Otrar state archaeological preservation museum

Widely known across the Orient, the medieval city of Otrar stands at the point where several branches of the Great Silk Road crossed this region from 3rd century B.C. on. It became famous as a birth place of Abu Nasr al-Farabi, an outstanding encyclopedic scientist. Otrar was a large political, economical, cultural and trade centre which played an important role in the history of Central Asia. In the 6-8th centuries Otrar-Farab was the capital of a big early feudal domain in the middle confluence of the Syrdaria. In the 9th -12th centuries Otrar became the principal town of the region. In the 13th-15th centuries it was one of the biggest towns of South Kazakhstan and in the 16th-18th centuries it was the political and economical centre of the Kazakh Kaganate.

According to the sources the inhabitants of Otrar moved to Turkestan, Shymkent, and Shilik. By the 18th century Otrar had become desolate and it lay in ruins turning into a rain-eroded mound which the local inhabitants called Otrartobe.

The first topographical plan of Otrar was completed in 1903. In 1904, A. A. Cherkasov and A. K. Klare, members of the Turkestan Society of Amateur Archaeologists, carried out the first archaeological excavations. Large scale excavations here took place in 1969, especially in 1971. Expeditions were headed by the first Kazakh archaeologists Kemal Akyshev. As a result medieval Otrar became an archaeological centre of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. On the 11 May 1979, on the base of the present museum, Otrar state archaeological preserve museum was established which was the first scientific and educational organization devoted to the preservation of this historical site. In 1982, the museum opened its doors to the public.

The total area of the preserve museum is about 11000 ha. The museum is responsible for the protection of monuments and sites situated in the territory of Otrar region including 3 sites of national significance and 73 sites of local significance.

In December 2019, Tourist Center was opened to promote the cultural heritage of Otrar oasis in the country and abroad, for the protection and preservation of monuments of historical and cultural heritage, located in Otrar preserve-museum. In line with modern tourism, Otrar preserve museum plans to develop communication, cultural information and creative innovations, as well as to create favorable conditions for tourists. The Museum has 6 scientific departments, devoted respectively to “Archaeology”, “Protection of historical monuments”, “Restoration and conservation”, “Fund”, Ethnography, Literature, and Cultural-public events, “Exposure, Excursions and Public Relations” and Library.

 Nowadays the ruins of Otrar, Arystanbab burial memorial and the exhibition of Otrar state archaeological preserve-museum, Visit Centre have always attracted the attention of visitors and researchers. In the future nine new touristy points on the route of the Great Silk Road will appear.

The main aim is to collect study and preserve our cultural heritage for present and future generations.