From 6th till 8th of May, students of the Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Chemistry and Biology in Aktau, members of the club “Young archaeologist”, took part in archaeological excavations conducted 100 km from the regional center. During the trip students visited the unique cult-burial complex “Altynkazgan”. Also they were lucky to find in the mountains of Usak a skeleton of an ancient sea animal. According to scientists’ forecasts, the petrified skeleton may belong to a giant animal that lived in the depths of the ocean 38-55 million years ago.
– The club has been working since November, 2016. Our goal is to instill in students interest in a deeper study of the history of their native land, to acquaint them with the specifics of the profession of the archaeologist. Before the campaign we contacted the well-known archaeologist Andrey Astafyev. He informed us about the excavations in the cult-burial complex “Altynkazgan”. We wanted not only to show the members of the club the order of the excavations, but also to create conditions for their direct participation in field work, – says the head of the club Erlan Klyshev.
On the first day of the campaign, the club members witnessed excavations in the “Altynkazgan” burial complex, learned interesting historical information about it, got acquainted with the method of determining the location of the ancient monument.
– When we approached the complex Altynkazgan, archaeologist Eugeniy Bogdanov explored the tomb together with his assistants, dating back to the 3rd-5th centuries AD. There were found two skeletons, allegedly belonging to men. There were clay vessels and a knife near them. We observed the excavations. According to archaeologists, people could die during the raid of enemies. The first excavations of the complex were carried out in 2014, but additional studies are still underway. I think the reason is the uniqueness of the complex, first found in Kazakhstan, – says the young archaeologist Fariza Shynzhyrova.
We remind that in 2014, within the regional program “New History”, the first stage of the preliminary archaeological research of the cult-burial complex of Altynkazgan was conducted. There were identified 198 archaeological sites and 5 burial mounds with soil embankment in this area. The diameter of the mounds is 25-30 meters at a height of 0.8-1.2 meters. The area of the monument is 130 hectares.
The novelty of the expedition was that students and teachers have discovered in the Usak Mountains petrified skeleton of an ancient marine animal that lived on the ocean floor 38-55 million years ago.
– In order to increase interest in the research after visiting the Altynkazgan complex, we went to the Usak mountain to search for shark teeth. Attentive Dina Khozhanova found fossil teeth most of all. I also noticed a fossil stuck to the stone when I was walking along the slope. She seemed special to me. It turned out that there are vertebrae in the folds of the rock. I was amazed when my colleague Erlan Ersayinuly, who came up to me, explained: “It reminds me of the skeleton of marine animals.” I looked closely: the bones of an unknown animal are 1.5-2 meters wide. We photographed the finding and showed it to archaeologists, and they confirmed that these are petrified remains of animals,” says the world history teacher Tuitin Azamat.
According to young archaeologists, it was a whale, living in the ocean Tethys. For an accurate definition, the members of the club decided to consult paleontologists and conduct their own research.
On the second day of the expedition, the students visited one more site where excavations were taking place (for security reasons the name of the area was not disclosed). The students participated in the restoration of the dwelling, located at an altitude of 150-200 meters (in the mountains). This complex was discovered in 2007 by archaeologist Andrey Astafyev during the determination of Great Silk Road route in Mangistau region. The first excavations has begun only this year.
– At first it was assumed that the settlement belongs to the Khazar period, since Khorezm coins were found in Altynkazgan as well. We excavated on an area of 350×550 m. However, after discovering other artifacts, it turned out that the findings belong to the III-V centuries AD. The complex is located at an altitude of 150-200 meters above the level of the Caspian Sea. According to the exhibits, it can be judged that the inhabitants of the ancient city lived in prosperity, as evidenced by the high quality of ceramic dish, – says member of the club Gizat Rahmanshin.
The uniqueness of the object, according to archaeologists, is that this settlement could be a seaport on the ancient Caspian Sea. Archaeologists are preparing a special report on the excavations conducted for the general public.
Nazarbayev Intellectual School
Aktau of chemistry and biology