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The Killid Group

People’s History

Written by Sayed Zaher Adeli
Sunday, 25 September 2011 10:38

People’s History There is an urgent need for a bigger Balkh museum, say experts who worry that artefacts from archaeological sites in the province that are in warehouses could be destroyed by unprofessional handling or stolen.
Even many monuments are threatened with destruction, they say.
Saleh Mohammad Khaliq, chairman of Balkh Information and Culture Directorate, says: "Many Balkh historical sites require urgent restoration. Several Afghan and foreign delegations have visited the province's historical places this year."
The US embassy had sent a delegation that included Afghan archaeologists. There was also a delegation from the Aga Khan Foundation that included a number of French archaeologists.
The Foundation will be undertaking the restoration of the tiled Timurid-era mosque of Khwaja Abu Nasar-e-Parsa (15th century) and the Haji Piyadi or Noh Gumbad mosque from the second half of the ninth century. Work will begin as soon as the site plans are completed, according to Khaliq.
The urban site of Balkh (ancient Paktra or Bactria), some 21 kms from Mazar, has a continuous history from the 6th century BC. It figures in the accounts of visitors from Alexander the Great to Marco Polo, the great Italian traveller, who described it as a "noble city and great" in 1271. Balkh was an important stop on the Silk Road to India and China.

Restoration work
Meanwhile renovation at the Sultan-ul-Ollam religious school (that is linked to the father of Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi, 7th century) which was supposed to have been completed by Turkey was suspended for a while, and now officials at the Balkh Information and Cultural Directorate are trying to complete it in coordination with Turkish officials.
At present the Balkh Museum houses some 400 artefacts.
Amanullah Akram Zada, director of the museum says, these have been collected from different parts of the province "in coordination with Afghan security agencies like police, intelligence and Special Police Squads set up to protect archaeological sites."
"These are stored in the museum, and not displayed," he says.
According to Akram Zada, the museum needs a bigger building.
Abdullah Rooin, manager of Balkh Afghan Tour Agency, thinks a good museum would be a great tourist attraction. The government has ignored the development of the tourist industry in Balkh, he says.

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