News & AnalysisArchaeology

Time Ticks Away for Ancient Afghan Monasteries

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Science  14 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6100, pp. 1279-1280
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6100.1279

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Last month, on the heels of a land mine accident that severely injured two Afghans working on the site, Taliban-launched rockets landed just a few hundred meters from a unique complex of 1500-year-old Buddhist monasteries in Afghanistan. But many archaeologists say the greatest threat comes not from the Taliban but from the Western-backed government: It intends to order the team to withdraw from the central part of the site at the end of the year so that Chinese miners can begin tapping a rich vein of copper that sits beneath the ancient statues and paintings. Archaeologists are lobbying for more time, noting that mining efforts are not likely to begin for more than a year.