National Geographic Live! - Fredrik Hiebert: Peruvian Gold

National Geographic Live! - Fredrik Hiebert: Peruvian Gold

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.


Marvel at centuries of dazzling craftsmanship in gold and silver with National Geographic Archaeology Fellow Fredrik Hiebert as he explores the history and treasures of Peru's rich pre-Inca heritage.

Upcoming Events at National Geographic Live!

The National Geographic Live series brings thought-provoking presentations by today's leading explorers, scientists, photographers, and performing artists right to you. Each presentation is filmed in front of a live audience at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. New clips air every Monday.

National Geographic Live! - Fredrik Hiebert: Peruvian Gold - History

Peru, a country rich in gold, silver and other precious metals, has been a treasure trove of artifacts from ancient cultures, whose crafsmanship rivaled that of the Ancient Egyptians and has fascinated archaeologists and historians for over a century since some of the first excavations began. These fantastic pieces are displayed throughoutt museums in Peru like the Larco Museum in Lima, which boasts one of the most extensive and rich collections in the country. However, for a short time, selected artifacts will make an appearance for the first (and possibly last) time in the United States.

About Peruvian Gold

From the Irving Arts Center:

Peruvian Gold is presented in partnership with the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. and will showcase extraordinary objects from Peru’s pre-Inca heritage, including gold ceremonial and funerary masks, textiles, ceremonial ornaments, ceramics and jewelry. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be El Tocado, the largest and most ornate pre-Columbian headdress ever discovered. The extraordinary gold headdress dates from the Middle Sican period (A.D. 900-1100). This exhibition marks the first time it has been on display in the United States since it was unearthed in 1991.

Guest curated by National Geographic’s Archaeology Fellow Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, “Peruvian Gold” features iconic artifacts on loan from three Peruvian institutions: Sican National Museum, Larco Museum and Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru. Irving is the only location outside of Washington D.C. to host Peruvian Gold.

Quick info:

  • Dates: October 4th through December 31st, 2014
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday 1 – 5 p.m.
  • *Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
  • Location: Irving Arts Center, 3333 N MacArthur Blvd., Irving, Texas 75062
  • Admission: Adults $12 Seniors, children, and military $8
    • Purchase tickets online HERE. Admission is timed, every 30 minutes.

    On Tuesday, You Can Scoop Up an Original Picasso for About $20,000 Here’s How.

    Pablo Picasso is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, and some of his work ranks among the most expensive paintings in the world with price tags exceeding $100 million. But next Tuesday, you could scoop up an original Picasso at a Boston auction house for about $20,000. Here’s how.

    Besides being one of the most prolific painters of his generation, Picasso was also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, playwright… and jewelry designer.

    Skinner will be featuring three of Picasso’s original jewelry creations during its Fine Jewelry Auction on Tuesday, March 18. Each of the items is estimated to sell in the range of $15,000 to $20,000.

    According to Skinner’s website, Picasso created the pieces early in his career for Françoise Gilot, the mother of two his children, Claude and Paloma Picasso. Art experts believe Picasso’s jewelry reflected his softer side and were the most intimate expressions of his affection.

    The most bizarre of the three items is a dimensional “Satyr” pendant cast in silver. A satyr is a character from Roman mythology that has a man’s face and a goat’s ears, tail, legs and horns. Skinner explains that satyrs, minotaurs, bulls and bullfighting were all favorite Picasso motifs.

    The second item is a silver brooch etched with the profile of Claude as a boy. The third item is a silver disc pendant etched with Picasso’s interpretation of the sun.

    Since he wasn’t a jeweler by trade, it is believed Picasso made the silver castings with the assistance of his dentist. The three silver pieces found their way to Skinner’s auction house via Carole Mallory, an author, actress and former supermodel, who had once been engaged to Claude.

    On the day before the sale, Mallory will present a lecture at Skinner titled “Uncovering the Mystery of the Picasso Jewels.” In 2012, she published Picasso’s Ghost (A Love Story), an account of her love affair with Claude and her life in New York City’s fast lane during the disco era.

