The study of the archaeological sites of the Aktobe region dates back to the distant past, when Russian scientists began to visit our region, who left the initial information about them.
One of the first who left us information about the monuments of archeology is a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a prominent scientist of the 18th century. P.I. Rychkov. So, in his work “Topography of the Orenburg province”, when describing the archaeological monuments of the Orenburg region, he also touches upon the Western Kazakhstani ones (Rychkov, 1762, pp. 58-60).
A little later, E. Eversman also visited the territory of Western Kazakhstan. In his work “The Journey of Eduard Eversman from Orenburg to Bukhara in the Summer of 1820,” he gave brief descriptions of the archaeological objects he saw, calling them old graves (Kastanier, 2007, pp. 103-105).
The first targeted excavations of archaeological sites in Aktobe region date back to the last quarter of the 19th – early 20th centuries. This was largely facilitated by the opening in Orenburg of the Orenburg Scientific Archive Commission (OUAC), whose task was to study the antiquity of the region. In 1884 and 1887-1888. members of OUAC F.D. Nefedov and K.A. Fischer’s excavations of antiquities from the era of early nomads laid the foundation for the archaeological study of the Sauromat-Sarmatian monuments. They investigated several mounds of the 5th-4th centuries. BC. located along the river. Ilek and Ter-Butak (Tara-Butak), in the western border regions of the Aktobe region (Smirnov, 1975: 6; Rodionov, 1996, pp. 5-8).
At the beginning of the XX century. (1904, 1906, 1909) small excavations near the city of Aktobe, on the monuments of the river valley. Kargaly (the right tributary of the Ilek River) is carried out by I.A. Castagne. He excavated more than ten burial mounds, some of which, according to the funeral rite and accompanying inventory, were correlated with the sites of the Early Iron Age (Kastanje, 2007: 118-123).
By this time, there are reports of other archaeological finds, which, according to the description, can be attributed to the early Iron Age. In the 19th edition of Proceedings, it is mentioned about the discovery of a stone statue found near the 2nd aul of the Embo-Temirov region. According to Venediktov’s information, the stone woman was broken at the time of discovery and was a flat sandstone with the image of facial features, breasts and, possibly, a necklace. In his opinion, the location of the statue should be in the area near the Mugodzharskaya station (Proceedings of the Orenburg Scientific Archival Commission, 1907, pp. 56-57).
Thus, the research carried out before the beginning of the XX centuries. can be designated as the pre-revolutionary period and can be characterized as the initial stage in the development of archaeological science in the Aktobe region.
The archaeological study of the monuments of the Aktobe region, interrupted by the revolution and the civil war, resumed only in the second half of the 20s of the XX century.
In 1926, under the leadership of M.P. Gryaznova and M.V. Komarova began to study archaeological sites by the anthropological detachment of the Kazakhstan expedition of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, formed by a special commission for the survey of the union and autonomous republics. The main work of the expedition was aimed at fixing archaeological sites with small excavations of individual mounds. The route passed mainly in the northern regions of the region (Martuk and Kargalinsky districts) along the basins of the steppe rivers Ebeta, Kiyaly-Burte, Kirgelda, Alimbeta, Terekla, etc., which are the southern tributaries of the river. Ural. As a result, 28 monuments of different times were registered. M.P. Gryaznov divided the found monuments into four types: mounds with an earthen mound, mounds with a stone mound, earthen mounds lined with stone and flat graves in the form of rings, lined with stone (stone rings). In the Uralsai tract (left-bank part of the Terekla River), in the burial site of the same name with the toponym, four burials of the era of ancient nomads, admitted to the mounds of the Bronze Age, were investigated (Gryaznov, 1927: 172, 178-183). The burial rite and grave goods made it possible to attribute these burials to the early Iron Age and date them to the 8th, 5th and 4th centuries. BC. (Smirnov, Petrenko, 1963, p. 16).
In the 20-30s of the last century, with the economic development of the country, geological exploration work began to be actively carried out in the region. As a result of exploration work carried out on the territory of the Temir and Mugolzhar regions, geologists B. Borneman, I. Larin, I. Gerasimov and V. Samodurov discovered various sites from the Neolithic to the Early Iron Age. They transferred collections of ceramics, stone tools and 38 bronze arrowheads to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Kuzmina, 1959: 3-5).
