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Mes Aynak under Chinese 'Capitalism' - Faces destruction

One of the most important archaeological discoveries faces destruction

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A 5,000 years old settlement which includes an ancient Buddhist monastery, manuscripts and other treasures that was discovered in 1963 in Afganistan’s Mes Aynak and is considered one of the most important discoveries is threatened now with destruction.

When the site was discovered in 1964, because of multiple political and economic events that followed (like the Marxist coup, the Soviet Invasion and later on the US invasion), it was impossible for the area to be excavated. In 2004 French archaeologists returned to the site which was by then extensively looted.

The area around Mes Aynak is an archaeological paradise with more than 19 archaeological sites from fortified monasteries, Zoroastrian temples and Buddhist Stupas to ancient copper working, workshops and mining installations. More than 1,000 statues were found and frescos perfectly preserved showing scenes from the life of Buddha.

The problem is that the monument stands above a large copper deposit and as a result of our greedy society, in 2008 a few Chinese businessmen leased the entire site for 3 billion dollars estimating that the copper contained in the valley is worth more than 100 billion dollars and is probably the largest in the World.

As a result the site now faces a complete destruction since money most of the times gets priority over anything else. A team of French and Afghan archaeologists have gathered 11 million dollars in order to save whatever they can from the site before its destruction. Getting there is dangerous taking into account that is still considered to be a Taliban region but more than 500 brave workers work intensively on the site to achieve this mission.

By John Black

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