News of the WeekArchaeology

Copper Mine Threatens Ancient Monastery in Afghanistan

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Science  30 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5991, pp. 496-497
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5991.496

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A decade after the Taliban destroyed the famous Bamiyan Buddhas—two massive statues that have stood sentry in an Afghan valley for 1500 years—archaeologists are warning that Afghan antiquities are again at risk. This time the threat comes from a venture blessed by the Western-backed Afghan government. A Chinese company intends to blow up an ancient Buddhist monastery south of Kabul to make way for a massive copper mine. The plan has sparked outrage among Afghan and French archaeologists, who have recently uncovered more than 100 statues within a large religious complex that includes seven stupas, or tombs built to house the relics of saints.