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science

Thousands of petroglyphs found in Kazakhstan gorge date from the BronzeAge

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In a landscape blasted with summer heat and winter cold, the shelter and shade of the Tamgaly gorge, about 100 miles northwest of the former Kazakh capital, Almaty, has been a special place for people for millennia. They have left their mark in the form of 5,000 vivid rock carvings, the earliest of which date from the middle of the Bronze Age, 3,500 years ago.

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Some of these carvings are hidden, while others’ placement ensures maximum visibility. The petroglyphs stand out in pale contrast to the dark rock revealing myriad drawings: sun deities with rays shining from their heads, warriors on horses, dancing shamans, and herds of animals.

Anna Maksimova’s studies confirmed that Tamgaly had been inhabited, almost without interruption, since circa 1500 B.C., a period of the Middle Bronze Age.

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Lowering water tables in the steppes had attracted more settlement across the region during this period, and the lush pastures around Tamgaly drew herding communities. Since Maksimova’s first survey of the site, more Bronze Age settlements and several funeral complexes have been uncovered.

The many time periods encompassed by the site present a challenge to today’s scholars, who still have much to unravel. Researchers Alexey Rogozhinsky and Renato Sala, who carried out extensive surveys after Tamgaly was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004, are making finer distinctions within the Bronze Age groups, noting early and late styles.

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Source: National Geographic

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