warriors Ulan

Issyk Kul: The 2012 expedition wraps up

Issyk Kul

By Kristin Romey - National Geographic

After our tour around Issyk Kul, our international team was looking at the final stretch of survey before the end of the season.

Almost any archaeologist will tell you that some of the most interesting stuff gets found right about the time you have to leave, and this season was no different: with just a few days to go we found some of the most significant building features we saw all season.>

Under the gun, we mapped and sampled the area just in time.

Why the rush to leave ? The weather on the lake seems to take a real turn for the worse in early October, when a fierce west wind called the Ulan picks up.

Like every natural phenomena associated with Issyk Kul, there dramatic story behind it:

Long ago, two warriors mythical warriors named Ulan and Santash competed for the attentions of a beautiful woman named Cholpon. Unable to make up her mind, Cholpon instead ripped out her heart.

The hill where she died was named Cholpon-Ata (now the popular resort town), and the Kyrgyz mourned her death by filling the valley below with their tears, creating Issyk Kul.

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