Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Afghanistan: Archaeological sites ‘bulldozed for looting’

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BBC, 22 February 2024

Based on satellite images, researchers at the University of Chicago have found that dozens of archaeological sites have been bulldozed a new pattern in the Balkh region from 2018 onwards to allow systematic looting. The teams says 162 ancient settlements were “devastated at an astonishing rate of one a week” between 2018 and 2021, and the practice continued at 37 sites after that, under the Taleban. The team’s leader, Prof Gil Stein “believes the sites may be being looted by people who are wealthy and powerful enough to be able to buy or rent earth-moving equipment, and to move it to rural areas ‘with nobody interfering’.”

Taleban acting deputy minister for information and culture, Atiqullah Azizi, who apparently had been sent the materiel, “rejected the claims that looting is taking place” and told that “we sent various teams to check the sites and I can reassure you that there hasn’t been a single incident in any of those sites.”