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Zarautsoy Rock Paintings

Date of Submission: 18/01/2008
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Surkhandarya Region
Coordinates: N39 15 E66 40
Ref.: 5299

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Grotto of Zaraut-kamar in the gorge of Zarautsoy is located in the southeast slope of the mountains Kugitangtau, entering into the system of southwest ridges of Gissar Mountains. Administratively Zarautsoy enters into the territory of the state natural reserve «Surkhan» in the area of Sherobod of Surkhandarya region, in 30 km to the northwest from Sherobod and in 5 km to the south from Kizil-Alma village. The height is 1265 m. above sea level.Grotto of Zaraut-kamar settles down on the right slope of canyon of Zarautsoy, in mouth of the rocky canyon, on the border of high mountains and short mountains. Below of the canyon valley of Zarautsoy, extends and during 2-3 km running from the north in the south on foothill makes turn to the West. On this site of the valley is well denoted the ancient terrace, in which many of items of stone rests' constructions and ceramics (including - medieval) are revealed. On crests of ridges, forming watersheds of Zarautsoy with the neighbor valleys, also fixed the rests of stone constructions and barrows. The rocky slope of the canyon, where locates the grotto of Zaraut-kamar, has a shape of ledge and combines the alternating layers of the calcareous breed medieval Jurassic period, laying under the corner 45-50º with the northern spread. The ledge has layered structure and well expressed of stepped structure. The surface of the rocks, close to vertical, has strongly removed and characterized by many niches and grottoes of the various sizes. The basic grotto - Zaraut-kamar is located in an average part of the rocky file, at the height about 8 m. from the surface of the valley. The series of grottoes at the bottom part of the rock where there are single images and Arabian inscriptions.The main grotto, according to the date of A.A.Formozov, has the following sizes: 1,4-2,5 m width, 5,2 m length and 3,97 m height; the niche is opened to the east. Some adjournments and cultural rests are not present; however in the northern part, i.e. under the grotto, where the most ancient figures are concentrated, on the black surface of the floor is marked out small polished up the deepening with the size about 5 cm. Arch and walls of the grotto are covered by the short while the light brown and pinkish shade carbonate coating; the bottom part of walls and floor of grotto are free from leakages, the surface of black or dark grey color rough, is smoothed down by places. In some places of the walls and arch are limy accumulate, here and there hiding of ancient images and medieval inscriptions. In the bottom and average part of walls harrowed modern autographs of visitors. Dating of the painting of Zaraut-kamar covers an epoch of the mesolite, neolith, epoch of bronze and Middle Ages.Ancient images occupy western and part of the northern wall of grotto, forming three basic compositions. Images of animals, anthropomorphous, ornitho- anthropomorphous figures and the uncertain signs drawn by the red-brown and gray-brown mineral paint are varied here. At wetting figures by water, their color becomes claret. The medieval inscriptions made by the bright red paint were applied on the free from figures spaces of the arch and wall of the grotto. It is important to note, that the Arabian inscriptions partially block only separate ancient figures, occupying, mainly, a surface of the grotto of high quality in intervals between ancient compositions. Among ancient images in the northern wall of grotto is marked out the composition including the comparatively large figure of the bull, struck with arrow, around of which is shown archer and group ornitho-anthropomorphous figures. According to the researchers of Zarautsoy, the last represented the hunters disguised under birds (bustard, ostrich) or dressed in wide raincoats. On other two compositions painted the scenes of hunting for wild animals - bulls, goitered gazelles, etc. Majority of images are silhouettes, comparable small sizes (5-7 cm, the largest figure of the bull about 15 cm) and skillfully executed. There are about 40 figures distinguish in grotto. Below the basic of the grotto, paintings are available in several niches in smaller size. The images, which have kept here, also executed by the red-brown paint, but they are brighter, differ on style from figures of the basic grotto and belong to the late period.The grotto of Zaraut-kamar settles down in the territory of the Regional State Natural Reserve «Surkhon», founded in 1986. Central office of the reserve is located in the regional center of Sherobod. The northwest borders of reserve on watershed of Kugintang Mountains coincide with frontier of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The total area of reserve territories is 25 853 hectares; allotment by the state of these carefully protected territories is carried out, but the buffer zone of reserve is not established. Any economic activities are forbidden in the territory of reserve, scientific and educational work has carried out here. There are 578 kinds of plants in the reserve, 23 kinds of mammals, about 70 kinds of birds and approximately 30 kinds of reptiles are protected; many kinds of them are inscribed in to the Red book of Uzbekistan and International. At the creation of the reserve of Zaraut-kamar grotto has been included into the structure of protected territory with a view of maintenance of its protection, however in practice the monument remains accessible for visitors, and establishes the effective control for employees of reserve is not possible yet. The grotto and average part of the valley of Zarautsoy are located near to the border and buffer zone of the reserve within the boundaries of which are settled down about 10 settlements with the population of more than 4000 person.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Landscape of Zarautsoy possesses an exclusive natural beauty and aesthetic value: it is a blossoming mountain valley; rare beauty of a rocky canyon keeping traces of grandiose tectonic and geological processes. Zarautsoy - while one of the most ancient monuments in Central Asia executed with the paint. Other archeological monuments found out around Zarautsoy. Both these factors marked out rock arts of Zarautsoy region among other monuments. Grouping of the rock paintings in archeological landscape of Zarautsoy and their features reflect the development of the rock graphic creativity during the long historical period in conditions of close interaction settled-agricultural and pastoral cultures, complex of public and ideological changes proceeded on the background of certain changes of the natural environment. Representative series of paintings of the mesolite, neolith and bronze epoch make Zarautsoy an exclusively valuable monument illustrating the initial stage and blossoming of prehistoric rock art of Central Asia.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Despite of proceeding influence listed above factors, the condition of the landscape and paintings of Zarautsoy, as a whole, remain satisfactory. Rock paintings discovered here in 1939, since that time regular works on the monument is not conducted. Each researcher engaged by his method and carried out the documentation of the monument; archeological excavations and geological-geomorphologic researches were not conducted here. These actions have not violated integrity of perception of the monument, and other archeological objects keep authenticity in the material and design.

Comparison with other similar properties

As the serial objects of the rock arts of Central Asia, it is possible to compare among themselves archeological landscapes of Zarautsoy and Shaht (Tajikistan). By the quantity of paintings, concentration and specific variety of animals, on the occupied area of archeological landscape, Zarautsoy surpasses Shaht. Zarautsoy represents rock art of the region in wider chronological range (mesolite, neolith, bronze, later Middle Ages); a sample of development of rock arts in the zone of contact of settled-agricultural cultures and steppe pastoral people of Central Asia.