underwater exactions have revealed a number of exciting finds.
Historians have known for some time about "sunken cities" lying beneath
the waters of the lake. A little offshore is the sunken village of
Chengu (red valley), the capital of the ancient Usun State in the 2nd
century B.C. As the waters of the lake recede it is thought that the
village will soon emerge from the depths.
On the basis of references by early Russian
explorers to the region, diving expeditions were undertaken in 1956.
The divers found several baked bricks, fragments of ceramic dishes, a
piece of a ceramic pipe (which suggests a high level of civilization),
bronze arrowheads, iron knives, and the bones of both people and
opposite the villages of Korumdy and Temirovka and near the
Grigoryevskaya harbor,archaeologists found fragments of ancient pots
dating back to the Bronze Age. Unfortunately, only a few such articles
are preserved because many were taken by local residents and tourists
The knife handles are topped with large figures of
horses or sheep. The horses look very realistic with the large heads,
long tails, and well-developed leg muscles typical of steppe horses.
One of the most interesting finds from the bottom
of Issyk-Kul is a sacrificial table of almost square shape. It has four
legs shaped like a woman's body, 22 cm high. The figures are well
preserved with slanting eyes, wide nose, oval chin, and a short strong
neck. Scholars believe these figures are based on the appearance of
ancient residents of the Issyk-Kul region.
find was a large hemispheric sacrificial pot with two horizontal
handles and a relief tamga (the seal of the master) resembling a
crescent with the points directed downwards. Such pots were widespread
in this region in the second half of the 1st millennium and more than
ten such pots have been found at Issyk-Kul but none as large as this.
It is thought that such pots were used only on holidays and special
The size of these pots testifies to the huge
feasts of ancient cattle breeders in honour of their gods.
The scholar, Professor Ploskikh published a book
about the sunken cities entitled "The Atlantis of Central Asia - the
Secret of the Great Silk Road". In it, he outlines some of the
references to them that can be found in historical sources…
Arab-Shakh and Mirza Khaidar, Muslim monks of the
Middle Ages mentioned old fortresses being flooded by the lake. The
island where they stood was located near the northern shore and it is
thought that Tamerlaine imprisoned some noblemen there in the late 14th
century. A Russian merchant, Isaev, followed caravan routes near
Issyk-Kul in 1824-1830. In 1857 he wrote a message to a Russian officer
mentioning underwater ruins in Issyk-Kul on the right side of the Tjup
River where it flows into the lake: "Buildings seen in the water were
made of stone. They say there was a great city there before the flood
and no lake".
In that same year, Pyotr Semyonov, (Tienshaksky),
came across bricks carried ashore by waves between the estuaries of the
Tup and Dzhergalan rivers.
Kyrgyz guides showed the Military Governor of Semirechye some
underwater ruins near the north-eastern shore not far from the Koi-Sary
region, (near the current village of Kursk), and presented hm with
large bronze cups which had been found underwater.
In 1950-1960 a Kyrgyz archaeologist found ruins of
large constructions made from fired bricks near the northern shore.
Since 1985 archaeologists from Bishkek have
continued the underwater search and investigated the partly flooded
Sary-Bulun settlement in the south-eastern part of the area near
Issyk-Kul whicht is believed to be the site of the Usun capital, the
ancient city of Chengdu. Bronzes were found in 2003 underwater near