Home » Afghanistan’s thousands of years old sites continue to be destroyed during the Taliban era: experts

Afghanistan’s thousands of years old sites continue to be destroyed during the Taliban era: experts

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Afghanistan’s thousands of years old sites continue to be destroyed during the Taliban era: experts

According to researchers at the University of Chicago in the US, more than 37 archaeological sites have been destroyed in Afghanistan as a result of ‘systematic looting’ during the Taliban regime.

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation identified 162 archaeological sites that suffered an alarming rate of destruction between 2018 and 2021, compared with 37 more since the Taliban came to power in 2021. This continued.

According to a BBC report, analysis of satellite images of locations identified around northern Afghanistan’s Balkh region has provided the first evidence of a pattern of ‘looting’ that was initially identified during the Taliban’s rule. It happened in the period and since then this series continues.

Researchers say the sites that have been looted date back to the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, some dating back to 1,000 BC.

Most of these sites are located in the Balkh region, which was once the center of the Bactrian civilization, which has a glorious past dating back to the 6th century BC during the Ashmanad Empire.

The region was then conquered by Alexander the Great and became the center of Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, which later became the center of Islamic culture.

Researchers have identified 29,000 archaeological sites across Afghanistan.

After the overthrow of the Ashraf Ghani government, the Taliban returned to power and promised to respect the country’s ancient heritage and assured moderate rule.

During their first term in power in 2001, the Taliban stunned historians when they destroyed a giant Buddha statue in Bamiyan.

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It stood as the world‘s largest Buddha statue for over 1,500 years. Located along the Silk Road, the statue was a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a sacred site for Buddhists.

Professor Gil Stein, director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation, told the British Broadcasting Corporation that he had identified a new pattern of destruction in the region since 2018.

Satellite images show signs that his team say have been bulldozed and that the sites have disappeared over time.

More photos show newly bulldozed sites that have been periodically dug up by looters, Gil Stein said.

He added that they are clearing vast areas so that it is easy to loot these places in an organized manner.

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Gil Stein said that these looted artefacts have been smuggled from Afghanistan to Iran, Pakistan and other countries. He added that these can be exhibited in museums or auction houses in Europe, North America and East Asia.

In the four years from 2018 to 2021, about 162 sites were destroyed in just one week at an astonishing rate, Gilstein said, and continued after the Taliban took power in 2021.

On the other hand, Taliban government officials have rejected the claims of destruction and looting of historical sites in the country.

Atiqullah Azizi, the Taliban’s acting deputy minister for information and culture, told the BBC that 800 units have been deployed to protect sites of historical importance.

“We have sent various teams to inspect these historical places and I can assure you that not a single such incident has taken place at these places,” he said.

However, Professor Gill Stein said: ‘We can prove that there was continuity (of looting) even under two very different political regimes.

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