Have a look and enjoy
....while it is still there.....
In May 2012 I have travelled to Afghanistan on an assignment for the Czech edition of National Geographic Magazine.
I have photographed excavation and rescue efforts at the world’s largest archaeological excavations site, located in Mes Aynak (“copper well”) area, Logar Province, Afghanistan.
Being an equally inspiring and unique place, experts on site believe that uncovering Mes Aynak ancient city would not only re-write the history of the Silk Route, but also the history of Buddhism.
That is however unlikely to happen. At the end of December 2012 the first part of the ancient site will be destroyed.
Due to economic interests of China and Afghanistan a massive open copper mine complex just where the ancient city lays will be established.
Mes Aynak is also a home to a second-largest unworked cooper deposit in the world.
To give you a hint. This earth-covered ancient city, yet to be excavated, sprawls across a territory of approximately 1,5 by 1,5 kilometers.
Recent findings suggest that underneath the 2600 years-old town, Mes Aynak was inhabited in an organized manner as early as 5,000 years ago, well into Bronze Age.
It is considered literally as a missing link between the civilizations of East and West, a trading hub, a money factory, a place where these two civilizations met and interacted. According to international archaeologists on site, Mes Aynak becomes one of the five most important findings in the history of archaeology ever. That is, in the same category as Petra or Machu Piccu.
Unfortunately we will not learn about it.
Underneath Mes Aynak city lays the second-largest known unworked copper deposit in the world. China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC), a government-owned giant bought rights to it for a round $3 billion and will excavate copper for the next 30 years, aiming to extract approximately $100 billion in it.
A massive open copper mine, visible from outer space, will completely destroy this ancient site. So far, perhaps 15% of the newest archaeological layer was uncovered. The second, or the earliest settlements will never be accessed. The entire city’ history, including its administrative center, Buddhist stupas, monasteries, as well as Bronze Age-era past will be forever lost.
Archaeologists state they require between 20 to 30 years to fully uncover and document this site but cannot oppose decision taken by the government of Afghanistan and MCC. A team consisting of international and Afghan archaeologists conducts the so called “rescue archaeology” - basically to dig out as much as possible in the remaining few months.
The reportage (text by Jiri Unger and Nicolas Engel) has been published as exclusive in the September edition of the Czech version of National Geographic magazine and is available here: www.national-geographic.cz/detail/exkluz ivne-pro-ng-meden... (in Czech).