For the first time in the IRA, the famous “Bactrian gold” treasure is displayed in the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the Afghan TV channel Tolonews reports. The items are one of the most expensive and largest treasures ever found by archaeologists.
Artifacts made of gold were discovered 42 years ago at Tillya-tepe, from a Kushan royal cemetery, dated to around the 1st century BC. The collection was displayed in 29 museums in 13 countries over the past 13 years. Displaying the Bactrian treasury abroad has brought in over $4.5 million for Afghanistan.
The hoard is a collection of about 20,000 ornaments, coins and other kinds of artifacts, made of gold, silver, ivory etc. The excavation was carried out by a Soviet-Afghan team led by the Viktor Sarianidi. The workers at the site uncovered six tombs with extremely rich jewelry, around 3,000 gold items. According to Sarianidi, there were at least nine tombs in total, but not all of them were excavated due to the civil war.
The artifacts found were later placed in the National Museum of Afghanistan. In 1989, due to the war in the country, the treasure was moved from the museum to an underground vault at the Central Bank of Afghanistan.
The doors of the vault were locked with keys, which were distributed to five trusted individuals – among them the museum director Omar Khan Massoudi. To open the vault, it was necessary to assemble all the five key holders, who agreed to keep their secret and in case if one of them dies, then the eldest child of this person will keep the key. Despite being subjected to various threats by the Taliban who took Kabul in 1996 , the key holders who knew of the secret location of the Bactrian hoard gave nothing away, safeguarding these incredible treasures.
In 2003, the vault was officially opened and the collection was catalogued. In 2004, the re-opening was witnessed by the archaeologist, who originally found the hoard, Viktor Sarianidi.
This unique treasure is often compared to Schliemann’s gold in the number of gold items found.
From December 2006 to April 2007, the exhibition titled “Afghanistan: Rediscovered Treasures” was displayed in Paris. Then it travelled to Italy, the Netherlands, USA, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, and Australia. In Afghanistan, for security reasons, the collection has never been displayed.