Petroglyphs identified in the Kalba region during archaeological exploration

Ергабылов Акбар – преподаватель Казахского национального университета имени Аль-Фараби.

Калшабаева Бибизиа – доктор исторических наук, профессор Казахского национального университета имени Аль-Фараби.

Аннотация: Статья посвящена краткой характеристике разведывательных работ на территории Калбинского хребта. В кратком обзоре в основном описаны обнаруженные памятники наскального искусства. Авторы приводят рассуждения по определенным рисункам, анализируют иконографическую и мировоззренческую особенность некоторых образов в обнаруженных комплексах. Методологической основой исследования был комплексный подход к анализу археологических источников, который всегда предполагает расширенное использование традиционных исторических методов исследования.

Abstract: The article is devoted to a brief description of exploration work on the territory of the Kalba ridge. The brief review mainly describes the discovered rock art monuments. The authors give reasoning on certain drawings, analyze the iconographic and ideological peculiarities of some images in the discovered complexes. The methodological basis of the research was an integrated approach to the analysis of archaeological sources, which always presupposes an expanded use of traditional historical research methods.

Ключевые слова: Калба, петроглифы, эпоха бронзы, мироввоззрение, искусство.

Keywords: Kalba, petroglyphs, bronze age, worldview, art.

During our exploration in the Kalba-Narym region in 2018-2019, several petroglyphs were taken into account. They were not published in the form of general reports of local historians in the newspapers, but in the form of an accurate scientific explanation was not made. At the same time, the petroglyph complexes in this region have not yet been fully identified. There are also several reasons for this, primarily due to the lack of Archaeological Research in the region under consideration.

The following is an explanation of the main images and networks in petroglyphs identified during the exploration. In the process of creating a symbolic examination of images, we were guided by the main methods of Archaeological Science.

Mortas petroglyphs (Figure 1-3).

The monument is located 18 km northeast of Shalabay village, Zharma district, East Kazakhstan region. The paintings are based on images of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages.

Among the paintings, you can find interesting and valuable materials in terms of their composition, stylistic features, construction techniques and variety.

Among them are images of mountain goats in two rows on a flat surface. Most of them are depicted with their heads turned to the left. The image of a goat is depicted with parallel curved lines several times longer than the face of the horns. The image of a horseman is painted on the top of the mountain goats.

Also interesting is the image of a deer hanging from the toes. The horns run along the ridge to the bottom of the body. Stylistically, it corresponds to the peak of Scythian art.

Pictures of bulls are depicted separately on individual stones. Both have bent horns from the forehead to the lower part of the body.

Mortas petroglyphs also pay special attention to the images of horses. Particularly striking are the images of horses with horned masks on opposite heads.


Figure 1. Mortas petroglyph complex.


Figure 2. Mortas petroglyph complex. Deer.


Figure 3. Mortas petroglyph complex. Bull.

Tolen petroglyphs (Figure 4).

The monument is located 12 km east of Auezov village of Zharma district of East Kazakhstan region. Most of the pictures are of mountain goats. Among them are images of several deer.


Figure 4. Paid petroglyph complex.

Petroglyphs of Karakezen 1, 2 (Figure 5-6).

The monument is located 12-14 km south-west of Kokpekty village in the East Kazakhstan region. The paintings are based on images of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages.


Figure 5. Karakezen 1 petroglyph complex.


Figure 6. Karakezen 2 petroglyph complex.

Among the petroglyphs there are often images of horses, goats and camels. In addition, there are multi-figure compositions of different symbols and associated with the idea of reproduction. Images of animals are embossed with separate solar symbols, various circles, hoof-shaped symbols and more.

Our research this season has revealed new petroglyph complexes that have not been put into circulation. During their initial study, many images were reviewed. Now let's explain the iconographic and sculptural features of some of those images.

Chicken. The image of a goat has been the most common zoomorphic line of rock carvings for thousands of years. This art has experienced several styles and is performed all over Central Asia.

