‘Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site’ project: The 11th mission

Buddhist cave discovered in the Foladi Valley

 Since 2003, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted the ‘Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site’ project in close cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Culture, Afghanistan and Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Japan. Our mission was on hold for three years after 2010 due to security issues in Afghanistan, but a short-term 11th mission was finally dispatched from September 28th to October 6th of this year.
 This mission sought to compensate for the 3-year hiatus by confirming the current state of cultural heritage and landscape in the region. This work involved five activities. First, the state of the Buddhist caves and mural paintings was surveyed. Second, environmental data from the past few years, including meteorological data from the Bamiyan Valley and temperature and humidity data from the caves, were collected. Third, general surveys of archaeological sites in the Bamiyan and Foladi Valleys were conducted. A survey of the Foladi Valley revealed a new Buddhist cave that might date to the latter half of the 6th century AD. Fourth, basic information on the landscape at a planned museum construction site was collected. The site is to be the home of a new Bamiyan museum constructed with the help of Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan. Fifth and finally, lectures on the history and culture of the Bamiyan site and previous conservation activities at the site were conducted for students of Bamiyan University, attracting a considerable number of attendees.
 The one-week mission yielded limited results, but the fundamental data obtained will serve as the basis for a research plan for the next mission. In addition, the considerable interest of students in the Bamiyan site promises the appearance of a new generation of ‘guardians’ of cultural heritage in Afghanistan.

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