The State Historical and Cultural reserve-museum «BEREL» was created by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 4th of July 2008 № 674 in the context of the national idea and task on entering one of the top fifty most competitive countries of the world, as the most important cultural and informative, scientific and touristic center of our country.
Since 2004, the monument «Berel mounds» are studied within the frameworks of the national strategic program “The cultural heritage».
The monument, being as the basis for creation of reserve-museum «Berel» is situated at 7 km to the south-west from the similarly named village near the Katon-Karagay district of the East Kazakhstan region of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
According to the specified data, there are about 100 mounds and miscellaneous funeral-memorial structures.
During 1998-1999 №11 “royal” mound was investigated. After investigation of the mound it was discovered the funeral-memorial structure of the chief and the woman, and their 13 horses, all of them were kept under the lenses of ever frost. Many found highly artistic goods made from wood, leather and felt in zoomorphic ornament – as a decoration for king’s dress.
During 1998-2010 18 mounds have been excavated. They contained much significant information for reconstruction of the cultural and historical processes, passed in the ancient period in Altay sub region.
In 1999 the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev has visited the Berel during the conduction of the archeological excavations. He emphasized the significant importance of the monument not only for studying the ancient history but for the aspect of geopolitical position of our country.
Finds and results of different research reconstructions on the basis of the materials of Berel mounds have been presented to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, members of the Parliament, heads of the Parliament, senators and councilors of the Mazhilis.
Berel is already well known thanks to discovered funeral-memorial structures of nomad tribes and highly artistic goods as well as numerous issue of editions, published not only in Kazakhstan, but in the CIS countries and abroad. Finds, discovered at the east of the Republic of Kazakhstan have been mentioned in presentations and works of the speakers and communicated on the different international forums.
The exhibitions of berel goods have been arranged and conducted not only in Kazakhstan, but the abroad. As an example, in 2006 the exhibition of berel finds got a great success in San-Diego (The United States of America). Many expositions, related with conduction of the international conferences, have been shown off in the Presidential Cultural Center, at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation and the Independence Palace.
The expositions, containing goods from berel mounds are shown, excepting those storing in the Presidential Cultural Center, in the Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Almaty, at the special exhibition hall of the East Kazakhstan Regional Historical Museum in Ust-Kamenogorsk and at the Independence Palace in Astana.
In the beginning of 2007, the Berel finds have been exhibited in Kiev in honor of the opening the year of the Kazakhstan by the President in Ukraine. The same year, the finds from Berel mounds have been exhibited among the artifacts of the worldwide famous monuments of Eurasia at the exhibition named «Under the golden vulture» took place in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Istanbul. It is planning to conduct the exhibition in Hungary and Bochum in Federal Republic of Germany.
Finds and structures on the basis of Berel materials are represented the Republic of Kazakhstan at Embassies and Offices of many countries.
Since 1998, the regular researches of the complex of Berel archeological monuments are performed by the East Kazakhstan Archeological Expedition named after A. Kh. Morgulan under the Committee of Science of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan under the leadership of Zeinolla Samashev.
A new impact for exploration of berel mounds has been taken thanks to the state program «The Cultural heritage», started in 2004 and initiated by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev.
The regular excavations and interdisciplinary researches of Berel necropolis have given the unique archeological goods by its information content. It gives a good possibility to consider many actual questions of the region up to 1 B.C.
Berel funeral-memorial structures are situated on the administrative territory in 7 km to the south-east from the Berel village, on the third terrace above flood plain of Bukhtarma River, bordered with confluence of Berel and Bukhtarma rivers from the north, Kandysu (Sokhatukha, Bulanty) river from the south and mountains from the West and East. The location of the monument is the following: 49020’ northern latitude and 86022’ eastern longitude. The height above sea level is 1120 m. The mounds are limited to the third cyclic terrace, which exceeds the encroachment line of Bukhtarma to 40-45 m.
The square of the monument is 4000 х 1000 m2, it consists of more than 70 mounds and fences related to the era of early nomads and Old Turkic period. The Berel funeral-memorial structures are formed by several parallel chains of mounds that extend on a south-east – north-west axis. It also includes a group of individual funeral-memorial structures.
