Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

The numerous rock carvings and funerary monuments found in these three sites illustrate the development of culture in Mongolia over a period of 12,000 years. The earliest images reflect a time (11,000 - 6,000 BC) when the area was partly forested and the valley provided a habitat for hunters of large game. Later images show the transition to herding as the dominant way of life. The most recent images show the transition to a horse-dependent nomadic lifestyle during the early 1st millennium BC, the Scythian period and the later Turkic period (7th and 8th centuries AD). The carvings contribute valuably to our understanding of pre-historic communities in northern Asia.

Ensembles de pétroglyphes de l'Altaï mongol

De nombreux pétroglyphes et des monuments funéraires découverts sur ces trois sites illustrent le développement de la culture en Mongolie sur une période de quelque 12 000 ans. Les images les plus anciennes reflètent une époque (11 000 - 6 000 av. J.-C.) où la zone était en partie boisée et où la vallée offrait un habitat aux chasseurs de gros gibier. Les représentations postérieures correspondent à la transition vers le pastoralisme comme mode de vie dominant. Les représentations les plus récentes montrent la transition vers un nomadisme équestre durant le 1er millénaire av. J.C., la période scythe et la période turcique ultérieure (VII-VIIIe siècles après J.-C.). Ces pétroglyphes apportent une précieuse contribution à notre compréhension de la vie des communautés préhistoriques en Asie du nord.

مجمعات النقش على الصخور لشعب آلتاي في منغوليا

تشهد المنحوتات الصخرية والآثار الجنائزية الكثيرة التي وُجدت في هذه المواقع الثلاثة على تطوُّر الثقافة البشرية في منغوليا على مدى 000 12 سنة. وتشير أقدم الصور المكتشفة (000 11 - 000 6 قبل الميلاد) إلى أن المنطقة كانت مغطاة جزئياً بالغابات في تلك الفترة وأن الوادي كان يوفر ملاذاً لصيادي الطرائد الكبيرة. ويتبين من الصور العائدة إلى الفترة التي برزت فيها السهوب الحالية لمنطقة آلتاي أن معظم السكان كانوا يعيشون حياة رعوية. أما أحدث الصور المكتشفة في المنطقة، فتدل على تحوّل السكان إلى نمط حياة البدو الرحل واعتمادهم على الخيل في أوائل القرن الأول قبل الميلاد وخلال عصر السيثيانيين وحقبة الأتراك الرحل (القرنان السابع والثامن بعد الميلاد). وتسهم المنحوتات إسهاماً قيماً في فهمنا للمجتمعات التي عاشت في شمال آسيا في مرحلة ما قبل التاريخ.

source: UNESCO/ERI

阿尔泰山脉岩画群

在三处遗址发现的大量石刻遗迹与随葬的纪念碑展现了12000多年来人类文化在蒙古国的发展。最早的岩画表明有一时期(11,000 - 6000年),该地区还部分覆盖着森林,此处的山谷为猎人提供了大型狩猎的场所。其后,阿尔泰山地景观据推断已经变为今天的山地草原,这一时期的岩画表明放牧逐渐成为主导的生活方式。最晚期的岩画作于公元前1000年早期及斯基泰时期与后突厥汗国时期(公元7-8世纪),展示了此处的生活方式向马上游牧生活的过渡。这些岩刻为我们了解北亚地区的史前社会提供了富有价值的史料。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Петроглифы монгольского Алтая

Многочисленные наскальные рисунки и погребальные памятники, найденные на территории трех объектов, свидетельствуют о развитии культуры в Монголии на протяжении 12000 лет. Самые ранние из них относятся к периоду 11000-6000 годов до н.э., когда эта территория была частично покрыта лесом, что давало возможность охотиться на крупную дичь. Более поздние изображения относятся к временам, когда алтайский пейзаж приобрел свой нынешний характер гористой степи, и отражают переход к пастушеству, ставшему основным занятием людей. Наконец, самые поздние изображения, относящиеся к периоду с начала 1-го тысячелетия до н.э., затем - скифского периода, вплоть до позднего тюркского периода 7-8 веков н. э., свидетельствуют о формировании кочевого образа жизни. В эту эпоху важное место в наскальных изображениях заняла лошадь. Наскальные изображения Алтая являются ценным источником сведений, необходимых для нашего понимания жизни доисторических общин в северной части Азии.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Conjuntos de petroglifos del Altái mongol

Este sitio comprende tres zonas donde se han hallado numerosos petroglifos y monumentos funerarios, que son un exponente de la evolución de la cultura mongola a lo largo de doce milenios. Las representaciones más antiguas (11.000-6.000 a.C.) reflejan la época en que el sitio estaba en parte cubierto por bosques y en que los valles ofrecían un hábitat propicio a los cazadores de grandes presas. Las representaciones posteriores datan de la época en que el paisaje del Altái había cobrado su forma actual de estepa montañosa y en que el pastoreo se había convertido en el modo de vida predominante. Las representaciones más recientes muestran la transición al nomadismo ecuestre que se produjo a principios del primer milenio antes de nuestra era, así como el periodo escita y el periodo túrquico ulterior (siglos VII y VIII). Estos petroglifos constituyen una aportación valiosa al conocimiento de las comunidades prehistóricas del Asia Septentrional.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Rotstekeningcomplexen van de Mongoolse Altai

De talrijke rotsgraveringen en grafmonumenten die op deze drie locaties gevonden zijn, illustreren de culturele ontwikkeling in Mongolië gedurende een periode van 12.000 jaar. De vroegste afbeeldingen weerspiegelen een periode (11.000 - 6.000 voor Christus) waarin het gebied deels bebost was en de vallei een leefgebied was voor jagers van groot wild. Latere afbeeldingen tonen de overgang naar het hoeden van dieren als primaire manier van leven. De meest recente afbeeldingen laten de overgang zien naar een paardafhankelijke nomadische levensstijl tijdens het begin van het 1e millennium voor Christus, de Scythische periode en de latere Turkse periode (7e en 8e eeuw na Christus).

