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HomeKYRGYZSTAN - History
The first signs of a man on the territory of Kyrgyzstan date from the early Paleolithic period - Ashels epoch (400-100 thousand years ago). Monuments of that time were found in the On-Archa River basin on the territory of Osh region. Next period of the Stone Age - Mustier epoch (100-40 thousand years ago) - presents itself by a great number of archeological monuments around Issyk-Kul and Chu valley. Upper Paleolithic period (40-12 thousand years ago) - is a time of maternal clan community. Origin and relationship were determined on the women's line. A modern man - Homo sapiens appeared in this period. Instruments of the Upper Paleolithic Period were found in the natural boundary Kapchigai, in the caves next to Khaidarkan and in other settlements. New Stone Age period (6-4 thousand years BC), the monuments were found everywhere: in Issyk-Kul, Tien-Shan, in Chu and Talas valley and in other places. The most interesting is a great number of caves with the marks of dwelling inside. On the walls of a large Ak-Chunkur cave on the Sary-Jaz River many petrogliphs of people, bull, goat and snake painted with red paint were found. During the excavations there were found animals' bones, various stone articles and fire marks. In the Bronze Age (2 - beginning of the 1 thousand years BC) shepherd-farming tribes inhabited Kyrgyzstan. Rock petrogliphs those are in Talas valley and in Fergana range clear represent individual parts of life. Scenes of men's activity like cattle breeding, hunting and so on are on the stones. That time they began to open natural resources - copper, tin, silver and gold. The main occupation of shepherd tribes settled on the Tien-Shan territory was cattle breeding. The main memorials of the Kyrgyz shepherd tribes of that time are burial grounds, found in Issyk-Kul, next to Naryn, Chon Kemin and in other valleys. The finds, discovered in burials, consist of household goods and decorations. Treasures of bronze instruments (axes, daggers, sickles, spear and chisel-heads) evidence the developed metallurgical production of that period. A great attention was paid to pottery and stonemason handicraft, manufacture of various decorations, such as bracelets, rings, beads and pendants. Further tribes of Central Asia and Kazakhstan are known as Saka in Persian sources, and Skiffs in Greek-Asian ones. The part of such tribes dwelled on Tien-Shan territory in the VII - III century BC. They were cattle-breeders and led nomadic way of life, bred sheep, goats, horses and cows. Barrows represent Saka's archeological monuments. They belong to common nomads and ancestral tribe nobility. The first are of small sizes and in graves there is poor stock: earthenware crockery, knives, arrowheads, and decorations. Barrow embankments of tribe nobility reach their 5 - 6 meters height and 50 meters in diameter. Such burials are found in Ketmen-Tubin valley. Funeral stock consists of numerous household goods, weapons, harness and decorations. Petrogliphs represent interesting information about Saka's epoch in the republic. They show scenes of ceremonies, way of life, hunting and goats, deer, horses and different kinds of beasts. Especially these petrogliphs are significant around the Issyk-Kul Lake (Cholpon-Ata, Chon-Sary-Oi, etc.). Saka-breeders were skilful horsemen. Their courage and warlike character were wildly known in the East. Sakas of Central Asia waged war with conquers. They put up heroic resistance to Alexander Makedonsky's army. From the III - to the VI century AD Usun dwelled in Tien-Shan. The main tribal community settlement was on the Southern Issyk-Kul bank. Their principal activity was nomadic breading, however, settlements around the Issyk-Kul Lake and in Chu valley evidence of the fact, that the majority of them led settled way of life. Nomads-Usun lived in felt yurts, ate meat and milk. In household utensils there was mainly earthenware, wood and leather crockery. The Usun time is bound with wide international links between the Tien-Shan population and other states of Central and Middle Asia. The VI century AC is commemorated by the big mass of Turk tribes' invasion to Middle Asia. The X - XI century was a time of feudalism flourishing that entailed establishment of Karakhanid State. Capital of Karakhanid - Balasagyn was located near the present town Tokmak. The most outstanding architecture work of the XI century is the tower Burana . In the course of time people forgot the principal purpose of the tower. There are a lot of legends about its origin. According to one of them, a powerful khan erected the minaret to save his only daughter from the predicted mortal bite of black karakurt, a great amount of which abounded in that place. In spite of the father's efforts, the foretell came true and his daughter died of the karakurt's bite, that was brought to the refuge with grapes. The tower became a burial vault. Small structure of the XV century - Tash-Rabat is situated in the At-Bashin region. This unique stone building is the biggest one on the territory of Middle Asia. Scientists assume that many ages ago there was a caravanserai for the merchants moving from Europe to China. Due to masonry simplicity, proportion heaviness and lack of window apertures, the building seems to be severe. In this period, big towns grew in all valleys suitable for farming. Their character feature is a large area of enclosed with long wall field ground around the principal dwelling territory. In Chu valley, for example, the total area of some towns reached 10 - 20 sq. Km. (Krasnorechensk site of ancient settlement). The Great Silk Road - a code-name of the international landline that crossed Asia from the East to the West. For a long time in western countries they knew nothing about China, as in China about other countries. The highest Tien-Shan, Pamir, Himalayan ridges and waterless deserts separated different countries. Only in the II century BC, the Chinese traveler Chzhan Tszan could get over them. Soon, merchants with caravans followed the traveler. Three branches of Great Silk Road (Pamiroalay, Fergana, Chui way) passed through the medieval Kyrgyzstan. Caravans and merchants suffered serious troubles, camels with luggage and riders with horses often fell into precipices. Robbers were on the watch for them on the roads. The most popular product was fabric. During the excavations in Batken and Talas region