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Table of Contents
                            Of the Past, for the Future: Integrating Archaeology and Conservation
PART SEVEN - Challenges in Conserving Archaeological Collections
	Archaeological Collections: Valuing and Managing an Emerging Frontier
	Archaeological Archives in Britain and the Development of the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre
	Working with Native Communities and the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian: Theory and Practice
	Challenges in Conserving Archaeological Collections
	Archaeological Conservation in Turkey
PART EIGHT - Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Iraq and Afghanistan
	The Law as a Tool for Cultural Heritage Preservation: The Case of Iraq and Afghanistan
	Babylon: A Case Study in the Military Occupation of an Archaeological Site
	The National Museum and Archaeology in Afghanistan: Accomplishments and Current Needs
	Preserving the Cultural and National Heritage of Afghanistan
	UNESCO’s Mandate and Activities for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage
	Recovery from Cultural Disaster: Strategies, Funding, and Modalities of Action of International Cooperation in Afghanistan
	Preserving Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage: What Is to Be Done?
PART NINE - Archaeology and Conservation in China Today: Meeting the Challenges of Rapid Development
	China’s Legal Framework for the Protection of Its Material Cultural Heritage
	Archaeology, Cultural Heritage Protection, and Capital Construction in China
	Planning for Conservation of China’s Prehistoric Sites: The Liangzhu Site Case Study
	Conservation during Excavation: The Current Situation in China
	Heritage Protection in the Liyie Basin, Hunan Province, the People’s Republic of China
	The Conservation and Presentation of Large-Scale Archaeological Sites in Liaoning, China
Document Text Contents
Page 1


Challenges in Conserving
Archaeological Collections

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Page 2

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Page 52

risks. A more appropriate site should be identified. In fact, the

Ministry of Information and Culture owns the land adjacent

to the National Archives. If a new museum were to be built

here, it would become a museum complex, sharing a common

restoration laboratory for manuscripts and other museum

objects. During the past conflict, the National Archives did

not suffer damage, as its site is protected from both missile fire

and looting by the proximity of the mountains and the local

population. However, the city zoning plan has classified this

land for commercial use.

As the rehabilitation of the present museum has just

begun, there can be no safe storage of cultural heritage

objects, which are kept in various locations around Kabul and

in the provinces. The Ministry of Information and Culture

required the space that had been occupied on the ground level

by the stored objects as work space for its staff. The storage sit-

uation in the Ministry is very precarious, as was demonstrated

by the bomb that exploded in 2002 just across the street.

Along with the perilous condition of the stored cultural her-

itage objects, there is an associated problem, that of not being

able to take in objects from excavations. The minister of cul-

ture has said that today Afghanistan’s number one problem in

the cultural sector is illicit excavation and looting. Fortu-

nately, many objects have been stopped from leaving the

country, but where are they to be kept? If there were museum

space to protect and restore these objects, scientific archaeo-

logical excavation could begin. At the same time this would

help put to an end to much of the illicit excavation, as it has

done in Iraq.

It is impossible to speak about the museum without

mentioning the human factor. The National Museum in Kabul

has one of the most dedicated staffs in the country. They have

done their utmost, and the seemingly impossible, to save what

could be saved of the museum collections. This dedication

should be repaid, but in fact, because the museum is isolated

in a far suburb of Kabul that lacks public transportation, the

museum staff is in one of the most dangerous situations in the

country. Also, until very recently, working in a building with-

out electricity or water was excruciating, especially during the

winter months. The museum staff is just beginning to receive

the benefits of training and up-to-date methods of inventory

and restoration. For the past two decades, they have not been

in contact with their colleagues around the world and have

missed the exchange of ideas and methods that accompanies

these contacts. If the museum is to continue to attract and

retain such dedicated staff, training opportunities and

exchange must be provided. Not only should short-term

training be organized for the dedicated staff, but long-term

training for the younger generation must be foreseen and

organized, in the near future, to ensure the continuation of

quality work in the museum.

Estimates of reconstruction and rehabilitation time for

the Darulaman area range from ten to twenty years. In the

meantime, the museum and its collections must be rehabili-

tated and exhibitions organized for the edification of the pub-

lic. Education of the younger generation in Afghanistan, and

those returning to Afghanistan, is of the highest importance

to the country and to the future understanding of its unique

cultural heritage, which has been shrouded by the last years of


Kabul today is in search of cultural direction. Attempts

to create venues for popular culture have met with resistance

from the conservative elements of society. One example,

among others, is the musical concert that was planned for the

Nauruz (New Year) celebration in the Olympic Stadium in

2002 but canceled at the last moment without explanation.

Artists have not found exhibition facilities. There has been

much discussion of the intangible cultural heritage of

Afghanistan, but until now popular expressions of art and cul-

ture have not been encouraged. The ideal National Museum

would become a place of study and artistic expression. There

is a great need for a museum complex having archaeological,

ethnological, and popular components.


1 The first section of this paper was written by Dr. Feroozi, the sec-

ond section by Dr. Masoodi.

