Baikal is not just the lake. It includes plains, mountains, and islands. There are many of them, but the exact number is still unknown. Scientists provide different numbers – from 19 to 47.
The largest of them are Olkhon island, the Ushkany islands, and the Svyatoy nos peninsula.
In the northern part of the lake, there is a rocky island – Borakchin (Oltrek). Tourists rarely visit this place, so its nature and beauty remain intact. Borakchin is a neighboring island of Olkhon. The locals call it “crocodile” for its shape that resembles the reptile. On this island, you can find the remnants of structures built by the Kurykan people – the most ancient civilization of Baikal.
Who are they?
It is commonly believed that Kurykan, an ancient Turkic peoples, were the ancestors of modern Yakut speakers and inhabited areas adjacent to Baikal and Angara. The ethnonym “Kurykan” appears in early Chinese historical sources, and Orxon runic inscriptions, both sources dating back to the 6th century A.D., but it is likely that Turkic people had come there at a much earlier date. The archaelogical research has found evidence for human activities in the Baikal region dating back to Stone Age, i.e. more than 15,000 years ago. The Kurykan people lived around Baikal until the 10th century, when they were driven out by Mongols (according to other accounts, Huns). Kurykan came to the territory of Yakutia around the 15th or 16th centuries (possibly, they moved to this area in waves). In the new homeland, the Kurykan language entered a new stage of development, due to influence from substratum and the neighboring non-Turkic languages, like Even, Evenki, Yukagir, etc. The arrival of the Kurykan in Yakutia may be considered the starting point of the Yakut language (based on Ubriatova 1982). Other theories about the prehistory and migrations of Yakut also exist, discussed in Ubriatova (ibid.). According to one, Yakut is a descendant of some unknown, non-Turkic language. This theory is not supported by most Turkologists, because Yakut is clearly a member of the Turkic branch of languages. All the features that Yakut does not share with other Turkic languages can be explained as obtained in the course of development of Yakut (Kurykan) after its speakers left the Turkic homeland in Baikal regions.
What legacy did they leave behind?
KURYKAN FORTRESS WALL
Ancient kurykan defensive wall is 185 meters long, its height reaches 1.5-2 meters in some places. The fortress has well-remained masonry, earth bank and also half-destroyed ditch of 3.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep. Hypothetically, such construction was build for temporary protection. However, during last time it is more believed that this construction could have been a cultural sanctuary. It is possible that stone walls and ditches protected sacral space from evil spirits, and flat stones with hollows were used as altar for human sacrifice. Such stone plates with well-noticeable dimples of round and cylindrical shape were found at Khorgoy cape.