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Saraichik: Ural destroying landmark

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Nameplate at the entrance: Nameplate at the entrance: "The Republic of Kazakhstan. Saraichik settlement. Archaeological excavations site. 12-16 centuries. Memorial under protection of state."

By Anastassiya Pastukhova

A group of tourists from China and Italy went to see Saraichik, a village located to the north of Atyrau on the Ural River, which has an archaeological landmark nearby - the medieval trade center of Golden Horde, a Mongol and later Turkic khanate that was established in the 13th century and formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire.

The specific purpose of the visit was to study the tourism potential of the old settlement that fell into decay: in 1395 it was ruined by Timur and was rebuilt in 1430s-1440s.

It stayed the main city of the Nogai Horde.

The Kazakh khan also had headquarters there later.

In 1580 it was ruined by Cossacks.

Many articles saw light about its condition nowadays - the heritage is on the brink of vanishing.

From the one-time prospering trade center with magnificent caravansarais, only a few buildings remained, even those are now fading away under the influence of winds and rains.

On top of that, every year, Ural washes the history away during flood seasons.

A plenty of proposals and ideas how to save and preserve the settlement have been laid down.

In 2008, an archaeology expert with the Kazakh Institute of Archaeology Zeinulla Imashev proposed two variants to protect Saraichik from the advance of the river.

One of them envisaged a river bank protection and the second included a one kilometer long straightening of the river with a construction of two dams.

However, the both options stayed on paper.

By the way, a letter the provincial historical heritage protection agency sent to the ministry of culture with a request to give money to save Saraichik in 2014-2016 also remained without a reply.

As it reads in a press release of the oblast's tourism, physical training and sport department, travel operators from China and Italy showed interest in "development of ethnographic and environmental tourism".

Is there a problem? There is. After two or three years there will be nothing left of the ancient trade hub that is worth seeing, but a lonely nameplate.

May 23 2013, 17:18

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