Mes Aynak is a site 40 km southeast of Kabul, located in a barren region of Logar Province. The site contains Afghanistans largest copper deposit, as well as the remains of an ancient settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and it is considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan. Archaeologists are only beginning to find remnants of an older 5, 000-year-old Bronze Age site beneath the Buddhist level, the site of Mes Aynak possesses a vast complex of Buddhist monasteries and market areas. The site contains artifacts recovered from the Bronze Age, and some of the artifacts recovered have dated back over three thousand years, the sites orientation on the Silk Road has yielded a mixture of elements from Iran and India. The wealth of Mes Aynak’s residents has been represented in the sites far-reaching size. Afghanistan’s eagerness to unearth the copper below the site is leading to the destruction rather than its preservation. Archaeologists have photographed the site and the relics excavated, the Buddhist ruins were scheduled to be destroyed at the end of July 2012, but for several reasons, including political instability, this has been delayed.
The word Mes Aynak literally means little source of copper, mes is copper, while aynak is a form of ayn. The earliest Buddhist remains date from the Kushan Gandhara era, although these gradually gave way to Tang Chinese, Mes Aynak was at the peak of its prosperity between the fifth and seventh century AD. A period of decline began in the eighth century. Allegations have persisted that the then-minister of mines obstructed the contracting process, the Afghan Mining Ministry estimates that the mine holds some six million tons of copper. The mine is expected to be tens of billions of dollars, and to generate jobs and economic activity for the country. The site is accessed via a 15 kilometers motorable track from the road between Kabul and Gardez. The mining lease holders propose to build a railway to serve the copper mine, other investments that have yet to be fulfilled include a railway, a 400-megawatt power plant and a coal mine. Archaeologists believe that Mes Aynak is a historical heritage site.
It has been called one of the most important points along the Silk Road by French archaeologist, historians are particularly excited by the prospect of learning more about the early science of metallurgy and mining by exploring this site. It is known to contain coins and the tools for making these, archaeologists have already unearthed manuscripts that may provide evidence regarding the presence of Alexander the Greats troops. All of this material is in imminent danger of destruction by the mining endeavor
The Chakhil-i-Ghoundi Stupa, code-named Stupa C1, is a small limestone stupa from the Chakhil-i-Ghoundi monastery, at the archeological site of Hadda in eastern Afghanistan. They are today on display at the Musée Guimet in Paris and it is usually dated to the 2nd-3rd century CE. The decoration of the stupa provides a case of Greco-Buddhist art, combining Hellenistic. The reconstitution consists of parts, the decorated stupa base, the canopy. The stupa was surmounted by a canopy, a beautiful example of Indo-Corinthian capital. The central space of the capital must have accommodated a small satuette of a seated Buddha, details reveal elaborate carving, and the presence of naked amorini and vines in the acanthus foliage. The stupa base is a construction, consisting of three tiers organised in a stair, and two sides. It has a breath of roughly 3 meters, for a height of about 1 meter, the base combines very contrasted scenes and sculptural motifs, Hellenistic scenes at the bottom tier, and Indian Buddhist scenes at the top two tiers.
The first tier displays several purely Hellenistic scenes, of which the one on the far right is by far the best preserved, the left scene is a well-known Hellenistic scene often found in Gandhara. On the left is represented a young couple, the holding a drinking cup in the right hand. On the right is a couple in Greek dress, the man bearded. It is thought that this scene may symbolize the cycle of life, from childhood, to adulthood, the middle scene is less clear, but represents a naked man, possibly an amorini dancing with a woman in Greek dress. On the left is another holding an large wine flask. A man on the right is holding something to his mouth, the scene on the right is by far the clearest. The second tier of the base displays a Buddhist Indian scene. Depending on interpretations, it seems to show a couple whose son is convinced to shave his head. In the last scene on the right, he is seen in Buddhist garb, stylistically, it is most interesting that these Indian scenes were realized by the same artist, or at least the same atelier and at the same time as the Hellenistic ones.
