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  • Date :
  • 8/9/2003


Kabul city (1997 est. pop. 1,500,000), is the capital of Afghanistan and its largest city and economic and cultural center, on the KabulRiver. It is strategically located in a high narrow valley, wedged between mountain ranges that command the main approaches to theKhyber Pass. A tunnel under theHindu Kush Mountains links Kabul with the Tajikistan border. The city's chief products are woolen and cotton cloth, beet sugar, ordnance, and furniture, but a continuing state of war between 1979 and 1996 limited production.

Kabul's old section, with its narrow, crooked streets, contains extensive bazaars; the modern section has administrative and commercial buildings. An educational center, Kabul has a university (est. 1931), numerous colleges, and a fine museum. Also in the city are Babur's tomb and gardens; the mausoleum of Nadir Shah; the Minar-i-Istiklal (column of independence), built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War; the tomb of Timur Shah (reigned 1773–93); and several important mosques. The fort of Bala Hissar, destroyed by the British in 1879 to avenge the death of their envoy in Kabul, is now a military college. The royal palace and an ancient citadel stand outside the present city.


Kabul history dates back more than 3,000 years, although the city has been destroyed and rebuilt on several different sites. Conquered by Arabs in the 7th cent., it was overshadowed by Ghazni and Herat untilBabur made it his capital (1504–26). It remained under Mughal rule until its capture (1738) byNadir Shah of Persian ancient community; Kabul rose to prominence in 1504, when it was made the capital of theMoghul Empire by the conqueror Babur.Delhi replaced it as the imperial capital in 1526, but Kabul remained an important Moghul center until it was captured, in 1738, by the Persian rulerNadir Shah. In 1747 Kabul became part of an independent Afghan state, and in the 1770s it replacedQandahar as the capital ofAfghanistan. During the Afghan Wars a British army took (1839) Kabul. In 1842 the withdrawing British troops were ambushed and almost annihilated after the Afghans had promised them safe conduct; in retaliation another British force partly burned Kabul. The British again occupied the city in 1879, after their resident and his staff were massacred there.
On December23rd, 1979, Soviet armed forces landed at Kabul airport to help bolster a Communist government. Kabul became the Soviet command center, but was little damaged by the ten-year conflict. In Feb., 1989, Soviet forces withdrew from the city. In spring of 1992 the government of Mohammad Najibullah collapsed, and Kabul fell to guerrilla armies. Destruction of the city increased as the coalition of guerrilla forces broke into rival warring factions, and much ofKabul has since been damaged by factional fighting.

Kabul Museum

For thousands of years, Afghanistan was a crossroad for trade fromIndia, Iran, and Central Asia. As a result, many treasures and artifacts have been discovered and collected. The Kabul Museum, housed the most comprehensive record of Central Asian history. Many of its pieces have been dated as far back as pre-historic times. One of the museum's largest displays was the magnificent Bagram Collection. Discovered in 1939, by archaeologists excavating a Kushan fort, it contained an amazing 1,800 pieces from India, Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Central Asia. The Kabul Museum also had one of the largest displays of Greek and Roman coins found near Kabul. This collection was a historical treasure, as it contained coins from numerous civilizations dating from the 8th century B.C. to the late 19th century.

This figure of Maitreya and worshippers from Paitava, stands 25 cm tall. This piece is from the 3rd Century and represents an orientalized Roman sculpture.

These treasures and many others were tragically lost when the Kabul Museum was bombed in 1993. At first, only the upper galleries suffered losses and looting. The remaining artifacts were transferred to lower leveled, steel door vaults. In 1994, the United Nations attempted to stop the looting by repairing the doors, and bricking up the windows. Disappointingly, these attempts failed, and looters continued to plunder 90% of the museum's collections. Both private collectors and antique dealers from as far away asTokyo have purchased stolen museum pieces.
In early March 2001, the Taliban decided to destroy all pre-Islamic statues and objects in Afghanistan, after an edict was announced by their leader Mullah Omar in late February.  The Taliban destroyed numerous statues in the museum which survived the previous looting and destruction as a result of war.

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