Astana is a new name of the capital of Kazakhstan. Former name of the city is Aqmola (earlier Akmolinsk).
There are several theories of this name origin. The first one holds that Aqmola city was named in honor of white limestone hill. The second theory belongs to Byzantian author Procopius. In his works he wrote that Huns used the word “mola” for high hill or fortress. And there is the third variant: Aqmola was always a major center of cattle fairs, famous for abundance and variety of meat and dairy products (kumys, airan, kurt, shubat etc.). Therefore, the name of the city can be traslated as “white holy place” or “white abundance”.
It is written in Kazakh Soviet Encyclopaedia, that “Aqmola is a construction of white stone, above the square walls of which there is a cupola that reminds yurt’s top part or the half of a sphere. The cupola glittering in the sun could be seen from afar, and this provided special beauty to the banks of Esil river”. That is why the name Aqmola became the name of this land.
From the earliest times Aqmola plains were a place, where different cultures and civilizations met. In the middle of 1st millenium B.C., a chronographer named Herodotus mentioned the route across the Big Steppe (later Great Silk Way), which went right there. Caravan tracks contributed to the prosperity of trade and handicraft industry in the cities traditionally engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture.