Taliban to track, secure 2000-year-old Bactrian gold treasure: Report
The Taliban ministry of information and culture has said they have begun efforts to track and locate the Bactrian treasure, also known as Bactrian Gold, discovered four decades ago in the Tela Tapa area of Sherberghan district, the centre of northern Jawzjan province, according to a report. Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the cultural commission of the Taliban interim cabinet, said they have assigned the relevant departments the task to find and check on the Bactrian treasure. “The issue is under investigation, and we will collect information to know what the reality is. If it has been transferred (out of Afghanistan), it is treason against Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying by Tolo News. “The government of Afghanistan will take serious actions if this and other ancient items are moved out of the country.”
According to National Geographic, the Bactrian treasure consists of thousands of gold pieces from all over the ancient world and was found inside six tombs, dating from the first century BC to the first century AD. “They contained more than 20,000 objects, including golden rings, coins, weapons, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, weapons, and crowns. In addition to gold, many of these were crafted from precious stones such as turquoise, carnelian, and lapis lazuli,” the magazine said.
Scholars believe the graves belonged to six wealthy Asian nomads, five women and one man, according to National Geographic. “The 2,000-year-old artifacts found with them exhibit a rare blend of aesthetic influences (from Persian to classical Greek) and the great number of precious objects found surprised the archaeologists, in particular the intricate golden crown found in the sixth tomb,” National Geographic said in 2016.
The Bactrian treasure was brought to the presidential palace by the former government in February 2021 and was put on display for public viewing. However, after the collapse of the former government, concerns were raised over its safety.
Tolo News reported that Wasiq has said any contract that has been signed with the international community over the protection of ancient and historical monuments will remain in place. Wasiq also said that their assessments show that items of the national museum, the national archive and the national gallery and other historical and ancient monuments are safe in their locations, according to Tolo News.
Kabul residents told Tolo News that the Bactrian treasure is a national asset and should be protected. “Why should they have transferred it? It should remain in our country,” Hashmat said.
Tolo News reported in December 2020 that the Bactrian treasure collection has been displayed in 13 countries in the past 13 years, “bringing in more than 350 million Afghanis (more than $4.5 million) to the country’s contemporary treasury.”