Officials in Afghanistan’s central Bamyan province have discovered at least 12 items of ancient artifacts the provincial information and culture directorate said in a statement.
While searching foreign nationals at Bamyan Airport, artifacts and dust from the outskirts of Bamyan’s destroyed Buddha statues were seized, according to the statement.
Out of the discovered items, 8 pieces of ancient works include pottery, precious stones, and engraved iron plates, and the other 4 items are grains, the provincial officials said.
Bamyan airport officials have prevented the smuggling of soil and black stone samples possibly collected from the remains of destroyed statues of Buddha.
The artifacts and ancient items have been seized based on the orders of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Rahmatullah Rahmani, head of culture and art of Bamyan information and culture directorate, said.
“Ancient items are the national treasures and every citizen is responsible for protecting and preventing them from smuggling,” Rahmani said.
Smuggling artifacts and ancient items have been a lucrative business for decades in Afghanistan. Having a strong government network, smugglers were able to send precious stones and artifacts beyond the borders with ease.
Although the Taliban officials repeatedly claimed to have stopped smuggling these precious items overseas, the lucrative illegal business is still popular in Afghanistan and in the region.