Afghan archaeologists have discovered an ancient statue of Buddha in the capital Kabul that is likely to date from around the fifth century, the culture ministry said on Thursday.
The statue, found at the site of a pre-Islamic temple in April but only made public this week, was intact from the upper arms downwards but its head was missing, deputy culture minister Mohammad Zia Afshar told AFP.
It is likely from the fifth or sixth century but this had not been established, added Zafar Faiman, a research official at the site at Naranj Hill south of Kabul.
The statue is in a sitting position and is the height of a normal man, he told AFP.
The temple at Naranj Hill has been excavated for years, yielding more than two dozen ancient statues, the minister said.
Afghanistan had a rich store of ancient heritage, having once stood on the Silk Route that connected Asia and Europe, but much of it has been looted or destroyed in years of war and neglect.
Centuries-old giant statues of Buddha standing were blown up by the Taliban regime in April 2001 in the central province of Bamiyan, where there are some calls for them to be rebuilt.
Archaeologists last year discovered the remains of an ancient 19-metre-long (62-foot) sleeping Buddha in Bamiyan.