Topic: Environment & ecology
The palaeontological finds, footsteps of dinosaurs (aged 140 million years) and petrified footsteps of camels and other animals (aged 2.5 million years), teeth and bones of elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses and other animals as well as the shell of ostrich’s eggs found between Hazar (Cheleken) and Koytendag and dating 60-80 million years ago attest that the territory of Turkmenistan mainly occupied by the desert was a blooming oasis in the ancient times.
One of the most ancient sites in the territory of Asia is located in the upper reaches of the Amu Darya River in the Kuldere Ravine the age of which is 800,000 years. The ancient tools aged 1 mln –800,000 years were discovered in the Western Kopetdag in the Sumbar and the Chandyr Valley.
Southern Turkmenistan was included into the most ancient area of people’s settling in Asia. This territory is also a habitat of the Bactrian camel. The animal’s bones were uncovered in the Anau Northern mound in the cultural strata (V millennium B.C.) and the terracotta figurines of camel in the archaeological complexes dating back to the 3rd – 2nd millennia B.C. Thus, Turkmenistan was one of the ancient centres of domestication of this animal that can be proved by the archaeological finds of the wild camel’s footsteps discovered in the geological strata in the Western Kopetdag aged 2.5 million years.
The science hasn’t found the actual proofs of the time when the people domesticated the camel. The ancient farmers of Southern Turkmenistan used camels and horses as draft animals even in the 4th – 3rd millennia B.C. that can proved by the archaeological materials. The finds of the remains of camels in the Tummekkichijik and the Dashlyburun burial grounds (Northern Turkmenistan) dating back to IV millennium B.C. attest that the people used camels as draft animals throughout the area.
Camels posses such valuable qualities as high carrying capacity and endurance, the animal adapts itself to the severe desert conditions. Its wool is used for making national cloth and its meat is a foodstuff. Selecting the new varieties depends on the animal’s role in the human economic activities. But the Bactrian camel is incomparable with no other animal in its endurance and speed as well as beauty.
The footsteps of vertebrate animals were discovered in some areas within the Western Kopetdag Mountains of the Neogene Age (about 2.5 million years ago). A sandstone lump weighing about 70-100 tons that was discovered in the Gyavurli settlement is one of the most important ancient natural monuments imprinting the camels’ footsteps.
These footsteps have no analogues in the world and are the property of the world historical science. The activities on research in and protection of the unique natural monuments and organisation of the tours to the area are stipulated by the National Environmental Action Plan of Turkmenistan (NEAP). 245 monuments under protection are inscribed in the list of the natural monuments in Turkmenistan.
Archaeologist, Doctor of History
TURKMENISTAN: THE GOLDEN AGE