Space is the measure of all things, time is the measure of all events. When the horizons of space and time merge, national history begins. And this is not just a beautiful aphorism.
In fact, if you think about the history of the German, Italian or Indian people, then the question of the relationship between the territory and the great achievements of these peoples during a thousand-year history quite rightly arises. Of course, Ancient Rome and modern Italy are not the same thing, but the Italians are justly proud of their roots. The ancient Goths and modern Germans are also not one and the same people, but they are all part of Germany’s great historical heritage. Ancient India with its rich polyethnic culture and the modern Indian people are naturally considered as one unique civilization, continuing its development in a continuous stream of history.
And this is the right approach, allowing you to understand your origins, and indeed the entire national history in all its depth and complexity.
The history of Kazakhstan should also be understood from the height of modern science, and not by its separate fragments. And for this there are convincing arguments.
First, most of the proto-state associations, the contribution of which will be discussed below, were formed on the territory of Kazakhstan, becoming one of the elements of the ethnogenesis of the Kazakh nation.
Secondly, those outstanding cultural achievements that will be discussed were not brought into the steppe, and in most cases were born on our land and only then spread to the West and East, North and South.
Thirdly, the historical discoveries of the last decades clearly confirm the inseparable connection of our ancestors with the most advanced technological innovations of their time and allow us to take a fresh look at the place of the Great Steppe in global history.
Finally, the names of some Kazakh tribes and clans are many hundreds of years older than the ethnonym "Kazakh", which undoubtedly indicates a completely different horizon of national history than was previously thought.
The Eurocentric point of view did not allow seeing the real fact that the Sakas, the Huns, the Proto-Türkic ethnic groups were part of the ethnogenesis of our nation.
In addition, it is fundamentally important to note that we are talking about the history of Kazakhstan, which is common to many ethnic groups living on our territory for a long time. This is our common history, the contribution to which was made by many prominent figures of different ethnicity.
Today we need a positive view on our own history. However, it should not be reduced only to selective and opportunistic coverage of a particular historical event. Black is an inseparable satellite of white. Together they form the unique color gamut of life of both an individual and entire nations. In our history there were many dramatic moments and tragedies, deadly wars and conflicts, socially dangerous experiments and political cataclysms. We have no right to forget about them. It is necessary to realize and accept your history in all its versatility and multidimensionality.
The question is not to show one’s greatness by diminishing the role of other nations. The main thing is to calmly and objectively understand our role in global history, based on strict scientific facts.
So, seven facets of the Great Steppe.
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I. The space and time of national history
Our land, without exaggeration, has become the place where many items of material culture come from. Much of that, without which the life of modern society is simply unthinkable, was invented in our time. In their development, the inhabitants of the steppes discovered many technical innovations to the world, became the forefathers of inventions, which are still used in all parts of the world. The chronicles preserve a lot of well-known facts, when the ancestors of the Kazakhs repeatedly changed the course of political and economic history over vast areas of Eurasia.
1. Equestrian culture
Everyone knows that the Great Steppe gave the world horse breeding and equestrian culture.
For the first time, man’s domestication of a horse took place on the territory of modern Kazakhstan, as evidenced by excavations of the "Botai" settlement in the north of the country.
The domestication of the horse gave our ancestors the unthinkable superiority at that time, and on a planetary scale made the biggest revolution in the economy and military affairs.
However, the domestication of the horse marked the beginning of a culture of horsemanship. The rider on horseback, armed with a bow, lance or saber, became a symbol of the era when powerful empires created by nomadic peoples came to the forefront of history.
The image of the equestrian standard-bearer is the most recognizable emblem of the heroic era and a special “cultural code” of the nomadic world, the formation of which is associated with the birth of horsemanship.
Car engine power is still measured in horsepower. And this long-standing tradition is a symbolic tribute to that great era when the horseman dominated the planet.
We should not forget that right up to the XIX century, humanity enjoyed the fruits of this great technological revolution, which came into the world from the ancient Kazakh land.
In the ancient era of the steppe civilization, the origins of the basic components of modern clothing go away. The equestrian culture gave rise to optimal clothing for the warrior rider. Striving for convenience and practicality during riding, our ancestors for the first time divided the garment into upper and lower parts. So they invented the first types of pants.
This gave riders the freedom to ride and ride a horse. Stepnyaks sewed pants made of leather, felt, hemp, wool and flax. Over the past thousand years, this type of clothing has not changed fundamentally. Ancient trousers found during excavations have the same shape as modern ones.
It is also known that today all the varieties of boots are the "successors" of soft shoes with a shaft and heel, which nomads used for riding.
