August 15, 2010
Science.org reported a few weeks back that the remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan will be destroyed if a Chinese mining project goes forward. The proposed copper mine may require that the site be blown up, although Afghan and French archeologists in the field believe that the monastery's remains can be preserved to generate revenue from tourism in the future. The mine itself will generate an estimated $400 million a year for the Afghan government.
The region once hosted a rich Indic and Buddhist culture, which drew international attention when the Taliban destroyed the giant 6th century stone Buddhas at Bamiyan, a Silk Route crossroads town in the ancient kingdom of Gandhara. The archeologists say the ruins cover a "vast area." They also contend that plans for the mine can go forward without destroying the site.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons. One of the two stone Bamiyan statues in 1976. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, both statues were dynamited by the Taliban in 2001. They stand 143 miles northwest of Kabul; the endangered monastery ruins are south of Kabul.