Speleological expedition under the auspices of UNESCO. Exploration of the ancient cave mine Kani-Gut – an object of cultural and historical heritage

In 2021, the Madygen Geopark, a potential UNESCO Geopark, was created in the southwestern part of the Tian-Shan.

In addition to unique objects of geological heritage, unexplored caves are located on the territory of the Geopark. Some caves have been explored earlier, some have remained unexplored. The caves are located compactly on the territory of the Geopark. The distance between the caves is about 30-40 km.
The caves are inhabited by rare bats, listed in the Red Book and the international red list.

Project partner: Tian-Shan Geological Society

  • The purpose of the expedition:
    – Explore caves in a potential UNESCO Geopark
    – Topographic survey of caves and their description,
    – Speleo-biological research,
    – Archaeological research in caves
    – Evaluation of caves as potential tourist sites,
    – It is necessary to give a professional assessment of the caves as objects of cultural heritage

These caves contain an interesting history of this region in the center of Central Asia.
On the territory of the Geopark, there are caves in which the sites of an ancient man of the Paleolithic period were discovered. These caves must be explored as unique geological and historical sites. It is important to preserve the cave data. The caves where the sites of the ancient man were found are located in the very beautiful Sokh gorge.

Another interesting and very famous Kani-Gut cave is also located in the center of the Geopark territory. The first information about the Kani-Gut cave is contained in the treatises of Avicena. Several scientific and sports speleo expeditions in different years tried to unravel the mystery of the ancient cave mine. This cave is located 50 km west of the regional center of Batken in the southwestern part of Kyrgyzstan.

The Kani-Gut cave is mentioned in ancient Chinese and Arabic sources. The history of the cave is closely related to the development of the Great Silk Road. In the Middle Ages, silver ore was mined in an ancient cave mine. Ancient metallurgical structures in the form of smelting furnaces have been preserved in the vicinity of the cave. Obviously, these furnaces were used to produce metal.

What technologies were used in the Middle Ages to get metal from cave ore? We can get the answer to this question based on the results of the expedition.

Today Kani-Gut belongs to specially protected natural areas and is included in the register of state historical reserves of Kyrgyzstan.

According to scientists, historians, the cave is a unique cultural and historical monument, which was actively used as a mine for 1500 years, i.e. 15 centuries in a row. This means that the cave has to be long. However, cavers managed to explore only 6 km of cave galleries and a depth of about 100 m.

It is possible that the ancient mine Kani-Gut could have been used during the reign of the Great Ulugbek, the ruler of the ancient Maveranakhr of the 7th-8th centuries. Ulugbek was the grandson of Tamerlane and ruled over these territories. Many historical events are associated with this cave. Therefore, Kani-Gut is a unique historical monument, which is a cultural heritage and which must be used as a tourist attraction.

To create a natural historical site for tourism and education in the cave, we must explore the most mysterious places in the cave. Cavers discovered very narrow galleries in the cave, in which ore was mined. The diameter of these galleries is only 30 cm and the length of some of them is about 50-80 m. Scientists do not know how ancient miners could have mined ore in such narrow galleries.

Kani-Gut is a grandiose historical monument in Central Asia, which can become a unique speleo – tourist historical site on the territory of the Geopark.

We intend to create a tourism object in the cave, create safe tourist routes. For this, it is necessary to research the history of the development of the ancient cave mine. We need to understand what technologies were used in ancient times to extract ore. As a result, we want to make historical reconstructions and installations inside the cave. For example, how ancient slaves mined ore in a cave. For this, it is necessary to assess the cave as a tourist destination. To this end, we must make a topographic survey to lay out safe tourist routes and organize galleries at different levels of the cave, which have different ages.

We invite cavers, historians and archaeologists to take part in an international complex speleological expedition to the Madygen geopark to explore three unique caves.

Expedition dates: July 15-30, 2022

We can make visa support for you. And we also get official permission for legal research.

If you are interested in speleological research in the Geopark, please contact us: info@speleo.kg

  • Expedition partners:
    – Project 727 IGCP UNESCO implemented by the Tian-Shan Geological Society,
    – Central Asian Speleological Union,
    – Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University,
    – Batken State University
  • Service
    – Meeting at the airport,
    – We rent vehicles for the entire period of the expedition,
    – Equipment for the field base camp

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