Archeological Discoveries at UCA Naryn Campus Site
The University of Central Asia (UCA) campus site in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic does not just promise to be a centre of learning and information exchange in the future. It also holds valuable evidence of vibrant communities in the past. In fact, UCA’s mission to help the peoples of Central Asia preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritages as assets for the future came alive when valuable archeological evidence was found on the campus site.
UCA was aware that its campus location included archeological sites based on studies conducted by historian and archeologist Dr Kubat Tabaldyev during Soviet times. In 2012, these sites were carefully relocated under the supervision of community leaders. During a seismic study of the campus site, older remains and several petroglyphic drawings were found. UCA approached Dr Tabaldyev, now teaching at Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University, to coordinate a comprehensive archeological survey of the area.
Dr Tabaldyev has extensive expertise in the Naryn region and a long-standing relationship with UCA. He worked with UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education and his seminal work, Ancient Monuments of the Tien-Shan, was published by the UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series in 2012. Based on 20 years of archeological research in Naryn, the book presents evidence of the rich heritage of the area from the Stone, Bronze, Early Iron and Middle Ages.
Archeologist Dr Kubat Tabaldyev indicates the location of
archeological discoveries on UCA Naryn campus site
“Dr Tabaldyev skillfully weaves together descriptions of physical artifacts with living cultural traditions in his work, creating synergy between the past and the present. This, combined with his commitment to preserving national heritage sites, makes him a logical and valued partner for UCA,” said Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General.
With support from UCA, Dr Tabaldyev is leading a team made up of Oroz Soltobaev, Mikhail Moskalev and Temirlan Chargynov of Kyrgyz National University and Aida Abdykanova of American University of Central Asia to determine the historical significance of the site. Graduate students from Naryn State University, Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University, Kyrgyz National University and Osh State University have also participatied in the study.
“Engaging in this work now means decreasing the chances of the history on these sites being lost. These ancient sites are invaluable; they tell a story of the roots of the people of the region.” said Dr Tabaldyev, “This work would not have been possible without financial support from UCA, which reflects UCA’s commitment to preserve cultural heritage.”
|Dr. Tabaldyev speaks with reporters after his presentation
On 25 May 2013, Dr Tabaldyev presented the team’s findings at a UCA Public Lecture hosted at UCA Naryn. Attended by 35 members of the community and the press, the lecture included an overview of the structures and artifacts found at 36 excavated sites on the dig, and a discussion about the significant contribution of these findings to the body of knowledge on ancient cultures in the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan.
The team has discovered over 20 ancient internment sites, memorial fencing, petroglyph drawings, signs on stones and various artifacts which span the Stone, Bronze, early Iron epochs and the Middles Ages and indicate a pattern of continuous settlement. There is evidence of settlements by diverse communities, including the Saka, Andronovo, Chust, Kulsai and the Mongols.
One burial mound, commonly called “stallion’s hump”, revealed artifacts from the late Middle Ages, including Mongol utensils such as flat-bottomed pots and a pear-shaped container. Another revealed a different structure from the Bronze Age. This large covered chamber at the centre of a circular formation of stones contained the remains of three cremated bodies as well as ceramic utensils and several bronze items including a knife, two bracelets, a sun-shaped earring and two bell-shaped earrings. The team linked these findings to the Kulsai people, previously thought to have only lived in present-day Kazakhstan.
“It was fascinating to learn about the significant archeological findings of the excavation. Key artifacts have been sent to the Russian Federation to be analysed by experts using the latest laboratory technologies. This really puts Kyrgyzstan on the map. This work is important to preserve the history of Naryn,” said Naryn resident Kiyal Akmatova, who attended the lecture.
The team will continue their work from July to October 2013, excavating another 20 sites, and will submit a final report to the Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Culture and UCA. The team will also verify the completion of the survey and extraction of artifacts to enable UCA to continue the construction of the Naryn campus. UCA will donate all artifacts to the Naryn Oblast Ethnographic Historic Museum in Naryn Town.