Historical Treasure Of Bamiyan in Afghanistan

  By: Dr. Yasmin Jana
Afghanistan has always been key stop on legendary silk routes and for centuries Afghanistan has been used as an important strategical point between east and west. Throughout the history Afghanistan has always protected their culture and tradition and indeed Afghanistan has a very rich history. Bamiyan, which is one of our well knowen historical place lay at the heart of the Silk Road, offering respite to caravans carrying centuries, Bamiyan carrying goods across the area between China and the Roman Empire.Kabul Museum which was found in the 1920s and acknowledged as one of the world's most important historical places,where the most comprehensive record of Central Asian history was available. Kabul Museum also had one of the largest displays of Greek and Roman cains found near Kabul, Alexandria, Ashokan, Kanishkan, Buddhist and Muslim periods.
After all these invasions and confilicts among the war btween many different groups in Afghanistan and as a result of this war we lost many of these valuable historical treasures. Now the Kabul Museum is a destroyed and dusty place with the empty shells, lost approximately 2,750 works of art during this particuler war time in Afghanistan. But hundreds more survived, smuggled out to Pakistan and other countries where the smugglers could offere for sale. One of the other important issue, which is considerably important to know is that these comprehensive collection of historical treasures were looted by Afghans being members of the goverment in power at that time. Now think about it carefully as a carring Afghan, if these lootings were carried out by the enemies of our nation to destroy our rich civilization wasn't that painful, but to be carried out by an Afghan is an embarrassment for the entire country and makes as to believe that we still have such a citizens who aren't aware of their dignity and national pried. Instead of being proud of their history and their past identity and considering these pressures heritage and rich civilization as a part of their history, sadly they looted them and offered them for sale, where the smugglers could offere for sale. Bucherer-Dietschi, who opened the Afghanistan Museum in Bubendorf, Switzerland, a year ago, hopes the items will soon be sent back to Kabul for display at a new museum location.
Buddha Statues:
The site of the cave temples at Bamiyan, situated in the valley between the Hindu Kush and the Koh-i-Baba ranges, occupied in an immensely important position on the trade route, which passing from Herat, reached the Kabul Capital city of Afghanistan. Dominating the great monastic establishment at Bamiyan are the giant Buddha statues hewn out of the rock on the face of the cliff; their vast parabolic niches, like the whole community of caves, face the south valley, an orientation ensuring the full benefit of the sun's warmth during the long mind-Asian winter.
These two colossal images are five-eights of a mile apat; between them, and for a considerable space on the east and west. The caves are joined by communication tunnels and from them one has access to a stairway cut in the interior of the cliff that leads to the top of the great niche and the head of the Buddha. There are further caves opening from behind the feet of this image and others still in the cliff above and behind it, none of these, although containing extremely interesting architectural features.The giant Buddhas were among Asia's great archaeological treasures. Artistic influences from China to the Mediterranean can be found in the sculpture and paintings at Bamiyan, a testament to the importance of this area within the nexus of trade routes that connected the Greco-Roman world to India, Central Asia and China. They were there from the 5th centry, which were the world's tallest and largest (53 Meters) standing Buddha.
In March 2001, the Taliban's plan to destroy the statues. Their plan was carefully detailed, they say, "The regime commissioned Arab, Sudanese and Bangladeshi demolition experts, as well as Chechen sappers, to do the job". Local residents of Bamiyan by and fiercely resistant to the Taliban-were forcibly evacuated ahead of the March destruction. As a result of this action many fled to the nearby mountains. As we all know that The Taliban took a very unpleasant action by destroying the Buddhas, but what was the actual reason behind this action. One of the reason which i can think of was that They thought people worshipped them, But in reality it wasn't a holy site and never was, it was a historic site not only for the afghan people, but for the rest of the world.
Buddha statues and artifacts are being destroyed because they are considered to be contrary to Islam and its injunction against idol worship. Certainly it reminds me of the destruction of historical wooden images and statues in Nuristan. The old and pure culture of Nuriatn known as a Kafiristan came to an end with the Afghan conquest of 1896. This region was finally conquered by the Afghan king Amir A. Rahman Khan and the people of this wonderful area obliged to belief in favour of Islam and changed the name to Nuristan the country of light.
When the region was finally conquered by A. Rahman Khan these incredibly beautiful statues were destroyed and a few of them were brought in Kabul Museum and were marked by the greatest simplicity and crudity in sculptural technique. They weren't holly and no one was worshiping them. They were historical and extremely valuable heritage. Now the question is why they were destroyed?. The answer is very clear that it has nothing to do with the religion, it's because those governors had no value for the historical treasures. I believe that playing with the dignity and pride of a nation and destroying the identity of a nation is a crime and an unforgivable crime.

One of many precious wooden image from Nuristan
The Taliban's this action wasn't anthing new to the people of Afghanistan because the ministry of Vice and Virtue were those who were overseeing the destruction of the artifacts. No wonder that the ministry also enforces adherence to many facets of the Taliban's strichet interpretation of Islam. The best examples were as follow:
- Women are required to cover themselves from head to toe and bans on women education
- Men are required not to shave their beards
- Playing of music, radio and television
- Finaly the obliteration of an important piece of Afghanistan's history had been added to the list.
Reconstruction of Buddha Statues:
The new government of Afghanistan considering to rebuild these statues with the help and support of foreign experts by creating computerised image of the Buddha. Museum, Bubendorf, Switzerland, with its director Paul Bucherer and their group has volunteered to perform the required computer reconstruction, which will serve as a basis for the physical reconstruction. In fact, using our computer model, first a statue at 1/10 of the original size will be built and displayed in the Afghanistan Museum in Switzerland. Then this model will be used to study materials and construction techniques to be applied for the final reconstruction at full size. Originally our interest in the reconstruction of the Great Buddha was a purely scientific one. They planned to investigate to what extend such an object could be reconstructed fully automatically using just amateur images taken from the Internet. The main scientific challenge here lies in the facts that no typical photogrammetric information (as interior and exterior orientation parameters) about these images is available and that existing automated image analysis techniques will most probably fail under the given circumstances, as described later. After learning about the efforts to actually rebuild the Great Buddha we decided to get involved in that project beyond a purely scientific approach and to contribute as much as we could with our technology to the success of the work.
They generated different versions of the Buddha, depending on which images were used for the computer reconstruction. The results extracted from the Internet images serve only scientific purposes. The actual physical reconstruction will be based on a 3-D computer model derived from three metric images. These images were acquired in Bamiyan in 1970 by Prof. Kostka, Technical University of Graz [Kostka, 1974]. They form the basis for a very precise, reliable and detailed reconstruction with an accuracy of 1-2 cm in relative position and with an object resolution of about 5 cm. In order to achieve these values we had to apply manual image measurements. In this paper we mainly present the results of the computer reconstruction. For a more detailed technical description of the digital photogrammetric procedures, in particular the automated reconstruction, we refer to [Gruen et al., 2002].
Although these statues weren't come under attack for the first time, but to destroy them completely was for the first time in the history of Afghanistan. I hope the new government of Afghanistan will take care of such as precious historical items in the future and be able to rebuild these price-less statues.

Buddha statue before and after