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Kenesary Khan Tomb

Archaeologists Unearth Tomb of Kenesary Khan's Warriors

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Archaeologists have discovered a  tomb of Kenesary Khan’s warriors in an old Muslim cemetery located near Astana city in Kazakhstan. The tomb is marked by an old tombstone with lettering in Arabic ligature.

Kenesary Khan was a statesman, military leader, and head of the national liberation struggle of the Kazakh people against the Russian Empire, 1837-1847, and was the last khan (ruler) of the Kazakh Khanate state.

Kenesary is considered in Kazakh history to be an official khan (ruler), though he was never recognized by the ruling Russian authorities as such – the Kazakhs were prohibited by Russian law from selecting their own leaders after 1822. Though the Russians pursued Kenesary for years across the steppe, he had broad support among the Kazakhs and as a result was able to eluded capture until 1847, when he was executed in northern Kyrgyzstan.

The unique discovery of the ancient tomb occurred when researchers found the top of a tombstone which had partially sunk into the ground over two centuries. While the complete text cannot be read as the tombstone has not been extracted, a translation of the visible text reads:

“The tombstone was erected by some Samyrza at the expenses of Kaiyrolly Sarzhan Uly in 1838, in the month of Rajab, the seventh month of the Muslim year, during the holy three-day fast. 50 zhasulans (warriors who were carrying out commissions of commanders) and 200 notable commanders, killed during the war, rest in the grave.”

It is the first tombstone marking the burial of Kenesary’s warriors to be found.

Kenesary was widely regarded as a freedom fighter and popular as a leading voice against the increasingly aggressive and forceful policies of the Russian Empire.

By April Holloway

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