Monday, April 20, 2015

Issyk Kul. Petroglyphs.

Ancient petroglyph at Issyk Kul.

After a very restful night's rest, I woke up to another gloomy day. We've only had glimpses of sun since we've been in Kyrgyzstan :-(

Before heading down for breakfast, I quickly packed up my suitcase. We're heading back to Bishkek but will be seeing a few sights along the way.

In the dining room, the table for one was occupied by a young man. Pat and I took the table for two and the young couple, with their baby, had not yet come. As with dinner, food was already on the table so we just sat down and ate.  We had some cheese, cold cuts, tomatoes, cucumbers and bread. Shortly, the waitress stopped by with two plates of samsas.  Simple meal.  Again, more than I could eat so I packed up the extra samsas for Bahkryt as I knew he would enjoy them.

After breakfast, we waited for Lilya and Bahkyrt to arrive.  Our room was close enough to the entrance that I figured I would hear the van pull up. After all, it wasn't like there were any other cars around.

Promptly at 9a, I heard the knock on the door.  As expected, it was Lilya.  I was raring to go but before we could depart the room, the woman who saw us in had to check it out first - make sure we had left it in the exact same condition that we had received it in.  I guess Pat and I look like wild partying women who would trash a room??


Okay, that was being unnecessarily sarcastic but this is the first time this has happened to us on this trip.  We got the greenlight to go and bolted downstairs with my suitcase in hand.

We headed out of the resort complex.  I was glad to be leaving.

Back on the main road, we drove towards the heart of the village of Saari Oy; our hotel was located on the outskirts of the village.  It was quiet here too but there was more human life out and about.  This is where Lilya and Bahkryt had spent the night and at some level, I wish we had too.  At least we could have spent our afternoon walking the streets, exploring the neighborhoods and checking out the shops.

On our drive, Lilya told me that she had bought a bottle of Kyrgyz birch water.  She was curious how it would compare against the Kazakh brand.  Of course, she preferred the Kyrgyz version and it was slightly cheaper as well.  I made a mental note to keep this in mind.

A short distance from Saari Oy and we arrived at our first destination - the Museum of Petroglyphs Lake Issyk-Kul. This is an open air museum.

We walked along the fence until we reached an opening.





The museum area encompasses a massive rock field that was created, millenia ago, deposited by glaciers and streams that once flowed over the land.  It is thought that the site was once a gigantic open air temple, where ancient people gathered to worship, particularly the sun and perhaps other gods. The rocks vary in size from about 30 centimeters (12 inches) to 3 meters (10 feet).

There is some semblance of a path that makes its way around the petroglyphs but Lilya guided us so we just went where she went.  For the larger rocks, there were descriptive plaques which were very helpful.

Many of the drawings are examples of the Saka-Skythian (an ancient race of people who called this region home) animal style of art. The first petroglyph we saw depicted figures of hunters and what appear to be tame snow leopards during a hunt.




We followed Lilya around to see more petroglyphs.  I found some of them hard to make out.  Archeologists believe that the petroglyphs were carved using metal and stone implements) and then painted.  Over the millennia, rain as washed off the paint sunlight has darkened the face of the stone creating the effects that we saw today.


Dotting the ground were teeny, tiny wild tulips.  The first ones I've ever seen!



Back to the petroglyhs. 

I couldn't make out what this drawing was suppose to represent.  A horned animal?

Definitely a horned animal!


As Lilya spoke, I heard the sound of a herd of something.  Soon, the flock of sheep appeared.  Yes, I know.  This is a museum but hey, the sheep have got to go to their grazing land and cutting through the museum is the shortest route so be it.


Okay, back to petroglyphs.  Most of the stones face sSouthwest and southeast and it is thought that because of their positioning, they are connected to sun worship. Lilya pointed out a circle of stones to us.  Okay, it was hard to see an actual circle - you had to use some imagination.

Somewhere here lies a circle of stones.

It is thought that one of the purposes behind the stone circles was to serve as astronomical instruments.


An animal with antlers?

This one supposedly shows hunters chasing down two leopards in motion, the only type of depiction of its kind.

If I remember correctly, this is a figure of a man with a weapon in hand, hunting.

From the museum, there is a view of the Chopon-Ata Bay which is part of Issyk Kul.  Too bad it was a cloudy day - we could barely make out the water.


Another hunting scene.  This one dates back to 8th-5th century BC.


As we were leaving a small group of tourists was arriving.  Perfect timing on our part.

Next destination.  The Issyk Kul State Historical and Cultural Museum.