Uch Enmek

Part of the Altai project

Mobirise Website Builder

Contents and Handling of the Application

designed by M. Abdalla 2017

This application offers the opportunity of a virtual exploration of the “Ethno-Nature Park Uch Enmek” in the Siberian Altai Mountains by means of maps, images and models. The CESIUM Virtual Globe environment has been used as core technology for geo-information display. The application follows an open concept with a clear motivation to ingest further documents in the future.

The “3D Model” switch in the head section of the page starts the application. A navigable overview map of the Park will be displayed.

The “Options” switch allows zooming into higher detail, currently offered for the “Tuekta” and the “Karakol” site. In order to exploit detail information, imagery provided by Bing or by the Ikonos sensor can alternatively be activated, as well as OpenStreet Map data (section “Base Map”). More specific GIS layers can be draped over the selected basis using options within “Thematic Overlays”. Moreover, the Tuekta and the Karakol sites can be viewed in 3D mode using customised 3D terrain sources as soon as a switch is set to “3D depiction”. Within the “Schematic Model” section a 3D model of a Kurgan can individually be explored.

Thematic Introduction

by N. Prechtel 2017

The Altai Mountains can boast with an outstanding cultural heritage comprising lots of pre-historic structures. Cultural heritage is imbedded into a beautiful landscape of distinct character. Relics of the nomadic Scythian culture, which flourished 2500 years ago and has even influenced civilisations in the Middle-East and the Mediterranean, are ranking highest among the archaeological heritage. They can be found at various burial sites in the Altai. The Scythians not only influenced civilisations nearby but had as well an impact on Middle-East and even Mediterranean cultures. Scythian burial sites often contain precious artefacts. Inside tombs lie bodies which have often been well preserved due to the underground permafrost conditions (Goosens et al. 2007).

Some of the most famous burial sites (Kurgans) are located in the Karakol and Ursul Valley close to the mouth of River Karakol. This has been reflected in a conservation area termed “Ethno-Nature Park Uch Enmek” by the Altai Republic government in 2001. The park area of around 600 km2 encompasses archaeological sites and a fringe zone. It is designated to protect sacred sites, burial mounds and petroglyphs from damage, theft and improper land use. It also aims at a sensitive touristic promotion of the park. A central location is the Tuekta site along River Ursul. Its most prominent complex appears to be a row of five monumental Kurgans with diameters between 42 and 76 m. Two of them were excavated by S.I. Rudenko and his team already in 1954 (Jacobson-Tepfer 2015). They are related to the Pazyryk culture (Parzinger 2004). In general, quite some deterioration has affected the sites (Medovaya 2007), for instance by illegal digging, inordinate forms of tourism and excavations disregarding the endemic population. The park is a step forward in the idea of conservation.

The present application wants to contribute to awareness, information and appreciation of “Uch Enmek”. It comprises maps and satellite imagery and model structures that have been created, interpreted and compiled over many years of geo-scientific activities of the Institute of Cartography in the Altai. The archaeological information content has been contributed by Jean Bourgeois of the Archaeology Department of Ghent University. He and his team have done long-term archaeological surveys all over the Altai Mountains (Bourgeois et al. 2007). We are pleased to be able to build on that cooperation. Moreover, an image grant by the GeoEye Foundation made high-resolution IKONOS imagery available to us, on which most of mapping and model generation at Dresden had been based on. It should be mentioned that geo-data capture, 3D modelling and presentation efforts have greatly been supported by some Dresden students, namely M. Burckhardt, M. Schmid, S. Dietrich, C. Schubert, and M. Abdalla. We also hope that the available geo-information can gradually be augmented, making this site a dynamic one and worthwhile revisiting.

The idea behind displaying landscape and archaeological information by means of a virtual globe technology is the idea that (built) cultural heritage is strongly linked to the environment (Prechtel et al. 2013, 2016), even more so in case of pre-historic cultures. Environment means context, and a virtual globe offers potentially a context as wide as the whole planet. Examples for local physical environment factors related to the Kurgans are site selections within frozen sediment layers, but also a strict avoidance of locations endangered by flooding or mass movements (snow, debris) down the mountain slopes. Such factors become comprehensible when Virtual Globe technology meets appropriate data.

The customised data currently provided span the 600 km2 of designated conservation area. Two detail sites can be shown: Tuekta and Karakol, named after the villages in their centre.


Bourgeois, J.; Gheyle, W.; Goossens, R.; De Wulf, A.; Dvornikov, E.; Ebel, A.; Van Hoof, L.; Loute, S.; De Langhe, K. and Malmendier, A. (2007): Survey and inventory of the archaeological sites in the valley of the Karakol (Uch-Enmek Park). Report on the Belgian-Russian expedition in the Russian Altay Mountains 2007-2008. University of Gent/GASU.

Goossens, R.; De Wulfa, A.; Bourgeois, J.; Gheyle, W.; Van Bevera, B.; Vanommeslaeghea, M.; Dosschea, D. and Devriendta, D. (2007): The Frozen Tombs of the Altai Mountains. Inventarisation and Conservation. XXI International CIPA Symposium, 01-06 October, Athens, Greece.

Jacobson-Tepfer, E. (2015): The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals: Image, Monument, and Landscape in Ancient North Asia. Oxford University Press, 480 p.

Medovaya, M. (2007): The Nature of a Nature Park. Friction over a Protected Area in the Altai. Diss. University of Colarado, Boulder.

Parzinger, H. (2004): Die Skythen. C.H. Beck, München.

Prechtel, N. and Münster, S. (2016): Cultural Heritage in a Spatial Context – Towards an Integrative, Interoperable, and Participatory Data and Information Management. In: Münster, S., Pfarr-Harfst, M., Kuroczynski, P., Ioannides, M. (eds.): 3D Research Challenges in Cultural Heritage II. Springer International Publishing, pp. 272-288. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-47647-6.

Prechtel, N.; Münster, S.; Kröber, C.; Schubert, C. and Schietzold, C. (2013): Presenting Cultural Heritage Landscapes – From GIS via 3D Models to Interactive Presentation Framework. In: ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial In-formation Sciences, II-5:W1, pp. 253-258.