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Friday Forum: Saving Mes Aynak

  • Fenimore Art Museum 5798 New York 80 Cooperstown, NY, 13326 United States (map)

Post-screening discussion led by Hannah Bloch, NPR Digital Editor, former Time correspondent in Afghanistan

One of the world’s most fragile and troubled archeological sites south of Kabul in Afghanistan’s Taliban-threatened Logar Province, Mes Aynak (literal translation “copper source”) holds a striking complex of ancient Buddhist monasteries, fortifications, houses, and carvings, plus an older Bronze Age site beneath the Buddhist. For years, a team of Afghan and international archaeologists and researchers has been working on the excavation, with a huge security team in place. The reason for this security, though, is copper—Mes Aynak holds one of the largest untapped lodes, an estimated 12.5 million tons. The Afghan government hopes that copper will make the country wealthy again and the Beijing-based China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) has won rights to extract the ore on a 30-year lease. Meanwhile, only a small portion of the Mes Aynak site has been excavated and some believe future discoveries there have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself. Qadir Temori and his fellow archaeologists face what seems an impossible battle against the Chinese, the Taliban, and local politics to save their cultural heritage from likely oblivion. (Brent Huffman, 2014, 60 minutes)


$7 at the door