ABOUT THE KABUL
For thousands of years, Afghanistan
was a crossroad for trade from India, Iran, and Central Asia. As
a result, many treasures and artifacts have been discovered and
collected. The Kabul Museum, housed the most comprehensive record
of Central Asian history. Many of its pieces have been dated as
far back as pre-historic times. One of the museum's largest displays,
was the magnificent Bagram Collection. Discovered in 1939, by archaeologists
excavating a Kushan fort, it contained an amazing 1,800 pieces from
India, Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Central Asia. The Kabul Museum also
had one of the largest displays of Greek and Roman coins found near
Kabul. This collection was a historical treasure, as it contained
coins from numerous civilizations dating from the 8th century B.C.
to the late 19th century.
figure of Maitreya and worshippers from Paitava, stands 25 cm
tall. This piece is from the 3rd Century and represents an orientalized
figurines are made out of baked clay. The one on the left is
6 cm tall and the one on the right is 5.5 cm. These figurines
supposedly represent the great pagan mother goddess, and many
similar ones have been found in Southern Afghanistan (Baluchistan).
These treasures and many others were
tragically lost when the Kabul Museum was bombed in 1993. At first,
only the upper galleries suffered losses and looting. The remaining
artifacts, were transferred to lower leveled, steel doored vaults.
In 1994, the United Nations attempted to stop the looting by repairing
the doors, and bricking up the windows. Disappointingly, these attempts
failed, and looters continued to plunder 90% of the museum's collections.
Both private collectors and antique dealers from as far away as
Tokyo, have purchased stolen museum pieces. Looted artifacts have
shown up all over the world, and they bring in large sums of money
to the criminals.
In early March 2001, the Taliban
decided to destroy all pre-Islamic statues and objects in Afghanistan,
after an edict was announced by their leader Mullah Omar in late
February. The Taliban destroyed numerous statues in the museum which
survived the previous looting and destruction as a result of war.
The Taliban also destroyed the two giant Buddhas from the 5th century
in Bamiyan, and other ancient historical statues in Ghazni. One
of the Buddhas in Bamiyan was the world's tallest standing Buddha.
|At one time, Buddhism flourished
in Afghanistan and this sculpture is proof of this. This image
of Buddha's head is from Shotorak and it stands 22 cm tall.
The mass like quality is typical of many of the late Gandhara