Archaeological monuments of Turkistan
The site of ancient settlement - Turkistan located on the eastern edge of the modern rayon (district) centre of Shymkent Oblast (region) of the same name - is an important archeological monument of the urban culture of South Kazakhstan. The major role this town played in the Late Middle Ages in Kazakhstan is widely known. It was the attracting place for the economic and political development of various states, trade and cultural centre on juncture of vast steppes and ancient agricultural areas, the place of preacing activities of the Turkic Sufi Khodja Akhmed Yasawi, the political centre of the Kazakh Statehood and the "second Mecca" of the Moslem East. Medieval Turkistan experienced a stormy history with periods of flourishing and decline. This town absorbed cultural traditions of various origin.
P.I. Rychkov, the researcher of Orengburg area, was among the first ones who that took an interest in of the ancient Turkistan. Notably he indicated the location of Turkistan - on the place of the former Yasy. In 1867 P.I.Lerkh investigated the ancient settlement Turkistan on the task of the Russian Archeological society. He scientifically grounded the location of Yasy at the place of the modern Turkistan.
The works of V.V.Bartold and A.I. Dobromyslov should be marked among the number of investigations of Turkistan made before the Great October Socialist Revolution.V.V.Bartold identified the towns of Yasy-Turkistan-Shavgar. The first archeological excavations were made in 1928 by M.E.Masson. He concluded that on the place of the modern Turkistan the large town existed even before the Timur epoch, but in this town there were no cultural layers earlier the XII century. M.E Masson identified Yasy-Turkistan with the town of Shavgar, that appeared in the written sources beginning from the X century.
The first archeological data testifying to the fact that this area was habitable in the early historic periods were obtained by T.N.Senigova, who in 1973 investigated the mound Kul Tobe, situated 300 m south-east off the mausoleum of Khodja Akhmed Yasawi. At this place the fragments of the early medieval ceramics, coins of VII-VIII centuries of the Otrar coinage have been found. A specific character of the historic and topographic development of the town Yasy-Turkestan conditioned the complexity of the town planigraphy, where before the recent time there was a clearly seen part adjourning to the mausoleum on the north-east and surrounded by the stronghold walls that survived to the beginning of the XX century. This part had the shape of an improper pentagon with a square of 2,6 hectares, in the western edge of this pentagon there was the architectural complex of the mausoleum of Khodja Akhmed Yasawi. It was namely the "citadel" of the ancient settlement of Turkistan, and to the current period this part is investigated best of all archeologically. At this section the stratigraphic prospect-holes and cuts of stronghold walls were repeatedly made to reveal then the cultural layer of the XIV-XIX centuries, the thickness of the layer comprised about 6 meters, it was laying on the mainland.
The cuts of the citadel stronghold walls had every reason to determine that the time of their erection was the XV century - the period followed the erection of the architectural complex of Khodja Akhmed Yasawi. West and south-east off the citadel the area of shakhristan was located, it had a shape of an improper quadrangle with a square of about 23,5 hectares (350x670m). On the north and west this area is surrounded by the clearly survived remnants of walls with towers on the corners. The southern wall is not so good survived, however here there is an obvious over-fall of horizons emphasizing thickness of the cultural sediments within the "shahristan" as compared to the southern "rabad" that was probably surrounded by the wall in the XIX century. The wall of "rabad" made of clay pieces in a form of a high "duval", by the width up to 1,2-1,4 m in the ground, survived up till now at some sections. This wall as the smooth arc rounded the descended area with a square of about 8 hectares, adjourning to the southern wall of shakhristan. The mound Kul-Tobe, with an artificial sheer edge on the south and south-east, also was included into the area of Turkistan. On the east the remnants of the shakhristan and rabad walls as well as of the southern, and partially eastern and western walls of citadel did not survive.
All available stratigraphic data on citadel and nearby area of shakhristan testify to the fact that here the construction horizons aged by XV-XVI centuries are laid down. The pre-Mongol layers indicating the place of the early settlement Yasy had not been discovered here. In search for these remnants near the southern precipice edge of Kul-Tobe Smagulov E.A. made a stratigraphic excavation with a square more then 70 sq. m. It has opened the whole thickness of cultural layers of Kul-Tobe that comprised 6 metres (I-XII stages) and delved deeply (XIII and XIV stages) into the sterile continent. The cultural layers is divided into seven construction horizons. I construction horizon - IV-V centuries; II construction horizon - V century, III construction horizon (with burial of a horse) - VII century, IV-V horizons - IX-XI centuries; VI-VII horizons - (XIII century ?) - the first quarter of the XIV century; VII horizon - XVIII-XIX centuries.
Within the III construction horizon the burial of a horse has been discovered, with the following things: the iron stirrup, one-ring bit and a pendant for the strap thong. It is known that in early periods single burials of horses - "kenotaph" were typical of the Turkic burial ceremonies.
This finding made it possible to reasonably determine the age of the earliest horizons. Oval shaped stirrups with a widened foot board strengthened with an edge and a quadrangle plate of the eye, were common for the Eurasian steppes during VI-VII centuries. The researchers determine the age of the few burials with horses found in Central Asia and Kazakhstan as the end of the VI-VII centuries i.e. the time of conquest campaigns undertaken by the first Turkic Kaghanate when the groups of the Altai Turks moved through the vast areas from the Great Chinese Wall to the Black Sea. If to consider the first half of the V century to be the real age of the III construction horizon, then sediments of the II and II construction horizons may be referred to the VI-VI centuries. It is also confirmed by the findings.
Thus, judging from the above, the appearance of the ancient settlement Yasi that began to rapidly develop from XIV to XIX centuries and turned into the large town known in XVI-XIX centuries under the name of Turkistan, may be referred to the middle of the I thousand A. D. Archeologically this was the period of the second stage of so-called Otrar-Karatau early medieval culture, when the number of settled areas emerged in South Kazakhstan, that laid a foundation for the medieval urban culture.
The town of Turkistan - one of the few towns of Kazakhstan with a 15 century-long history.