TWHS: Silk Road, Kazakhstan

To wind up our first visit to Kazakhstan, we visited the Issyk necropolis area, one of the 31 places to be found on Kazakhstan’s serial nomination on the Tentative Lists named, simply,

Silk Road

Gold Man


Silk Road on the territory of Kazakhstan is divided into several main sections (parts). Represented and marked by monuments of history and culture these sections (roads) are original and have distinct features distinguishing them one from each other. Most probably, it was the natural environment and adaptation of human to existence in definite climatic conditions that has shaped the originality of a definite section. It can be affirmed with full confidence that the Silk Road is a phenomenon of unification of diversity of regions with the help of universal system of exchange of human values which was created, developed and maintained by people of different ethnical, linguistic, religious belonging during more than two thousand of years of existence of the Silk Road…

Barrows and burial grounds can be seen in Kazakhstan everywhere – in steppes and semi-deserts, intermountain valleys, in mountains and foothills, in valleys of the rivers.

Especially there are lots of them in Zhetysu-Semirechye, in foothills of Dzhungar and Zailijsky Ala Tau, in mountains of Central Tien-Shan. A well-known Issyk burial ground is among them, the barrow of Issyk has been dug out by archeologists in it and the “the Gold Man” was found in it…

The above photo is that same “Gold Man,” who is a major patrioric symbol in Kazakhstan; his likeness crowns the Monument of Independence in Almaty and is resplendent on the Kazakh Presidential Standard, just for starters. So seeing the original, we figured that was a tick-worthy visit.

Especially since the kurgans themselves … well, mounds of earth are all very nice, but we’re hard pressed to claim that they should have a place of prominence on anybody’s bucket list.


Now, although this nomination is named simply “Silk Road,” there are a lot of Silk Road sites on the lists!

First off, there’s the inscribed

Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor 

which has 33 properties throughout China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Then there’s the tentative

Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Land routes in Henan Province, Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province, Qinghai Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region; Sea Routes in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province and Quanzhou City, Fujian Province – from Western-Han Dynasty to Qing Dynasty
The Chinese Section of the Silk Roads
Silk Road Sites in India 
Silk Route (Also as Silk Road)
Silk Roads Sites in Kyrgyzstan
Silk Roads Sites in Tajikistan
Silk Roads Sites in Turkmenistan
Silk Roads Sites in Uzbekistan

We have no idea whether these will be added to the existing Silk Roads inscription, or whether they’ll be inscribed separately, or withdrawn, or what; but clearly, if we ever make it through a single touch counts visit to every World Heritage Site, then a list of “All The Silk Road sites from China to Iran” would make a nice followup!

But to finish up for now, here’s a couple more reconstructions from the Golden Man museum; here’s historians’ best guess at what the typical mounted archer would look like,

Mounted Archer

and here’s his horse’s headpiece.

Horse Armor

Interesting that the profile there would strikingly resemble the carved petroglyphs we visited just before; curved horn horses are definitely a Kazakh thing!


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