In the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BCE), the area that today constitutes Kazakhstan was inhabited by tribes living by agriculture and cattle farming. In the Iron Age, alliances developed among the tribes and archaeological excavations have shown that the people had developed a writing language. In the 3rd century BCE new tribes invaded and later the Atila females brought the area under control until later displaced by the Turks.
In the middle of the 4th century, the Turkish Kaganate (kingdom) was formed, which was subsequently divided into an eastern and western part. According to Countryaah, the latter consisted of the Turkish-speaking peoples usun, kangli, turguesh and karluk. In the 8th century, the turguesh state and karluk formed the kaganate. The conquerors built mosques and tried to impose Islam on the people. The period is characterized by the scientists Farabí (870-950), Biruní (973-1048) and Majmud of Kashgar, who was the author of «Dictionary of the Turkish dialects». Yusuf of Balasagún wrote the poem “The Science of Being Happy”.
In the 9-12. century the area was occupied by the oguz, kimak, kipchak and karaján tribes. The Kipchaks never achieved any political unity and stayed away from the Islamization of cities along the Caspian Sea. In the 13th century, several invasions of kidans and tartars took place. The Kipchak chiefs and the Muscovite princes were jointly able to withstand foreign domination, but independence still had to await the decline of the Mongol empire.
Most of these people were nomads who were predominantly engaged in cattle farming. Gradually, permanent settlements were established consisting of farmers and artisans as well as cities such as Otrar, Suyab, Balasagún, Yanguikent, Saurán and Kulán. The Silk Road connecting Byzan’s, Iran and China passed through Kazakhstan. Furthermore, trade relations existed between the steppes’ nomads and the inhabitants of the oases. Trade reached all the way to Western Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
At the end of the 15th century, the khanate Kazajo was formed, consisting of large, medium and small clans. It was a kind of alliance between related tribes. During the 16th century, the ethnic consciousness of the Kazakhs gradually developed. In the 16-17. century no central power existed in the country. The Khan gave power to their heirs, who are perceived as descendants of Dzhuchi – Genghis Khan’s greatest son. Underneath them were the sultans who exercised administrative and legal power.
During the 17th century the Khanate of Dzhungar occupied and plundered the Kazakh region on several occasions, and in the 18th century Russia initiated its colonial advance from the north. The Russians initially built a number of forts in Omsk, Semipalatinsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk and Orsk and then continued to the south. The medium and small Yuzo clans came under Russian protection, but could live in freedom until the 1820s, when their autonomy was eliminated as a result of the frequent revolts. In the first half of the 19th century, Kazakhstan consisted of the regions Oremburg, Siberia, Semipalatinsk and the Bukei Khanate. In 1848, the conquest of Kazakhstan was completed when the largest Yuzo clan finally succumbed.
The Russians set up their government institutions, established tax collection, created zones where Kazakhs were supposedly accessed, and built new cities until they eventually declared the entire state property area. From 1868 there were 6 provinces headed by general governors, and the sultans were now made government officials. The conquest of the “Steppe Territory”, as Kazakhstan was called, was one long process of wars against local tribes comparable to the US conquest of the West in the 19th century. The spearhead of the Russian army was the Cossack regiments, which until 1880 defeated the Khans in Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand one by one.
The Kazakhs were listed as citizens of the Russian state and had to participate in the foreign expeditions of the Russian army. Kazakhstan was also used by Russia as a place for deportations. To this were sent the “Decembrists” – the aristocrats who had joined in 1825 against Tsar Nicholas I -, the revolutionaries from Poland and Ukraine (including the Ukrainian national hero Tarás Shevchenko), the members of the “Petrashevski circle” in St. Petersburg. Petersburg – including the author Fjodor Dostoyevski.
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Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Russia built the major railways (the Transcaucasian, Transarcal and Trans-Siberian) that intersect the region and linked the most distant regions. This also allowed Kazakhstan’s vast underground resources to be exploited: the country’s third-largest coal reserves (in Karaganda in eastern Kazakhstan); half of the country’s wealth of copper, lead and zinc; strategic minerals such as molybdenum; iron and finally oil that was mined in the western part of the country and under the Caspian Sea. But at the same time agriculture was lagging behind.