Canadian Museum of Civilization reveals Afghanistan’s Hidden Treasures

October 23, 2009

Canadian Museum of Civilization reveals Afghanistan’s Hidden Treasures

Gatineau, Quebec, October 23, 2009 — Visitors to the Canadian Museum of Civilization will have a golden opportunity to explore the mysteries of Afghanistan’s ancient past when AFGHANISTAN: Hidden Treasures opens on October 23. This highly acclaimed international exhibition, which is organized in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, also explains how a precious cultural legacy that was nearly lost to war and chaos was preserved.

The Museum of Civilization is the only Canadian venue for AFGHANISTAN: Hidden Treasures. The exhibition offers a rare chance to see stunning gold jewellery from the fabled Bactrian Hoard, as well as other antiquities that bear testament to the beauty and diversity of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage. The 200 delicate gold ornaments, fine sculptures and other objects from the National Museum in Kabul are among the thousands once feared looted or destroyed during the past three decades of conflict in the heart of Central Asia.

AFGHANISTAN: Hidden Treasures tells a dramatic tale of both ancient and modern cultures,” said Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “For centuries, Afghanistan was a thriving junction on the Silk Road, the great trade route that once linked empires from China all the way to the Mediterranean. Today, commerce has given way to conflict, yet Afghanistan’s rich and resilient heritage will endure.”

After surviving two millennia, these irreplaceable artifacts from Afghanistan’s past were almost lost forever due to recent events. In 1978, as chaos and political instability threatened Kabul, a group of Afghans resolved to protect the precious contents of the National Museum. They transferred thousands of artifacts and works of art to secure hiding places. The hidden treasure trove was rediscovered in 2003.

The Afghan government, the National Geographic Society and international experts soon began collaborating on this exhibition to share the recovered artifacts with the world.

“Having worked closely with Afghan officials since 2003 on the preservation and inventory of the objects, I am honoured to be part of the effort to share these treasures with audiences around the world and ultimately to enhance the understanding of Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage,” said Fredrik Hiebert, a Fellow of the National Geographic Society. Hiebert, a world-renowned archaeologist and explorer, was present when the treasure was recovered from the vault where it had been hidden since 1978.

The exhibition is a source of national pride for His Excellency Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada. “It shows a side of my country that is not well known to many people,” said Ambassador Ludin, a native of Kabul and former Chief of Staff to President Hamid Karzai. “I hope Canadians enjoy the exhibition and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn more about Afghanistan’s extraordinary history and culture.”

AFGHANISTAN: Hidden Treasures opens on October 23 and will be on display until March 28, 2010 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau, Quebec.

The exhibition was organized in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and the Nat