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Photographer's Note

Burana Tower (Ruins of Balasagun), is a UNESCO heritage site.

Situated 10 km to the South of Tokmok - the tower is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasugan, set at the foot of the Shamshy valley.

The Karakhanid kaganate in the 10-12th centuries was a great feudal state in Central Asia. It was founded by the Karakhanids, "black khans", who conquered a vast territory that stretched from the Ili river in the east to the Amudarya river in the west. One of the capital cities of the state was the city of Balasagun, founded by the Karakhanids in the middle of the l0th century in the eastern part of the Chu valley. The history of the town was a short one. In 1218 Balasagun yielded to the front line troops of the myriad Mongol horde and by the middle of the XIV century ceased to exist.

At the foot of the tower are some reconstructions of the foundations of several ancient mausoleums made out of burnt brick. These foundations were uncovered in the 1970s. The different shapes and sizes indicate the different status and numbers of occupants.Burana Tower.

Nearby is a small hill, measuring 100 metres square and 10 metres high. It apparently hides a palace complex (or a temple - the archaeologists aren't sure), which existed in the 10th century - that is before the town itself came into being.

A little further away is a collection of «bal-bals» small statues of the dead - gravestones of the nomadic Turks) dating from the 6th century, and petroglyphs dating from the 2nd century BC, brought and placed here from all around the Chu valley. There are other collections around the Chu valley and in Southern Kazakhstan.

The small museum, established in 1976, has some artifacts recovered from the site, (jars, coins, a board game...) but it is claimed that the best articles were removed a long time ago to Moscow or St. Petersburg. In the Shamshy valley itself has been found a wide range of Scythian artifacts, including a heavy golden burial mask.

Partial quote: http://www.kyrgyzstantravel.info/glossary/burana.htm

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Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 0 N: 363] (1882)
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