Overlooking Dead Kultuk Bay is New Alexander Fort. It’s located on the cliff edge of the Western Chink Ustyurt (Западный Чинк Устюрт) and was in use from 1834-1846. Russian General Vasily Perovsky, who oversaw two attempts to conquer Central Asia in the Khiva and Kokand campaigns, ordered the fort to be built. His reason for doing so was to use it as a base to catch Caspian Sea pirates, establish trade relations with Central Asia’s khanates, and to try and gain authority over Mangystau’s residents.
The fortress was manned for a short time only because the garrison concluded the desert climate was too inhospitable to be sustainable in the long term. All that remains today are building foundations and a few hundred metres of defence walls built out of densely-packed rows of standing stones designed to deter would-be attackers on horseback.
Two hundred metres downhill of the main fortification are a collection buildings, which were undoubtedly used as sleeping quarters and the storage of armaments and supplies. OUTZONE, a Russian YouTube channel, has a video of New Alexander Fort, including impressive drone shots showing the fort’s location overlooking Kaydak Bay’s salty plains.
Thirty-five kilometres south-west of the fort is Sisem Ata Necropolis (Некрополь Сисем Ата), located on chink overlooking Dead Kultuk. It’s one of Mangystau’s largest and oldest necropolises, dating back to the 11th-12th century. It’s credited by archaeologist Alan Medoev as the burial site of Mangystau’s first modern inhabitants. The burial site is more than 350 m in length and has hundreds of stone-constructed tombs and earth embankments. It’s named after a Medieval-era Islamic preacher Sisem Ata, who lived during the Oghuz-Kipchak period. Numerous heroes (batyrs) from the Adai clan are buried here, many of whom died in battles against the khans of Khiva. Mangystau’s Department of Culture has a virtual tour of Sisem Ata that’s worth a look.
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