The territory of Kazakhstan has come to be mastered by man nearly a million years ago. As early as the age of Lower Paleolithic the ancient man settled down on these Karatau lands fit for normal life, rich with game and wild fruit. It is there that they have found ancient settlements of Stone Age. Gradually, in the centuries of Middle and Upper Paleolithic the man came to master Central and Eastern Kazakhstan and Mangyshlak area.
In IV-III millennia BC, Kazakhstan constitutes the area of horse-mastering (breeding) famous according to excavations of the settlement Botay in the north of the country. It is established that Kazakhstan entered the area of horse-mastering, the important revolutionary process, which played a significant role in the development of all Eurasia. Archaeologists revealed monuments of proto-urban culture in the steppe zone; they are already 4 thousand years old. As early as the Bronze Age, the territory of Kazakhstan was inhabited by tribes of the so called Andron culture. They were engaged in farming and cattle-breeding. People of this era were not only fine warriors, shepherds and farmers but also were marvellous metallurgists. The Later Bronze Age includes Begazy-Dandybay culture of Central Kazakhstan revealed by the archaeologists with its monumental architecture and multiple settlements oriented at copper smelting. Central Kazakhstan becomes one of the largest centres for copper and bronze production on the continent. Ancient Andron people lived in large settlements, in earth-houses or houses; there were also ancient proto-towns encircled with walls and ditches constructed strictly according to the plan.
Protho-writing was arising, and applied art achieved high level. The applied art was determined in many respects by religious views connected with mythology, where life was conceived as a peculiar constant flow of natural cycles.
Later on they were ousted by the Saks. Such was the name given to this tribe by ancient Persians. The Chinese called them "se" whereas the Greeks chose to call them Scythians. They were essentially nomads, semi-nomads and farmers. Yet, first and foremost, they were excellent horsemen. In fact the Saks were the first ever horsemen in the world to master arrow-shooting at full tilt.
In the VI-III centuries B.C. the Saks set up their first state with its centre in Zhetysu (Semirechje) in South-East Kazakhstan. The Saks had written language and mythology of their own; they were famous for their well-developed art of world standard labelled in research papers as "animal-styled art". Respective subjects were represented by predators and herbivorous animals and the struggle between them. Sheer masterpieces made of gold and bronze serve as worthy exhibits of best museums of the world. Kings of the Saks were at the same time high priests. It is proved by the burial of Saks’ king in the Issyk burial mound. "Golden man" was a warrior, his weapon and golden arrow point to it, and he was a priest as well, as an original peaked cap was put on him and a mirror was near him, and he was a shepherd, the lash put into the mound confirms it. The Saks were brave warriors. Herodotus and other philosophers and historians from ancient Greece and Rome wrote about it. The war between the Saks and Persians, and victory of the Saks at the head of Tomiris over Achaemenid king Cyrus are known. The Saks fought successfully with Alexander Macedonian’s warriors as well.
In the middle of the first millennium B.C. Prothoturk and Turk nations began to form, Kazakhs’ ethnic prothobasis developed. Prothoturk, Iranian, Ugrian and other nations took part in the formation.
Many scientists state that during the first millennium B.C. the population of Kazakhstan was mostly represented by native speakers of Indo-European and Indo-Iranian languages. However, of late, they are inclined to think that tribes of the Bronze Age, particularly those of the Saks, included tribes that spoke Prothoturk languages.
The history of Kazakhstan is connected closely with the first Eurasian empire – Turk Kaganate, which had a sequel in West-Turk states: Tyurgeshes, Karluks, Kimeks, Oguzes, Kypchaks, and Karakhanides’ states. Thereafter in North Eurasia distant ancestry of the Kazakhs lived almost without changing the borders. The middle of the first millennium AD is a fairly important stage in the history of all the Turks in general and the Kazakhs in particular. The period is marked with manifest changes in ethnic media: predominant now there become Turk tribes which chose Altai as their natural center. Written sources of the VI century register the term "Tyurk" which is pronounced as "Tutszyue" by the Chinese and as "Turk" by the Sogdians.
Archeological study of Turk monuments makes it possible to somehow compare "these" Turks with certain Turk tribal associations. In Sayano-Altai region they have identified certain archeological cultures, which might well be likened to early Kyrghyzes, early Kypchaks or early Oguzes. In the course of not infrequent intestine wars, tribal discords, struggle for power and pastures a part of Turk tribes that inhabited steppes and valleys of Kazakhstan moved southwards - to Central Asia (the Tyurgeshes, Karluks, Kypchaks, Uzbeks, Oguzes, and Turkmens-Seldzhuks), to Asia Minor, to the Caucasus (the Turkmens and Seldzhuks), to Eastern Europe (the Kangars and Pechenegs, Kypchaks-and-Polovtsians, Torks-and-Oguzes, black Klobuks and Karakalpakians).
Starting from the IV century up to the beginning of the XIII century the territory of Kazakhstan was the seat of West-Turk, Tyurgesh, Karluk Kaganates, of the state made by the Oguzes, Karakhanides, Kimeks and Kypchaks. All of them successively replaced one another up to the very Mongol invasion. After the invasion, i.e. in the beginning of the XIII century, they have shaped up uluses of the Mongol Empire of Zhuchi-Khan and Zhagatai which later gave birth to Ak-Orda, Mongolistan and finally to Kazakh khanate.
Essentially all these states were with mixed economies. Tribes of cattle-breeders had farming tribes as their neighbours, steppes and cities supplemented each other. Such cities as Taraz, Otrar, Ispijab, Talkhir were set up right in the way of the Grand Silk Route which served as a reliable link joining antiquity and Middle Ages, the West and the East: Japan, Korea and China with Central Asia, Iran, the State of Seldzhuks, Russia, Byzantium, France and Italy.
That was the way of transportation of different goods: silk, fabrics, precious stones and silver, medicines and dyes. It is through the Grand Silk Route that dancing arts, painting, architecture and music made their way from one people to another. It was the way along which various religions advanced: Manicheism and Buddhism, Christianity and Islam with the latter becoming predominant (starting from the VIII century) and subsequently the only faith of the Kazakhs. In late XIV - early XV centuries on the bank of the Syrdaria-river, in the city of Turkestan they erected a religious sacred place worshipped by all Turk-speaking nations - a complex of Khodja Akhmed Yassaui. The nation that inhabited the territory of Kazakhstan would avidly absorb and assimilate all the ideas and achievements of various civilizations making -in its turn - its own contribution to the treasury of the world culture, be it economy or handicraft or music: among numerous accomplishments one may name a mobile dwelling "yurta", saddle and stirrups for a horse, combat arts on horse-back, carpet ornaments and silver jewellery, and music reminding of an impetuous gallop of steppe horses. All these factors have determined integrity and continuity of ancient and medieval history of Kazakhstan.
Because of many ethnopolitical and economic factors, three main ethno-territorial entities appeared on the territory of Kazakhstan – Elder (Uly), Middle (Orta) and Younger (Kishi) Zhuzes. The existing of zhuzes reflected the difficulty of Kazakh nation’s formation process and influenced on local cultural and household features of its development. Basically, the Kazakh nation’s formation process finished in the XIV-XV centuries.