Figurative Monuments and Rock Art Traditions of the Kazakh Steppes

  • Viktor Novozhenov (Author)
  • Marina Bedelbayeva (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The unique heritage of the Kazakh people includes ancient rock art—petroglyphs founded in the vast expanses of Saryarka, the steppes of Kazakhstan. They are still not very well known and virtually excluded from modern tourist routes. Within the administrative boundaries of the Karaganda region, covering most of Kazakh steppes, twenty-seven sites were found. The petroglyph sites are situated in the most notable places of the steppes—on the rocky outcrops on the tops and slopes of the hills, on the steep banks of small rivers drying up in the summer time. These points are visible from afar. As a rule, they are associated with numerous myths and legends of the locals and they are honoured as sacred places—’aulie’. Such landmarks are essential to cattlemen as important indicators for orientation in the vast ‘ocean’ of the steppes. Perhaps the ancient petroglyphs sites acted as ‘lighthouses’ in the vast steppes, pointed out the most convenient pastures and directions of movement. In the absence of written tradition, there is a limited number of communication channels between members of societies. Communication was limited to verbal and pictorial traditions that reflected the knowledge, accumulated by society, in the only one available form—mythological. [...]