Welcome to Botai Discovery [links to Main Virtual Museum, Art Gallery, Class]

Learn about geography,Botai weaving, and ancient rituals. Play a game and take a quiz!


Where is Botai?

Since 1993, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been collaborating with the University of North Kazakhstan and the North Kazakhstan History Museum in the invastigation of the Botai culture.

The Botai culture is located in northern Kazakhstan[insert link to a map of Kazakhstan- possibly with zoom in capabilites]. Kazakhstan is located in central Asia, just west of China and south of Russia.Kazakhstan is a relatively flat and dry country and the land is made up of vast steppes (wide open spaces). The temperature is very cold in the winter with harsh winds. The Botai culture is known by three large sites. They are the settlement of Botai, Krasnyi Yar, and Vasilkovka. The Botai culture is termed Eneolithic (c. 3700-3100 BC). The site of Botai is located on the Iman-Burluk River, a tributary of the Ishim, in Kokshetav Oblast.

Rituals and Behavior

The Botai site offers important clues about the domestication of horses. Horse domestication has had enormous impacts on transport and globalization throughout the world. Since there are great numbers of wild horses in Northern Kazakhstan, local cultures would be dependent on horses over other animals. The Botai people may have rode horses for transport. They may be the earliest known horse riders.Horses would have allowed the Botai people to traverse vast distances.

The Botai people used horses as their main source of food and drink a mare's milk drink called koumiss.[link to picture of woman milking cow] This may provide evidence that the Botais were milking domesticated horses.

Archaeologists have found remains of Botain civilizations and villages that are over 5500 years old.
Through their digging, they found horse bones which they can trace back to Botain settlements.
Archaelogists have discovered horse burial sites that lend information on different ritual practices at the Botai sites.

The Botai people made their clothes from horse skin. [see some modern Botai fashion here-link to our fashions]The Botai people used the bones of horses and other animals to make tools and artifacts.[link to artifacts on virtual museum page]

How did the Botai people make cordage for clothing? [insert illustrations of procedure here]

Instructions to make Botai cordage

  • Take a branch of wood
  • Crush the stem off
  • Divide the stem into lengthwise quarters
  • Break woody part into lots of little bits
  • Carefully peel bits from the bark/fiber part
  • Do not peel the fiber off the woody bits. You will get more short and broken fibers which are not desirable.
  • Work the fiber back & forth over an edge, like a table or a board, to remove the bark.
  • Wet the fiber by running it through your mouth, avoiding the corners.(water does not work as well)
  • Take a cleaned segment and grasp it between thumb & forefingers of both hands, off-center and about 4-6 inches apart.
  • With your dominant hand, roll the fiber away from you, simultaneously rolling it
    toward you in the non-dominant hand.
  • When it is fully twisted and kinking back on itself, brings your hands together so that the fiber winds up into a
    2-ply cord.
  • Hold the end loop in your non-dominant hand, pinched between thumb &
    forefinger, with 1 end higher than the other.
  • Roll the top piece (#1) away from you between your thumb & index finger, then holding it & the lower
    segment (#2) under tension, twist the top piece toward over the lower piece.
  • #2 is now on top, and #1 on bottom.
  • Repeat from * until you have miles of cordage.
  • Keep moving the non-dominant hand down after every few twists, to
    keep the place where the cord forms pinched tight.
  • The wider the angle of the V between the 2 segments of the cord as you twist toward you, the
    tighter the cord.
  • As one end starts to thin or run out, add another segment so that it
    overlaps the old piece & gets caught in the V.
  • Always keep the ends uneven so that you don't have to add more fiber on both sides at once--makes it
    weak, and lumpy.
  • Smooth good, lumpy bad, especially if the end product is
    wanted for weaving clothing.


Botai Music

Excavation site

Sandra Olsen's BBC interview


Take a short Quiz to test your knowledge of the Botai culture [coming soon]

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