Source: unesco.nl

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Hunting scene. Turkic period © Institute of Archaeology, Mongolian Academy of Science
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai include three rock art sites in Bayan-Ulgii aimag: Tsagaan Salaa-Baga Oigor of Ulaankhus soum, and Upper Tsagaan Gol (Shiveet Khairkhan) and Aral Tolgoi, both of Tsengel soum. All three are located in high mountain valleys carved out by Pleistocene glaciers. These three property components include large concentrations of petroglyphs and funerary and ritual monuments reflecting the development of human culture over a period of 12,000 years. The persistent relationships between rock art, surface monuments and the larger physical context of rivers, ridges and cardinal directions create a vivid sense of the integration of human communities with the land they inhabited.

The earliest images reflect a period beginning in the Late Pleistocene and lasting through the Early Holocene (ca. 11,000 – 6,000 years BP), when the paleoenvironment shifted from dry to forested steppe and the valleys provided an ideal habitat for hunters of large wild game. Later images from the middle Holocene (ca. 6,000 – 4,000 years BP) reflect the gradual reassertion of steppe vegetation in this part of the the Altai and the early emergence of herding as the economic basis of communities. Imagery from the succeeding, Late Holocene Period, reflects the transition to horse-dependent nomadism during the Early Nomadic and Scythian periods (1st millennium BCE) and the subsequent spread of steppe empires in the later Turkic Period (7th-9th c. CE).

The Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai represent the most complete and best preserved visual record of human prehistory and early history of a region at the intersection of Central and North Asia.

Criterion (iii): The Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai Mountain provide an exceptional documentation of the pre-historic and early historic communities in the northwestern Altai Mountains, at the intersection of Central and North Asia. The petroglyphic imagery includes animals such as mammoths, rhinoceros, and ostriches, executed in static profile contours. These animals inhabited North Asia when the region was significantly colder, drier and covered by rough grasses and forbs rather than forests. By the end of the Late Pleistocene (ca. 11,000 BP), the dry steppe was gradually being replaced by the forested environment of the Early Holocene (ca. 11,000 – 6,000 BP). This period is reflected in majestic images of elk, aurochs, and ibex, executed in profile silhouettes. There are very few sites in North Asia that include pre-Bronze Age petroglyphs in such number, variety, and quality.

Integrity

The two largest sites, Tsagaan Salaa-Baga Oigor and Upper Tsagaan Gol, include a unique array of material relating to the Bronze and Iron Ages. Together with Aral Tolgoi, the three sites include an undiminished record of human culture in this region over a period of more than 12,000 years. To preserve the integrity of the property, the potential impact of humans and their grazing animals on the petroglyphs requires strict control.

Authenticity

The authenticity of the property is demonstrated by its physical condition, which aside from the wear of time and the elements is essentially pristine. There is some modern damage on rock surfaces (writing, graffiti) located close to roads; but, in general, the rock art and monuments are relatively unimpacted by human or animal activities. The authenticity of the sites is protected by their relative inaccessibility due to both terrain and weather.

Protection and management requirements

The three sites of Tsagaan Salaa-Baga Oigor, Upper Tsagaan Gol, and Aral Tolgoi are registered as historical and cultural properties under state protection since 2008 following the provisions of the 2001 Law on Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Mongolia. The whole of Aral Tolgoi and part of the Upper Tsagaan Gol Complex are also included within the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, listed since 1994 under the Mongolian Law for Special Protected Areas; this law offers additional protection to the natural environment including water sources and restricts urban and rural development. Ideally this environmental protection should be granted to all three property components. The Mongolian Parliament in 2012 considers amendments to the Law on Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Mongolia in order to include specific articles concerning management of cultural and natural heritage inscribed on the World Heritage List and the National Tentative List; once these additional articles have been adopted, the protection for the property will be further strengthened.

The traditional protection by local inhabitants of this region is a key factor in the management of the Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai. Herders who have already been engaged in heritage protection in some soum (departments), need to be engaged as crucial partners for sustainable management. In this context, the role of the national authorities is important in the provision of incentives for traditional community management as well as for supporting strict control with regard to development proposals for purposes such as mining, road works or tourism infrastructure. This control must apply not only in the nominated areas but also in their upstream hinterland, where development could have detrimental effects to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Local and national management approaches could be more effectively integrated through a local site manager; who could ensure regular communication and exchange between the two levels. Management could also be better targeted if based on the results of a comprehensive survey and inventory of the petroglyphs in all three components of the property for their continued protection.