Indeed it had been suggested previously that the Hellenistic scene belonged to a previous period, the second tier is sided by triangular stair risers, which depict a Hellenistic winged Ketos sea monster, a motif often seen with such a function in Greco-Buddhist art
Ghaznī or Ghaznai, historically known as Ghaznīn or Ghazna, is a city in Afghanistan with a population of nearly 150,000 people. It is located in the central-east part of the country, situated on a plateau at 7,280 feet above sea level, the city serves as the capital of Ghazni Province. It is linked by a highway with Kandahar to the southwest, Kabul to the northeast, the foundation stone of Ghazni Airport was laid in April 2012 which now serves Ghazni and other nearby eastern Afghan provinces. Similar to many other Afghanistani cities, Ghazni as ancient city has withstood numerous military invasions, during the pre-Islamic period, the area was inhabited by various tribes who practiced different religions including Buddhism and Hinduism. Arab Muslims introduced Islam to Ghazni in the 7th century, they were followed by the 9th century Islamic conquest of the Saffarids from Zarang in the west, sabuktigin made Ghazni the capital of the Ghaznavid Empire in the 10th century. The city was destroyed by one of the Ghurid rulers, and it fell to a number of regional powers, including the Timurids and the Delhi Sultanate, until it became part of the Hotaki dynasty, which was followed by the Durrani Empire or modern Afghanistan.
During the First Anglo-Afghan War in the 19th century, Ghazni was partially destroyed by British-Indian forces, the city is currently being rebuilt by the Government of Afghanistan in remembrance of the Ghaznavid and Timurid era when it served as a major center of Islamic civilisation. The Afghan National Security Forces have established bases and check-points to deal with the Taliban insurgency, Ghazni is a trading and transit hub in central Afghanistan. Agriculture is the dominant land use at 28%, in terms of built-up land area, vacant plots slightly outweigh residential area. Districts 3 and 4 have large institutional areas, the city of Ghazni has a population of 143,379 with 4 Police districts and total land area of 3,330 Hectares. There are 15,931 total number of dwellings in Ghazni city, Ghazni was founded some time in antiquity as a small market town and is mentioned by Ptolemy. In the 6th century BC, the city was conquered by the Achaemenid king Cyrus II, the city was subsequently incorporated into the empire of Alexander the Great in 329 BC, and called Alexandria in Opiana.
Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist centre up until the 7th century, in 683 AD, Arab armies brought Islam to the region, but many refused to accept the new religion. Yaqub Saffari from Zaranj conquered the city in the late 9th century and it became the dazzling capital of the Ghaznavid Empire, which encompassed much of northern India and Central Asia. Many iconoclastic campaigns were launched from Ghazni into India, resulting in the destruction of ancient temples and palaces, the Ghaznavids took Islam to India and returned with fabulous riches taken from Indian princes and temples. Although the city was sacked in 1151 by the Ghorid Alauddin, it became their secondary capital in 1173. Between 1215 and 1221, Ghazni was ruled by the Khwarezmid Empire, in the first decades of the 11th century, Ghazni was the most important centre of Persian literature. This was the result of the policy of the Sultan Mahmud, who assembled a circle of scholars, philosophers
Dilbarjin is the modern name for the remains of an ancient town in modern Afghanistan. The town was founded in the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Under the Kushan Empire it became a local centre. After the Indo-Sassanids the town was abandoned, the town proper was about 390 x 390 m big. Dilbarjin had a city built under the Kushan rule. In the middle of the town there was a round citadel, in the North-East corner of the town was excavated a temple complex. Here were found many paintings, some in a purely Hellenistic style. Originally the temple was dedicated to the Dioscuri. Outside the city there were still substantial buildings. Finds include inscriptions in Bactrian, most of them too destroyed to provide any historical information, there were fragments of sculpture and many coins. Warwick Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan, Catalogue des sites archéologiques dAfghanistan, Paris 1982, p. 91-92 DELBARJĪN on Iranicaonline. org
Haḍḍa is a Greco-Buddhist archeological site located in the ancient region of Gandhara, near the Khyber Pass, ten kilometers south of the city of Jalalabad in todays eastern Afghanistan. Some 23,000 Greco-Buddhist sculptures, both clay and plaster, were excavated in Haḍḍa during the 1930s and the 1970s, the findings combine elements of Buddhism and Hellenism in an almost perfect Hellenistic style. Although the style of the artifacts is typical of the late Hellenistic 2nd or 1st century BCE and this discrepancy might be explained by a preservation of late Hellenistic styles for a few centuries in this part of the world. However it is possible that the artifacts actually were produced in the late Hellenistic period, the style of many of the works at Haḍḍa is highly Hellenistic, and can be compared to sculptures found at the Temple of Apollo in Bassae, Greece. The toponym Haḍḍa has its origins in Sanskrit haḍḍa n. m. a bone, or, the former - if not a fossilized form - would have given rise to a Haḍḍ in the subsequent vernaculars of northern India.
