tonnes of antique coins and 500 kg of gold
jewellery and a number of historical artefacts
were smuggled out of Afghanistan to Pakistan
between 1992-94, according to leading
These antique and heritage items were smuggled out
of Mirzaka in Paktia province bordering Pakistan,
the official Bakhter News Agency reported quoting
The coins, jewellery and historical pieces were
dated between the 5th and 2nd Century BC and
covered the period of Alexander the Great.
According to archaeologists, from Pakistan these
priceless items had been smuggled to the US,
Japan, Switzerland, Britain and Germany. The
treasures might have been illegally excavated from
across the Amu river in the region.
"During my recent visit to Afghanistan I
showed pictures of the treasure, valued at
millions of dollars, to the residents of Mirzaka
and they said they had all been illegally
excavated and smuggled to Pakistan," the
agency quoted a foreign archaeologist as saying.
According to him, one of the coins alone was
valued at $20 million. The smuggled items were in
the possession of individuals, he said and added
that the largest collection, weighing about three
tonnes, is stored in Brussels, he said.
The archeologist said the Afghan government should
convince those who had purchased those items to
return them to the country.
Looting of precious objects from Afghanistan and
smuggling them out to Pakistan and other countries
had been going on from the early nineties.
The National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul had
been systematically looted after it came under
attack in the factional war between mujahideen
groups for control of the Afghan capital.
Sources said streams of mujahideen soldiers
repeatedly breached the steel doors of the vaults
of the museum and systematically looted their
contents, often guided by detailed instructions
from Afghan and Pakistani antiquities dealers.
In January 1994, the UN agency Habitat bricked up
the museum©s windows and repaired the doors, but
that hardly deterred the looters, who blasted the
walls with explosives. They carted away loads of
priceless artefacts, including the largest and
oldest collection of coins.
They not only looted what they could but
vandalised less important items and damaged what
they could not take away, like the life-size
statues of Kushan warriors dating back to 200 BC.
The looters and smugglers left a train of stolen
artefacts that stretched from middlemen and
antiques dealers in Kabul, Peshawar and Islamabad
to private art collectors in Tokyo, Islamabad
Jeddah, Kuwait, London and Geneva.
Reports said in Peshawar, two 2,500-year old heads
of the god Shiva that were once on display in the
museum were on offer for $7,000 each, exquisitely
carved ivory statues of courtesans from the 2nd
century AD were available for sale in Islamabad
for $35,000 each while a dozen such ivories were
sold in London to a Tokyo collector for $600,000.
Archaeologists say the rape of the Kabul museum
amounted to destruction of Afghanistan©s cultural
While there are still large, unexplored
archaeological sites in Afghanistan, which could
turn up more treasures, according to
archaeologists and historians, the loss of the
collection from the museum would make it
impossible to link them to the past.
They said the museums collection was unmatched
because Afghanistan was at the crossroads of
invasions and trade from Iran, India and Central
Asia for thousands of years and reflected that