Tatarstan and Kyrgyz Archaeologists Reached an Agreement on Joint Expeditions to Study the Medieval Towns of the Chuy Valley

On July 21 – 25, 2021 a delegation of the Institute of Archaeology named after A. Kh. Khalikov of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan headed by A. G. Sitdikov was on a working visit in the Kyrgyz Republic. The grounds for the visit was an agreement reached on joint research projects in the field of studying the historical and cultural heritage of the medieval Turkic-Tatar population of steppe Eurasia. The visit included a meeting with the management and leading specialists of the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology named after B. Dzhamgerchinov of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic. A meeting with A.A. Asankanov, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic, included a discussion of the issues of the general history of Turkic-Tatar peoples, the characteristic features of the formation and development of ancient states in the territory of Kyrgyzstan, and the possible relations of the medieval population of Fergana and the Chuy Valley with peoples inhabiting the Ural-Volga region.

During a three-day expedition to the Chuy Valley and the area of Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyz archaeologists V.A. Kolchenko and A.T. Sulaimanova presented the most significant fortification and urban planning monuments of the early and developed Middle Ages – the town of Burana (Balasagun settlement), Suyab (Ak-Beshim) and Krasnaya Rechka settlements included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the settlements of Sokuluk, Belovodskoe, Tyulek, Sretensky, Novopokrovka- 2, Ken-Bulun, Khan-Dobo, and others.

A meeting of the delegation of the Institute with A.A. Shamenova, Director of the Burana Tower complex, was held during a tour of the architectural and archaeological complex. A discussion of the development and further study of the Burana Tower complex, which also includes the territory of Balasagun medieval settlement, allowed to outline the ways of cooperation in the field of training professional restorers on the basis of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan and Kazan Federal University, and the direction of the further study of the unique archeological monument.

The program also featured a tour of memorial, funeral and epigraphic monuments of the Turkic period. Tatarstan archaeologists familiarized with the specific features of the construction of memorial structures in Kyrgyzstan, which are significantly different from the Volga, South Siberian and Mongol counterparts. During the final day of the visit, I. Yu. Mirsiyapov, Head of Conservation Archaeology Department, accidentally discovered a new arabographic inscription on a stone dated the beginning of the 20th century, which revealed close relations between Kyrgyzstan and Tatarstan at the turn of the 20th century. A prompt translation of the inscription allowed to determine that it was a tombstone of a Tatar mullah, buried in the Kyz-Molo area amid the Kok-Moinok canyons in 1906.

The result of the brief information visit of Tatarstan archaeologists to Kyrgyzstan was the development of a concept for a multiyear project to study the medieval towns of the Chuy Valley with the use of archaeological excavations and modern methods of non-destructive examination (aerial exploration, geophysical study), which should begin in the fall of 2021.

Future plans also include the development of a joint project to study the petroglyphs and epigraphy of the Turkic period, and arabographic monuments in the territory of Kyrgyzstan in comparison with similar monuments in the Altai-Sayan and Ural-Volga regions, which may provide new information on the mutual cultural influence of the Turkic-Tatar population from the early Middle Ages to modern time.