The latter would have given rise to the form Haḍḍa naturally, the term haḍḍa is found as a loan in Pashto haḍḍ, n. id. and may reflect the linguistic influence of the original pre-Islamic population of the area. A sculptural group excavated at the Haḍḍa site of Tapa-i-Shotor represents Buddha surrounded by perfectly Hellenistic Herakles, the only adaptation of the Greek iconography is that Herakles holds the thunderbolt of Vajrapani rather than his usual club. Other attendants to the Buddha have been excavated which display manifest Hellenistic styles, such as the Genie au Fleur and it is believed the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts-indeed the oldest surviving Indian manuscripts of any kind-were recovered around Haḍḍa. They are part of the long-lost canon of the Sarvastivadin Sect that dominated Gandhara and was instrumental in Buddhisms spread into central, the manuscripts are now in the possession of the British Library. Haḍḍa is said to have been almost entirely destroyed in the fighting during the Civil war in Afghanistan, there were many works of art lost as a result of the civil war.
One of the worst of the casualties was the loss of two statues, the Red Mountain range in Bamiyan that once housed two giant statues of the Buddha, on cliff faces, besides smaller structures of archaeological significance. The two big statues, dating back to the 5th or 6th century CE, were the largest of all Buddhist statues so far attested in the world, only remnants of these statues were left behind. Vandalised Afghanistan Oldest Buddhist bark texts Photographs from Tepe Shotur/Haḍḍa
It is the location of monumental constructions made during the rule of the Kushans. Huge temples, statues of Kushan rulers and the Surkh Kotal inscription, the Rabatak inscription which gives remarkable clues on the genealogy of the Kushan dynasty was found in the Robatak village just outside the site. The site of Surkh Kotal, excavated between 1952 and 1966 by Prof. Schlumberger of the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan, is the site excavated of the Kushan Empire. Some of the sculptures were transferred to the National Museum of Afghanistan. The most famous artifacts of this site are the Surkh Kotal inscriptions, the statue of King Kanishka, the statue of the king was destroyed during the Taliban wave of iconoclasm in February–March 2001, but has been restored by French conservationists. The three artifacts are currently on display in the Afghan National Museum, here are translations of the inscriptions from Surkh Kotal by J. Harmatta. They were originally in the Bactrian language and written in Greek script, for possible interpretations of their meanings, see Harmattas article.
The unfinished inscription has been translated as, Era-year 299, on the 9th of Dios, King of Kings Ooëmo Takpiso, the majesty, the fragments of an inscription from the period of Kanishkas reign contain only about one fifth of the original inscription. They have been translated as, the lord, K, the mighty Kaneṣko. ]Then were built by him in four years, when the stld was comçade the stairs lere olly bu[tressed with stones so that p[ure water was ed al for the ab to. Then So-and-So inscribed this façade and the stairs leading there, the text of SK4 runs, This stronghold is the Kaneṣko Oanindo sanctuary which the lord king made the namebearer of Kaneṣko. At that time when the stronghold was first completed, its water to drink was missing. And when the water-flow disappeared from the canal, the gods wished themselves away from the abode, they were led to Lrafo, to Andēzo. Then he had a well dug, thus he provided water, thereafter he buttressed with stones so that the fine, pure water should not be missing for the stronghold.
