Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage An Exceptional Case?

Neil Brodie, Morag M. Kersel and Kathryn Walker Tubb

in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780813029726
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039145 | DOI:
Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage An Exceptional Case?

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  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques


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This chapter reports several aspects of archaeological, legal, ethical, and political debates of Afghanistan's cultural heritage. It starts by summarizing Afghanistan's intriguing history. It also discusses the initial efforts of the Society for the Protection of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage (SPACH) to preserve what was possible. In addition, the importance of archaeology for understanding Afghanistan's history and the plundering of the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul are highlighted. The chapter then explains the illegal excavation and looting of archaeological sites, the willful destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas and figures from the National Museum, and the material that has survived the war. Finally, it argues that the lessons learned from the recent history of Afghanistan could be applied beneficially in other situations. The destruction of Afghanistan's cultural heritage is exceptional because this heritage fell victim both to extensive looting and to religiously inspired iconoclasm. However, it could serve as a case study to illustrate the types of threats that need to be guarded against in the future and to indicate what might constitute appropriate preventive action or countermeasures.

Keywords: Afghanistan; looting; National Museum of Afghanistan; Kabul; illegal excavation; Bamiyan Buddhas

Chapter.  3661 words. 

Subjects: Archaeological Methodology and Techniques

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