Kabul Museum Presents First Exhibition

From Artdaily.com, Dec 14, 2004, http://www.artdaily.com/section/news/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=11962

Kabul, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan is displayed in a Kabul museum during its first exhibition since the fall of the Taliban, 13 December 2004. The statues, which had been hacked up by Islamists during the Taliban regime, were restored by an Austrian restorer.

These treasures and many others were tragically lost when the Kabul Museum was bombed in 1993. At first, only the upper galleries suffered losses and looting.

The remaining artifacts, were transferred to lower leveled, steel doored vaults. In 1994, the United Nations attempted to stop the looting by repairing the doors, and bricking up the windows. Disappointingly, these attempts failed, and looters continued to plunder 90% of the museum's collections.

Both private collectors and antique dealers from as far away as Tokyo, have purchased stolen museum pieces. Looted artifacts have shown up all over the world, and they bring in large sums of money to the criminals.

In early March 2001, the Taliban decided to destroy all pre-Islamic statues and objects in Afghanistan, after an edict was announced by their leader Mullah Omar in late February. The Taliban destroyed numerous statues in the museum which survived the previous looting and destruction as a result of war.

The Taliban also destroyed the two giant Buddhas from the 5th century in Bamiyan, and other ancient historical statues in Ghazni. One of the Buddhas in Bamiyan was the world's tallest standing Buddha.