Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2021 Volume XXVII

doi: 10.17746/2658-6193.2021.27.0608-0614

УДК 902/904; 903.27

Medieval Tamga-Petroglyphs from the Ule Site in the Lower Chagan-Uzun River

Rogozhinskiy A.E., Cheremisin D.V.

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This article is the first publication of a new location of rock carved tamga signs, which was recently discovered in the valley of the Chagan River (the tributary of the Chuya River) in the Ule site in the Russian Altai Mountains. The accumulation of the tamga-like signs occupies four flat rock surfaces; the signs are placed in a row one next to the other at about the level of human height. In total, nine signs of seven different types can be identified: in the form of the Greek letter “omega,” mountain goat, snake, “ram’s horns,” etc. The tamgas were created at different times and were renewed at later periods. The earliest images belong to the Old Turkic period. Individual tamgas might have been created in the 17th-18th centuries. Relative dating as well as ethnic and cultural attribution of identity signs at the Ule site are established using regional mapping of monuments where the parallels to the Ule tamga-like images appear. Thus, the omega-shaped tamga has the closest parallels in the Russian Altai, including in the valley of the Chagan River, and in the Mongolian Altai; the main area of such tamga and its derivative forms is the southwestern part of the Semirechye and the Issyk-Kul region. The authors suggest that this was the evidence of the initial settlement of a certain group which owned the omega-shaped tamga as a common sign of collective identity in the Altai, and the subsequent large-scale resettlement of several related ethnic subdivisions in new territories in the Northern Tien Shan. The tamga in the form of a snake is believed to have designated not some individual clan or tribe, but served as a common tribal symbol and emblem of a large ethnopolitical association of nomads, like the Tele or Toquz-Oghuz. The tamga of a distinctive shape of two connected arcs also finds parallels in the Semirechie, where it has been found at the Almaly II Old Turkic runic site together with tamga of the Bayundur tribe which was a part of the Oghuz union.


Russian Altai, Semirechie, tamga, Turkic period, petroglyphs, Oghuz

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

Deputy Chief Editor
Academician V.I. Molodin

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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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