Although the images of these animals in the petroglyphs of East Kazakhstan are mostly graphic, there are some carefully executed shapes. Relatively small pictures dominate among the images of chickens. They mainly depict scenes of hunting and tracking.

V.D. Kubarev pays special attention to the image of a goat when considering the ritual basis of the images depicted in Altai petroglyphs. In it, he connects the image of a goat in the rock paintings of the Tsagaan-Gola steppe with a dotted relief around its horns and a wheel with threads next to it, and connects it with the ritual of the sun [1].

Sources of information that provide a lot of information in the analysis and interpretation of religious and mythological plots related to the image of a mountain goat are often associated with material culture. For example, the handles of the bronze pit found at the burial place of Hargosh II were made in the image of a mountain goat [2, p. 33]. The production of pottery or bronze vessels with a common zoomorphic handle is one of the most common trends in Central Asia. We can prove it on the basis of many archaeological data. In the southern part of Kazakhstan, including the middle reaches of the Syr Darya and archaeological monuments in the Kuramy mountain range in Tajikistan, ceramic vessels in the form of various animals are often encountered [3, p. 6].

The complex composition with the image of a mountain goat living with a tree has also aroused some interest in science. Researchers often cite the idea that the mountain goat and the tree stand side by side as a sign of prosperity, development and fertility. Scientists before us [4, p. 71–73, 94] have considered the connection between the mountain goat and the fertility tree. Such phenomena were depicted in primitive forms in Central Asia even in the Palaeolithic period [5, p.78–79]. According to scientists, the depiction of a mountain goat between two trees in a pottery related to that culture has a ritual meaning [6, p. 46]. Such images can be found in the Pamirs, and its meaning is associated with the need not to destroy trees in mountain goats [7, p. 181-189.].

Similar information about the connection of a mountain goat with lightning is typical of the upper part of the steppe bronze standards. For example, sculptures depicting the bodies of goats on the top are widespread in the Minusin region, even in the Kara-Suu period [8-12]. Interestingly, the standards of the Tagar period depict the location of mountain goats as a hemisphere. It symbolizes the connection of the mountain goat with the celestial world, the astral sphere.

According to many, sheep horns are the main part of Kazakh ornaments. The antiquity and "partial functionality" of the mountain goat in art allow us to speak about the revival and continuity of its image in mythological and religious views. This allowed him to remain a favourite character in the fine arts for thousands of years.

There is no special work on the image of a mountain goat in rock art, but A.P. Okladnikov once said: “Looking closely at a mountain goat, we see a difference in the interpretation of the whole image and its details, which not only changes the attitude to it, but also gives a more complete understanding of the essence of art, which is an important part. "The" workshop "of the ancient artist, which may seem simple and humble," leads to a deeper understanding of the meaning of creative methods "[13, p. 54].

Horses. It is the third largest number of animals depicted in the petroglyphs of East Kazakhstan.

This image belongs to the oldest character of ancient art. Among the cave paintings and small plastic paintings, the horse prevailed.

This character of painting is stylistically and compositionally realized. There are pictures of a lone horse in East Kazakhstan, early (riding) horses, a herd of horses. Some of the animals are outlined, while others are carefully crafted, with a mane, a spread tail, and parts of a horse's bridle.

Most of the images of horses found in East Kazakhstan are in motion, while those of the Middle Ages are depicted in a fading state. It is difficult to determine the date of most of the images of horses.

Seimin-turbine style, as well as the features of the rider and horse equipment can be signs of the defined period.

The rock art of Central Asia and the images of horses on deer rocks were created by N.L. Chlenova divided into three main types: the first - small, short-legged and short-necked steppe race, the second - high, long-legged and "swan" neck, and the third - the intermediate race between the first two [14, p. 90-103]. The emergence of a thoroughbred horse in the fine arts dates back to BC. belongs to the middle of the I century BC [15, p. 143-154].

Osteological material shows that from the time of the first horse breeders on the territory of Kazakhstan (Botai Eneolithic settlement) there were many types of horses.