In an effort to improve the management of the horse during the ride, the steppe invented the high saddle and stirrups. Innovations allowed the rider to sit confidently on a horse and even with fast movement it is more efficient to use his weapon - a bow, a spear, a sword.
Our ancestors brought to perfection archery at a gallop - it changed the design of the weapon: it became a composite-composite, more comfortable and slaughter, and the arrows got plumage and a metal tip piercing through armor.
Another technological innovation introduced by the Turkic tribes that inhabited the territory of Kazakhstan was the invention of the saber, a distinctive feature of which was a straight or curved blade with a handle turned in the direction of the blade. These weapons became the most important and common in the arsenal of offensive weapons.
Our ancestors were the first to create protective armor for the horse and rider from the plates. This led to the appearance of a heavily armed cavalry - the most important military innovation of the Eurasian nomads. Its evolution in the period from I millennium BC. e. - before the 1st c. n e. influenced the creation of a special kind of troops — heavy cavalry, which for a long time ensured an unprecedented military superiority to the steppemen until the invention and mass use of firearms.
2. Ancient metallurgy of the Great Steppe
The invention of methods for producing metals opened a new historical era and forever changed the course of human development. The Kazakh land, rich in diverse metal ores, also became one of the first centers for the emergence of metallurgy. The centers of mining production and smelting of bronze, copper, lead, iron, silver and gold, the manufacture of sheet iron appeared in the ancient antiquity on the lands of Central, Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan.
Our ancestors constantly developed the production of new, more durable metals, which opened up opportunities for them to accelerate technological progress. This is evidenced by the metal smelting furnaces found during the excavations, decorations, household items and weapons of earlier eras. This indicates a high technological development of the steppe civilizations that existed on our land in ancient times.
3. Animal Style
Our ancestors lived in complete harmony with the outside world and considered themselves an inseparable part of nature. This key principle of being formed the worldview and values of the peoples of the Great Steppe. The ancient inhabitants of Kazakhstan had a highly developed culture - they had their own writing and mythology.
The most striking element of their heritage, a reflection of the artistic originality and richness of spiritual content is the "art of animal style." The use of images of animals in everyday life was a symbol of the relationship between man and nature, pointing to the spiritual landmarks of the steppe.
They preferred images of predators, mostly felines. Probably, it is not by chance that the snow leopard, a rare and noble representative of the local fauna, has become one of the symbols of sovereign Kazakhstan.
At the same time, the animal style reflects the highest production skills of our ancestors - artistic carving and the technique of working with metals are well known: the smelting and casting of copper and bronze, the methods for the complex manufacture of sheet gold.
In general, the phenomenon of "animal style" is one of the highest peaks in world art.
4. Golden man
A sensational discovery for world science, which made it possible to take a fresh look at our origins, was the "Golden Man" found in Kazakhstan in 1969 in Issyk, which is called “Kazakhstan Tutankhamun” in the circles of art scientists.
The warrior told us a lot. Our ancestors created the highest-level artistic creations that still amaze the imagination. Skillful golden guise of a warrior indicates confident mastery of the ancient masters of gold processing techniques. It also revealed a rich mythology, reflecting power and aesthetics of the Steppe civilization.
So the steppe men exalted the personality of the leader, elevated him to the rank of a sun-like deity. The luxurious decoration of the burial introduced to the intellectual traditions of the ancestors. On one of the silver cups found near the warrior, scribbled marks were found - traces of the oldest writing ever found in Central Asia.
5. The cradle of the Turkic world
Altai is of great importance for the history of the Kazakhs and other peoples of Eurasia. From time immemorial, these majestic mountains not only decorated the lands of Kazakhstan, but also were the cradle of the Turks. It was here in the middle of I mil. N. e. the Turkic world was born, and a new milestone came in the life of the Great Steppe.
History and geography have formed a special model of continuity of the Turkic states, the great steppe empires. For centuries, they have consistently replaced each other, leaving a significant mark in the economic, political and cultural landscape of medieval Kazakhstan.
Having mastered the space within wide geographic boundaries, the Turks managed to create a symbiosis of nomadic and sedentary civilizations, which led to the flourishing of medieval cities, which became centers of art, science and world trade. For example, medieval Otyrar gave humanity one of the greatest minds of world civilization, Abu Nasr al-Farabi, in Turkestan, Ahmet Yassaui, one of the great spiritual leaders of the Turkic peoples, lived and worked.
6. The Great Silk Road
The unique geographical location of Kazakhstan - in the very center of the Eurasian continent - has contributed to the emergence of transit “corridors” between different countries and civilizations since ancient times. Starting from the turn of our era, these land routes were transformed into the Great Silk Road system - a transcontinental network of trade and cultural ties between East and West, North and South of Greater Eurasia.
