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Visiting on the Eshkiolmes petroglyps.
Ancient rock pictures are concentrated on the southern slopes of mountains, on the rocks covered by patina. This is one of the largest of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in Kazakhstan. Here are more than to tho to thousands of pictures and every year the archaeologists find new, unknown earlier petroglyphs. The plates with pictures have been discovered in 24 canyons, which are waterless forests with brushwood.
The canyons are on prolongation of 25 km from the west to the east. Their registration and fixation had been carried out from the west edge of ridge to the east. The separate small groups of petroglyphs are met practically in all canyon of the ridge Eshkiolmes. More often they are presented by the figures of animals, more rare – by the scenes of hunting. The number of pictures in such groups does not exceed two-three tents.
More large concentrations of petroglyphs have been found in the canyons a No.5, 6, 10, 12, 13,14, 18, 19, 22 and 24. In the canyons: 10, 13, 14, 18 and 24 the rock pictures are concentrated on different rock bIocks, standing away of each other what let to define them into the separate groups. The main part of Eshkiolmes ridge is concentrated in these canyons.
It is necessary to consider all complex of monuments of Koksu river valley in more details to define dating of petroglyphs and to make their correction with settlements and burial grounds. Canyon No 5 is situated in 3 km to the east from the west edge of ridge. Petroglyphs are concentrated in low part of canyon on the separate ridges and in the upper part of hill on small rock blocks and plates with southern exposition.
The total amount of pictures is more than 200, made most by the technique of cutting. Among the pictures are the figures of people and animals. There is no big multi figured compositions, the scenes of hunting on goats and wild rams dominate. There are subjects with attacking by predators of grass eating animals. The scene with picture of sun-headed anthropomorphous creature and animals situated on the most top of rock ridge is marked out.
The biggest part of pictures is referred to the epoch bronze by the style, subjects and patina. In pretop part of canyon and in its exit are fixed the sites of ethnographical time. The separate burial mounds and the groups of burial mounds of early Iron Age are met along the ridge from the canyon No.1 up to canyon No.5. Canyon No.6 is situated in 3,5 km to the east from the west edge of ridge.
Petroglyphs have been discovered in the upper parts between two waterless forests of canyon near the ancient settlement and big Kazakh site of ethnographical time. The pictures are'put on to the small rock plates from the southern and south-west exposition by the technique of cutting. About 100 pictures have been noted. The biggest part of petroglyphs is presented by the pictures of animals: deers, bulls, horses, goats and wild rams. The most spread are the scenes of hunting. Taking into account the style and patina the petroglyphs of early Iron Age dominate.
The big group is the pictures cut in ethnographical time. Canyon No.10 is situated in 7 km to the east from the east edge of ridge. Petroglyphs are put on the plates and big rock bIocks, situated in 1 km to the east from the highest point of ridge with the mark 1022 m over sea level and in 800 m to the north from the river Koksu deep into the canyon. This is the most numerous concentration of petroglyphs can be divided into 3 groups conditionally. The group of petroglyphs is situated on the ridge, by the obIique line going down from the top of hill and interrupting in 50 m from the bottom of canyon.
The variety of technical methods is characteristic for the petroglyphs of this group of sanctuary. Here are seen cuttings graffiti and also combination of these methods, when the head and corps of animal were cut, and the tail, mane; legs were stratched by sharp instrument. Near 1500 pictures have been defined in this group. The figures of people, animals and signs are among the pictures. The biggest part of pictures in a group amounts the animals: camels, horses, goats, deers, wild boars, bulls, dogs and predators.
There is no such a big quantity of chariots harnessed mostly by horses in anyone sanctuary in Semirechie. The majority of these subjects are in the I and II groups, the numerous scenes have been revealed and among them the unknown earlier subject of three archers attacking the «giant» has been revealed. The scenes of single combat, hunting and sacrifice are spread. The pictures referred to the bronze epoch and sakae time are presented in this group. Practically all big plates of the low part of ridge are filled by multi figured and happening at different time's compositions.
The great quantity of renovations and even corrections made in the ancient Turkic time has been discovered. The pictures of Turkic time dominate in the upper part of ridge, among which the scene with warriors-riders with lances and shield is distinguished. The II group of petroglyphs is situated on another rock ridge going down parallel from the to of hill, to the south and higher by the slope. Exposition plates are different - southern, western and north-western. Totally about 2000 pictures have been found here. The unique scenes are among them.
On one of the plain plates, on the top of rock bIockth chariot was cut, harnessed by two horses. The coach-man is pictured on the cargo square. One of the horses was «redrawn» into the goat later. Many graffiti presents themselves micro pictures. The scenes of hunting, pictures of animals, compositions of cult character are mong other subjects. The very interesting is the scene of sacrifice of goat, situated in the upper part of hill. The turned over figure of animal, evidently, means that he was killed.
