Incredibly, Afghanistan's Ancient Treasures Survived Decades Of War And Are Now On Show In Sydney

Pendant showing the ‘Dragon Master’. National Museum of Afghanistan. Photo: Thierry Ollivier

One of the defining moments of the Taliban’s unchecked fanaticism in Afghanistan came in 2001 when they destroyed to two 1400-year-old giant stone Buddhas, carved into the side of a mountain in Bamiyan.

Afghanistan has seen more than its share of conquerors over the centuries, with a knack for pillage and plunder, which makes an exhibition of more than 230 Afghani artefacts currently on show at the Art Gallery of NSW even more precious and remarkable.

Crown. National Museum of Afghanistan. Photo: Thierry Ollivier.

Afghanistan: hidden treasures from the National Museum, Kabul features treasures from the heart of the Silk Road. The fact that they still exist is the result of bravery, cunning and foresight by the strife-torn nation’s museum staff. In 1989, after more than 10 years of war, thousands of priceless artefacts from the collection were hidden in a bank vault in Kabul by staff to protect them from bombing and looting.

They were kept safe for 14 years, emerging again in 2003, as some of the only remaining artefacts from ancient Afghanistan.

The exhibition features gold jewellery, bronze and stone sculptures, ivories, painted Roman glassware and other ancient works of art, dated from between 2200BC and 200AD, which were all excavated from archaeological sites in the 20th century.

Hurry if you’re keen to see them: the exhibition continues at the Art Gallery of NSW until June 15. Tickets are $10.

Clasp, Tillya Tepe 1st century AD. National Museum of Afghanistan. Photo: Thierry Ollivier.

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