Who's Stealing Afghanistan's Cultural Treasures?

04 Aug 2013 4:33 PM | Anonymous

Who's Stealing Afghanistan's Cultural Treasures?

The plunder of antiquities will leave the country's history in the dark.

Balkh, Afghanistan- A relative of Gul Agha unwraps an alleged antiquity found 15 years ago in a canal. The high-relief carving shows a man and woman in Kushan style with a servant. Most experts believe the piece to be a fake. No one wanted their face to be visible.

A young boy holds up a high-relief carving found by a relative in Balkh, a city in northern Afghanistan. Because unauthorized digging is illegal, none of the farmers wanted their faces shown.

Photograph by John Wendle

John Wendle in Afghanistan

for National Geographic

Published August 1, 2013

Part of our weekly "In Focus" seriesundefinedstepping back, looking closer.

The battered white Corolla rumbles down a rocky road past fields of okra and great earthen mounds topped by the crumbling remains of ancient battlements. Taking a hard right and then a hard left, the old car bounces up onto a small dirt soccer field and jerks to a stop.

"All of this is the tepe," says Abdul Wahid, a neatly dressed farmer in his 40s, pointing at a dirt expanse so pitted it looks like it has been carpet-bombed. He gets out of the car and walks over crumbling humps of dirt, skirting pits left by looters.



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