The picture of couple in the erotic pose with lifted up hands near by can indicate the cult character of exposition. In the group are petroglyphs of several epochs, but the nomadic topics dominate obviously. They are the scenes of tearing of goat by predators, multi figured composition with pictures of animals, the scenes of fight, cult topics. The numerous are the stylized pictures of predators and herbivorous animals referred to the ancient Turkic time. The III group of petroglyphs is situated in pretop part of hill. The part of pictures is cut on the small rock bIocks, the part on the separate boulders, laid on the southern and south-east slopes of mountains. Here are found also the rare topics. Except chariots in harness are the scenes sacrifice of goat, near is the marriage couple. There are many subjects of hunting on animals. Here is less renewed in the latest times petroglyphs: the essentlal percent amounts the picture bronze epoch, the pictures of ancient Turkic timeare also numerous.
Canyon No.12 is situated in 1 km to the east of canyon No 10 in the low and upper parts of canyon the basis of Kazakh aul houses of ethnographic time have been found. Rock pictures are put on to the plain plates of pretop ridge. Exposition of plates is southern and south-east. The biggest part of petroglyphs amounts the pictures of animals. The greatest interest presents the figure of sun-headed on the chariot, scene of fight of archers and plctures of flying arrows. It is necessary to note the subject of following wild ram by the eagles, made in the traditions of «animal» style.
Canyon No.13 is situated in 1,5 km to the east. Petroglyphs have been discovered in the low and in the upper part of canyon and can be divided into two groups. The pictures are put on the rock ridges and big rock bIocks, mainly in southern exposition. About 500 pictures have been found in this canyon. The I group of petroglyphs is situated on the small rock ridges, prolonged from the east to the west and girdling the hill in 1 - 2 layers, in 800 m to the north from the mouth of canyon. The biggest part of petroglyphs is referred to sakae time.
Mainly they are figures of animals: wild rams, goats, horses, distinguished by high skill of fulfillment. The big contour picture of goat is distinguished among them. The most ancient pictures, such as figure of bulls and goats in the rectangular style have been also found. The pictures are differed by some sketchy character: the corps of body presents itself the rectangular prolonged vertically. The interesting is the picture of man with a disk instead of head. This disk is the natural formation, as the ancient artist used the fallen stone and added the figure of man to the round hole.
he II group of petroglyphs is situated on the big rock blocks to the south of the top. Here are concentrated mainly the rock pictures of bronze epoch and ancient Turkic time. Pictures of animals and scenes of hunting are met here mainly. Some multi figured compressions with riders, archers, with different kinds of animals and pictures of birds have been noted. On of the biggest concentrations of petroglyphs in the mountains Eshkiolmes has been fixed in canyon No.14, situated in 10 km to the east of west edge of ridge.
This is dry waterless canyon now had the water drain what is explained by its well washed and worked out branch with the traces of small waterfalls. Currently the water is available only in early spring. Ancient rock pictures are situated in the eastern and in the western slopes of canyon on the small rock ridges and the separate stone blocks. The pictures are put on the plates from the southern and south-west exposition. Their concentrations can be divided into three groups conditionally. The first group of petroglyphs is situated in 400 m up by the canyon on the eastern slope on 3 rock ridges.
The majority of pictures is referred to the bronze epoch. Their total quantity is about 500 pictures. The main part of petroglyphs is the subjects with the scenes of hunting. The pictures of woman in child-birth with cut hole on the abdomen, deers in «animal» style and row of big (up to 40 - 50 cm) figures of animals are of the special interest. The second group of petroglyphs has been discovered in 1,5 km up from the entrance to the canyon on the western slope. The pictures are put on the separate rock blocks and plates, distributed by the slope on prolongation of 500 m.
The plates are many of southermn and south-east exposition.The total quantity of exposition is about 300. The biggest part of petroglyphs is referred to the bronze epoch. They are figures of animals, pictures of chariots. Here has been found also the subject with giant and three archers shooting him. The III group of petroglyphs is situated in the upper part of canyon on the hill, divided it into the east and west small chinks. The pictures are cut on the rock blocks and plates in south and south-west exposition, under which has been found the big Kazakh settlement which in its turn recover the row of more ancient sites of early Iron Age.
The total quantity of pictures amounts about 400, the majority of them is referred to the bronze epoch. They are pictures of animals-bulls, goats, wild rams, deers, horses. Here have been found also the pictures of chariots, subjects with scenes of hunting and sacrifices. In this group are also the most archaic subjects. They are figures of animals in the rectangular style and pictures of people with plates in a circle. The interesting are the pictures of goats and deers with prolonged corps.
