The portal "Kyrgyzstan Today" published an interview with President of Altai State University Sergey Zemlyukov

22 December 2020 Department of Information and Media Communications
The information and analytical portal Kyrgyzstan Today published an interview with President of Altai State University Sergei Zemlyukov about the Greater Altai and its influence on the formation of the Turkic civilization, as well as the results of the international presentation of the results of the activities of the Scientific and Educational Center of Altaic Studies and Turkology "The Greater Altai".

- Tell us about the Greater Altai region, what is behind the concept itself? Is this a historical term or is it already a modern one?

- The Greater Altai today is a scientifically and practically constructive concept that encompasses a macro-region, including the border territories of Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia.

The very definition of "the Greater Altai" is coined by modern science; we cannot find it in written historical sources.

However, there are strong reasons for giving such a definition:

1. A special historical, cultural and civilizational role of the region in the Eurasian space;

2. Recognition of the region's important role as a center for the emergence of the Turkic peoples and the formation of the Turkic-Mongolian world.

Based on the principles of the civilizational approach, the Greater Altai region is characterized primarily by the common historical roots of the peoples of the region, the unity of origin, territory, language, material and spiritual culture.

The Turks were characterized by a hierarchical structure of society, which was also found in the following centuries. The basis of the worldview of the Turks was Tengrianism, associated with the cult of the sky and also retained its significance after the withdrawal of the Turks from the political arena of Central Asia.

- Does the toponym "the Greater Altai" have geographical boundaries? What historical changes have taken place?

- "The Greater Altai" geographically covers the territory of the Altai mountain system.

The boundaries of the region have, of course, changed over the course of history. If we attribute the formation of the Turkic civilization to the 6th-7th centuries, already in the 8th century this region became part of the Turkic kaganates and the borders of the state were significantly expanded, primarily to the west and reached the Caspian Sea.

In the IX-X centuries within the framework of the once united Turkic community, future Turkic peoples were formed, which again led to a change in borders.

In the XIII-XVI centuries the region was included in the sphere of influence of Mongolian society and the formation of the Turkic-Mongolian world.

In the late Middle Ages, the territory of the Greater Altai became part of the centralized empires: Qing and Russia, which led to establishing new historical and political borders of the Greater Altai.

XX century made its adjustments to establishing borders: the toponym included the geographical Altai and a number of neighboring territories of the USSR (southern Altai, Tarbagatai, etc.).

In the 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the modern borders of the Greater Altai were established, the region began to act as an important cross-border hub with new opportunities for interstate and interregional interaction, cross-border integration and cooperation.

- Does the region have "language" boundaries?

- The territory of the Greater Altai is the largest polyethnic region, where more than 200 nationalities live, including Slavic and Turkic peoples, Mongols, Finno-Ugric peoples, and others, with each retaining its linguistic identity.

Therefore, it is rather difficult to determine the "linguistic" boundaries of the Greater Altai. If we talk only about the Turkic peoples of the region, there is linguistic unity, since the Turks of the Greater Altai speak the languages of the Turkic language family.

- How are the peoples who live today on the territory of the Greater Altai in Russia and in other countries different and similar?

- Common features among the Turkic peoples of different regions, first of all, are due to their identification as part of a single Turkic community.

However, today, both due to the peculiarities of historical development and modern processes in the Turkic world, we can talk about the presence of significant differences between peoples living in different regions and countries.

Local cultures of the Turkic peoples have different specifics - differences in the structure of the economy, material culture, folk beliefs, the degree of manifestation of world religions (Buddhism, Islam, Christianity), etc.

The emergence of these features is associated with the adaptation of the Turkic ethnic groups to the specific natural and climatic conditions of the territory of residence, with the factor of influence of world religions, ethnocultural contacts, the intensity of socio-economic and political processes in this part of the continent and some other parameters.

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