Address - History and Aims - Structure and Members - Medoev



Laboratory of Geoarchaeology [lgakz.org]

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University
Faculty of History, Archeology and Ethnology

4th Floor, room 4-8
av. al-Farabi, 71
050060 Kazakhstan
+ 7 777 2343875 / + 7 701 7609289
mail: ispkz@yahoo.com

In collaboration with:
Institute of Geological Sciences K.Satpaeva, Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan

Kabanbai batyr, 69a # 279, Almaty 050010 [ign.kz]





The Laboratory of Geoarchaeology was officially instituted the 16 April 2004 in the context of the Institute of Geological Sciences named after K.Satpaeva of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan. The event happened on the occasion of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the birth of the great scientist Alan Georgievich Medoev, whose life and work were pioneering in KZ and significant all over the world. The founding members are a team of researchers (natural scientists and archaeologists) who have cooperated together for more than 10 years and strive to represent the ideal continuation of the Medoev school. In 2007, the Laboratory of Geoarchaeology formed also a department inside the structure of the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute on Problems of the Cultural Heritage of Nomads, Ministry of Culture and Information of Kazakhstan. From 2013, the Laboratory constitutes a research center inside the Faculty of History, Archeology and Ethnology of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.

Geoarchaeology. We live in days when human civilization is surrounded by a totally anthropogenic landscape, developing under increasing human impact. The historical roots of this interconnection between man and environment cannot anymore be ignored, and deserve specialized studies with appropriate methods and a specific discipline. Such a discipline finds today more and more space on the borders between quaternary geology and archaeology.

Geology. The Holocene period sees in the human species a major factor of geo-morphological and environmental changes and, during the last century, a forcing agent of the global climate itself. These facts compel the Geological sciences to include human history as an important chapter of their field of research.

Archaeology, daughter of paleontology, just one-and-half centuries old, has crossed periods of oblivion of its roots and periods of return.
- Specialized in the study of the underground archives of traces of past human activities, archaeology is always at risk of becoming much too concerned for objects of social significance, undervaluing the signs of the paleo-ecological conditions of human life
- In the effort to reach buried cultural remains, it often disregards tracers of the use of the monument and of the processes of sedimentation that for millennia protected it from weathering agents. Due to its congenital destructive character, the very process of excavation, by hurrying for just objects and structures, dismantles these archives and loses them forever.
- Too conscious of the richness of the underground archives, it tends to under-estimate the significance of surface remains, developing fetishism for buried structures and artifacts and forgetting exposed monuments such as petroglyphs and, more generally, cultural landscapes.

It is the awareness of these problems that makes geo-archaeology an unavoidable new field of research, of which Alan Medoev was a pioneer and a master. The application of geo-archaeological procedures will help to avoid some major deficiencies of archaeological investigation, constituting an antidote to the risks detailed above. It will promote the development in archaeology of methods characteristic of the geological sciences, i.e. the attention for areas and processes more than for objects and monuments: areas have to be discovered, studied and protected; objects and structures have to be left safely in underground archives for as long as possible.

We sincerely believe that the inauguration of the Laboratory of Geo-archaeology represents a decisive cultural event for the scientific intelligentsia of Kazakhstan and is opening a future of higher cooperation between natural and historical studies in the country together with the training of operators at an international level.




The Laboratory of Geoarchaeology is a VTC (Temporary Creative Collective) organized inside the Institute of Geologogical sciences (2004) and today (2013) is a research center in the Faculty of History, Archeology and Ethnology of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University.

The laboratory numbers 7 members

Renato Sala (director, paleo-climatologist)

Zhaken K. Taimagambetov (co-director, archaeologist, prehistorian)
Jean-Marc Deom (GIS specialist)

Saida Nigmatova (palinologist) 
Kostantin Patchikin (pedologist)

Sergei Perevosov (geologist)
Alexey Rogozhinsky (archaeologist)




Alan Georgievich Medoev

Alan Medoev: Life, Work, Tradition

Alan Georgievich Medoev was born in 1934 in Leningrad, son of G.T.Medoev, eminent geologist and member of the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan SSR. After he graduated from the Kazakh State University in 1959, he became a researcher in the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography where he specialized in Paleolithic sciences and prehistoric art and promoted the creation of the Paleolithic Department in cooperation with the Dept of Quaternary Geology of the Institute of Geological Sciences. In 1965 he entered the Institute of Geological Sciences where he devoted the whole life to the study of stone artifacts (tools and petroglyphs) as mirrors of the evolution of human cultures, in the frame of climatic and environmental changes.

He supervised archaeological expeditions and discovered and investigated Paleolithic monuments of world value: Semyzbugu, Turanga, Khantau, Chingiz in Central Kazakhstan; Shakhbagata and Kumakape in West Kazakhstan (which represent some of the earliest human traces in the whole USSR), Kudaikol and Karasor in East Kazakhstan. Everywhere he documented at the same time the prehistoric, medieval and modern petroglyphs of the region. The results of this work are reflected in 29 scientific publications and 9 geological reports. With references to K. Marx and V. Vernadski, he underlined the dependence of the human history on changes in its environmental context and demonstrated that Paleolithic and prehistoric archaeology can be better understood in the frame of geochronology. He advocated a high respect for the Siberian school of Okladnikov which supports the thesis of the community of the Late Paleolithic cultures of Central Kazakhstan with those of North China and Mongolia.

His wide interests concerned also problems related to nomadic societies, Kazakh fine arts and architecture, which he popularized with more than 20 articles in national and Soviet magazines, influencing new historical and archeological discoveries, and contributing to public concern for ancient monuments. He was surrounded by people of various backgrounds (architects, artists, critics, sportsmen, writers, journalists, film makers) and of various social positions: everyone remembers him by his friendly and inspiring words, capable of awakening in everybody a sense of dignity and importance as a human being.

The geo-archaeological approach to the study of prehistory introduced by A. Medoev has been continued after his death (1980) by colleagues of the Institute of Geology (Aubekerov), paleontologists (Taimagambetov), archaeologists and conservationists of the Institute of Study and Conservation of Monuments (Rogozhinskiy), pedologists and botanists (Pachikin, Nigmatova, Dilmukhametova), and coordinators of international teams implemented under INTAS and UNESCO projects (Sala, Deom). A multidisciplinary group of specialists gradually formed: it is developing the geo-archaeological school of Kazakhstan at levels of international significance and today their cooperation is officially institutionalized by the Laboratory of Geo-Archaeology dedicated to the name of the national pioneer in the field, Alan Medoev.