Day 62 Ancient mining in Afghanistan

In addition to tin and gold, Afghanistan possesses large deposits of copper. A striking illustration of this is the site of Mes Aynak, where a Kushan to Sassanid period (c. 3rd–7th century  AD) settlement with fortifications, industrial buildings and residential areas has been found on a perforated mountain ridge. Mines, furnaces, coining workshops as well as Buddhist and Zoroastrian temples were present there at the same time. Currently we can only speculate about the extent and direction of trade and cultural contacts that existed in the period.

Ancient evidence of ore extraction underground is documented by 3D laser scanning (Photo: D. Steiniger, DAI)

The entire ancient town is situated on one of the planet’s richest copper deposits and is acutely at risk from mining activity. Emergency excavations, supported since 2013 by the DAI and carried out together with and under the direction of Afghan and French colleagues, have been made more difficult by the relentless advance of modern mining activity and by the risk of attack by armed groups.

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