Petroglyphs within 
the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly (2004)

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Set around the comparatively lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast, arid Chu-Ili mountains, is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. Distributed among 48 complexes with associated settlements and burial grounds, they are testimonies to the husbandry, social organization and rituals of pastoral peoples. Human settlements in the site are often multi-layered and show occupation through the ages. A huge number of ancient burials are also to be found including stone enclosures with boxes and cists (middle and late Bronze Age), and mounds (kurgans) of stone and earth built above tombs (early Iron Age to the present). The central canyon contains the densest concentration of engravings and what are believed to be altars, suggesting that these places were used for sacrificial offerings. 

Kazakhstan 2003. Tamgaly Petroglyphs. Stamp #1 of two.

Kazakhstan 2003. Tamgaly Petroglyphs. Stamp #2 of two.

The Tamgaly property is located on the Ili River, that runs from the northwestern part of China into the western part of Kazakhstan, appr. 150 km northwest of Almaty. In Kazakh language the word "Tamgaly" means "painted, or marked, place". 

  • Kazakhstan 2003. Tamgaly. Bronze Age depiction of cows intertwined with each other. 
  • Kazakhstan 2003. Tamgaly. Bronze Age depiction of a man riding a bull, and acting as the Sun. 

For many centuries Tamgaly used to be the place where various rituals and sacrifices took place. Some of the drawings were renewed in the Middle Ages, and used in religious ceremonies until the XI century. 50 sites have so far been unearthed in Semirechye, along with several on the natural boundary of Tamgaly. Next to these petroglyphs, other monuments have been discovered which give clues to these ancient civilizations, including settlements, burial grounds, and sacrificial alters. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Properties in Kazakhstan (on this web site). For more information about Kazakhstan, please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Kazakhstan

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999-2007 Ann Mette Heindorff 
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