Over a decade ago, the world was outraged when the Taliban destroyed two massive Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley in a vendetta against all Islamic art. Today, an even larger and older collection of artifacts is under threat, but this time the conflict has more to do with economics than religion.
Mes Aynak is a 9,800-acre archaeological site in Afghanistan’s Logar Province. It was once a major city on the ancient Silk road, and is home to structures dating back more than 2,600 years. Archaeologists say it’s a cultural goldmine, but others are more concerned with what lies beneath it — 5.5 million metric tons of high-grade copper ore. Read more.
PERTH.- A stunning exhibition of treasures once thought lost to the world opened at the Western Australian Museum, Perth.
WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibition contained more than 200 rare and beautiful objects dating back to the Bronze Age, from a place that was once at the crossroads of the world’s great civilisations.
“Standing as it did at the heart of the ancient Silk Road, Afghanistan was the historic link between Iran, Central Asia, India, and China and became a trading place for gold, glass, ceramics and precious stones with civilisations as far away as Rome, Greece and even Egypt,” Mr Coles said.
“The objects in this exhibition span 2,000 years of exquisite craftsmanship, and the fact we even have them here at all is an incredible story in itself.” These objects were thought to have been stolen or destroyed during Afghanistan’s years of conflict, when thousands of irreplaceable antiquities were lost. But a brave group of five staff from the National Museum in Kabul hid them, risking their lives to save their cultural heritage for future generations. (source)
A begging bowl on display in an Afghanistan museum is not associated with Lord Buddha, Indian officials have concluded belying the initial perception that it belonged to the founder of Buddhism.
The conclusion has been reached after a team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials studied the bowl, sources told PTI here on Sunday.
The bowl has Arabic characters etched on it and cannot be associated with Lord Buddha, they said.
“The reported claims of Lord Buddha’s association with the bowl is unlikely as the inscriptions on the vase are in Arabic script that never existed during his (Buddha) era. Moreover, Buddha’s messages were written in Pali language using Brahmi characters,” one of the sources said. Read more.
The huge stone vessel, weighing nearly 400 kilograms (880 pounds), is currently displayed at the National Museum of Afghanistan and is regarded as important in the Buddhist religion.
The experts will examine the piece after demands in the national parliament last year for the return of the bowl which the state-run Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) believes belongs to India.
"We will be sending two experts to Kabul to examine the bowl. We are very much in favour of bringing it back to India," ASI additional director general B. R. Mani told AFP late Monday.
"They will examine if the raw material has been sourced locally from one of the Afghan cities. If not, it will strengthen our claim that it belongs to us," Mani said. Read more.
Washington -The United States returned a Roman wine pitcher and five gold artifacts to Afghanistan on Monday in the fourth official repatriation of stolen Afghan cultural treasures in eight years.
Kabul’s ambassador to Washington, Eklil Hakimi, accepted the objects from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency during a ceremony at the Afghan embassy.
US customs officers seized the items in March 2011 at Newark airport in New Jersey after investigators discovered they were destined for a New York business suspected of dealing in looted cultural property. Read more.
Renegotiation of contract with Chinese company mean more time for dig at former Buddhist settlement
The forts and temples of the ancient Buddhist town at Mes Aynak in Afghanistan throng with the biggest crowds they have seen in more than 14 centuries. Nearby, rows of sheet metal housing built for Chinese miners are almost empty.
Hundreds of archaeologists are working at the site to excavate gilded statues of the Buddha, elaborate stupas that rise from ornately carved floors and delicate frescoes protected by centuries of mud and forgetfulness. The rich vein of copper that once funded Mes Aynak’s creation is now likely to bring about its destruction: a Chinese state-owned mining company paid $3bn (£1.9bn) for the extraction rights, and the site will eventually become the world’s biggest copper mine. Read more.
MES AYNAK, Afghanistan — It had the potential to be another Afghanistan Buddha disaster, recalling the Taliban’s destruction of two ancient statues that had stood for centuries in this country’s west: A buried Buddhist city lost to time was about to be obliterated by what promised to be one of the largest copper mines in the world.
Now, however, thanks to delays in construction of the massive mine and a hefty influx of cash from the World Bank, the 1.5-square-mile Mes Aynak complex is an archaeological triumph – though bittersweet.
An international team of archaeologists and more than 550 local laborers are now frantically excavating what turns out to be a unique window into Afghanistan’s role on the ancient Silk Road connecting China and India with the Mediterranean. Read more.
A trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago.
On Thursday Israel’s National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents that run the gamut of life experiences, including biblical commentaries, personal letters and financial records.
Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” marks the greatest such archive found since the “Cairo Genizah” was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago, a vast depository of medieval manuscripts considered to be among the most valuable collections of historical documents ever found. Read more.