LIFE / CULTURE
Chinese experts show concern for Afghanistan’s Bactrian Treasure protection
Published: Sep 23, 2021 03:38 PM
A gold belt in 25 to 50 from Afghanistan is showcased in Hong Kong in 2019. Photo:VCG

A gold belt in 25 to 50 from Afghanistan is showcased in Hong Kong in 2019. The Bactrian Treasure, composed of 21,145 pieces of gold, is recognized as one of the biggest gold collections in the world.  Photo:VCG



Afghanistan's Bactrian Treasure, which was once on display in China for years, has been found and secured in a safe place, Afghanistan's Tolo News reported Wednesday. Experts say attention is needed to protect this common wealth of all mankind.

Afghanistan's culture ministry noted on Wednesday that the country's Bactrian Treasure hadn't been smuggled out of the country, and that the treasure has been found and is safe, said the report.

Tolo News reported last week that the country's culture department was checking to see if the treasure had been "transferred out of Afghanistan" or not, which, as the country's deputy head of the Cultural Commission of the cabinet Ahmadullah Wasiq warned, would constitute "treason."

The Bactrian Treasure, composed of 21,145 pieces of gold, is recognized as one of the biggest gold collections in the world. 

The 2,000-year-old gold was excavated more than four decades ago from the graves of six wealthy nomads in the Tela Tapa area of the Sherberghan district in northern Afghanistan, according to reports.

While the country's former archaeologists once wrote public statements expressing the hope that more "attention be paid to the country's rich archaeological heritage," China has also been paying attention to the protection and the display of the treasure.

Experts reached by the Global Times noted that the assets should be protected.

"The international community should pay close attention to this and protect the world-class heritage of mankind to prevent them from flowing into the dark market," Zhang Yiwu, a professor of cultural studies at Peking University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The treasure began a 15-year world tour in 2006, arriving in China in 2017 to avoid the outbreak of war in Afghanistan.

The treasure toured Dunhuang in Northwest China' s Gansu Province, Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province and the Palace Museum in Beijing.

A gold crown from Afghanistan is showcased in Tsinghua university, Beijing, in 2019. Photo:VCG

A gold crown from Afghanistan is showcased in Tsinghua university, Beijing, in 2019. The Bactrian Treasure, composed of 21,145 pieces of gold, is recognized as one of the biggest gold collections in the world.  Photo:VCG



The last stop on the Chinese tour was Hong Kong, where it went on display before being returned to Kabul in April 2020.

The treasure was then put on display at the presidential palace by the former government in February 2021.

"That the treasure has been located is worth celebrating. After all, if such a treasure was stolen, it would be a loss for human civilization," Zhang noted.

Observers say that ensuring the safety of a country's treasure is important as there have been numerous examples of relics that have been stolen from their home countries by "evil powers" in the past, especially "during the chaos of a government transition." 

In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron received a report on returning art looted from Africa, according to AP News. Experts estimate that up to 90 percent of the looted ancient African artworks still remains outside the continent.
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