    The Tomb of Christ Presented by Central United Methodist Church

    Photo(s) by Oded Balilty AP for National Geographic

    Central United Methodist Church is pleased to present, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, two evenings with National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence Fredrik Hiebert.

    Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at 7 p.m.

    This two-night event is being offered to the Traverse City community as a gift from Dr. Hiebert, a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. Proceeds from ticket sales will be used to help repair the historic dome of Central United Methodist Church. The dome is a historical landmark in downtown Traverse City and stands proudly on Cass Street overlooking the Boardman River. Now, like the Edicule protecting the Tomb of Christ beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, it is in desperate need of repair to maintain the integrity of the building that sits below it. Here’s more about the history of Central United Methodist Church.

    About Dr. Fredrik Hiebert

    Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, has worked on all seven continents of the world and brought great stories of archaeological discovery to the pages of National Geographic for more than 15 years.

    A field archaeologist and explorer, Hiebert has traced ancient trade routes overland and across the seas for more than 30 years. Hiebert has led excavations at ancient Silk Road sites across Asia, from Egypt to Mongolia. His excavations at a 4,000-year-old Silk Road city in Turkmenistan made headlines around the world. He also conducts underwater archaeology projects in South America’s Lake Titicaca, and in the highest lake of the Silk Road in search of submerged settlements.

    Hiebert completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1992 and held the Robert H. Dyson chair of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the National Geographic Society in 2003. Among other honors, Hiebert received the Chairman’s Award from the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration in 1998.

    As National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence, he extends his enthusiasm for archaeology to the public in lectures, presentations, films, and museum exhibits. These exhibitions travel world-wide and include: Treasures from Afghanistan, Peruvian Gold, The Greeks, Ancient Seafarers, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, and most recently an immersive exhibition experience: The Tomb of Christ.

    National Geographic Live! - Fredrik Hiebert: Peruvian Gold - History

    Enjoy a private tour of National Geographic's most prized fixture and get a behind the scenes look at the exhibition "Peruvian Gold," followed by lunch for 4. This exclusive look at the revered National Geographic Society begins with a tour of the venerable organization's first headquarters, historic Hubbard Hall. The tour will be conducted by Gregory McGruder, vice president for Public Programs at the Society.

    Afterwards, join archaeologist, explorer, and exhibition curator Fredrik Hiebert for a private tour of the exhibition Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed, on display April 10 through Sept. 7. Dr. Hiebert has traced ancient trade routes overland and across the seas for more than 20 years, and has led excavations at ancient Silk Road sites across Asia, and from Egypt to Mongolia. As National Geographic's Archaeology Fellow, he consults on projects around the globe.

    • Valid for 4 people.
    • Must be booked from April 10 to Sept. 7.
    • Dr. Hiebert is sometimes on assignment pursuing archaeological adventures, so the date will be dependent on his availability.
    • Expires September 7, 2014.
    • The meal is included.
    • The winner may take a photo.
    • The winner can take something small to be signed.
    • Duration: approximately 4 hours
    • Experience cannot be resold or re-auctioned.
    • Based upon availability at the donor's discretion.
    • To be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon date.
    • Travel and accommodations are not included.
    • We expect all winning bidders and their guests to conduct themselves appropriately when attending an experience won at Charitybuzz. Polite manners and respect for the generous donor and adherence to any rules or parameters are a must.

    The following Conditions of Sale and Terms of Guarantee, as amended by any posted notices or announcements during the auction and in addition to the Term of Use for, are Charitybuzz, LLC and the Donor’s entire agreement with the purchaser and any bidders relative to the property listed in this lot.

    The Conditions of Sale, Terms of Guarantee, the glossary, if any, and all other contents of this lot are subject to amendment by us by the posting of such amendments on the Charitybuzz website ( The property will be offered by us as agent for the Donor, unless the lot indicates otherwise.

    By submitting your bid and/or participating in any lot, you acknowledge that you are bound by these Conditions of Sale and Terms of Guarantee.

