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Buddhist stupa at Mes Aynak, Afghanistan (Jerome Starkey / CC by SA 2.0)

Mes Aynak: Afghanistan's Buddhist City Threatened by Chinese Mining (Video)


Mes Aynak, located about 40 kilometers southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, is an extraordinary archaeological site with a history dating back over 2,000 years. This ancient Buddhist city, nestled amidst immense rocky peaks, holds invaluable relics and cultural heritage that now face the threat of permanent extinction due to the greed of commercial interests. The site was once a vibrant center of Buddhist civilization, featuring temples, monasteries, and stupas adorned with intricate carvings and artwork. Its historical significance makes it a testament to the rich tapestry of Afghanistan's past, reflecting the diverse cultural and religious influences that have shaped the region over the centuries.

However, Mes Aynak's preservation is jeopardized by the presence of one of the world's largest untapped copper deposits beneath its surface. A Chinese consortium's interest in exploiting this resource has led to the imminent destruction of the ancient city. Archaeologists and heritage experts warn that if mining activities continue unchecked, the delicate ruins and artifacts could be lost forever, robbing future generations of an invaluable glimpse into the past. Efforts to preserve Mes Aynak have faced numerous challenges, including security concerns, lack of funding, and political instability.

Top image: Buddhist stupa at Mes Aynak, Afghanistan (Jerome Starkey / CC by SA 2.0)

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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