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Zhaltyrak-Tash petroglyphs.

Tour to Petroglyphs Kyrgyzstan.

“That was the day the ancient songs of blood and war spilled from a hole in the sky
And there was a long moment as we listened and fell silent in our grief and then one by one, we stood tall and came together and began to sing of life and love and all that is good and true
And I will never forget that day when the ancient songs died because there was no one in the world to sing them” 

Brian Andreas.

Museum Petroglyph Tours in Kyrguzstan.

The Talas Ala-Too Range on the Ur-Maral River is a left tributary of the Talas River. They join in its middle reaches. The UrMaral River originates in a confluence of the Kaman-Suu and Tabylgaty Rivers in the northern spurs of the Talas Range.
The Ur-Maral River is 69km long and has 207 tributaries, the largest being the Besh-Kol, Kara-Koyun, Chiyim-Tash, and Chon-Zhol. The main types of landscape are steppes ranging from 110 to 1,600m above sea level and meadow-forests at an altitude of 2,000 –  2,700m.
Surfaces are strongly dissected and mainly consist of slate, conglomerate, granite, and granodiorite. Rock art is often found around the estuary and upper reaches of the river. There are few petroglyphs in its lower and middle reaches, mainly on individual boulders and sometimes rock shelters.
Rock art in the upper reaches of the river is commonly found in areas of bedrock outcrops located across glacier cirque beds near the estuaries of the Kandybaytor and Chiyim-Tash Rivers. Zhaltyrak-Tash (“sparkling rock”) is located on the left bank of the Kaman-Suu River at an altitude of 2500m.
The rock is noted for its compactness and an oblong slate cliff stretches for 140-180m across the valley from west to east and 13 to 18m high with back glossy surface. The cliff surface is covered with a thick crust of bluish black desert patina.
Most petroglyphs are concentrated in the eastern sector –on horizontal rocks and the northern sloping lateral face. There are only individual drawings on the remaining part of the rock. Petroglyphs differ in size and technique. Most are made using a deep dotted technique in combination with abrading, which ensures precision.
This technique is characteristic of the earliest petroglyphs dated to the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, but it remained unchanged in later times. In addition, an engraving technique was used in Turkic and later times. Petroglyph sizes vary greatly.
There is a multitude of small drawings 4 – 5cm to 8 – 10 cm long. Drawings up to 1 - 2m are also found. Double and even triple superimpositions of drawings occur. The repertoire of images is diverse and includes depictions of different animals, predominantly goats.
Other commonly found animals are deer, camels, boars, and also easily recognizable predators: snow leopards, bears, tigers and others. Fantastic creatures, such as centaurs and dragons, were also registered, as well as a significant number of chariots, wagons, hunting and erotic scenes.
Zhaltyrak-Tash resembles a multi-layered site with a long time range –from the Bronze Age to Ethnographic Modernity. The most ancient drawings would include drawings of animals made in a bitriangonal style that have analogues in Saymaly-Tash.
Wagons, chariots, humans, erotic scenes, and others date to the Advanced Bronze. The most diverse complex dates to the Early Iron Age and consists of many animals completed in the Scythian-Siberian style with analogues in the vast Eurasian space.
Middle Age petroglyphs are also numerous. Different signs, interpreted as tamgas, and epigraphy were found together with figure drawings. The New Time is represented by a large number of engravings (Tashbaeva & Francfort 2005: 12 - 15).
Protection and Management  Zhaltyrak-Tash rock is located on a forest farm within the jurisdiction of the Agency for Environment and Forestry. It is on the Kyrgyzstan List of Historical and Cultural Sites of National Importance. No physical protection of the site is provided.
Since the site is in a hard-to-reach area, the condition of the petroglyphs remains satisfactory.

«Rock Art in Kyrgyzstan». Bakyt Amanbaeva, Aiday Suleymanova, Chynarbek Zholdoshev.

Photos by
Alexander Petrov.