Photo: Flickr/U.S. Embassy Kabul
Mes Aynak is a 2,600-year-old Buddhist site in Logar province, Afghanistan, that is home to both an ancient archaeological site and one of the largest copper deposits in the world.In 2007 a Chinese government-owned company paid $3 billion to lease the area for 30 years and plans to extract over $100 billion worth of copper from the area.
While preparing the land, laborers found a 100-acre monastery complex that holds a bunch of Buddhist temples, statues, relics and manuscripts.
In 2009 archaeologists were given three years to attempt to excavate the site, but they say it’s a 30-year job and they currently have limited tools at their disposal.
“This is probably one of the most important points along the Silk Road,” Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist advising the Afghans, told the Daily Mail in 2010. “What we have at this site, already in excavation, should be enough to fill the (Afghan) national museum.”
More than 250 Afghans are working with a team of international archaeologists to excavate the ancient settlement
They've already uncovered more than 20 ruin locations, including four Buddhist monasteries from the 5th-6th century
There is already a camp for the Chinese workers but they haven't broken ground on a planned railway and power station
While the team lacks the chemicals needed to keep most of the smaller ones from disintegrating when extracted
There are also coins, glass, tools and other artifacts, including manuscripts that may reference Alexander the Great
Mining experts say the copper mine will make the land so toxic that people will be advised to avoid the area
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