In the same years, B.N. Grakov. In 1930, the expedition headed by him carried out exploration work on the river basin. Ori, from its sources to the confluence of the river. Ural. The result of the work was the registration of a large number of monuments. According to the calculations of the Aktobe local historian V.V. Rodionov’s expedition recorded 78 monuments of different eras (Rodionov, 1996: 14). In the same year, four early Iron Age burial mounds were explored. With. Kum-Sai burial mound 2, located on the r. Chiili (present-day Kumsay settlement, Shiili river, Mugodzhar region). Based on a bronze arrowhead and a molded vessel, this mound was dated to the 5th century. BC. (Smirnov, 1964, p. 55-56). In the same year B.N. Grakov unearthed rather interesting burial mounds located on the right bank of the river. Oysylkara, 800 m south of the village. Matveyka (modern village Zharbutak,
In the postwar years, studies of antiquities in the Aktobe region were also sporadic. In the period from 1955 to 1960. an expedition of the Institute of the History of Material Culture of the USSR Academy of Sciences is working in the region. The West Kazakhstan detachment, the purpose of which was to inspect the lands allotted for virgin lands, was headed by V.S. Sorokin. In the first year, the expedition carried out four exploration routes, covering mainly the northern and central regions of the Aktobe region. As a result of the exploration, 79 archaeological sites of different eras were registered. During the exploration, the expedition carried out small excavations at such sites as Akzhar, Kargalinsky, Ulke I and II and Buget I and II. In mounds 2-4 of the Akzhar burial ground, located near the city of Aktobe, in 2, Burials were discovered 3 km northwest of the confluence of the Kargaly and Teris-Butak rivers, attributed by V.S. Sorokin to the 6th-4th and 3rd-1st centuries. BC. (Sorokin, 1955).
In the same years, monuments along the upper and middle reaches of the river. Emba were examined by another expedition of the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1958, a small detachment led by E.E. Kuzmina began fixing monuments from the vicinity of the village. Mikhailovka (modern. Karakol). Further, the route passed along the river. Embe from the village. Springs to the Kumzhargan and Kokzhide sands. Having examined these places, a detachment from the village. Shengelshi moved northeast to Dzhurun, from which along the river. Temir went down to the river. Emba and along its right bank reached the Ashhysai ravine (southwest of the village of Zharkamys). As a result, 19 sites of different times were registered, including, in addition to burial mounds and single burial mounds, there were 2 locations of stone tools and 1 mud-mud mazar (Kuzmina, 1958).
In the 1970s. after a short break, archaeological research in the Aktobe region is resumed. One of the significant events in the history of the development of Aktobe archeology was the beginning of excavations here of the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR, whose work in the initial periods was associated with the study of emergency monuments. In addition, the 1970s and 80s. can be described as a stage in the formation and development of the local archaeological school.
So, in 1973-1974, 1976. On the territory of the region, together with the Aktobe regional history and local history museum, the Karatau detachment of the South Kazakhstan complex expedition of the above institute is working. Work mainly took place on the monuments of the river basin. Ilek (Syntas, Besoba, Zhalgyzoba, Kumissay, etc.). In addition, on the river. Usup in the summer of 1974 an expedition investigated one of the controversial types of monuments of nomadic societies – barrows with “mustaches” Usup I and II, located on the western slopes of the Katyn-Adyr ridge (Kadyrbaev, Kurmankulov, 1976; 1977; 1978).
A little later, in 1981-1982. Central Kazakhstan expedition led by M.K. Kadyrbaeva conducts conservation excavations of ancient monuments. The Aktobe detachment, which investigated the Nagornensky burial ground in connection with the construction of the irrigation system, was led by Zh.K. Kurmankulov, T.I. Kulik and V.I. Zaitov. In two field seasons, burial mounds 1-6, 8-9 (1981) and 7, 10-11 (1982) were excavated. Excavations of the Nagornensky burial ground yielded interesting materials of the nomadic culture, which make it possible to judge the social and property differentiation of the nomads of the river basin. Ilek (Kadyrbaev, 1984: 84-93; Kadyrbaev, Kurmankulov, Kulik, 1982).