And when for them the water-flow would disappear from the canal, even the gods, should not wish themselves away from their abode, thus the stronghold should not become abandoned for them. Moreover, he appointed an inspector over the well, he placed a helper there, so that a separate took good care of the well, this well and the façade were made by Xirgomano, the karalrango, by the order of the king. Moreover, Eiiomano inscribed together with Mihramano, the son of Bozomihro jointly, le Berre, and G. Fussman, Surkh Kotal en Bactriane I. Les temples, MDAFA25, Paris,1983. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol.18, Nancy Hatch, An Historical Guide to Afghanistan. For recent photographs please see http, //www. spach. info/ephotosbaghlan. htm
Alexandria Prophthasia known as Alexandria in Drangiana was one of the seventy-plus cities founded or renamed by Alexander the Great. The town was founded by Alexander the Great during a stop between Herat, the location of another of Alexanders fortresses, and Kandahar. Alexander appointed a new satrap and renamed the city as Prophthasia, because Alexander had here discovered a conspiracy against his life. The location of Prophthasia is currently unknown, orthodox opinion is that Prophthasia was at Farah and that the citadel of Farah holds the remains of his fortress. However, taking distances given in Pliny and Strabo, Tarn believes Farah is too close to the city of Herat, others feel it was located at Nād-e Alī. The 1578 world map which Mercator constructed from Ptolemys map shows the city some distance to the north of the Zaranji lakes, similarly the 13th century copy of the 4th century Peutinger Map shows Zaranj and Prophthasia as distinct locations
The hoard is often known as the Bactrian gold. The ornaments include necklaces set with stones, medallions. After its discovery, the hoard went missing during the wars in Afghanistan, until it was rediscovered, a new museum in Kabul is being planned where the Bactrian gold will eventually be kept. The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five kilometres to the northeast of modern Sheberghan on the road to Akcha, is half a kilometre from the now-famous necropolis of Tillia-tepe. Several coins dated up to the early 1st century CE, with none dated later, a silver coin was found in one of the tombs from the reigns of the Parthian king Mithridates II, who ruled c. The coin was found in tomb III, and was held in the hand of the defunct woman. An imitation gold coin of Parthian King Gotarzes I was found in the hand of the defunct woman in tomb 6. The fact that this coin is in gold, and not silver or bronze as is usually the case for Parthian coinage, the coin is counterstamped with the frontal depiction of what might have been a local chieftain.
The counterstamp was added so as to not damage the portrait of the Parthian king, a gold coin was found in tomb III showing the bust in profile of the wreath-crowned Roman Emperor Tiberius. On the reverse is an enthroned, sumptuously draped female figure holding a spray, coins of this type were minted in the city of Lugdunum in Gaul, between 16 and 21 CE. A Buddhist gold coin from India was found in tomb IV, on the reverse, it depicts a lion with a nandipada, with the Kharoshthi legend Sih vigatabhay. On the obverse, an almost naked man wearing an Hellenistic chlamys. The legend in Kharoshthi reads Dharmacakrapravata and it has been suggested that this may be an early representation of the Buddha. Finally, a worn coin has been identified as belonging to the Yuezhi chieftain Heraios. It is thought that the site belonged to Sakas, although some suggest the Yuezhi or eastern Parthians as an alternative, several of the artifacts are highly consistent with a Scythian origin, such as the royal crown or the polylobed decorated daggers discovered in the tombs.
Several of the defuncts exhibited ritual deformation of the skull, a practice which is documented among Central Asian nomads of the period. These pieces have much in common with the famous Scythian gold artifacts recovered thousands of kilometers west on the banks of the Bosphorus, a high cultural syncretism pervades the findings, however. The artifacts were intermixed with items coming from much farther and this seems to be a testimony to the richness of cultural influences in the area of Bactria at that time