New reports indicate that the Taliban leaders are actively looking for a cache of “Bactrian treasure, ”A series of largely gold artifacts that were discovered at a site called Tillya Tepe in northern Afghanistan in 1978. Although the Bactrian treasure was reportedly last on display in Afghanistan’s presidential palace in February 2021, your current location is unknown. Furthermore, since the Taliban successfully usurped the current Government of Afghanistan and taken over the country, many questions have been raised about the future of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage, museums, and other antiquities that communicate narratives essential to the country’s national identity.
The main object among the Bactrian treasure is a crown 5 inches high made of gold leaf and which, in an ingenious flourish design, it folds to be transported more easily. However, the treasure also includes daggers, gold belts, Roman coins and a medallion with a representation of Buddha. The Bactrian treasure has traveled the world over the years, but more recently the collection has been much less public.
In February, the Taliban issued a statement saying the group had an “obligation to vigorously protect, monitor and preserve” items that were culturally relevant to Afghanistan, but the Taliban’s record of safeguarding precious items is not the best. One study found that Afghanistan eventually lost about half of its cultural heritage during the time it was last controlled by the Taliban.
In particular noteworthy incident, the Taliban destroyed two huge 1,500-year-old Buddha statues in Bamiyan in March 2001. It is not known what the group’s plans for the Bactrian treasure entail. “The cultural heritage situation is not right, because at the moment nobody is looking at sites and monuments,” said archaeologist Khair Muhammad Khairzada. saying LiveScience. “All archaeological sites in Afghanistan are [at] risk….[there is] no follow-up, no treatment and no care, all departments in all provinces [are] closed, without money and other facilities ”.