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Petroglyphs of Shakhty Grotto.

The Best Tajikistan Petroglyphs Tours.

“For everything in this journey of life we are on, there is a right wing and a left wing: for the wing of love there is anger; for the wing of destiny there is fear; for the wing of pain there is healing; for the wing of hurt there is forgiveness; for the wing of pride there is humility; for the wing of giving there is taking; for the wing of tears there is joy; for the wing of rejection there is acceptance; for the wing of judgment there is grace; for the wing of honor there is shame; for the wing of letting go there is the wing of keeping. We can only fly with two wings and two wings can only stay in the air if there is a balance. Two beautiful wings is perfection. There is a generation of people who idealize perfection as the existence of only one of these wings every time. But I see that a bird with one wing is imperfect. An angel with one wing is imperfect. A butterfly with one wing is dead. So this generation of people strive to always cut off the other wing in the hopes of embodying their ideal of perfection, and in doing so, have created a crippled race” 

C. JoyBell C.

Petroglyphs Visitor Guide Tajikistan.

Shakhty Grotto is located in the Gorno-Badakhshanskiy Autonomous Region, in the Murgab district 40km south-west of the district capital –Murgab settlement on the left slope of the Shakty Gorge adjacent to the Kurtke-Say River valley.
Geographic coordinates of the location: NL 37 55.225, EL 73 55.755; absolute altitude: about 4,200m. Shakhty Grotto is located 60m above the valley bottom, but it is easily accessible from the surface of an alluvial cone along a nice path.
In the autumn of 1985, an Archeological Group of the Pamir Expedition of AS of USSR led by Ranov V.-A. discovered petroglyphs in the Shakhty Grotto, in Eastern Pamir. Ranov provided a detailed description and attributed them to the Mesolithic in a special article published in 1961.
In 1967, Ranov described and studied them in his popular book “Arkheology na Krishe mira” (“Archeologists on the Roof of the World”) (Ranov 1967). A zoologist, Tanasiychuk V., published a popular article on the subject with very good photographs in the same year (Tanasiychuk 1967).
The Main Substrate of Rock Art The grotto formed as a result of karstic erosion of a tectonic crevice. The grotto faces east and is dry and sunlit. The entrance is 7.5m wide and 6m deep; the roof height is 25 - 30m.
The images are carved as a frieze on the southern wall of the grotto 1.6 - 2.0m from the floor; paint stains and fragments of other obliterated figures still remain. Technique All images were painted with a mineral paint in two shades: most were painted in light-brown ocher, while others with a maroon shade of ocher.
Description of the Site Seven images are in a good state of preservation: an outlined ornitho-anthropomorphic figure (23cm), two contoured figures of wild boars (?), yak or bear (85cm), an arrow against the body and head of an animal, another contour of an unidentified animal superimposed on another drawing and painted in maroon.
The frieze with drawings is 4m long and 1.5m high. The images are painted with a mineral pigment. Ancient painters apparently obtained raw material for the paint right there in wall cracks, where deposits of powdered iron oxides occur.
The paint has two shades: light and darker maroon. The lighter shade was used more often, and dark maroon -a strong concentration of pigment- was used mainly to draw details. One maroon drawing overlaps light-brown images.
Lines are relatively thin (1.5 - 2cm), irregular, often additionally corrected. Presumably, the figure was finger-painted. An image nearer to the entrance is anthropomorphic and masked as a bird (?). Next, figures of a wild boar and bear or two boars are drawn opposite each other.
Only half of the drawings on the left remain. Then, there is a contour of a large animal shown ready to pounce. Then follows the largest figure, depicting an animal with massive legs, with a small hump that evokes an animal from the Bovidae family (yak?), but with an elongated snout, small ears and an absence of horns that would rather suggest a bear.
The legs are drawn realistically. Arrows are of special interest: the largest is shown below the nape of the animal, another one in the lower part of its snout, and the third one under the animal’s head. The arrows point at the animal from opposite directions to suggest a collective hunt.
A Paleolithic Research Group of the Pamir Archeological Expedition of AS of the USSR (led by Ranov V.-A.) discovered and was first to survey the site in 1958, in the course of surveying caves and overhangs in south-eastern Pamir.
Photos of the grotto and its rock paintings were taken in addition to carrying out excavations in an exploratory trench inside. Stone flakes and several knifelike flints and one fragment of a core were found (Ranov 1961).
From those finds and comparisons between motifs and styles, Ranov dated the drawings to the 8th – 5th millennia BC or to the Mesolithic – Early Neolithic (Ranov 2001: 128-129). Their most likely age would thus mark the first appearance of people in Eastern Pamir after the Glaciation.
Protection and Current Condition of the Site The site is on the National List and receives protection from the local authorities of the Murgab District of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in Tajikistan. In 2005, on the instructions of the Murgab Association of Ecotourism, R. Sala surveyed the site and noted the satisfactory preservation of the drawings.
The traces of the 1958 archeological excavations can be seen inside the grotto and outside the entrance: remainders of the unfilled trench and earth excavation heaps. The grotto is rarely visited by locals or tourists.

Bobomullo S. Bobomulloev.

Photos by
Surat Toymasov.