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The History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia

The History of Central Asia is greatly deep and interesting. In his Chronicles, Herodotus mentioned of people called the Sakas and the Massagets. According to his story, in 529 BC the Persian king Cyrus was killed in the campaign against the Massaget Queen Tomiris. Later, in the era of the Roman Empire the name of «Scythia» was used for Central Asia and the Kazakh steppes by Ptolemy the geographer.
The reference to the Massagets is also included in the book of Strabo, the Greek geographer. His material is generally similar to the manuscripts and references from the books of Herodotus. Both writers narrate the life of the Massagets living in the valleys of the rivers Syrdarya and Amudarya, on the cost of the Caspian sea, i.e. in the territory of Western and partly Southern Kazakhstan. It remains unknown whether the Massagets had the origins of Iranian nomadic tribes or Turko-Mongols, but the facts are more in favor of the former. Therefore, the ancient heritage of the above-mentioned regions of Kazakhstan belonged to the Iranian group of peoples who lived in close neighbourhood with Turkic-Mongols.

The History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia
The first Chinese writings about Central Asiain general and modern Kazakhstan territory in particular belong to the Chinese Ambassador Zhang-Qian who visited the region in 138 BC. The Mandarins and their historiographers were characterized by the arrogant attitude to their Western neighbours and the embellishment of actual events in the interests of the Chinese government. According to Chinese historians, in the ancient time, the Kazakh land was inhabited by four nations: Usuns, Kanguy, Anzai and Yantsy. Moreover, there are more detailed descriptions about the former two than the latter ones, because the Chinese had commercial relations with them.
In connection with a predominance of Muslim culture in Central Asia since the second half of the VIII century the geographical and historical description of Central Asia became the matter of Muslim geographers. IX and X centuries was marked as rise of Arabic geographical research.

The History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia
Muslim sources, despite the meagreness and brevity, are mainly interesting in the sense of giving information about Southern Kazakhstan, which used to be «the Gateway to Asia», the junction point of Central Asian culture with a huge world of nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes and clans. The pioneers of agricultural culture were Iranians and their cultural impact began to settle among the Turko-Mongols. As it can be seen from historical records, the banks of the Syrdarya river, along its middle and lower course, had a number of sedentary settlements, ruins of which have survived until now. Thus, the areas of southern Kazakhstan used to be the cultural centers who practiced irrigated agriculture and trade. Undoubtedly, the Iranian historical cultural influence on the Turko-Mongols, and, through them, the Kazakhs, was immense, and the mixing between them occurred for a very long time.

The History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia
All the peoples inhabiting the territory of ancient Kazakhstan, except the Khitan, who were not Muslims, spoke Turkic languages. In addition, part of Kazakhstan was included in the Muslim State of Khorezm. But in the first decades of the XIII century, Kazakhstan became part of the Great Mongolian State. That time marked the beginning of great wars for the territory of Central Asia and the expansion campaigns to the West. Later, all Central Asia was divided, and a new stage in Kazakhstan’s history — the period of the Tsarist Empire — began.

The History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia

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