Of particular interest are the images of horses, which are not typical for the rock art of Central Asia. These include a "frieze" composition depicting one horse after another in some rock complexes of East Kazakhstan (Oralbay, Kurchum, Shimayli). In the centre of the space, where the image is creatively limited, are the figures of two men, one of whom is on the right. The bodies of anthropomorphic forms are anfas, the legs are on the sides, and the sexes of both are clearly indicated. The arms of one of the forms are spread on both sides and hold the reins. The second anthropomorphic character has a hat with long slack parts on his head.

So, based on the above, we draw the following conclusions. According to the considered materials, the image of the horse in the worldview of the Bronze Age people was more syncretic, and it changed, albeit temporarily, due to its contact with foreign cultural traditions. In any case, the horse played a leading role in the relationship between humans and the gods. Of course, all this is due, first of all, to the inviolable place of horses in the lives of ancient shepherds.

Thus, as we can see, in the rock paintings, the image of the horse itself is defined in two directions. First of all, horses were depicted individually or in groups, but at the same time they became the main characters of complex religious and ritual compositions.

The image of a deer. The semantics of the image of a deer in art and mythology is of interest to many researchers [16, p. 53-55]. In general, the dating of the ancient rock, ie the Bronze Age, is conventionally called the "period of chariots and wild bulls", and the Scythian-Saka period is called the "deer period". By the way, the images of deer registered by us date back to the Iron Age. As the name suggests, the image of a deer has a special place among the images of this period, which is conventionally called the "deer period". It mentions several examples of images from the early Saka period, both in kind and in other regions. In the Saka and later periods, the image of a deer occupies a special place among the rock paintings, as a result of the influence of new peoples from Mongolia and the Altai region on the displacement of the "bull image", which was widespread in the Bronze Age.

In the Early Iron Age, the image of a pedigree deer became a kind of emblem of the Scythian-Saka mobile society and was associated with the glorification of the sun, ancestors, the world tree, etc., which is closely associated with other ethnographic parts. was associated with mythological views on For a series of rock paintings of deer, especially our d.d. The second half of the first century BC was characterized by the marking of various parts of the body with scrolls, waves and other symbols. This led to their simple interpretation as cosmic solar animals equal to the bright lights of the sky.

In ancient nomadic times, the image of a noble deer was, in general, a symbol of the society. He was mainly associated with mythological cults and principles concerning the sun, ancestors, and the tree of the world, which are intertwined with various imaginary elements. Whether in rock art or even in the depiction of deer in various jewellery, the semantics of this animal in relation to some celestial world cannot be ruled out. It has been suggested that the depiction of a deer with the symbols described above signifies its sacrificial nature and labelling. Moreover, it is confirmed by some ethnographic data preserved in all Siberian peoples [17, p. 33-85].

Compared to other regions of Kazakhstan, camel images are not as common in the eastern regions, including among the rock paintings of the Tarbagatai ridge. However, even the rarest images differ in the variety of patterns. Probably, the main reason for this is the natural and geographical location of the region.

So let's draw some conclusions from the images described above. The methods of technical execution of drawings in these rock complexes are as follows: in the form of a scheme there is a method of chiselling, engraving, smoothing and combined drawing. It is known that the choice of the order of formation of the stone surface for carving should always correspond to the concepts and interests of ideological, religious, aesthetic, emotional orientation and, to some extent, to the techniques of petroglyphs.

In general, the plots of petroglyphs became more complicated in ancient times due to the development of society in Kazakhstan. The beginning of the development of art at this time was due to the emergence of new types of economy - metalworking, animal husbandry, agriculture. Man's acquaintance with iron was first of all reflected in the division of social labor and led to its development. This influenced the theme of the stone stories. Petroglyphs of the Bronze Age depict religious beliefs, hunting scenes, household and ritual plots. By the time of the Iron Age, he described the predominance of animal style and military democracy. We can see this in the petroglyphs in the Kalba region, which we described above.

A large group of such rock paintings is located in the Eastern region of Kazakhstan. It was not long before the study of stone paintings of East Kazakhstan began. There are many publications published in different years. They describe monuments from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. This gives a lot of information about the chronology and interpretation of compositions as historically important sources.

