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Thomas and Lucy Atkinson – first British explorers of Kazakhstan

20 November 2015 00:01 2710
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Thomas and Lucy Atkinson – first British explorers of Kazakhstan

LONDON. KAZINFORM The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Great Britain held a presentation of the book by famous British journalist Nick Fielding on South to the Great Steppe: The Travels of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson in Eastern Kazakhstan, 1847-1852 at Royal Geographical Society in London.

The ceremony was dedicated to the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate and 24th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The event was attended by the representatives of the British Government, business and academic communities, as well as heads of diplomatic missions accredited in the UK.

Thomas Witlam Atkinson (1799–1861) was an English architect, quarryman, stonemason, artist and traveller in Siberia and Central Asia.

According to Wikipedia, in 1848-1853 he travelled over 40,000 miles through Central Asia and Siberia with his wife Lucy and son Alatau and painted and documented his travels. Their son Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson, born on 4 November 1848 in what is now Eastern Kazakhstan, was named after a famous spring at the foot of the Djungar Alatau Mountains in the town of Kapal.

 The book South to the Great Steppe: The Travels of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson in Eastern Kazakhstan, 1847-1852 is about the Atkinsons’ travels in Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan. They left behind unique notes, diaries and paintings on the Kazakh society in 19th century. Neither the diaries nor the letters had ever been published before. 

Addressing the participants, Kazakh Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov noted that Thomas Atkinson was the first British explorer to visit Kazakhstan, in the 19th century. His numerous diaries, notes and paintings about our ancestors’ lives and traditions serve as strong evidence of the rich history of the Great Steppe and are regarded as a priceless contribution to the cultural heritage of our country.

Erzhan Kazykhanov pointed out that in 160 years since the famous British traveler’s visit to Kazakhstan, the country has passed a thorny historical path and today is positioned as a state with a stable and a dynamically developing economy.

“Our country is a home for more than 100 ethnic groups. It contributes to the expansion of inter-religious dialogue and plays a key role in ensuring regional and global security” Ambassador Kazykhanov said.

The Ambassador emphasized that the recent official visit paid by President of Kazakhstan to the UK was a landmark event in Kazakh-British relations, during which N. Nazarbayev was welcomed by Her Majesty The Queen and had talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and CEOs of some of the UK’s biggest companies.

Erzhan Kazykhanov stressed that the visit resulted in signing a $13 billion package of commercial agreements and contracts. These include the UK’s participation in the EXPO-2017 in Astana and Agreement on development of the Astana International Financial Centre.  

The visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to London gave an important impetus to further expansion of the partnership between Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom.

At the end of his speech, Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov invited the participants of the ceremony to visit Kazakhstan and get acquainted with hospitality and traditions of the Kazakhstan people.

The launch of the book was followed by an exhibition on the natural diversity of Kazakhstan.

Source: http://www.kazembassy.org.uk/eng


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