In the history of Kazakhstan in the first millennium, the process of the formation of the ancient Turkish tribal community in the expanses from the Mongolian mountains to the Caspian Sea begins, which eventually leads to the emergence of statehood.
In 551 the first Khaganat was formed in this region, which was given the name Turkic Khaganate. This situation encouraged the development of crafts and trade. The emergence of the Turkic Khaganate had a positive influence on the existence of the Asian-European trade route, which historians today refer to as the “Great Silk Road”.
The emergence of the Kaganat also contributed to the establishment of the first cities in the steppe, such as Chirik Rabat, Otrar, Sygnak, Ispijab, Taraz and Balasagun. They were located along the rivers Chu, Talas, Syrdarja and on the coast of the Aral Sea and were important settlements of the Great Silk Road.
From the VI century onwards, the lands of the Turkic Khaganate were called Turkestan, which means “land of the Turks” in the translation from Persian.
The Turkic Khaganate existed as a complete state for less than a hundred years and already in the VIIth century it split into two parts – East and West. The rulers of the Eastern Kaganat occupied the territories in the Altai and Lake Baikal. In return, the Western Kaganat settled on a steppe area between Irtysh and Volga.
After a while the Western Kaganat split into the Kaganates Khazar and Turgesh. The latter gave way to the Karluk Kaganat with the arrival of the Arabs in the region.
How did the Arabs come to the steppe? In the VII to VIII centuries. centuries, the Chinese emperors, since the then rule of the Tang Dynasty, decided to forcibly annex a part of Turkestan to their empire. But also the Arab caliphate showed interest in these countries.
With the support of the Karluks (a nomadic Turkic tribe) the Arabs defeated the Chinese army at the Talas River. After they had won the victory, the Arabs introduced the tribes inhabiting the southern fringes of the steppe region to the Islamic religion as well as to their inherent writing model. In the course of time, the Arabic script almost completely replaced the traditional Old Turkish runic script.
The Caliphate did not hold the occupied positions for long. As early as in the IX-X century two new Turkish states – Karakhanids (south and east of the region) and Oghuz (west) – formed on the territory of Kazakhstan as it is today.
The establishment of the Karakhanids state was made possible by the unification of a number of Turkic tribes, among which the Qarluqs, Chigili and Yagmas played the most important role.
The Karakhanids left their mark on the history of Kazakhstan in the first millennium as conquerors who succeeded in capturing Mawara’unnahr (right bank Amudarya region), which led to the rapid decline of the Samanid state.
The Karakhanids state existed in its original state until 1042, after which it disintegrated into the Western and Eastern Karakhanid Khanates. The fragmentation led to the Western Karakhanid Khanate becoming dependent on the Seljuqs in 1089, then being taken by the Karakitai in 1128 and becoming vassal of Khorezmshah Mohammad II in 1210.
The remains of the Karakhanids state were removed in 1212. The Khan of Nayman Kuchluk destroyed the Eastern Karakhanids in Uzgen and Kashgar. Their western tribesmen suffered a similar fate in Samarkand.
Let us now return to the already mentioned Oghuz. The Oghuz occupied territories in Syrdarya and west of todays Kazakhstan. They allied themselves with Kievan Rus and Volga-Bulgaria and took part in the hostilities against the Khazar-Kaganat.
In the middle of the XI century, the Oghuz began to strengthen themselves by uniting the Kipchak tribe. Under the pressure of the enemy they were forced to leave the forced places and move to the south coast of the Caspian Sea and further to Transcaucasia and Asia Minor.
According to historians, today the direct descendants of the Oghuz are: Gagauzians, Turkmen, Azerbaijanis and Anatolian Turks. ⇒ History of Kazakhstan during the Golden Horde Age