by Thomas Buechler - 2 years ago
Tamgaly is the most striking site of rock arts in Central Asia; it is located about 125 km northwest of Almaty, and can be reached only by private transportation. There is no public bus going there, or even going to the villages nearby. I organized it with Stantours, the driver/tourguide (ask for Marat) was very knowledgeable, and is doing this trip on a weekly basis during the tourist season in summer.It is probably a good idea to travel with other people to reduce costs. To rent a car is another option, but you wont have a guide to explain the site. The total number of rock drawings is about 5,000, mainly scenes of goats, horses, warriors, animal sacrifices, and images representing the worshipped sun and their gods; there is even an erotic scene, most probably the first pornographic rock art worldwide, as most of the petroglyphs were made in the Bronze age about 3000 years ago. There is also a scene of dancing men with a woman giving birth. Some stones do have graffitis, unfortunately, or rocks were destroyed by human beings, and carried away. Others show signs of cracks, caused maybe by extreme differences in temperature, frost weathering, or by earthquakes that often occur in this region. The rock engravings are signposted in 5 groups, and can be easily visited in 2 hours. A few steps away, there is also a burial ground of the Turkic period which shows both mass burial, probably of a family with children, and single chamber. Tamgaly was discovered by Anna Maksimova in 1957, and together with some other great archeologists, they researched the rock engravings in the years to come. The site is now guarded, some signboards have been put up with explanations, and it is possible to be accompanied by one of the guards for a few Euros tip.