As ISIL expands its territory they release footage on the internet of them destroying archaeological sites and artefacts. However they’re not destroying indiscriminately. ISIL is aware these pieces can be used to finance their campaign by selling exceptional pieces on the black market.
This propaganda-style destruction brings to mind similar stories of when the Taliban occupied Afghanistan. Like when they blew the faces off, riddled with holes, and then completely removed the Buddhas of Bamiyan. These were two, 6th-century statues of standing Buddas, carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan, 230 km northwest of Kabul. These statues were made in the Greco-Buddhist art. They were a reflection of Afghanistan’spre-Islamic history.
Afghanistan has been the home to numerous peoples, with as many religious beliefs, well before the Taliban’s style of Islam. This is a result of being part of the Silk Road. It has previously been incorporated into the Achaemenid, the Macedonian and the Indian Maurya Empires. Kingdoms have risen out of it including the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khiljis, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and the Hotak and Durrani dynasties. Let’s not forget, it was also annexed into the Soviet Union.
As each new ethnic group arrived or political power rose to prominence they left their mark for future generations. By destroying attempting to destroy facets of the past, the recruited Afghanis were removing their heritage and that of their children and descants to come. At the height of the Taliban’s campaign to destroy everything that was “non-Islamic employees of the Kabul Museum hid many of the artefacts in their collection, at the risk to their own safety.
Every culture has history they’d rather bury but the past is a fact of life and needs to acknowledge. It avoid repeating the past it is better to use it as an example rather than trying to destroy it.
Next week’s blog will be on some of the most visually stunning artefacts protected from the Taliban.