Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Afghan artifact returned

Hey, check this out...
In March 2002, I visited the Buddha statues at Bamiyan, Afghanistan - where I came across what looked like an ancient bronze artifact. (photo attached)
I brought it back to Kabul looking for somewhere to donate the item, a small metal triangle with an eyelet on the back and the carving of what looked like a little monkey on the front. I eventually brought it to the Museum of Natural History in NYC, who would not accept it.
Finally, I found Paul Bucherer, a Swiss man who was collecting Afghanistan's cultural artifacts. I drove from Frankfurt to Basel and on to a little village in Switzerland called Bubendorff. I donated the tiny metal thing - see attached photo - to the museum.
Dr. Bucherer had the item cleaned and examined. His experts found that it was likely a seal or stamps that Buddhists monks wore around their neck - perhaps 1000 years ago. Pretty cool.
(I told him to keep the piece, what good would it do in a shoebox in my basement!)
Now, it is back in Kabul, where it belongs - and that's a good thing.

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1 comment:

Thursday Next said...

Hey, that's really neat. Where did you find it? Just laying on the ground in the dust?
It's sad to think that Afghanistan's artifacts had to be saved in a Swiss "museum-in-exile", as the AP termed it, from 1999-2007. As though during that time, this nation was lost and someone else had to preserve its culture so that it could be eventually reinstated. We certainly can't return the lives, buildings, and infrastructure destroyed as easily as these 1,400 artifacts were shipped across the border.