A growing body of evidence indicates that looting and illegal excavations are becoming more common as the Syrian conflict rages on. More importantly, there are indications that smuggled antiquities provide an important source of revenue for some of the many rival factions controlling large swaths of the country.
At Mes Aynak, Logar Province, about 35 kilomtres south of Kabul, archaelogists excavate an ancient Buddhist Silk-Road-era city perched on top of the world’s largest unexploited copper deposit. Hamid Karzai’s government has been anticipating a dramatic cutback on international aid. The war-torn nation now looks to its mineral wealth and the international extractive industry as avenue towards development. It remains to be seen whether the new Afghanistan can accomodate both its past and its future.