Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National
Uncover a hidden world from Afghanistan
that dates back thousands of years to experience the heart of the Silk
Road, a trading route that was used by ancient Kings to cement their
Welcome to the Melbourne Museum's latest exhibition,
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul which
boasts more than 230 artefacts and takes the visitor on a journey from
both ancient and modern times about war-torn Afghanistan.
Ironically many of these artefacts were
believed to have been lost or destroyed from three decades of wars that has scarred
this country since the civil war and Soviet-Afghan war but in 2003, they were
retrieved from the vaults of the Presidential Palace.
These artefacts were placed their by
the courageous staff of the National Museum of Kabul to keep them safe. Due to the
strict religious laws of the Taliban, these individuals risked their
lives to keep these priceless treasures safe and now they can be safely
shown again. The beauty of this exhibition is the
diverse nature of the objects and as Afghanistan was at the crossroads of
the Silk Road, you can actually see how these items have been influenced
from a variety of
ancient cultures such as Egypt, Rome, Greece and China.
Some of the
objects in this collection date back 4000 years and features highly
detailed gold jewellery, clay masks and religious figurines from a variety
of eras that will leave you amazed by their craftsmanship. Each piece has something unique such as
links to Alexander the Great or Mesopotamian motifs. The fish shaped
flasks from antiquity is another impressive object in this collection
that are not only extremely detailed but features some an amazing colour
Another highlight of the exhibition is the
presentation which almost makes it feel like you are walking down the
Silk Road. The first room of the exhibition serves as a movie theatre
which informs the visitor of the importance of Afghanistan on the Silk
Road, a trading network of roughly 6,500 kilometres that went from China
to Syria. This is an important link to the visitor as it dispels the
modern media myth that Afghanistan is the root of all evil in the world.
As you explore the rest of the exhibition,
it is broken into different exhibits, all based on a certain culture or
influence on ancient Afghanistan. These sections include Tepe Fullol
(2220 BC), Ai Khanum (300 BC - 145 BC), Tillya Tepe (100 BC - 100 AD)
and Begram (100 - 200 AD). There is also a section on the Silk Road
which explains just about every facet of this ancient trading route that
dates back to 300 BC to 100 AD.
The highlight of the exhibition for me
a collapsible nomadic gold crown dating back between 100 B.C. to 100
A.D. which would have looked stunning on the wearer. The jewellery
also showcased in this exhibition is quite exquisite and the attention to
detail of these small artefacts is breathtaking like a gold and turquoise
clasp of two Cupids riding two Dolphins.
The unfortunate aspect of this exhibition
is that Afghanistan is still a country of turmoil and with the Taliban
still based in this country, the future of this rich and diverse country
is unfortunately still hazy at best. Thankfully the exhibition does help
dismiss some of the negativity portrayed by modern media through the
links from both modern and ancient times.
The only downside of this
exhibition opposed to previous exhibitions such as The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia
(2012) or Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
(2011) is that the experience was not that interactive and Afghanistan:
Hidden Treasures was more like a traditional exhibition. This does not
deter the beauty and majesty of the experience but you do have
some self-imposed expectations from the previous exhibits. Nonetheless,
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures is a fascinating journey into both ancient
and modern Afghanistan that we would recommend to all history fanatics.
information on Afghanistan: Hidden
Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul -