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The Sarmish Gorge (better known as Sarmishsay) is located on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, 30–40 km to the north-east of the city of Navoi (Kermine) in Uzbekistan. The mountain range of the Karatau is considered to be one of the western spurs of the Turkestan Mountain Ridge of the Western Tien Shan. To the south of the Karatau lies the Zarafshan Valley, bordering the Kyzyl Kum desert. Since ancient times, the Karatau area has been an intersection of seasonal migration routes for people and animals.

Sarmishsay is the largest of many picturesque gorges along the southern slopes of the Karatau range. This place is famous for various ancient monuments of anthropogenic activity concentrated in an area of about 20 km². The sights include flint quarries, mines, old settlements, burial mounds, crypts and petroglyphs, including monuments of the Middle Ages, early Iron Age, Bronze Age and even Stone Age.

There are over 4,000 petroglyphs still intact in Sarmishsay. They are mainly located at the beginning of a narrow stone canyon of 2-2.5 km (approx. 1.5 miles) long. The paintings are made on vertical, and sometimes on horizontal outcroppings of reddish sandstone streaked with slate and limestone.

Next to the petroglyphs the burial grounds of ancient nomads and some pagan altars are located. Since ancient times this territory has been a sacred zone, where locals performed their sacred ceremonies on holy days.

The Petroglyphs of Sarmishsay[1] give quite a comprehensive picture of local fauna thousands of years ago. Today most of the animals they portray, which once inhabited this area, have disappeared, unable to compete for food with man and domestic livestock. Most of animals included in the stone "book" of the Sarmish Gorge now are extinct.

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  1. ^ "Sarmyshsay petroglyphs". Retrieved 2013-05-01.

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