The investment potential of Kazakhstan's sacred geography: space monitoring, IT technology and historical and cultural analysis in the creation of the electronic atlas of the Republic

This project, carried out by a group of scientists representing Nazarbayev University, the National Geographic Society of Kazakhstan and the National Museum of Kazakhstan, aims to study geographical objects in Kazakhstan that have sacred in the context of the various religious traditions that existed and continue to exist in Kazakhstan. The Atlas shows not only the spatial distribution of hundreds of the most important sacred sites in the Republic, but also provides detailed data on 12 sites belonging to different religious traditions and basic infrastructure around these sites, and also offers thematic itineraries related to the history, cultural and religious specifics of the objects. This atlas offers an innovative approach to the creation of tourist routes, which takes into account both the research data of experts of various specialties, and the information obtained as a result of the work of specialists in the field of GIS and satellite maps. The project is carried out by religious scholars, historians and anthropologists specializing in all world religions, as well as archaeologists studying monuments of the Bronze and Early Iron Age. Between 2018 and 2020. specialists involved in the project conduct field and archival research related to 12 sacred objects associated with ancient cults, Islamic, Christian and Buddhist communities of the Middle Ages, recent past and present. Research is carried out using scientific methods of archaeology, history, anthropology and religious studies.

Project goals and objectives

The main goal of the project is to combine geoinformatics and cartography techniques with social science approaches to develop a methodology for deep research of a sacred object in connection with other objects. Visualized contextual examination of sacred objects will help to identify potential tourist routes, analyze the prospects for the development of tourist, pilgrimage and educational routes. To achieve the goal, the international team brings together scientists specializing in the processing of satellite data, computer technologies GIS, archaeology, history and religious studies of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Participants set themselves the following objectives:

      • as part of organized expeditions and field research, a comprehensive study of 12 sites in the Republic of Kazakhstan with cultural, historical and/or religious significance;
      •  to collect empirical evidence to analyse each selected object in terms of its historical, cultural and religious significance and, therefore, the prospects for further development of the tourism industry around the site;
      • Using satellite and terrestrial geo-positioning techniques to determine the coordinates of interesting geographic objects and to carry out detailed mapping of their location; develop applied programs to correlate facilities with the location of water resources, landscape features, existing transport and energy infrastructure, and the availability of radiation sources to determine The site's prospects in terms of the development of the tourism industry around it;
      • to create an electronic atlas as an organizational structure that accumulates empirical data and analytical information capable of further development and performance of educational functions;