Bronze Age on the Territory of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia (3 thousand-1 thousand BC).
Brazen Age (4000 BC – 3000 BC)
Bronze Age (3000 – 1000 BC)
Early Bronze Age
Middle Bronze Age
Late Bronze Age Bronze Age (3000 – 1000 BC)
The Bronze Age is the historical period of wide spread and use of tools, weapons and utensils made of bronze. Bronze is the alloy of copper and tin. Bronze tools were stronger compared to copper tools. The production of bronze and bronze tools brought cardinal changes to the economy.
Two cultures are found on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. Andronovo culture appeared in the north of Kyrgyzstan: Chui, Issyk-Kul, Talas valleys, Central Tien Shan. The culture adopted the name of Andronovo village in Siberia, where first similar tools and objects were found.
It was a pastoralist culture, however not always nomadic but also sedentary. Agriculture was practiced but was not leading compared to pastoralism. Andronovo populations bred cattle, sheep, camels, horses. Livestock was kept inside houses where people lived. Andronovo people were the first who produced kymys from horse milk.
In the south of Kyrgyzstan, the Fergana Valley the other culture appeared – Chust culture. It was the culture of agriculturalists. The name was received from the name of Chust village in Uzbekistan. Chust people cultivated crops: wheat, barley, millet (ïðîñî), oat. Crops were stored in pits inside houses. Chust settlements were found in Uzgen, Kurshab, Nookat and Osh. Osh settlement is the most ancient and unique settlement of the Bronze Age. Many objects made of stone, bronze and bone were found there. People were farmers and sedentary but also practiced cattle-breeding that was secondary to agriculture.
That is, the Bronze Age was a very important historical period in Kyrgyzstan. Two main lifestyles and two economic activities, pastoralism and agriculture, were developed during the Bronze Age which provided the basis for further development and evolution of human society.
Rock Art of the Bronze Age
A good evidence of the Bronze Age spiritual life is rock art – petrogliphs carved and drawn on rocks, stones, grottos. The richest gallery of such petrogliphs is Saimaly-Tash located in Djalal-Abad province. It is considered to be the largest not only in Central Asia but also in the world.
The Saimaly-Tash gallery is located high in the mountains, 3000-3500 meters above the sea. It was discovered more than 100 years ago by Khludov, a topographer and a painter. Later the gallery was researched by Zimma, Bernshtam, Sher. In post-Soviet period, it was studied by the archaeological expedition led by Tashbaeva. More than 10000 stones with petrogliphs were recorded and about 100000 petrogliphs were discovered. Chronologically the petrogliphs of Saimaly-Tash belong to a very long period starting with the 3 millennia BC and last until the Middle Ages.
There are many pictures of animals: goats, bulls, deer, horses, camels, dogs, wolfs, boars (êàáàíû), birds and other animals. You can meet the pictures of human or anthropomorphic creatures with tails.
There are many pictures reflecting not just separate animals or humans but scenes of hunting, ritual dances, animals with carts, erotic scenes, labyrinths.
Saimaly-Tash is the evidence of cultural development of humans, history of art, history of spiritual culture, since it reflects religious beliefs and religious rituals of first humans. It is a holy place of the ancient population of Tien Shan and Fergana.
In the first millennium the Bronze Age in the world history was being replaced by the Iron Age, the period characterized by the rapid spread of iron tools and weapons that lasted till 200-100 BC.
Saka State Confederation (VIII – II centuries BC)
In the first millennium BC the history of Eurasia and Central Asia were not any more based on archaeological artifacts but were supplemented by written sources: Greek (“History” of Herodotus), official Chinese chronicles and Persian inscriptions. According to those sources, the vast territories of Eurasia were occupied by pastoralist tribes called differently in different historical sources: Sakas in Persian texts, Scythians in Greek, Se in Chinese. All those sources portrayed them as barbarians and outsiders.
In the VII century BC we can observe the earliest state established by the Scythians. Of course, it was not the state in the modern meaning. Therefore, scholars call that state a tribal confederation, since some elements of state structure such the ruling elite coordinating the economic activities and controlled military and other resources of smaller tribes were adopted. However, the state was based on the traditional structure established on family, clan and tribe.