    All items are sold AS IS, WHERE IS with all faults without any representations or warranties by us or the Donor as to merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, the correctness of the e-catalogue or other description of the physical condition, size, quality, rarity, important, medium, frame, provenance, exhibitions, literature, or historical relevance. No statement anywhere, whether oral or written, whether made in on, an advertisement, a lot receipt, or elsewhere, shall be deemed such a warranty, representation or assumption of liability. We and the Donor make no representations and warranties, express or implied, as to whether the purchaser acquires any copyrights, including but not limited to, any reproduction rights in any property.

    We and the Donor are not responsible for errors and omissions on, glossary, or any supplemental material. Charitybuzz will not be responsible or liable for damage to frames and glass coverings, regardless of the cause. ALL SALES ARE FINAL.

    Prospective bidders should inspect the lot page for an item before bidding to determine its condition, size, and whether or not it has been repaired or restored. If that information is not available on the site, prospective bidders assume the responsibility of contacting Charitybuzz to inquire for additional details.

    Each Bidder’s decision to bid and determination of their bid amount should be based upon their own examination of the item(s) in question. In any purchase or sale, the estimated value of the item(s) is reflected by the price. The bidder hereby assumes all risks of valuation concerning any and all purchases.

    We reserve the right to withdraw any lot before, during and after the sale and shall have no liability whatsoever for such a withdrawal.

    To bid, find a lot page, enter a value in the bid box, and click “Bid.” If you click “Bid” on a lot, you will be prompted to either log in to your Charitybuzz account, or create a new one if you do not have one already.

    Once you’ve created an account you will be presented with the lot details, conditions of sale, and standard shipping and redemption details. Once you have accepted the Conditions of Sale, you may proceed with placing a bid on that lot. All bids placed for any lot are governed by the Conditions of Sale for that lot.

    You may bid at or above the starting bid displayed as the “Current Price” in a lot page’s bid box. The current leading bid, along with a list of a lot’s full bidding history, will be visible to other users. If the status of your bid changes, you will receive notifications via email and push (if you have the Charitybuzz App installed).

    As soon you place and confirm your bid amount, your bid is submitted. You accept and agree that bids submitted by you are final. Charitybuzz is not responsible or liable for any problems, delays, or other issues resulting from the use of the Internet, including but not limited to transmission, execution, or processing of Bids.

    Charitybuzz nor the Donor is responsible for any errors in bidding. A bidder should make certain to bid on the correct lot. The Bidder should make sure the bid price they enter (including any taxes or fees) is the price they are willing and able to pay. Once the hammer has fallen and Charitybuzz has announced the winning Bidder, that Bidder is unconditionally bound to pay for that lot, even if the Bidder has made an error.

    A bid(s) entered by mistake on the part of a bidder is NOT grounds for cancellation of that bid. Each bidder is responsible for his or her own account and bids. In addition, allowing access to another who enters a bid without your knowledge is NOT grounds for cancellation of a bid.

    All Bidders must meet Charitybuzz’s qualifications to bid. Any Bidder who is not a client in good standing of Charitybuzz may be disqualified at Charitybuzz’s sole discretion and will not be awarded lots. Such determination may be made by Charitybuzz in its sole discretion, at any time prior to, during, or even after the close of the Auction. Charitybuzz reserves the right to exclude any person from the auction.

    Bids will not be accepted from minor persons under eighteen (18) years of age without a parent’s written consent containing an acknowledgement of the conditions herein and indicating their agreement to be bound thereby on behalf of the bidder.

    If an entity places a bid, then the person executing the bid on behalf of the entity agrees to personally guarantee payment for any successful bid.

    Any bidder that represents a purchaser is personally and individually responsible for any obligations of the purchaser set forth in these terms and conditions. All purchasers purchasing pursuant to a valid resale license will need to provide appropriate documentation for removal of state sales tax.

