Fahim Rahimi, Fellow, Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan, will deliver a paper in Session 10D. New Research in Pre-Islamic Central Asia at the 2016 ASOR Annual Meeting, November 16–19, San Antonio, Texas.
For more than three decades, the continuous state of warfare in Afghanistan has completely destroyed every facet of the country, including the country’s rich cultural heritage. Throughout this time, I have been a witness to the wholesale loss of Afghanistan’s music tradition, festivals, theater, and of course the country’s museum collections, which have been looted and deliberately destroyed. Monuments that had lasted millennia have been the target of rocket attacks, especially those that date to the pre-Islamic period, while archaeological sites have become a source of booty. Yet, amidst the destruction the National Museum of Afghanistan still survives and its caretakers and curators persist in conserving and exhibiting the precious few collections. Their shared optimism looks forward to better days.
The National Museum of Afghanistan is charged with administering all the museums throughout the country. The museum’s own holdings have survived well enough to showcase how the country has affected and shaped many Euro-Asian civilizations throughout ancient history. Afghanistan has played a pivotal role in acting as the nexus linking the myriad societies of the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Far East, all of which are represented in the National Museum’s collections. Although the museum has been severely damaged, its holdings in recent years have grown exponentially. So too, have the methods of preservation, which have likewise improved immeasurably. This paper will emphasize the museum’s current status, including its holdings, and plans for the museum’s future and those around the country.