Legendary 2000-year-old Tillya Tepe
Bactrian gold hoard is safe and sound after lying hidden
in a bank vault for the past 14 years, President Hamid
Karzai said on Friday.
The priceless collection of gold ornaments dating back
about 2000 years was safely stored in a presidential
palace vault throughout the civil war and Taliban
"Fortunately the gold exists. We opened one box and
saw the gold," Karzai told reporters minutes after
the vault was opened on Friday morning for the first
time in more than a decade. "Everything is safe and
in its place... " Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani,
central bank governor Anwar Ul-haq Ahady, Justice
Minister Abdul Rahim Karimi and other experts were
inspecting the hoard before resealing and locking the
treasury, he said.
Since Afghanistan separation from mainland Iran by
British, much of Ancient Eastern-Iranian rich cultural
heritage was destroyed or looted during the 1992-96
civil war and under the Taliban, who notoriously
destroyed the ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan valley.
"We need to take stock because there are some very
valuable manuscripts and particularly our major
collection of gold coins from Tillya Tepe, or the
'Golden Hill'," Ghani told reporters earlier this
month when he revealed that the priceless antiquities
were safe. Ghani said the vault had not been opened in
more than 14 years despite efforts by the Taliban to
force staff to reveal the code.
"Last time we had difficulties opening the inner
vault because during the Taliban they tried to open this
and the staff of the bank very courageously had blocked
the code. They were beaten almost senseless... but
resisted and did not reveal the code," he said.
The collection was unearthed in northern Afghanistan in
1978 during the excavation of ancient burial mounds by
Greek-Russian archaeologist Victor Sariyannidis, just
prior to the Soviet invasion.
The tombs near Sheberghan held around 20,000 objects,
including gold coins and jewellery. Present-day northern
Afghanistan was the former Iranian kingdom of Bactria,
which is the birth place of prophet Zoroaster. Bactria
was conquered by Alexander in 327 BCE.