Thursday, 14 April 2011

Development vs conservation (?)

Aynak, Afghanistan, located about 20 miles from Kabul holds one of the country’s most important Buddhist sites (comparable to Hadda and Bamiyan). However, it is currently under threat because it sits on a large copper deposit -- for which a Chinese state-owned company agreed to pay £1.9bn for the extraction rights.  For details, see the excellent article by Jon Boone, published by the Guardian in November 2010.  

The Art Newspaper tells of a rescue excavation in operation right now. Intricate stupas have been revealed, with vaulted corredor and various important finds, such as a 7 metre-long reclining Buddha, wall paintings, a pair of large feet, an ancient wooden (!) Buddha, among other things. Some of these finds have been transferred to the National Museum in Kabul, where they were on display. The site suffered from widespread looting in the early 2000s, hence the statues with missing heads, or feet without bodies.

Although the mining project will bring significant revenue to the country it is not clear how much sustainable development it will bring to the region. Or, for that matter, how much of it will revert into actual improvements for the local population. There are, however, reports of governmental plans to build a new museum near Aynak, and of moving some of the stupa bases and reconstructing them in the new museum.

Despite the imminent loss of important archaeological remains, not to mention the overall impact on the environment, the mining project has not received much international attention.

1 comment:

  1. The BBC has an article about the site this week:


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