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Sanctuary Merke.

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“Istemi-kagan usually met foreign ambassadors in the ancient city of Taraz. However, then the kagan drove the guests to the mountains, arranged receptions in tents and put up their wealth on carts ”

Byzantine annals.

Travel to the Southern Kazakhstan.

There is a small village Merke in Merke district of Zhambyl region, this place is well known among all Kazakhstani people interested in history, many foreign scholars and historians. It is in this place an impressive monument of material and spiritual culture of the ancient Turks – shrine Merke is located. 
It is a truly unique and wonderful place, the shrine is located at an altitude of3000 meters above sea level and dates back to VII-XII centuries. It consists of a variety of burial and memorial structures which reflect all stages of the millennial history of the nomadic population of Semirechie. 
It is very difficult to reach this place, but owing to its inaccessibilitydozens of stone sculptures of the shrine Merke have survived undisturbed. Nowadays the Shrine Merke is the only survived temple complex of Turkic nomads throughout Eurasia.
The shrine consists of a multiple of separate monuments spread over an area of 250 square kilometers. There is a great number of mounds complexes, stone fences and stone sculpturesthat have an outstanding cultural identity and great scientific value. 
The highest concentration of monuments with sculptures is marked on the plateau Sandyk. Researches carried out here byKazakh scientists formed the basis for conclusions about the peculiarities of the development of cultural genesis of Zhetisu Turks in the early Middle Ages VII - VIII centuries, that is, duringoperation of the Western Turkic Khanate. Nowhere else except in Merke mountains, you can see remarkable stelas located everywhere, they amounted to more than 80 on the whole. 
They are situated both inside the fence singly and in small groups in the center of the mounds, outsideand behind fences. Scientists say that all the stages of the history of ancient Turks are disposed at this place. 
Some stone statues are represented not only in woman, but also in man image.They were used for cults and conducting various rituals in ancient times. During the excavations carried out here in the framework of the state program "Cultural Heritage", Scientists archaeologists discovered unique items placed in major museums of Kazakhstan. 
Petroglyphs on rocks and stone sculptures in the mountain gorges of Merke preserved and they were studied. Most of them have woman's face. This is a very rare case inTurkic memorial and monumental art.
The first mention of the village Merke located at the foot of the Kyrgyz Alatau was found in the writings of Arab geographers in the IX - X century. At that time it was called .Mirki", well fortified, iteven had a citadel. 
Mirki was considered to be a medium-sized city. According to modern scholars, the city was formed in the VII century, in Farsi its name is translated as "center". The stone sculptures of the settlement "Mirki" were written about by Russian surveyorsAnichkov and Kallaur for the first time ever at the end of the XIX century. 
Scientists historianshave had an increased interest in this monument from the very moment of its discovery. In the end, as a result of the complex archaeological and ecological work in places where the Turkicritual complexes assembled, the basis for inclusion the shrine Merke in the number of specialmonuments of Kazakhstan appeared and it was proposed to include this object in the list of world natural-historic heritage.