Separately, it is worth noting the great role of geologists in the development of local archeology. Since the 1970s and 80s. of the last century, as a result of geological exploration expeditions throughout the region, they discovered a large number of archaeological and ethnographic monuments (burial grounds, mine workings, settlements, petroglyphs, etc.). During these years V.V. Rodionov, R.A. Segedin, V.F. Korobkov and S.G. Greshner transferred various finds from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages to the Aktobe Regional Museum of History and Local Lore. In addition, manuscripts of reports with descriptions and drawings of identified archaeological sites and finds were submitted to the museum (Segedin, 1976a; 1976b; 1977; 1981; Tkachev, Segedin, Greshner, 1996). V.V. Rodionov in 1975, on the basis of the Aktobe Regional Museum, organized an archaeological team, regularly travels at the request of the population to check monuments. Over the years of his work in the local history museum, he processed and put in order the collection of archaeological finds. During his activity, he independently makes archaeological surveys and excavations of monuments of various eras. V.V. Rodionov, when studying archaeological sites, paid great attention to emergency objects. So, V.V. In 1975, Rodionov investigated the “Training Range” site, the Zhaman-Kargala-I burial mound, the Zhaman-Kargala site. In the next 1976 V.V. Rodionov continued to work on the above monuments. And also the burial mound in the Imangazy-Karasu tract, located near the city of Aktobe, in the valley of the r. Zhaksy-Kargaly. By the time of excavation, the burial mounds were significantly damaged by plowing. V.V. Rodionov excavated mound 3, under which burials from the era of early nomads were discovered in three graves. In 1977 V.V. Rodionov excavated the ruined mound 2 of the Bisoba burial ground, mound 2 of the Shpaki-II burial ground, and studies continued on the mound 3 of the Imangazy-Karasu burial ground (Petrov, Rodionov, 1976; 1977, 1978).
In 1984, the archaeological team of the Aktobe Regional Museum of History and Local Lore was headed by S.Yu. Gutsalov. During his work in the museum together with V.V. Rodionov excavated such sites as Bolgarka 1 and 2, Kyzylzhar, Zhaman-Kargala-II, Vostochno-Kurailinskiye-II, III (Gutsalov, Rodionov, 1984; 1985; 1986). It can be noted that S.Yu. Gutsalov continued the work of V.V. Rodionov (1913-1986) in the study of the antiquity of the Aktobe region and in the education of the younger generation. Both researchers actively included students from schools and the Palace of Pioneers, as well as schools in Aktobe, in the expedition. V.V. Rodionov, and later S.Yu. Gutsalov headed the “Young Archaeologist” circle within the walls of the museum. In addition, V.V. Rodionov did a lot in preparing S.Yu. Gutsalov as a field archaeologist.
A very important role in the development of local archeology was played by the opening in 1985 within the walls of the Aktobe Pedagogical Institute of the Faculty of History. This time can be designated as the beginning of the formation of university archeology in the Aktobe region. Field archaeological practice has educated many historians of the Aktobe region, including such archaeologists and ethnographers as R.A. Beknazarov, S.Yu. Vinogradov, V.V. Tkachev, A.A. Bisembaev. and others. The beginning of the archaeological practice of the Aktobe Pedagogical Institute dates back to 1986. The archaeological expedition of the Pedagogical Institute is headed by S.Yu. Gutsalov. In a short time he investigated the burial grounds Atpa, Tselinny I, Vostochno-Kurailinsky I, Tanabergen II, Urkach I and many others. In addition, hundreds of sites were discovered by an archaeological expedition (Gutsalov, 2004: 9).
It should be noted that with the beginning of the 90s. due to the lack of funding, the scale of excavations is decreasing. 1991 to 1996 In the Aktobe region, Tanabergen II, Urkach-I, Sarytau-I, Shanshar, Kargaly I and II, (Akzhar II-III, Sadovy V-VI, Kenzhibek II, etc.
During 1997 to 2000. archaeological work on the territory of the Aktobe region took place in the northern regions (the Ural river basin). During this period, such monuments as Saltak I-II and Kensairan, represented by burial mounds from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, were studied (Bisembaev, Gutsalov, 1998; Gutsalov, Bisembaev, 2002).
At the beginning of the XXI century. archaeological research in the Aktobe region has practically ceased. In 2001, on the territory of the Mugodzhar region, excavations were carried out at the Basshili burial ground.
