News FocusEuropean Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art Meeting

Persians Made the Afghan Desert Bloom

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Science  20 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6092, pp. 289
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6092.289

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North-central Afghanistan is a harsh desert of dunes long thought to have been uninhabited save for the occasional hardy nomad; even today the region is sparsely settled. But a French team surveying the region north and west of Mazar-i-Sharif has recently discovered large settlements organized around an impressive water system dating back 2500 years. No other culture before or since has managed to support large settlements in this desolate region. The find could provide exciting new information on irrigation techniques that made the early central Asian desert bloom, say the archaeologists who work here.