    The successful bidder is the highest bidder acknowledged by Charitybuzz. In the event of any dispute between bidders, or in the event of doubt on Charitybuzz’s part as to the validity of any bid, Charitybuzz will have final discretion either to determine the successful bidder or to re-offer and resell the lot in question. If any dispute arises after the sale, Charitybuzz’s sale record is conclusive. While Charitybuzz makes every effort to guarantee accuracy, in the event of an error, and a lot is accidentally declared sold by mistake, Charitybuzz reserves the right to cancel the sale and relist the lot in its sole discretion.

    By accepting the Conditions of Sale, Bidder personally and unconditionally guarantees payment.

    Title to any lot remains with the Donor, any secured party of the Donor, or assignee of Donor, as the case may be, until the lot is paid for in full by the Bidder. Charitybuzz reserves the right to require payment in full before delivering any lot to the successful bidder.

    A maximum bid is a secret amount you enter, that represents the maximum amount you are willing to bid. It is higher than the current price and also higher than the next allowable minimum bid amount. If you enter a maximum bid, we’ll bid on your behalf up to that maximum bid amount in response to other bids, according to Charitybuzz’s bidding tiers.

    The value and status of your maximum bid will be visible only to you, unless it is the leading bid.

    Charitybuzz strongly encourages the use of Max Bids to increase your chances of winning.

    When an auction reaches the final 10 minutes before it closes, any bids received in that final 10 minutes push out the previous close time by an additional 10 minutes. This recurring 10 minute extension is known as “Extended Bidding,” and is signified by a banner above the auction timer on the lot page.

    This dynamically extending period is designed to protect against a practice commonly known as “sniping” or “last second bidding” where bidders attempt to enter a quick bid in the final seconds of an auction to secure a win before competing bidders have a chance to counter.

    Live bids lots are a special type of auction lot on Charitybuzz. Live bid lots on Charitybuzz are paired with a real world, physical auction, where that real world auction is often scheduled to occur at a later date. You can distinguish Live Bid lots by the “Live Bid” label in the title of the lot, and additional description text at the start of the lots “Overview” tab.

    In a Live Bid lot on Charitybuzz, a lot is created that is similar to any other auction lot on the site. These special lots last for similar amounts of time and bidding occurs normally by our users.

    Things start to differ after a Charitybuzz Live Bid lot closes. After it closes and the winning bidder is chosen, that winning bidder’s bid amount or (if it exists) the max bid amount associated with that winning bid, are taken and entered into the associated real world auction. For example, if a bidder on Charitybuzz wins at $12,000 with an unrealized max bid of $15,000, then that $15,000 dollar amount is passed on into the real world auction.

    Before the winning bidders bid or max bid amount is passed on, someone from Charitybuzz contacts that winner after the Charitybuzz lot closes and before the real world auction opens. This is to confirm if the bidder would like to increase their bid or max bid amount before it’s entered into the real world auction.

    What happens during the real world auction? Each individual one may vary. Charitybuzz does not own or operate any real world auctions, nor does Charitybuzz require any partners to follow a specific auction model. We make no claims to the consistency of real world auction experiences and encourage bidders to contact us for more details as needed.

    In our experience, real world auctions tied to Charitybuzz Live Bid lots are typically executed by our partners in a few common ways.

    In one scenario, if an auction house and an auctioneer is present, winning live bids from Charitybuzz Live Bid lots are treated as “absentee” bids. This normally means that the Charitybuzz winning bid is placed in the auctioneers books as a bid. As the auctioneer conducts the auction, they will bring up and enter the Charitybuzz winning bid during the course of the auction as the current price or next minimum bid value approaches the Charitybuzz winner’s bid amount. In this scenario, other people in the real world room are expected to bid against the auctioneer, not the Charitybuzz winning bidder. If no one is bidding in the room, the auctioneer will typically keep bidding up the price until the Charitybuzz Live Bid winner wins the real world auction.

    In other models, an audience member (including, but not limited to a charity partner employee) might act as a proxy for the winning Charitybuzz bidder. They will usually bid on behalf of the winning Charitybuzz Live Bid winner during the normal course of that auction, using whatever means provided for that auction house (i.e. paddles, etc.)