250 Of the Past, for the Future

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Page 53

Abstract: This paper describes the various forms of destruction

to which the rich archaeological remains of Afghanistan have

been subjected over the past quarter century: they have been

plundered for the antiquities market, obliterated by incessant

fighting, and even deliberately demolished by governmental

decrees. It suggests that many countries, including the United

States, bear certain responsibilities for this destruction and urges

greater financial support to protect the archaeological sites and

architectural monuments of Afghanistan and to rebuild the

national museum and research institutions devoted to the pro-

motion of Afghanistan’s unique pre-Islamic and Islamic pasts. It

also discusses the recent reemergence of the looting of sites and

the trading of antiquities on an unprecedented scale and urges

international efforts to prevent these activities.

The Cultural, National, and Cold War
Heritage of Afghanistan

Three consecutive sessions were presented at the Fifth World

Archaeological Congress (WAC-5) titled “Preserving the Cul-

tural and National Heritages of Afghanistan.” This title was

chosen to emphasize the complexity and diversity of

Afghanistan’s past, to acknowledge that its heritage and legacy

from different periods are multiple, and to distinguish and

highlight both its cultural and its national heritage. In the

context of contemporary Afghanistan, this last distinction is

crucial. Today Afghanistan has an essentially 100 percent

Islamic cultural heritage (i.e., its numerous different peoples

almost exclusively profess Islam), but it also has a national

heritage comprising all the remains from different periods

and cultures that are found within its borders and, literally, in

its earth. One wants to preserve both the cultural and the

national heritage of Afghanistan and to never repeat the delib-

erate destruction of monuments deemed non-Islamic or cul-

turally alien, such as was perpetrated by the Taliban. Given

this recent history, the argument can be made that initial

restoration and archaeological efforts should perhaps princi-

pally focus on the remains of Afghanistan’s Islamic cultural

heritage, such as the current UNESCO-sponsored projects to

restore the Timurid mosques and minarets of Herat and the

minaret of Jam nestled deep in the Hindu Kush (see, in this

volume, Manhart; Williams and Haxthausen). As civic nation-

alism takes root, Afghans should be made aware and proud of

the incredibly rich archaeological remains of all the periods

and cultures interred in the Afghan soil.

Afghanistan also has the dubious distinction of sharing

another heritage or legacy as one of the worst victims of the

Cold War, the decades-long standoff between the Soviet Union

and the United States to achieve global hegemony. Already

poor and underdeveloped throughout the 1970s, Afghanistan


Preserving the Cultural and National
Heritage of Afghanistan

Philip L. Kohl and Rita Wright

If the culture of a nation dies, its soul dies with it. It’s not enough to eat and clothe

yourself. You have to have some sense of identity.

—nancy h. dupree, Society for the Preservation

of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage

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In order to protect the Nushenmiao and its excavated

artifacts, there is an urgent need to adopt the following mea-

sures for both the archaeological excavation and exhibition:

• Construction of a building for protection, excava-

tion, and exhibition. The building, covering some

500 square meters, would require services such as

lighting, temperature, and humidity control.

• Carry out research and testing to solve the adhesive,

consolidation, and fading problems of the mud


Archaeological Site Display

The principles in this case should include display of the site’s

overall relationship to its surroundings and the actual artifact

locations. The display should make available the academic

research results. All displays should be implemented without

damage to the site and its surroundings.

Having been designated as an experimental site display

project of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the

Jiangnushi site has made much progress. Through consulta-

tion with specialists, it was decided that the display should

include a surface outline of the restoration, the current state

of conservation, and the status of the restoration in relation to

the site’s original condition. Due to limitations of protection

techniques and research ability, the last phase has not been

carried out as yet.

The outline of the site is marked by the use of different

kinds of plants to show the different functions of the various

architectural structures. The No. 4 section of the southwest

corner of Jieshi Palace was chosen for this purpose. The sur-

face was marked out with grasses, surrounded by cypress trees

and short Dutch chrysanthemum plants to represent the

width of the wall base. There are two gaps left at the southern

and northern main gates; the central lane is covered with

nonoriginal red sand. Three different types of plantings are

used to represent different types of relics. This approach pro-

tects the site and its surroundings while maintaining its cul-

tural ambience (fig. 3).

With support from the State Administration of Cultural

Heritage a 1:1 representation of the Heishantou site (part of

Jiangnushi) was made in order to display the outline of the

original foundations. The result, after evaluation, has been

quite satisfactory (fig. 4).

301Conservation and Presentation of Large-Scale S ites : L iaoning

FIGURE 3 Using the marking method

to restore the outline of the No. 4

section of Jieshi Palace. Photo: Wang


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Page 104


Protection of large-scale archaeological sites is an extremely

complicated and systematic engineering process that requires

iterative reasoning and technical experiments, large capital

input, and proven technology. However, current ability lags

behind these ambitions. Therefore, international support and

assistance is requested from foundations and specialists in

heritage conservation.


I thank the Getty Conservation Institute for providing the

opportunity to take part in the Fifth World Archaeological

Congress, which enabled the exchange of ideas and the shar-

ing of experience, technology, and methods with specialists in

the same field from around the world.

302 Of the Past, for the Future

FIGURE 4 The recovery of the Hei-

shantou site. Photo: Wang Jingchen

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