There is no doubt that the testimony and study of stone paintings of East Kazakhstan is always a lot of work. This is due to the growing relevance of the study of monuments of monumental art, their classification into chronology and stages, revealing the secrets of the composition of stone images, as well as their use as evidence in determining ethnocultural processes in the region and beyond.

The magnificent images on the rocks of Kalba give a detailed account of the life, concepts and early forms of writing of the hunter, nomadic tribes inhabiting this region in the first millennium BC.


  1. Kubarev V.D., Tseveendorzh D., Yakobson E. Petroglify Tsagaan-Salaa i Baga-Oygura (Mongol'skiy Altay). – Novosibirsk: Izd-vo IAEt SO RAN, 2005. – 640 s.
  2. Litvinskiy B.A., Bubnova M.A. Raskopki kurganov na Vostochnom Pamire v 1960 g. // Trudy AN TadzhSSR. – Dushanbe, 1962. – T. XXXIV.
  3. Litvinskiy B. A. Kangyuysko-sarmatskiy farn (k istoriko-kul'turnym svyazyam plemen yuzhnoy Rossii i Sredney Azii). Dushanbe, 1968.
  4. Robertson D.S. Kafiry Gindukusha (izvlecheniye). – Tashkent, 1906.
  5. Okladnikov A.P. Issledovaniye must'yerskoy stoyanki i pogrebeniya neandertal'tsev v grote Teshik-Tash, Yuzhnyy Uzbekistan (Srednyaya Aziya) // Teshik-Tash. Paleoticheskiy chelovek. – M., 1949.
  6. Litvinskiy B.A. Namazga-tepe po dannym raskopok 1949–1950 g. (Predvaritel'noye soobshcheniye) // SE. – 1952. – № 4
  7. Kislyakov N.A. Burkh — gornyy kozel // SE. – 1934. – № 1–2. – S. 181–189.
  8. Samashev Z.S. Naskal'nyye izobrazheniya Verkhnego Priirtysh'ya. – Almaty: Gylym., 1992. – 288 s.
  9. Kubarev V.D. O nekotorykh problemakh izucheniya naskal'nogo iskusstva Altaya // Drevnosti Altaya. - № 4. - Gorno-Altaysk, 1999. – S. 186-201.
  10. Kubarev V.D. Naskal'noye iskusstvo Altaya. – Novosibirsk: GUP. – Gorno-Altaysk, 2003. – 94 s.
  11. Sher YA.A. O vozmozhnykh istokakh skifo-sibirskogo zverinogo stilya // Voprosy arkheologii Kazakhstana. Vyp.2. – Almaty-Moskva, 1998. – S.218-230.
  12. Svyatilishcha: arkheologiya rituala i voprosy semantiki: materialy tematicheskoy nauchnoy konferentsii. Sankt-Peterburg, 14-17 noyabrya 2000 g. – SPb.: SPbGU, 2000. – 235 s.
  13. Okladnikov A.P. Tsentral'no-aziatskiy ochag pervobytnogo iskusstva: peshchernyye rospisi Khoyt-Tsenker-Aguy (Sengri-Aguy), Zapadnaya Mongoliya. – Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1972. – 75 s.
  14. Chlenova Ye. Vzaimootnosheniya stepnykh i lesnykh kul'tur v epokhu bronzy na granitsakh Minusinskoy kotloviny // Sibirskiy arkheologicheskiy sbornik. Vyp. 2. Drevnyaya Sibir'. – Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1966. – S. 212-228.
  15. Okladnikov A.P. Kon' i znamya na lenskikh pisanitsakh // TS. – № 1. –1951. – S. 143-154.
  16. Sorokin S.S. Izobrazheniye olenya na skale vblizi Katon-Karagaya (KazSSR) // ASGE. – Vyp. 28. – L., 1967. – S. 53-55.
  17. Samashev Z.S. Problemy izucheniya naskal'nykh izobrazheniy Kazakhstana// Doklady AN RK. – 2009. – №2. – S.74-85.

Интересная статья? Поделись ей с другими: