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Mes Aynak

Remarkable Ancient Site in Afghanistan at Risk

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In the rocky foothills of South East Kabul lies Mes Aynak, a site of immense historical importance which is now under threat after the sites massive copper reserves were solve off to the China Metallurgical Group four years ago. Archaeologists could be forced to leave the site as early as June.

Mes Aynak contains a 5,000 year-old settlement which includes a 100-acre ancient monastery complex, 10 per cent of which has been excavated to date. So far, archaeologists have recovered many Buddhist statues, engravings, manuscripts, coins, tools and pots and it is estimated that it would take at least another 30-years to complete the excavations.

However, all this has been under threat since the Ministry of Mines sold rights to the copper reserves located below and around the archaeological site.

A 2012 report by the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (Arch), a US non-profit group, states “what makes the site special is this continuity of habitation across millennia … Over 5,000 years old, this is a site where early technology and society unfolded."

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