The subjects with the scenes of hunting and pictures of animals dominate among petroglyphs. The other big concentration of petroglyphs in the mountains Eshkiolmes has been discovered in the canyon No.18 situated in 2,5 km to the east of canyon No.14. Rock pictures have been found in pretop part on the east slopes of canyon. It is remarkable that petroglyphs are concentrated on the big rock blocks of the highest hill in this part of mountains with the mark 1019 m over sea level. The total quantity of pictures in the canyon amounts about 1000.
They can be divided conditionally into three groups. The big ethnographical settlement and the burial ground on the opposite west slope in its pretop part have been fixed here. The I group of petroglyphs is situated at the most top of hill. The pictures have been discovered on the plates in south and south-west exposition. Among rock pictures of this group is distinguished the big (70 cm) figure of camel with entangled legs. The picture of rider had been added to it later. The pictureis dated by anclent Turkic time.
This subject is the main in the southern part of group and is repeated not one time on the other rock blocks, situated lower, including the pictures of Kazakhs of ethnographic time. The biggest part of petroglyphs is referred to the bronze epoch. Among them are compositions with picture of sun-headed idol, chariots, and scenes of hunting, sacrifice. The subjects with figures of «giant» are distinguished. Petroglyphs of sakae time are rare, but very expressive. They are compositions with pictures of cattle, following each other and figures of boars.
The II group of petroglyphs is situated in 500 m to the north and is situated on some rock ridges, girdling the hill. At the foot of hill the big Kazakh settlement of ethnographic time has been found, and on the top of west hill of canyon, in front of pictures is the burial ground. Petroglyphs are referred to different - from the epoch of bronze up to ethnographic time. This group is innumerous and presents mainly the subjects with pictured of animals: bulls, goats, deers, horses, dogs, camels. The III group of pictures is situated in water section between the canyons No.18 and 19.
Petroglyphs of this group are presented mainly by the pictures of animals. In саnуоn No.19 petroglyphs have been found in 2 km deep of the canyon on a big rock block situated in 50 m up from the bottom of canyon on the slope of east part of hill. About 800 rock pictures have been found. The biggest part is the pictures of bronze epoch and sakae time. Three big plates, covered completely by the figures of people and animals are distinguished. The scenes of hunting are dominated, erotic scenes are met, people in ritual poses.
Techniques of cutting are characteristic for this group. In the low part in 400 m from the mouth of canyon No.9 is dividing into two parts, forming two forests. Forest situated to the east got its number – canyon No.20. In саnуоn No.20 two comparatively big groups of petroglyphs have been found, the both are in the upper part. The pictures are cut on the rock ridges, going down by the slope to the bottom of canyon. The most expressive pictures are situated on the upper rock ridge in a region where the slopes of canyon become plain, in 700 - 800 m from the pass.
Petroglyphs of bronze epoch and early Iron Age are cut on the big rock bIocks. The essential interest present the pictures of sakae time in «animal» style, among them are the pictures of deers and wild rams with crossed legs camel with tuckedlegs, fantastic subject with deer-camel, flgures of boars and other animals. All of them are situated on the rocks in southern exposition, total amount about 70 pictures. The rocks in this place form the specific gallery, by which is explained the essential quantity of petroglyphs in the upper part of canyon.
In canyon No.22 petroglyphs have been found only in its pretop part in the east small chink. The pictures were cut on a big rock block situated on the western slope of chink, on the plate sin the eastern or south-east exposition. The group is small, totally about 200 pictures.In petroglyphs mainly are presented the figures of animals: deers, goats, bulls, rare-horses, wild rams and predators. The pictures of people are met rarely - of hunters or riders. The biggest part of pictures is referred to the bronze epoch and sakae time.
In this group of pictures the technique of cutting on stone is also absent, but there is a row of elegant miniature pictures. Canyon No.24 petroglyphs are situated on the southern slope of the west hill of canyon at the exit from it. The pictures are put on the small rock blocks in southern exposition in some layers, girdling the hill. About 300 pictures have been found here. Among the pictures are the figures of animals, chariot, scenes of hunting, and pictures of people holding the rein of horses.
Group of petroglyphs of sakae time, situated on a big rock block in eastern expositin has been distinguished. There are cut scenes of following herbivorous animals by predators in the characteristic «animal» style. Giving the general characteristic of rock pictures of sanctuary Eshkiolmes, it is necessary to note the specificity of methods of putting pictures on the plain surface and, doubtless, the artistic expressiveness of ancient artists' art. The miniature pictures, sometimes not exceeding 1 - 2 cm аге distinguished by the special elegance.
In Eshkiolmes petroglyphs the traditions of rock art of all region of Djungarsky Alatau have been expressed more brightly.
Source of information:
«Petroglyphs in Eshkiolmes mountains».K.M. Baipakov,A.N. Maryayshev, S. A Potapov, А.А.Gorychev.Almaty. 2005.
Alexander Petrov's photos.