Ancient Shymkent City

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Saturday, 25. October 2014

On October 25, the city of Shymkent celebrates its anniversary. For the first time in a new venerable age. It turns out that Shymkent is 2200 years old! It means that it is older than ancient Turkestan. But the Kazakh scientists began to speak of this not today, but much earlier. 

Two years ago the monograph “History of the city of Shymkent: 2200 years according to archaeological sources” was published, which is years-long work of Baurzhan Baytanayev, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Director of the Institute of Archaeology named after A.H. Margulan.   In other words, this is the first book about the ancient city. The scientist was engaged in search, study and comprehension of materials for this publication for 25 years.

“Large-scale archaeological and stratigraphical excavations were conducted for preparation of this historic monograph,” Baurzhan Abishevich says. “Archaeological dating will always be relative, but the scientists on the basis of the lower soil layers and artifacts found in the ancient settlement Shymkent have adopted dating of the city, which emerged in the 2nd century B.C. Tashkent, for example, celebrated its 2200th anniversary not long ago, and our cities have much in common and one Silk Road.”

“History of Shymkent,” the scientist continues, “is well-organized in my book: all 2200 years are set up according to the archaeological method, all found archeological complexes are associated with the written data. The monograph is provided with maps, schemes, plans, and photographs. The book is not available for sale! It is distributed among scientists, in the libraries. And since the circulation is limited, it is also distributed in electronic form. I would like to continue this work in future with understanding of that period of history of Southern Kazakhstan, when it became part of the Russian Empire and before the revolution, but it is necessary to work thoroughly in the Russian archives. I hope that I will be able to present a monograph of this period in the future.

But for the present we talk about published material. Many archival photo and documentary materials stored in rare foundations of different libraries and museums, including in the National Library of Uzbekistan named after A. Navoi, in the Congressional Library of the USA were first published in the book. Moreover, such a tremendous fundamental work appeared for the first time in the history of Southern Kazakhstan. This book on the history of Shymkent is the very first during all time of its existence, apart from the brochures and guidebooks.

The fellow historians, naturally, were the first who gave an assessment to the publication:

“Finally we have our own scientific folio, which we can present to the world!” Yevgeny Shabanov, a coryphaeus of historical sciences, Associate Professor of the South Kazakhstan State University, declared. “Even if there will be any opponents to this book, Shymkent, anyway, will always remain an ancient city according to all artifacts found and represented in the monograph.”

“I believe that publication of such a monograph is a great event in your region and in the country!” Rustam Suleymanov, the scientist from Tashkent, considers. “The nation which has its own ideology, the nation which knows its history is strong in spirit. Kazakhstan is a vast country of ancient cities, and Shymkent is one of the oldest cities.

“I hope that after the publication of this monograph, which covers chronologically the historical period of the city from the 2nd century B.C. until the entry of Southern Kazakhstan into the Russian Empire, no questions about the age of Shymkent will arise any more,” the author said, thus having summarized his years-long research.

The ancient city deserves special attention and care from our statesmen. All the evidence that according to Chinese and Arab sources Shymkent was earlier called as Nusdzhikent and was located in the settlement Shymkent which is 2200 years old is still here. The world of scientists is not doubtful of that any more. But probably the antiquity, in fact, needs to be perceived tremblingly, and for this purpose everybody must learn to appreciate and preserve historical treasures. Publication of the book “History of Shymkent: 2200 years according to archaeological sources” is one more impetus for this.

Another impetus was set by the International Conference which was held on October 16 in the South Kazakhstan State University named after Mukhtar Auezov on the subject of historical age of the city of Shymkent. The scientists who came to participate in the Conference in Shymkent from Canada, France, Belgium, England agreed with the adduced evidence of antiquity of the city in full. “There are ceramics, burials, vessels, goldware, which are definitely more than two thousand years old. The archaeologists have done a great job, and I agree that Shymkent is 2200 years old”, Lionette Bertie, Doctor of Historical Sciences from France, states.

In order that the entire world may recognize officially the date of birth of Shymkent, the Kazakh scientists shall undergo a number of procedures. "If the National Commission files an application regarding the age of the city, it will be considered at the UNESCO General Conference in 2016, and a decision will be made,” Yuri Peshkov, Specialist for Cultural Issues of the UNESCO in Central Asia, explained the procedure for approval of historical facts.

Ancient photos: Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufmann (1818-1882) 

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