It has become a stable platform for the formation and development of global interchange of goods and intellectual cooperation between nations.
The key intermediaries of the most important trade route of antiquity and the Middle Ages, ensuring the flawless organization and safety of transport arteries, were the inhabitants of the Great Steppe. The steppe belt connected the Chinese, Indian, Persian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Slavic civilizations.
Since its inception, the Great Silk Road map has largely been located within the Turkic empires. It was during the rule of the Turks in Central Eurasia that the Great Silk Road reached its peak and promoted economic prosperity and cultural growth on an international scale.
7. Kazakhstan - the birthplace of apples and tulips
It is scientifically proven that the foothills of the Alatau are the "historic homeland" of apples and tulips. It is from here that these modest, but significant for the whole world plants gradually settled in all countries. And now Kazakhstan is the keeper of the progenitor of all the Earth’s apple trees - the Sievers apple tree. It was she who gave the world one of the most common fruits of our time. The apples that we know are the genetic varieties of the fruits of our apple species. On the ancient routes of the Silk Road from the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau in Kazakhstan, it fell into the Mediterranean and then spread throughout the world. And as a symbol of this long history of the popular fruit, one of the most beautiful cities in the south of our country is called “Almaty”.
Actually, here we, in the Chu-Ili mountains, still can find in the primitive form pearls of Kazakhstan's flora - Regel tulips. These beautiful plants appeared on our land in the strip of deserts and foothills of the Tien Shan. From the Kazakh land, these modest, but unusual flowers gradually spread around the world, conquering the hearts of many peoples with their beauty.
Today in the world there are more than 3 thousand varieties of cultivated tulips, and most of them are “descendants” of our local flowers. In Kazakhstan, there are 35 species of tulips.
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II. Modernization of historical consciousness
All these questions require serious thought. They relate to the fundamentals of our worldview, past, present, and future of the people.
I believe that we can begin this work with several large projects.
During the years of independence, a lot of work has been done to study the past of our people - the “Madeni Mura” program was successfully implemented, which allowed restoring forgotten fragments of the historical chronicle. However, many documentary evidence of the life of ancestors and their unique civilization has not yet been put into scientific circulation and are waiting in the wings in numerous archives around the world.
Therefore, I believe that we need to create the seven-year program “Archive-2025”, which would include serious fundamental research of all domestic and foreign archives, starting with antiquity and ending with modernity.
As part of its implementation, it is necessary to focus the search and research work of special groups of historians, archivists, and cultural scientists on systemic and long-term interaction with domestic and major foreign archives.
This important activity in all respects should not turn into “academic tourism” at public expense. It is necessary not only to painstakingly collect archived data, but also to actively convert them into digital format, making them available to all interested experts and the general public.
Raising a sense of pride in one’s history, fostering patriotism must begin at the school bench. Therefore, it is important to create a historical and archaeological movement at schools and local history museums in all regions of the country. Being familiar with the national history forms the feeling of unity of their origins among all Kazakhstanis.
2. Great names of the Great Steppe
It is known that the historical process in the mass consciousness is primarily personified. Many nations are deservedly proud of the names of great ancestors who have become the original ambassadors of their countries.
For example, such world-famous personalities of bygone eras as Tutankhamen, Confucius, Alexander the Great, Shakespeare, Goethe, Pushkin and George Washington are today invaluable symbolic capital for "their states", contributing to their effective promotion in the international arena.
The Great Steppe also spawned a whole galaxy of prominent figures. Among them are such large-scale figures as Al-Farabi and Yassaui, Kul-Tegin and Beibars, Tauke and Abylay, Kenesary and Abay and many others.
Therefore, we should, first of all, create an educational Park Encyclopedia “The Great Names of the Great Steppe”, in which sculptural monuments in honor of our famous historical figures and their achievements will be presented in the open.
Secondly, by organizing a targeted state order, it is necessary to initiate the formation of an actual gallery of images of great thinkers, poets and rulers of the past in contemporary literature, music, theater, and visual arts.
In addition to the classic formats, it is also important to tap the creative potential of alternative youth art. This work can involve not only domestic, but also foreign masters and creative teams.
Thirdly, it is necessary to systematize and intensify the activities on the creation and dissemination of the popular science series “Outstanding personalities of the Great Steppe” - “Uly Dala Talkalary”, covering a broad historical horizon.
In this direction, you can create international multidisciplinary teams, in which, along with Kazakhstani scientists, foreign specialists will be involved. As a result, the life and work of our heroes will be known both in our country and abroad.
