KABUL (Reuters) – Restoring Afghanistan’s Buddhist artifacts that were destroyed by the Taliban 18 years ago is like working on a 1,500-year-old jigsaw puzzle, say conservators working on the latest restoration project.
The militant Islamic group in 2001 destroyed artifacts dating from the third century when many Afghans practised Buddhism, including two towering Buddha statues in Bamyan province and scores of smaller ones excavated from monasteries and preserved at the national museum in Kabul.
After the Taliban government fell that same year, the museum began restoring remnants of the country’s Buddhist history. The latest U.S.-supported project aims to reassemble thousands of pieces into statues within the next three years.
“It is very important (work) because it is actually restoration of our heritage, our identity, our past,” said Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, director of the 100-year-old National Museum of Afghanistan.
“Buddhism was practised here for more than 1,000…
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