1 July 2004
Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly, Kazakhstan was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, alongside 12 other new cultural sites listed by the World Heritage Committee holding its 28th session on 30 June 2004 in Suzhou, China.This nomination is a very encouraging result of joint efforts, which include those of the UNESCO Division of Cultural Heritage, the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Kazakh authorities, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren), the Kazakhstan State Institute for Scientific Research and Planning on Monuments of Material Culture (NIPI PMK), and the related Kazakh and international institutes and experts.
Since 2002 UNESCO is implementing the UNESCO/Norwegian Funds-in-Trust project for the Management, Conservation and Presentation of the Tamgaly Petroglyph Site. Several activities such as emergency protection and conservation, promotion and trainings at Tamgaly were also supported by UNESCO.
Set around the lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast, arid Chu-Ili mountains, is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. Distributed among 48 complexes with associated settlements and burial grounds, they are testimonies to the husbandry, social organization and rituals of pastoral peoples. Human settlements in the site are often multi-layered and show occupation through the ages. A huge number of ancient tombs are also to be found including stone enclosures with boxes and cists (middle and late Bronze Age), and mounds (kurgans) of stone and earth (early Iron Age to the present). The central canyon contains the densest concentration of engravings and what are believed to be altars, suggesting that these places were used for sacrificial offerings.