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Home » Altyn-Emel national natural park. Аmaty province. Southern Kazakhstan.

Burial mounds Besshatyr.

Sights of the Kazakhstan national parks.

“I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers” 

 Langston Hughes.

Burial mounds Besshatyr trip.

Necropolis was а shrine for the ancient Sacae who inhabited whаt is now Kazakhstan in the 1st millennium ВС. It has the largest concentration of royal burial mounds in Eurasia.
The most famous is the Bes-Shatyr burial ground, which contains 31mounds. The largest of these, known as the "Semirechye pyramid"„ is 105 metres in diamеter and 17 metres high. The mounds contain wooden burial vaults made of Tien-Shan fir logs that have lasted over 2,000 years.
One feature peculiar to the Bes-Shatyr burial mounds is the labyrinth of underground catacombs ,with one path leading  to the vault. To the west of the royal graves there is а series of 45 stone posts stretching from north to south and carved with animal drawings.
This unique chronicle in stone depicts scenes of hunting and еveryday life. Scholars believe that all of this area was used for rituals. Nearly every gorge in the Sholak and Dereges mountains has some rock drawings.
The brilliant Kazakh scholar Shoqan Ualikhanov crossed the Altyn-Emel range during his journey to Kulju in 1856 апсl discovered the remains of an ancient water-supply system. Ualikhanov is buried at the foot of the northern Altyn-Emel and there is а museum devoted to him there.
The Bes-Shatyr ("Five Palaces") Necropolis was a shrine for the ancient Sacae who inhabited what is now Kazakhstan in the Ist millennium ВС. It has the largest concentration of royal burial mounds in Eurasia.
The most famous is the Bes-Shatyr burial ground, which contains 31 mounds. The largest of these, known as the "Semirechye pyramid", is 105 metres in diameter and 17 metres high. The mounds contain wooden burial-vaults made of Tien-Shan fir logs that have lasted over 2,000 years.
One feature peculiar to the Bes-Shatyr burial mounds is the labyrinth of underground catacombs, with one path leading to the vault. To the west of the royal graves there is a series of 45 stone posts stretching from north to south and carved with animal drawings.
This unique chronicle in stone depicts scenes of hunting and everyday life. Scholars believe that all of this area was used for rituals. Nearly every gorge in the Sholak and Dereges mountains has some rock drawings.
In the park center it is located well-known Besshatur barrows and a necropolis tomb of east Scythians or Tigrakhauda sakis, which live on this territory in 7 - 6 centuries B.C. The tomb consists of thirty barrows of different size and hundreds ritual menhirs (stone columns).
The sized of funeral barrows reflected division of sakis society into classes. The largest majestic barrow in height of 17 meters belongs to the unknown Saki king. It is framed by burial grounds of notable sakis and retainers of the leader, further it is build fine barrows of soldiers, commanders who performed heroic feats.
Employees of the national park plan to create in this place a first in Kazakhstan historic-ethnographic visiting center. The brilliant Kazakh scholar Shoqan Ualikhanov crossed the Altyn-Emel range during his journey to Kulju in 1856 and discovered the remains of an ancient water-supply system.
Ualikhanov is buried at the foot of the northern Altyn-Emel and there is a museum devoted to him there. After а short track, оnе can see to one's left а number of grave mounds burial mounds dating from around 500 BC.
If оnе ventures into the side valleys, оnе can spot а large number of rock carvings, part of which are even older. Yet another 14 kilometer down the road, оnе turns left and drives just over four kilometer further till оnе comes to а collection of tomb stones with varying diameters.
These thirty-one mounds of Besshatyr (Five Tents) were erected by the Sak between the 6 and the 3 Century BC in the honor of their lords, captains and warriors whom they buried there.
The Beshshatyr burial mounds аге but оnе of the finds of more than а thousand of such mounds in all in Semirechye. Nowhere anywhere in Eurasia there is such а large amount of Scythian grave mounds as over here.
Of the burial mounds, 21 аге covered with stones, whereas the other ten аге covered with pebbles and earth. The biggest burial mounds, dedicated to lords and captains, аге between 45 and 105 meter large with heights of up to 17 meter.
The construction of each of the largest graves took 50,000 cubic meter of earth, stones and pebbles. The walls and ceilings of the four-meter high tomb chambers consist of trunks of Tien Shan fir trees; this wood as survived at least 2,000 years.
It is thought that under the hills there used to be catacombs and labyrinths from where а tunnel would lead to the tomb chambers. The mid-size burial mounds, in which noblemen and officers were buried, аге 25 to 38 meter large and five to six meter high.
The small mounds, graves to the brave plain foot soldiers, are six to eighteen meter large and one to two meter high. То their northwestern side, the mounds are surrounded by а half-circle of 45 man-high, upright standing stones.
They are carved with images of animals, hunting scenes and figures. The orderly range in which these stones, named miring, have been put is far fгom coincidental according to ethnologists.
Each Sak tribe (ulus) put up оnе stone as а token of honor to the lord that was buried here. Each year, representative of all the ulus would gather here, and light а ritual bonfire next to the stones.
Very old traces of fire оп the stones tend to confirm this assumption. The burial mounds were excavated between 1957 and 1961. In the tomb chambers of lords and captains human bones, ceramics, horse skeletons, felt- and reed mats, iron daggers and bronze arrow points were found.

Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.Burial mounds Besshatyr.

Authorship:
The guidebook across Kazakhstan . Authors Dagmar Schreiber and Jeremy Tredinnick. Publishing house "Odyssey".2010.

Photos
Alexander Petrov.