The University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Naryn Campus was buzzing with activity as a team from Indiana University (IU) in the USA and the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) highlighted their latest findings.

Based on archaeological research over the 6 years on the sites Aigyrzhal-2 and 3 located on UCA's Naryn Campus, it was revealed that the Naryn Valley has a long history of human occupation, according to press release issued by UCA.

“About 13,000 years ago, a group of hunters came to the place we call  Aigyrzhal-2.  This is very early, one of the earliest dates ever found for these people, and it sets Kyrgyzstan apart as a place where a Mesolithic lifestyle may be the oldest in all of Central Asia.  We know this because of the form of the tools, and from dates that were recovered by analysis of charcoal,” said Dr Aida Abdykanova, Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology of AUCA, during a public lecture organized by UCA’s Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit (CHHU) on July 20.

Mesolithic hunting was followed by Bronze Age herding in mixed pastoral economies. Traces of the cultural heritage from the Iron Age, Hunnic and Turkic people were also documented on the site.

Subsistence and lifestyle changes brought in during Soviet times still reflect these earlier lifestyles in the modern era.  These findings help to understand the complex formation and interaction of different cultures and significantly contributes to a fuller picture of the prehistory of the Naryn Valley, often considered an unappreciated cultural heritage of Kyrgyzstan.

In collaboration with UCA, twenty undergraduate and graduate students from IU and AUCA participated in the Naryn archeological project (NAP), which supports an annual archaeological excavation of sites located on the territory of UCA’s Naryn campus.  NAP involves collaboration between UCA's CHHU, AUCA and IU, and brings together an international team of researchers from Kyrgyzstan and the United States.

The Naryn sites, located in a valley of the Tian Shan mountain range, is one of the most important in Central Asia, and its study yields significant insights into human and environmental history.

At the end of the fieldwork from July 1-21, UCA’s CHHU hosted a public lecture on NAP, attended by over 60 people from the Naryn community.  It was aimed at informing the public about NAP and promoting the preservation of Naryn’s historical and archeological heritage, and socio-economic development in the region.  Dr Aida Abdykanova, Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology of AUCA and Dr Anne Pyburn, Provost Professor in the Department of Anthropology at IU in Bloomington, Indiana delivered the lecture to share the project findings and artefacts on the Aigyrzhal-2 archaeological site.  They highlighted the importance of local community’s engagement in the study and preservation of historical sites, and invited young researchers to obtain valuable archaeological knowledge and experience by participating in future diggings.

Representatives of the educational and cultural institutions from Naryn and other neighboring districts of Kochkor and Ak-Talaa, youth organizations, Naryn town library and museum, Naryn State University (NSU) as well as media representatives attended the event.