayakkamyr, Bolgan Ana, Karaton, Alashakhan, Barak and Nogerbek.

Ritual Fences

The ritual fences were erected during the Turkic Khanate period in 11th-13th centuries. The remainders of food, dishes, animal bones and ashes from funeral repast of famous, honorable people were placed within those ritual fences and were covered by stones. The enclosures created by the ritual fences were approximately 2.5 square meters in area.
There are about 20 such ritual fences in the Ulytau region.

Exhibitions’ organization:

«Ulytau, capital of Golden Horde»;
«Edige, ruler of Golden Horde»;
«The rich nature of. Ulytau»;
«Otyrar- Ulytau: an ethnographical expedition»;
«The medicinal plants of Ulytau»;
«The animals of Ulytau»;
«The battle of Bulanty»;
«The Ulytau landscape»;
«The blue domes: architectural monuments since the Golden Horde period»;
«The archaeological heritage of Ulytau: from the Stone Age until the Middle Ages»;
«The sacred place: traditional places of worship»;
«The life and culture of the nomads».

Location and contact details:
Karagande region
Ulytau district
14 Bulkashav St.
Tel. (+71035) 21342, 21448
E-mail: alashahan@mail.ru
Website: www.ulytau.kz

Materials provided by the Ulytau National historical, cultural and natural Reserve-museum