Afghanistan’s Hidden Treasures

In the foyer of the Brisbane Hotel Urban I was treated to an incredible tale. Hotel Urban

But first, some background. From the 5th of September this year to the 27th of January next the Queensland Museum, at South Bank, is host to a priceless display of historical artifacts from Afghanistan.  These treasures are among the most significant pieces of world history currently still touring. Each of these pieces heralds from one of four archaeological sites which represents the confluence of ancient cultures along the great trading route the Silk Road. Various pieces represent cultural influences and artistic styles of Greece, Egypt, and India. Afghanistan, in other words, was a melting pot for nationalities trading ideas as well as goods.

For many years these priceless pieces were thought to have been destroyed. The bloody war against the Soviet invasion and the American assault on the Taliban were thought to have utterly smashed these pieces. The U.S. admitted that the National Museum of Kabul had been hit and much of its contents destroyed. At the time it was acknowledge as an irreplaceable loss to humanity.

clay-headBut for many of the most treasured pieces this was not so. For the curators managed to securely hide some of these pieces before the fighting ever began. And it was this story I was treated to in the lobby of the Hotel Urban.

It seemed somewhat surreal – sitting in the architectural splendor of the Hotel Urban  discussing the architectural demise of another beautiful building. Clearly the representative of the Kabul Museum was impressed with the surroundings. Through an interpreter I was given an account of bravery by men and women responsible for the safe keeping of these treasures. And believe me, they did display bravery. When the bullets started flying and the bombs started dropping many pieces had to be moved several times before the Presidential Palace was selected as he most likely building to escape the destruction. Even then officials had to be convinced, bribed or threatened into opening the vaults and allowing the pieces to be stored. Wars are certainly more urgent than clay pots. The curators had to convince officials that the pots were, however, more important and needed to be protected.

Sitting in the comfort of the Hotel Urban in Brisbane it is difficult to imagine the devastation of these successive wars in Kabul. I looked at the man telling me the story and was grateful for the quiet heroes who protect a history that belongs to us all.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>