In VI-V centuries BC all Sakas of Central Asia were united into two large tribal formations. The first was Tigrahauda (Massagetas, Abii, Apasiaks). They lived in the north of Kyrgyzstan as well as Sogdiana, beyond Syr Darya and in Semirechye. The second was Haumavarga, who lived in south of Kyrgyzstan - the Fergana valley. Their name derived from the name of the religious drink – haum.
Both spoke Eastern Iranian languages and belonged to European race. However, some Saka people, probably those who had some contacts with the Hunnu (Hsiun-nu) people, nomads of Turko-Mongolian origin, had a touch of Turkic physical features.
All Saka people were pastoralists. While northern Sakas were nomadic pastoralists, southern Sakas in the Fergana Valley were sedentary pastoralists and combined pastoralism with farming. The latter Sakas were influenced by both steppe pastoralist and urban agriculturalist traditions of the Fergana valley. Sheep, goats, cattle and horses were reared by Sakas. Hunting was also the source of food.
Horses were the most prestige animals, though Sakas used their milk and meat.
Many kurgans of Sakas prove the development of social hierarchy among the Sakas. Large and high kurgans with the diameter of 50-100 meters and with the height of 9-15 meters were built in honor of rulers. As for the burials of nobility, their diameter was smaller, 30-45 meters and the height of 7 meters.
The contents of toms were different. The largest tombs were the richest as well with many golden articles, bones of animals, tools, weaponry.
The main form of social organization of Saka people was patriarchy. However, the role of women was
The style that was developed by Sakas in art was called the animal style. Weaponry, pottery, jewelry were decorated with small animals.
In the VI century BC the founder of the Great Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, Cyrus II, decided to conquer the territory of northern Sakas. The military campaign of Cyrus initiated against northern Sakas ruled by the Queen Tomiris in 530 was unsuccessful. Though the first battle was won by the Persians and the son of Tomiris was killed, the second battle brought to the defeat of Persians and the death of Cyrus.
More successful were the campaigns of another Persian ruler, Darius I. He could defeated Sakas in 519 and forced them to pay tributes to Persians.
Later Sakas established good and peaceful relations with Persians and even fought on the side of Persians in Greco-Persian Wars in 500-449.
Sakas of the IV century BC fought with the army of Alexander the Great. In the battle of 329 Sakas were defeated by Alexander but did not let him to penetrate further to their territory.
Wu-sun Go (II BC – V CE)
The term Wu-sun is known from the Chinese chronicles. It is translated as “people of ten tribes” from Turkic. Initially, Wu-sun roamed along with Hunnu (Hsiun-nu) to the west from the Great Chinese Wall. Later in II BC, defeated by Hsiun-nu they migrated to the territory of Sakas. As a result, a new state was established.
The Wu-sun was of European race, people with red hair and blue eyes, appearance unusual for the population of Central Asia. However, their language, whether it belonged to Iranian or Turkic languages, is still questioned.
The capital of the new state became Chigu-chen (“the city of the red valley”). According to some calculations, the city was located in Tup gulf in the western part of the Issyk Kul Lake. According to other estimations, it was in the southern coast of the Issyk Kul Lake.
Wu-sun state was the state of nomads ruled by a monarch – kunbag. The power of the monarch was limited by the Council of Elders which also was engaged in the decision making. The state machine was more developed compare to the Saka state. It included more than 16000 state officials. Wu-sun state also had a strong army of more than 630000 soldiers.
In II BC Chinese Han dynasty became interfered in the internal affairs of Wu-suns. The Chinese send their diplomatic mission with valued gifts and a Chinese princess for the kunbag to Wu-sun in order to install good relations with them. However, the main reasons of their mission were to control the Great Silk Road that opened in II BC and to destroy their main enemy – Hsiun-nu. On the other hand, Hsiun-nu also sent their embassy to Wu-sun with their princess as a new wife for the kunbag.
In I BC Unguimi (Feivan) became the kunbag of the state. In 71 BC Wu-suns along with Chinese troops came out against the Hsiun-nu and defeated them. The Hsiun-nu state was destroyed and the Hsiun-nu had to migrate to the west where they created a new state led by Attila.
The main economic activity was nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralism. Wu-suns bred horses, cattle, sheep and goats.
The culture of Wu-sun is very similar to the culture of Sakas. Therefore, it is often called as Saka-Wu-sun culture. Wu-sun tombs and the way of life resembled Sakas’ kurgans and their way of life.