Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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One of the signs of early habitation in the area are petroglyphs, (the word “petroglyph” comes from the Greek: petra meaning “stone” and glyphe meaning “to draw”), and many such rock drawings have been discovered in Kyrgyzstan dating back to several centuries BC.  These drawings, left for us on high rocks and in deep caves can provide evidence of the way of life and the environment of times gone by when there was no system of writing.
 Rock drawings appear to have been made in two ancient artistic styles. The first technique was silhouette or shadow, typical of many ancient pictures. Blows were made with a metallic or stone instrument to take out the entire surface of the rock nearly 2 mm deep inside the silhouette. Some pictures were beaten by blunt tools which removed only a thin sun burnt rock layer, and this is typical of later periods. Another technique used tools with sharp edges and frequent blows with these produced a deep line engraved in the rock.
Among the oldest paintings are animals such as the Argali (Marco Polo sheep), horses, camels, reindeer, bulls, wolves, dogs, wild boars and birds - whilst others depict hunting scenes.  It is probably incorrect to think that ancient people only depicted the animals that they hunted, and many scholars suggest that the rock drawings depict mythological images with symbols representing the sun and moon and other entities.  Most interesting are some etchings that appear to depict scenes of fire worship and some unidentifiable signs resembling modern day airplanes and rail way tracks.
Petroglyphs are recognized as an important historical and cultural heritage. Efforts are underway to protect and preserve them – unfortunately, not all of them are particularly successful. There are many sites where petroglyphs can be found throughout Kyrgyzstan, but one of the more accessible major sites of petroglyphs is at Cholpon Ata – where there are over 40 acres littered with fine examples.
Other examples can be seen at the Burana Tower complex where petroglyphs and balbals, (stone grave markers) from the Chui region have been gathered, the Ak-Chunkur ("white cave") paintings in Sary Jaz ("Golden Valley") deep in the Tien Shan Mountains; in Aravan; on Sulaiman-Too in the city of Osh.
However, the finest collection of petroglyphs is to be found at Saimaluu Tash.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Travel guide#10/2008

Discovery Kyrgyzstan Travel guide #10/2008

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