there were found different clothes made of china silk. Silk from Iran was found in the Issyk-Kul burials. Turk feudal had a great amount of silk, they even paid monthly payment to their warriors with cloth pieces. In the middle of the XII century the tungus-mongol nomads from the eastern Mongolia conquered Karakhanid State. In 1219 the Genghis Khan's hordes invaded into Tien-Shan and ruined all towns. In the 70s of the XV century Kyrgyz already had their state association or khanate in Tien-Shan. Their state strengthening was accompanied with the war of liberation against the Mongol feudal. It ended in 1510 with the Mongols exile from northern part of Kyrgyzia and Central Tien-Shan. There is one contrast else, which is more striking than those created by nature. This is the contrast of time, the contrast of life created by people. Everyone knows that quite recently awful poverty, half-starving life, diseases condemned people to die out. The proverb "the pasture is where you have tied your horse, the home is where you have made the fire" clearly reflects past. A yurt and a horse were the only property of poor Kyrgyz. Its art, culture and history people reflected in epic "Manas", their pride that is by right called encyclopedia of the Kyrgyz people. The epic developed gradually, it was inherited and transmitted from centuries through the talented men of people "manaschy". Epic performance was their main occupation. "Manas" - unlike the epics of many nations - is composed by verses from the beginning till the ending. There are 500 thousand verse lines, that is 20 times more than in "Illiada" and "Odissea". The epic's ideological inspiration is connected with uncompromising struggle of the Kyrgyz people against the foreign yoke. The chief and inspiration to the people is hero Manas. All trilogy events develop around this image, having the main idea of separate Kyrgyz tribes association. The epic narrator - manaschy - performs unaccompanied. "Manas" melody consists of various recitative intonations. According to the tradition its performance lasted during some days or weeks. The "Manas" performance was marked in the people as a great art event and took place with a big concourse. The popular artist of Kyrgyzstan, compositor, remarkable melodies singer, comuzchy Atay Ogonbaev knew dozens of various performance methods of playing the comuz and executed with the help of all fingers of right hand, one finger, pizzicato, flick at stand, finger board, circle spin hand movements up and down. He performed putting the comuz on the shoulder, on the head, putting it behind the back, spinning it around the body, striking the hearers by his virtuous technique. By their appearance Kyrgyz relate to the southern Siberia Mongol subrace. They have straight hair, flat face, prominent cheekbones, rather fair complexion and other Mongol race features. Relation of the Kyrgyz language to other Turk languages differs. The Kyrgyz nationality by the language with Altays, Kazakhs, Karakols, Bashkirs, Tartars, is in so-called kypchygai or northwestern group of turkik people. The tribal division is kept by the territory and language indications till the present days. In 1916 there was a revolt against Russian attempts to conscript the Kyrgyz to fight in World War I. The rebellion was ruthlessly suppressed, a reaction that explains why the Bolsheviks were welcomed in 1917-1918. Initially, Kyrgyzstan was included in the Russian Federation before gaining, at least in theory, greater independence - first as an autonomous region, and finally becoming the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1934. The collectivisation programme of Stalin destroyed much of the nomadic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz, but the impracticality of collectives, given Kyrgyzstan's geography, meant that more traditions survived here than in many other places in the USSR. During the years of Soviet hegemony, immigration by ethnic Russians was encouraged and Bishkek has had a Russian majority for many years. With the accession of Mikhail Gorbachev to the Kremlin in 1985, there was a purge of top officials and many of the old-guard communists who ran Kyrgyzstan were swept out of office. Despite a commitment to economic restructuring, the new leadership was as politically conservative as their predecessors. This was borne out during the attempted coup in 1991 when the Kyrgyz leadership supported the plotters of the State Committee for the State of Emergency. By this time, however, Kyrgyzstan had a new leader in Askar Akayev, a former head of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, who aligned himself with the opposition Kyrgyz Democratic Movement. Akayev moved quickly to forestall the attempted communist takeover, which quickly evaporated when the Moscow coup collapsed. In October 1991, Akayev was elected unopposed as President. Kyrgyzstan became an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Independent States at the end of that year. Akayev's radical economic reforms - popular support for which was shown by a referendum - have gained strong support in the West and agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank have granted loans to keep the economy and the new currency afloat. Akayev is using the Turkish model of a non-fundamentalist Islamic policy coupled with Western free-market economics as the basis for his reforms. The strategy has only been partially successful: the economy is still in a poor condition and the political structure riven with corruption and in-fighting. The government also faces growing opposition from Islamist movements which have been active throughout Central Asia during the last decade. In December 1995, Akayev was re-elected for a second five-year term defeating two other candidates and attracting 60 per cent of the vote. The parliamentary poll in February 2000 returned the Communist Party as the largest single bloc though without an overall majority; however, Akayev supporters remained in control of the assembly. Akayev himself once again came before the electorate in October 2000, and secured a third term with three-quarters of the poll. With the change in US policy towards Central Asia which followed the 11 September 2001 attacks, Kyrgyzstan has accepted military support from the US. It has also developed closer relations with China with whom it has held joint security exercises
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