In 2004, a small archaeological detachment from the Institute of Archeology. OH. Margulan under the leadership of J.E. Smailova investigated two burial grounds of the river. Emba. The work was related to the security excavations of burial mounds in oil-producing areas. The first excavations were the burial mounds of Karatobe I and II, located on the upland of the left bank of the river. Emba, southeast of the village. Zharkamys. In total, seven burial mounds were excavated at both burial grounds. The vast majority of burials date back to the second half of the 1st millennium BC, one each: to the Late Sarmatian and Medieval times (Smailov, Knisarin, 2005a).
The next objects of research were the burial mounds of Mortyk I and IV, located on the right bank of the river. Embas upstream, north of the Kokzhide sands. Burials of different eras were found in both burial grounds, but burials of the Prokhorovka culture predominated. Burials were made in wide rectangular, oval pits and in undercut graves. The buried, as a rule, lay stretched out on their backs, with their heads facing south. The inventory is different, there are both weapons and household items, as well as religious items (swords and daggers, arrowheads, round-bottomed vessels, bone spoons, altars, etc.) (Smailov, Knisarin, 2005b).
A significant event in the scientific life of the Aktobe region was the opening in 2006 of the Aktobe regional center of history, ethnography and archeology. The creation of the Regional Center can rightfully be called the beginning of a new stage in the history of archaeological study of our region.
The Aktobe regional center, whose tasks were to organize and conduct research on monuments of historical and cultural heritage, began its work with excavations of the Guryuldek burial ground, located in the intermountain valley south of the river. Ural (Velikhovsky rural district, Kargalinsky district).
The regional center signed contracts and carried out joint scientific research with the Institute of Archeology. OH. Margulan KN MES RK, the Branch of the Institute of Archeology in Astana, the German Archaeological Institute (Berlin), the Chelyabinsk Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Orsk Humanitarian and Technological Institute, the Orenburg State University, the Bashkir Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences – the Institute of History, Language and Literature.
Today, on the territory of our region, the Regional Center organized dozens of archaeological and ethnographic expeditions to study the history and culture of the peoples who lived here a thousand years ago and more. As a result, such objects as the burial grounds of Besoba, Tortoba, Kumsay, Eshkikyrgan, Sapibulak, Segizsay, etc. became the property of domestic science. These objects represent the steppe “pyramids”, that is, the tombs of the nomadic elite of ancient nomadic societies roaming along the rivers Kobda, Ilek, Uil, etc. These expeditions were attended not only by local scientists, but also throughout the republic. In addition, scientists from Germany, Georgia, Hungary and Russia were happy to learn the history of ancient societies.
It should also be noted that the Aktobe regional center of history, ethnography and archeology surveyed the territories of Kargalinsky, Martuk, Kobdinsky, Alginsky, Uilsky, etc. districts. As a result, thousands of archaeological sites have been discovered from the Stone Age to the late Middle Ages.
The result of a multifaceted and laborious process was the popularization of the historical and cultural heritage through the publication of scientific and popular science works. In this direction, more than 50 monographs have been prepared and published, among them the publication by the author’s team of the History of Western Kazakhstan in 2 volumes, and the History of the Aktobe region, a specialized monograph by V.V. Tkachev “Steppes of the Southern Urals and Western Kazakhstan at the turn of bronze “(Aktobe, 2007). In 2008, the book by EE Kuzmina “Classification and periodization of the monuments of the Andronov cultural community” (Aktobe, 2008), A.A. Bisembaeva “The funeral rite of the medieval nomads of Western Kazakhstan” (Aktobe, 2011) which received wide scientific recognition.
Since 2013, after the closure of the Aktobe regional center of history, ethnography and archeology, the Aktobe regional museum of local history has been conducting research. In 2013-2015. expedition of the Aktobe Regional Museum of History and Local Lore under the leadership of A.A. Bisembaev, mound 1 of the Eshkikyrgan I burial ground was further investigated, the Kokzhide IV burial grounds, the burial ground at the mouth of Shilisay, Kumsay, etc.
During 2013-2015. on the territory of the Kobdinsky district of the Aktobe region conducts research on the burial complexes of the nomadic elite of the river basin. Ilek and employees of the Branch of the Institute of Archeology named after OH. Margulan in Astana under the leadership of Ongar A. Excavations mainly took place on mound 1 of the Tortoba burial ground and the areas adjacent to it from the southwestern side, where small hillocks were seen at the level of the modern day surface, which were small embankments damaged during the long-term plowing. In undisturbed mounds, the buried persons lay stretched out on their backs, with their heads to the west (object 8) and east (object 8) (Ongar et al., 2013).