Info Shymkent - Rock Burytastagan in the flat steppe near Aksuat in Kazakhstan

Burytastagan – the lonely rock in the steppe

The rock Burytastagan is quite a feature in the super flat steppe near Aksuat in Kazakhstan. But is it a meteorite from space?

Driving from Aksuat in East Kazakhstan to the Tarbagatay Mountains, we have never seen such a flat and empty landscape near the Bogas River: not a tree, not a hill, not a house. But we could see a bright granite rock in the distance – it was the Burytastagan rock. The rock lies in the flat steppe like a small island in a sea and it is clear to us that this striking stone must have attracted the first people who reached this place for the first time and that they then made this rock a spiritual place. Some petroglyphs at Burytastagan testify to the importance of this place. There is even an old legend that tells about the creation of this rock:

A long, long time ago, an ancient Kazakh giantess lived in this area. Like every day, she looked after her flock of sheep on the slopes of the Tarbagatai Mountains. To pass the time, she also spun sheep’s wool into yarn with a spindle. One day a wolf (Kazakh: бөрі/bury) appeared and tried to kill one of her sheep. She grabbed her huge spindle and threw (Kazakh: тастаған/tastagan) it to the wolf to drive it back into the wide steppe. The wolf got scared and fled and never tried to attack the giantess’ herd again – but the big spindle remained lying in the steppe and turned into stone. And this stone got the name: Burytastagan (English: Thrown to the wolf).

But how did this huge rock, about a kilometer long and around 20 meters high, actually end up in the middle of the steppe? The first foreign researchers as well as the locals thought that the Burytastagan was a former giant meteorite that long ago crashed into the vast grasslands near the Bogas Rivers. But after extensive research, geologists came to the conclusion that the entire rock was formed solely by wind and weather over millions of years and that its material did not come from space. But even with proof that this rock is not a meteorite, its appearance in the middle of the steppe is still breathtaking and worth a visit.