3. Genesis of the Turkic world
Kazakhstan, the ancestral homeland of the Türks, is the sacred “Kara Shanirak”. From here, from our steppes, Turkic tribes and peoples, who made a significant contribution to the historical processes in other countries and regions, went to different parts of the world.
We need to launch the project “Turkic civilization: from the beginnings to the present”, within which it is possible to organize the World Congress of Turkology in Astana in 2019 and the Days of Culture of the Turkic ethnic groups, where the ancient Turkic artifacts will be presented in the museums of different countries. It is also important to create a single online library of common Turkic works following the example of Wikipedia, of which Kazakhstan can act as a moderator.
In addition, as part of the promotion of Turkestan as a new regional center, it is necessary to strengthen its positioning on the international arena.
The ancient capital of Kazakhstan is not only the spiritual center of our people, but also a sacred place for the whole Turkic world.
4. Museum of Ancient Art and Technology of the Great Steppe
We have every opportunity to create the Museum of Ancient Art and Technology of the Great Steppe “Uly Dala”. It is possible to collect samples of high art and technology, including products made in animal style, the decoration of the "Golden Man", objects reflecting the process of taming the horse, the development of metallurgy, the manufacture of weapons, equipment and other artifacts. Expand in it the exposition of valuable archaeological finds and archaeological complexes found in the territory of Kazakhstan, which reflect the process of development of various sectors of the economy in our country in certain historical periods.
And also to create the National Club of Historical Reconstructions "Great Civilizations of the Great Steppe" and hold festivals in Astana and the regions of Kazakhstan on its basis: the ancient Saki, Huns, the era of the great Turkic kagans, etc. interests.
Interesting will be the tourist project for the partial restoration of the ancient city of Otyrar with the reconstruction of objects of the urban environment - houses, streets, public places, water supply, city walls, and so on.
At the same time, it is necessary to focus on the popularization of knowledge and the development of tourism on this basis.
5. A Thousand Years of Steppe Folklore and Music
Within the framework of this project, we need to create an “Anthology of steppe folklore”. It will contain the best examples of oral folk art by the heirs of the Great Steppe over the past millennium - tales, legends, epics, legends, epics.
In addition, you need to release a collection of "Ancient motifs of the Great Steppe" - a collection of significant works created for traditional Kazakh musical instruments: kobyz, dombra, sybyzgy, sazyrny and others.
The folklore and melodies of the Great Steppe should acquire a “new breath” in a modern digital format. To work on these projects, it is important to attract domestic and foreign professionals who are able not only to systematize, but also to actualize the rich heritage of the Steppe.
The main plots, characters and motives of our culture have no boundaries and should be systematically researched and promoted throughout the whole of Central Eurasia and in the whole world.
Modernization of oral and musical traditions should acquire formats that are close and comprehensible to the modern audience.
In particular, ancient words and texts may be accompanied by illustrations or be embodied in the form of vivid video materials. In turn, sounds and melodies can be born not only by means of authentic instruments, but also their modern electronic versions.
In addition, it is necessary to organize a series of scientific research expeditions to various regions of Kazakhstan and other countries to search for common historical foundations of the folklore tradition.
6. History in film and television
In the modern world, cinema occupies a huge place in the historical self-knowledge of peoples. In mass perception, bright film images sometimes play a more significant role than documentary portraits in fundamental scientific monographs.
Therefore, in the near future, it is necessary to launch into production a special cycle of documentary production films, television series and full-length art films that demonstrate the continuity of the civilization history of Kazakhstan.
Work on these projects should be carried out within the framework of broad international cooperation with the involvement of the best domestic and foreign scriptwriters, directors, actors, producers and other specialists of the modern film industry.
In addition, you need to maximize the genre component of new historical television and film productions, including, in addition to adventure and melodramatic motifs, elements of fantasy and action-packed blockbusters that are popular today with viewers.
For this purpose, you can use the rich mythological and folklore material of the Great Steppe.
Particular attention should also be paid to the younger generation, which is in dire need of high-quality children's films and animated series that can form a cult of national superheroes.
Our illustrious warriors, thinkers and rulers deserve to become role models not only in Kazakhstan, but throughout the world.
A year and a half ago, I published an article “Looking into the Future: Modernization of Public Consciousness,” which found a wide response in society.
I consider the above projects as a continuation of the program “Ruhani zhangyru”.
The new components of the nationwide program “Ruhani zhangyru” will make it possible to update the centuries-old heritage of our ancestors, making it understandable and in demand in the conditions of digital civilization.
I am convinced that a people who remembers, appreciates, is proud of its history, have a great future. Pride in the past, a pragmatic assessment of the present and a positive look into the future - this is the key to the success of our country.