Probably each Kazakh knows Tamgaly cave paintings. They were discovered in 1957, but the real popularity came in the years of Kazakhstan's independence. Then it became a kind of national cultural-historical brand.
Tamgaly is located 170 km northwest from Almaty, in the southeastern part of the Chu-Ili Mountains in Almaty region. The word 'Tamgaly' came from the Turkic word tamgha - sign. Now, it is called brand, which marks livestock.
The cliffs - ideal for field work. It is smooth and almost vertical.
Unique sanctuary with petroglyphs, cemeteries, altars and ancient people were found here in the middle of the last century.
Tamgaly is an ancient art gallery, in which drawn animals and people, and whole scene of ancient people's life.
It is the most famous center of 50 petroglyphs of Semirechiya and Balkhash territory. The total drawings of Tamgaly is 5000 .All found petroglyphs relate to the ХIV AD - VI -VIII BC century, before development of the Bronze Age by Great Steppe Turkic. This is one of the most famous and well-studied monuments of art on the territory of Kazakhstan. The sanctuary represented on six chronological periods in the complex: the Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age, early nomads, periods of Saks, Usuns and Turks.
The most interesting are images that belong to the Bronze Age XIV-XII BC. Series of rock paintings of Andronov tribes refer unknown image of sunhead deity. More than 20 centuries Tamgaly tract was sacred territory, where ancient people performed magic and ritual ceremonies, worshiped to spirits and gods. The famous image of the anthropomorphic sun head deity with mysterious halo, which consist of a circle, many rays and points, occupies a special place in the gallery of petroglyphs. Such kind of images as a "sun head" found in many petroglyph complexes in Kazakhstan. According to scientists, probably sun head giants of Tamgaly - one of the most ancient anthropomorphic images of God.
Subjects of drawings is very diverse: people, animals, horsemen, scenes of hunting, hunting wild animals, human life, sacrifice and ritual dances.
Among the petroglyphs are images of tamgas chariots, prayer inscriptions, scenes of ritual dances, picture of camels and bulls, impersonations of ancient gods. By carefully considering the petroglyphs can be seen not only images of wild animals - argali, saiga, deer, but also domesticated animals: dogs, horses, camels and bulls.
Ancient artisans used materials and plane location for stone paintings by accurately assessing their orientation to the cardinal and the sun. Different images allocated to different times in daylight driving of the sun, depending on the day and angle of incidence of sunlight. Designated petroglyphs were selected in a way to see few pictures from on place. There are several places in the valley, where the rock drawings can be seen simultaneously in droves, combined into complex compositions.
Petroglyphs are located in a large area measuring 3 km x 10 km. The most significant part of them are concentrated in the area around 250m x 500m, where are about 2000 petroglyphs. There are only 5000 figures in Tamgaly. Near the gorge are mounds of the Bronze Age (XI-X centuries BC) and the early nomads (III century BC - II century AD), and their settlement.
The international community had recognized the uniqueness and universal values of Tamgaly petroglyphs in 2004, and included it to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Now, the monument is under protection of the International Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Due to this support, the archaeological complex is clean, and has a plan of the museum-reserve, and there are marked warning signs and pointers on the rocks. All conditions are done for curious travelers, who want to touch the past.