Central Asia is usually underestimated as a place with many petroglyphs. However, only on the territory of Uzbekistan, there are 150 rock art sites, not to mention Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. The largest and most known area with petroglyphs of Uzbekistan is Sarmish Say. Sarmish Say Gorge is located northeast of the city Navoi, on the southern part of the Karatau Mountain Range.
Sarmish Say Gorge is a historical monument with worldwide recognition and significance. Within 2 kilometers over 4,000 petroglyphs are distributed. All petroglyphs are of different age and differ greatly. The oldest ones date back to Stone Age and Bronze Age. They also vary by type: some are engraved on rocks, some are made with ochre-based paints. Plot, styles, methods of application, composition of pictures create a unique mix of petroglyphs. It's hard to identify the Age of petroglyphs, but there are some tendencies.
The most ancient petroglyphs are engraved on rock, size varies from 30-80 cm. They are similar in style with petroglyphs found in Azerbaijan, therefore, they’re likely to be of the same age. Petroglyphs of the Iron Age have traits of nomadic communes: animal style, pictures of hunting scenes with bows, arrows, and different cattle. Medieval petroglyphs lack preciseness and elegance of the most ancient ones.
They are also a mix of Arabic writings and typical images of everyday life. There are images of tigers, Asian wild ass, leopards, and wild mountain sheep, all of them are extinct in that area. Picture of everyday life show scenes with performance of rituals, hunting with bows and arrows, riding horses. There are also petroglyphs with scenes of fantastic animals and worships at a Zoroastrian fire.
Scientist-archeologists assume that Sarmish Say was populated as early as 3th century BC. Due to favorable climate, access to fresh water and a variety of animals, in 6th-5th centuries BC breeds of fishers and hunters settled there. These characteristic of Sarmish Say, also, made it a great place for making offerings. It used to be a place for religious ceremonies to be performed.
Petroglyphs are not the only worth seeing object in Sarmish-Say, there is a cave of early humans. This gorge has to be in your must-to-see list. Unlike other sightseeing places of Uzbekistan, which tell stories about Tamerlane and the Great Silk Road, Sarmish Say is a prehistoric archive of information.