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Culture, Libraries and Museums

Ancient gold coins, rich collection, Soviets, National Archives, rockets

The few major libraries are located in Kabul. However, most of the materials in the Kabul University Library (founded in 1931) were dispersed during the war with the Soviets and the subsequent civil war; the National Archives was also looted and its collections removed. Taliban militants burned many thousands of library and museum books in their zealous mission to enforce their strict interpretation of Islam. The Kabul National Museum (1922), the largest in the country, was once known for its collection of early Buddhist relics. Some of the more valuable of these were reported to have been removed to the USSR during the years of the Soviet occupation; their present location is unknown. Ancient gold coins and jewelry were reported to have been taken as well. In 1993 the National Museum was blown open by rockets and subsequently looted by soldiers. The majority of the enormously rich collection was taken out through Pakistan and sold to wealthy collectors in other countries. The trade in Afghan antiquities was reported to be one of the largest producers of illicit revenues after illegal drugs. More than 2,700 works of art in the museumís remaining collection, including many ancient cultural treasures, were destroyed in 2000 by Taliban religious police. In the regimeís interpretation of Islam, the works were considered to be idolatrous renderings of living things.

Article key phrases:

Ancient gold coins, rich collection, Soviets, National Archives, rockets, present location, illegal drugs, jewelry, USSR, Pakistan, trade, countries, majority, country, collections, art, works, materials, years, soldiers


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