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Preserving Afghanistan's Buddhist History--The China Connection

Buddhism, though not native to China, has become synonymous with much of Chinese culture and history since its introduction from India in the second century CE. Afghanistan sits at a nexus of the former, overland Silk Road and was once home to a vibrant Buddhist culture. Now, China and Afghanistan are trying to work together on preserving a piece of Buddhist history.

The Taliban infamously destroyed the towering Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001. Now, the same Taliban want to protect (in a way) the remaining Buddhas at Mes Aynak. The latter comes down to significant copper deposits, China's desire for raw materials, and lots of money.

Mes Aynak holds "...remnants of a vast complex, including four monasteries, ancient copper workshops and a citadel. It became clear the area had been a major Buddhist settlement, a crossroads for traders coming from the west, and pilgrims from afar, even China."

The site itself will likely not be preserved, but prior to industrial mining claiming the region, the remaining ruins could be studied and artifacts that have not previously been looted and destroyed could be removed and preserved. Not ideal, but much better than the treatment of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

For more, see this Associated Press story


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