Ancient Kazakh Geoglyphs – New Traveller Attraction

By Yerbolat Uatkhanov

30KAZAKHSTAN1-master675-v3In 2007, Kazakh economist and archaeology enthusiast Dmitriy Dey watched the documentary “Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs” on the Discovery Channel. The film noted pyramids exist throughout the world, which made him think about the pyramids in Kazakhstan. The enthusiast was soon using Google Earth to search images of the Kostanai region and view its pyramids.

“The images weren’t as good in 2007 as they are now, but I tried my best to find the pyramids,” said Dey in an interview.

He didn’t find any pyramids, but about 320 kilometers to the south he saw something very intriguing – a giant square. It was approximately 300 meters on each side, made up of dots and crisscrossed by a dotted X.

At first Dey thought it could be an old Soviet installation, constructed to cultivate virgin land for bread production. But the next morning he found a second gigantic figure, a three-legged, swastika-like form measuring nearly 100 metres in diameter and sporting curlicue tips.

Satellite pictures of the remote and treeless northern steppe reveal great earthworks in the form of squares, lines, crosses and rings. Their size is equal to several football fields and they can be seen only from the air. The great discovery was made not by a famous scientist or group of experts with special equipment and laboratories, but by an economist in his home using a personal computer.30KAZAKHSTAN2-articleLarge

When he saw the images for the first time, University of Pittsburgh Epidemiology Professor Emeritus Dr. Roland E. LaPorte was amazed and immediately started to search the web for information about the discovery. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any, because the Kazakh economist was the first one to locate them. Dey had written only one story with a low-quality translation into English. LaPorte used the article to find him with the aid of former American Arms Control Officer James Jubilee, now a senior science and technology coordinator for Kazakh health issues.

LaPorte filed a request with NASA, which confirmed the existence of the steppe geoglyphs, some of which are 8,000 years old. Understanding the importance of the discovery, he did his best to inform the world, especially Europe and the U.S.

As a result, the story about the Kazakh geoglyphs became a top news article in The New York Times, holding the position for several weeks. Many other major newspapers around the world re-published the story.

Dey became famous, received hundreds ofletters from dozens of countries and considers people are really interested in the steppe geoglyphs. Their main questions are when, why and who constructed these great earthworks. Many individuals offered their help in looking for the giant earthworks using Google Earth.

Some of the geoglyphs are impressive by their size, while others are so old only a 50-centimetre high earthwork is visible. In 2012, Astana businessman Rinat Naimanov sponsored geoglyph research, which showed they were used by ancient people as giant solar observatories. They understood life has a cycle, which is a year. Using the geoglyphs helped them understand where and what they could find to eat, whether it was plant or animal.

Kazakhstan has so many geoglyphs because of the number of steppes, which are perfect for keeping the earthworks alive for thousands of years. The huge quantity of geoglyphs can be described by the necessity of ancient hunters to move from one place to another to follow migrating saigas, the most popular animal hunted in ancient times. The giant calendars still operate and can be used in spite of the fact that some were constructed 8,000 years ago. Dey said he tried to use them at sunrise and it was amazing.

“The idea that foragers could amass the numbers of people necessary to undertake large-scale projects – like creating the Kazakhstan geoglyphs – has caused archaeologists to deeply rethink the nature and timing of sophisticated large-scale human organisation as one that predates settled and civilized societies,” Dr. Persis B. Clarkson, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg, wrote in an email, according to The New York Times.

NASA senior biospheric scientist Compton J. Tucker indicated he had never seen anything like it.

“I found it remarkable. NASA was proceeding to map the entire region,” he said, according to The New York Times.

30KAZAKHSTAN3-articleLargeA DNA analysis by Harvard University showed that ancient people of the R1B group lived in the territory of Altai, Baikal, Khakassia and South Siberia and moved to America 14,000 years ago. Approximately 12,000 years ago, some of these ancient people relocated to the South and South-West, while others migrated to Turgai region and constructed the amazing earthworks.

A fan of the giant earthworks, Dey said his discovery really changed his life. He also noted why the Kazakh geoglyphs are so important for the whole world. The DNA analysis showed that 60 percent of people, and 90 percent of English, Irish and Scots, are part of the R1B group and therefore are descendants of the ancient people who lived in the region and built the great constructions. Thus, the objects are a significant heritage for much of the world’s population. This explains the great interest of foreigners, who desire to see visit the region where their ancestors lived and see the Kazakh geoglyphs.

Dey currently has a project under consideration by sponsors with the aim of making a documentary about the geoglyphs. The film will seek to answer three main questions: when they were constructed, who did it and how they work. He also plans to continue his research of 70 earthworks, issuing reports in English, French, German and Spanish in an effort to promote and popularize these giant calendars.

He sees a great chance to promote them next year, when a lot of people from all over the world will arrive for EXPO 2017. Dey believes Kazakhstan can make the geoglyphs as famous as the Egyptian pyramids and other prominent tourist attractions. LaPorte calculated the steppe earthworks can generate approximately $240 million per year in tourism-related revenue, which is equal to the half of the region’s budget.

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