Libraries and Museums

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The few major libraries are located in Kabul. However, most of the materials in the Kabul University Library (founded in 1931) were dispersed during the war; the National Archives has also been looted and its collections removed. The Kabul National Museum (1922), the largest in the country, is best known for its collection of early Buddhist relics. Some of the more valuable of these were reported to have been removed to the USSR during the years of the Soviet occupation; their present location is unknown. Ancient gold coins and jewelry were reported to have been taken as well. In 1993 the National Museum was blown open by rockets and subsequently looted by soldiers. Some 90 percent of the enormously rich collection was taken out through Pakistan and sold to wealthy collectors in other countries. The trade in Afghan antiquities has been reported to be one of the largest producers of illicit revenues after illegal drugs.
The National Museum of Afghanistan also known as the Kabul Museum, is a two-story building located 9 km southwest of the center of Kabul in Afghanistan. As of 2014, the museum is under major expansion according to international standards, with a larger size adjoining garden for visitors to relax and walk around. The museum was once considered to be one of the world's finest. The museum's collection had earlier been one of the most important in Central Asia, with over 100,000 items dating back several millennia. With the start of the civil war in 1992, the museum was looted numerous times resulting in a loss of 70% of the 100,000 objects on display. Since 2007, a number of international organizations have helped to recover over 8,000 artifacts, the most recent being a limestone sculpture from Germany. Approximately 843 artifacts were returned by the United Kingdom in 2012, including the famous 1st Century Bagram Ivories.
Collections: Ivory carving from Kapissa, capital of the Kushan Empire, 1st to 2nd Century AD. Many treasures of ivory are stored there, as are antiquities from Kushan, early Buddhism, and early Islam. One of the most famous pieces in the museum, and known to have survived the turbulent period in the 1990s is the Rabatak Inscription of King Kanishka.
Archaeological Materials: As the National Museum Kabul has been the repository for many of the most spectacular archaeological finds in the country. These include the painted frescos from Dilberjin; inscriptions, fragments of architecture, sculpture, metal objects, and coins rescued from the French excavations at Ai-Khanoum and Surkh Kotal; the spectacular collection of objects found at a merchants warehouse in the city of Bagram, which include ivories from India, mirrors from China, and glassware from the Roman Empire; the stucco heads of Hadda; Buddhist sculpture from Tepe Sardar and other monastic institutions in Afghanistan; and a large collection of Islamic art from the Ghazvanid and Timurid periods found at Ghazni.
Numismatic Collection: The National Museum has a large collection of coins, the Austrian numismatist Robert Gobl reported it contained 30,000 objects during a UNESCO sponsored audit of the collection. It is unknown how much the collection has grown since or what was lost during the various wars since. The collection contains the bulk of archaeological material recovered in Afghanistan. It has not been published, but individual hoards and archaeological sites have been. The French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan [fr; es] (DAFA) published the coin finds made at the town of Surkh Kotal. Some of the coins found at the excavation of Begram have been published. Part of the Mir Zakah hoard, a very unusual deposit containing enormous numbers of coins from the fourth century BC to third century AD, totalling 11,500 silver and copper coins were kept in the museum. Part of the hoard was published by DAFA. The museum has appointed a curator for Numismatics but the collection remains closed to scholars and the general public.

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