Impossible story

Read in Het Parool of 15 August 2015:


The name: Mes Aynak. The old city is situated in Afghanistan. The remains of an old buddhist cloister were found here when the mining started in one of the biggest copper mines of the world. A Chinese firm – the China Mettallurgical Group Corporation – had bought the site in 2007 and promised to invest 909 million dollars in mining and infrastructure: a railway, an electricity plant, a factory. But then the archeologists discovered a whole city of almost 400.000 square meters of temples and cloisters. Buddhist sculpures portray Buddha in a Greek toga, but also a Chinese one, thus referring explicitly to Greek influences (Alexander the Great) and to Chinese, when the local Gandhara civilization attracted pilgrims from all over India and China. Experts think the whole site is comparable to Machu Picchu or Pompeï. But they have only three years to finish the excavations. Then the mining will get started. Only ten per cent of the city has been researched until now. In the layers far beneath the temples they think they will find another 5000 years old artefacts dating from the Bronze time. At the same time islamic fighters of the Taliban try to bomb the site. Can you imagine?

Why they published an article on Mes Aynak in the Amsterdam based newspaper Het Parool I don’t know. It must be the IDFA, the yearly international documentary festival in Amsterdam. The journalist, Mary Munnik, quotes an American filmmaker, Brent Huffman, who made a documentary on the excavations in 2011. At the launching of his film in Amsterdam Huffman had described the destroying of an antique city by Chinese miners ‘an impossible story’. You can view a trailer on Youtube. Have a view: Impressive it looks. So what can we do? Saving Mes Aynak for the next generations? Or exploiting and selling the copper, building an electricity plant, adding a new railway? The Worldbank seems to be in favour of the last. It’s the economy, stupid?





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