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Bamiyan Buddhas

World Heritage Committee halts reconstruction of ancient Bamiyan Buddhas


The World Heritage Committee (WHC) has halted the reconstruction of the magnificent Bamiyan Buddhas, which were obliterated by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 despite wide-spread campaigns to support the revival of the largest representation of a standing Buddha in the world.

The Bamiayn Buddhas were two large standing Buddha statues, measuring 53 and 38 metres in height, and carved into solid rock. The enormous monuments were a reflection of Afghanistan, not only as a crossroads for the cultures of its powerful neighbours – China, India, and Persia – but also contributing greatly in its own right.

However, in a few weeks of fury in March 2001, the Taliban militia demolished the 1,700-year-old statues, as well as every artefact and artwork which they considered sacrilegious, as part of their campaign to rid Afghanistan of pre-Islamic structures.

Buddhas of Bamiyan

Destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001. Photo source: Wikipedia

Since then, there have been numerous calls to rebuild the great monuments. The government’s director of historical monuments said he was in favour of rebuilding the statues if the World Heritage Committee approved. However, in March 2011, UNESCO announced that they were not in favour of a rebuild, citing concerns over funding priorities and authenticity. Instead, approval was given for conservation work to be undertaken in the Bamiyan Valley where the Buddhas once stood, including reinforcing the cliff into which the Buddha statues were carved.

However, all conservation work by the German wing of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has been halted by the World Heritage Committee after it was suspected that they were secretly trying to rebuild one of the statue’s feet, the United Nations said. The WHC warned that any attempt to rebuild the statues without official permission could lead to the site losing its World Heritage status.

Featured Image: Taller Buddha in 1963 and in 2008 after destruction. Photo source: Wikipedia

By April Holloway



Why on earth should the other Islamic governments pay for the reconstruction by way of apology? I'm sorry but the last time I checked, the Taliban did this not these governments that you expect to apologise. Other than the Taliban also being Islamic, I fail to see your reasoning.

These should be rebuilt and the funds should come from Islamic governments as an apology for the mindless vandalism of the Taliban.

The destruction breaks my heart; however, embrace the impermanace... All things pass


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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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