Forget the Taliban, Chinese copper miners are the new threat to Afghanistan’s Buddhas

An ancient archeological site in Afghanistan could soon be destroyed in the name of economic profit.

In danger: The ancient site at Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan’s Logar Province, is home to 5th-century Buddhist monasteries, temples and other relics… but also sits on one of the largest copper deposits in the world

The site at Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan’s Logar Province, is home to 5th-century Buddhist monasteries, temples and other relics, but also sits on one of the largest copper deposits in the world.

A Chinese government-backed company, keen to develop the world’s second largest copper mine, discovered the ruins when they began excavating the site in 2010.

Keen to avoid a Buddhas of Bamiyan situation – statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country’s then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism – the company has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.

Archaeologists working on the site since May 2010 say that won’t be enough time for full preservation.

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