History of Kyrgyzstan

History of Kyrgyzstan

The history of Kyrgyzstan goes back to the depth of ancient times. Numerous archaeological findings such as household items and tools, caves and site of the Stone Age, petroglyphs and other traces of material culture made it possible to compose quite a comprehensive and complete picture of life that primitive people lived on the territory of today's Kyrgyzstan.

The first traces of a man presence here refer to early Palaeolith-Ashel epoch (400-100 thousand years ago). There are archaeological findings and relics belonging to Moostjer epoch (100-40 thousand years ago), upper Palaeolith (40-12 thousand years ago), and Mesolith (10-6 thousand years B.C.) found in Kyrgyzstan. The Primitive men of Naeolith period (6-4 thousands B.C.) lived throughout the territory of Kyrgyzstan. The sites of these times were found at the Issyk-Kul Lake, in the Tien Shan mountains, in the Chu River valley, in the valleys of Talas, Alai, and Ketmentyobin as well as other places. In the Bronze Age (2nd millennium - beginning of the 1st millennium B.C.) nomadic as well as sedentary populated the Kyrgyz lands with the later mostly concentrated in the valleys of the Southern Kyrgyzstan. The material evidences of this time are sepulchres, household items and items of jewellery found there. Perhaps as early as at 7th to 3rd centuries B.C. the territory of Kyrgyzstan was inhabited by the nomadic tribes of Sakas: Saka Tigrakhauda and Saka Khaumavarga. First written mentioning of such tribes and their settlements in connection with the land of contemporary Kyrguzstan is attributed to the middle of the 1st millennium B.C. - that is "Avesta", sacred book of Zoroastrism and writings by Greek historian Herodotus. In the Persian written sources the tribes were called as "Sakas" while in the Greek chronicles - "Asian Scythians".

The epoch of Sakas is represented by burial mounds and stone inscriptions - petroglyphs preserved to our days. Burial mounds used to contain household items, arms, harnesses and jewellery. Most impressive are the petroglyphs found in the area of Issyk-Kul Lake, in the Ketmentyobin Valley, and at Saimaly-Tash Virgin Land. The petroglyphs depict animals and scenes of everyday life. The majority of Sakas were involved in cattle-breeding and were nomads. Sakas worshipped fire and revered celestial bodies. The Sakas were united in a tribal unions that lasted till the 3rd century B.C. The period from 3rd century B.C. to 6th century A.D. is attributed to the epoch of Usunis. The Usuni tribes established their tribal union with the capital located in the South coast of the Issyk-Kul lake. The majority of Usuni people were nomadic cattle-breeders while only minority of them turned to a settled way of life. It was at that period that first division into classes took place and relations between tribes developed. Gradually caravan path was laid out across the territory of contemporary Kyrgyzstan and trade between the West and East started. In Europe this path has been named as Great Silk Road. In 1st to 5th centuries A.D. other tribes started penetrating the territories of Kyrgyzstan occupied by Usunis. The struggle between tribes caused wars that resulted in break up of the Usuni tribal unions in the middle of the 1st century A.D. The writings by Strabon, Ptolemey and Zang Qian provide limited information on the history of Kyrgyzstan of the time of Usuni period. At the end of the 5th century till beginning of the 6th century the territory of Kyrgyzstan was part of Hephthalite State that included also other territories of Central Asia including Afghanistan and Eastern Iran. The break up of the Hephthalite State happened due to efforts of ancient Turk tribes of Altai who formed the Turkic Khanate in the middle of the 6th century. The expansion of the territory of the Khanate was accompanied by massive penetration of Turks into Central Asia. In the 6th to 7th centuries the territory of Kyrgyzstan was part of so called Western Turkic Khanate to then become in the 8th - 9th centuries part of Karluk Khanate. Feudal relations started developing here in the 6th century. In the 8th-9th centuries feudal relations developed alongside with development of settlements and towns involved in farming and craftsmanship. In the 10th -12th centuries the territory of Kyrgyzstan again was invaded by Turkic tribes who eventually created their state of Karakhinids. During this period of prosperity many new settlements, towns appeared in Chu valley, Talas valleys and Issyk-Kul Depression as well as in Fergana valley. At that very time such monuments as Burana Tower, Shakh Fazil Mausoleum and Uzgen architectural complex were constructed. The travellers of the medieval like Xuang Zang, Ibn Khordadbekh, Gardisi and Kashgari left their authentically true and detailed accounts of what the territory of Kyrgyzstan was like at that time. In this period Islam had become the official state religion of Karahanids. At that time a poet and philosopher Yusuf of Balasagun created his poem first ever written in Turkic language named "Kutadgu Bilik" ("Knowledge that brings happiness") that in an allegoric form depicted his philosophic, ethic and political views and perceptions. In the middle of the 12th century the Karakhinid State dissolved under the hammering blows of Kidans-Tungus-Mongol nomads of Eastern Mongolia. From this time on elimination of agricultural settlements and towns started.

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