Today 31 May 2012, I got woken up at 03:20 am in the morning … by my wife. She told me the bed was shaking and it was an earth quake. Indeed the bed was shaking and the headboard was banging hard against the wall. In spite of the ruckus my son, Lucas, and I where fast asleep.
Nevertheless, the shaking didn’t last long. From the time I woke probably not more than another 10-15 seconds. So when the shaking was over we decided out of precaution to move to the ground floor and slept the balance of the night in the couch.
First time ever I’m in an earthquake and it didn’t feel that bad. If my wife had not woken me I would have slept though.
So this morning I checked on the USGS Earthquake alert website and found out it was a 5.4 earthquake (revised down from 5.7), about 150km east of Almaty and at a depth of 27km. Net, less strong than the one that happend last year in the first week of May which was 5.3 but nearer by at about 80km and a depth of only about 10km. We missed that one as we were traveling in Tibet.
If you have Google Earth installed you can find the exact location of the earthquake here.
On Sunday 27 May I retuned to Kuljabasy, a low mountain range passed Otar with several valleys that offer a variety of petroglyphs. I had previously explored Valley 3 which has an abundance of rock carvings covering several periods. I later returned to explore Valley 5 which has a unique feature with the Saka warriors. So I went back to Valley 5 to look for more. This time of the year the valley was showing an abundance of green vegetation. No wonder people have been flocking here over the ages to settle and use the area for animal husbandry.
While climbing several hill tops to leave no stone unturned in the search of petroglyphs, I had a close-up look at the low small stone towers that have been built up on virtually every hill top. Some are easily one and a half meter tall. It’s not clear to me what purpose they serve. Do they mark a territory. Are they there to help with orientation? Or is it simply because some herders want to “leave a mark”? Whatever their purpose, from afar they look like chimneys on the top of the roof.
Valley 5 does not have the abundance of rock carvings that Valley 3 has. For that reason I returned and explored other areas of the valley as I thought that may be I had missed certain spots. I took the opportunity to have another look at one of the most originals and finely carved drawings which is the one of two Saka warriors side by side. They are supposed to date back to the VI century BC. Their heads are covered and they carry weapons, an axe and a sword. The body features are finely stylized.
Having had a second look at one of the rock faces covered with a multitude of scenes. I noticed again at the top the stylized rendition of a goat. When taking a closer look it was remarkable to see that the eye of the goat was not so much as a carving but a real hole in the rock face. One wonders whether the artist carved the goat around the existing hole in the rock face or afterwards made a hole where the eye is supposed to be.