The earliest burial mounds were built in the fourth to third centuries BC, or 2,400 to 2,300 years ago. The latest ones were dated to the Old Turkic period, the sixth and seventh centuries AD, or 1200-1300 years ago.
On-site researches of Berel mound and laboratory and analytical researches of mound materials began in 1997. During that period it was explored more than 20 objects, including the mounds № 10 and 11 with lenses of frozen ground.
The first archaeological excavations in the area were carried out in 1865 by the Turkologist, scientist and archaeologist Vasiliy Radlov, explored several mounds, including the largest object which is known as «Big Berel Barrow» which was further researched by Sergei Sorokin in 1959. The results of V. Radlov’s researches were summarized and further published in the special article.
The regular researches of berel burial mounds related with the name of Zeinolla Samashev. The researches under his leadership began in 1998-1999, the period when the №11 «royal» mound excavated, 13 chestnut horses were buried in Berel burial mound No. 11, signifying the high rank of the royal person who was laid to rest there. Later it was discovered two mounds with horses.
Thanks to nomads and high artistic goods, in Scythian-Siberian zoomorphic ornament, the monument became well-known. The lenses of sub mound frozen grounds influenced on safety of clothes, trapping, goods made from wood, saddles, and fabrics, woodenware, leather goods, felt. The goods made from metal, bones and ceramics are usually found in mounds. Today, the Berel is the only monument with the preservations of finds made from the organic matter in Kazakhstan.
In 1999, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has visited the place of performing the excavations in Berel. The members of the Parliament, Ministry and Agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ambassadors and the members of the Senate of France, Germany, Netherlands, the citizens of the Russian Federation, Belgium, France, Italy, Czech Republic and etc have also visited the Berel.
The following institutions have given the significant impact during 11 field seasons of excavations of the monument, which further became well-known: The Institute of the Archeology named after A.Kh.Margulan under the Committee of Science of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Al-Farabi Kazakh National University; East Kazakhstan Regional Arts Museum; East Kazakhstan State University named after Sarsen Amanzholov; Semipalatinsk University named after M.O. Auezov; Shakarim Semipalatinsk State University; Semipalatinsk College of Mapping and Geodesy/Surveying; Semipalatinsk school gymnasium #6; Presidential Cultural Centre; Kemerovo State University; Institute for the History of Material Culture of Russian Academy of Sciences; State Hermitage of Saint Petersburg State University; Gorno-Altaisk State University; Ghent University; National Center for Scientific Research of France and Italy.
The students of the abovementioned universities have successfully passed an archeological practice at Berel mounds. The representatives of Kazakh clerisy visited the Berel in order to get inspiration for the publication - Yesengali Sadyrbayev, Aset Yernazarov, Gulzhikhan Kasymzhanova, Oleg Belyalov, Khakimzhan Bulibekov.
The strong support for performance of excavation works has been given by the local authorities, the officials of the Uryl border command post, Kurchum border detachment, Katon-Karagay National Nature Park, people of villages Berel, Zhambyl, Katon-Karagay, teacher of history Zhomartkhan Baigonusov and director of Zhambyl School.
In the beginning of exploration the Berel mounds in field conditions and at the laboratories, the interdisciplinary researches of the material performed with attraction of the specialists from the Institute of History and Ethnology named after C. Valikhanov CS MSE RK, Institute of Cultural Policy and Art Studies under the CCA MSE RK, Institute of Botany and Phytointroduction CCA MSE RK, Institute of Zoology CS MSE RK, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry CS MSE RK, Institute of Soil Science CS MSE RK, Institute of General Genetics and Citology CS MSE RK, Kazakh Scientific Research Veterinary Institute, Institute of Geological Sciences named after K.Satpayev, Kazakhstan Alpine Geocryological Laboratory of Permafrost Institute RAS, N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS, Institute of Ecological Soil Science RAS, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SO RAS, Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology of Ural Centre Academy of Sciences RAS and Institute of Judicial Expertise RAS. The primary field conservation and renovation of finds from Berel mounds are performed by the laboratory «Ostrov Krym» under the supervision of Kyrym Altynbekov.