    After the auction is completed, someone from Charitybuzz contacts our bidder to let them know the outcome. If that Charitybuzz Live Bid bidder has won, payment occurs as usual. If that Charitybuzz Live Bid bidder did not win, they will be notified accordingly.

    A reserve bid is a bid placed by Charitybuzz on behalf of the seller up to the minimum reserve (if applicable). Bids placed by Charitybuzz on behalf of the seller up to the amount of the reserve, will be counted toward the total bid count displayed on the lot page’s bid box.

    A buyer’s premium is the additional charge on the auction hammer price or winning bid, which is paid by the winner. Buyer’s premiums on Charitybuzz range from 10%–15%, based on the final hammer price of the auction lot.

    15% up to $10,000
    12.5% up to $50,000
    10% above $50,000

    Charitybuzz reserves the right to change these calculations at any time.

    Refunds are rewarded on a case by case basis and at the sole discretion of Charitybuzz, LLC.

    Experiences auctioned on go through a specific redemption process to coordinate details and complete. That process normally involves messaging and scheduling between all parties (i.e. winners, charities, donors, venues). Details discussed include but are not limited to experience dates, arrival procedures, airfare, hotel accommodations, restrictions, will-call requirements, and any other on-site notes. Scheduling requires an initial request sent by the customer, and a followup confirmation submitted by relevant redemption contacts.

    By using Charitybuzz to bid and win lots, bidders agree to use the Redemption Center exclusively (where enabled) to message and schedule all experiences – doing so is a requirement of redeeming experiences through Charitybuzz. In addition, bidders agree that they are bound by all site terms of use and auction conditions of sale.

    Interviews: Priceless Afghan Treasures Recovered

    More than 22,000 objects from the rich cultural history of Afghanistan — including exquisite ivory statues, medallions from the summer palaces of kings and 2,500 years' worth of gold and silver coins — have been found safe in vaults in downtown Kabul.

    Fredrik Hiebert, second from right, watches with Afghan officials as a safe found to contain a trove of priceless Bactrian gold objects is forced open in April 2004. Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic Society hide caption

    National Geographic fellow Fredrik Hiebert, who led the inventory project with support from the National Geographic Society and the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, tells NPR's Alex Chadwick the treasures are even more remarkable in that they survived a generation's worth of destruction.

    "By the end of the Taliban's reign, most of us thought there was nothing left — just destruction and despair," Hiebert says. The Kabul Museum, for example, stood at the front lines in the nation's civil war in the early 1980s. It was bombed and repeatedly looted by local fighters. When the Taliban took control, religious fervor led to the destruction of countless artifacts representing the influence of other religions in the region, including the March 2001 destruction of two giant Buddhas carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan.

    The objects represent a Silk Road melting pot of art, with influences from China, India, Egypt, Greece, Rome and ancient Afghanistan.

    "We were shocked — we weren't prepared," Hiebert tells Chadwick when he learned of the sheer number of artifacts that survived. "We were looking at each other as if some dream had happened. The keys had been lost, the papers had been lost, nobody really knew what was in these boxes — and when we opened them, we found artifacts that had been reported in the news and in the academic world as having been lost, stolen or destroyed."

    Afghanistan Minister of Information and Culture Sayed Makhdoom Raheen says the recovery of the museum treasures offers a ray of hope. "This project has been an enormous boost for Afghanistan — finding the treasures intact, and then working with the outstanding team to inventory each one of them, preserving our heritage for our children," he says.

    The Washington Center Announces Speaker Change For National Geographic Presentation On January 25

    The Washington Center welcomes Fred Hiebert, archaeologist and Co-Principal Investigator on the Genghis Khan project, as our speaker for the January 25 th National Geographic presentation. Previously scheduled speaker, Albert Yu-Min Lin, will not be able to join us that evening due to the imminent arrival of his newest family member! While we are sad that Albert will not be able to join us, we are thrilled to have his colleague provide a unique perspective on the same project.

    “Archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert has searched for human history in some of the world’s most remote and romantic places for more than 20 years. An expert on the ancient Silk Road, he has excavated sites along this millennia-old path between Europe and Asia. His findings in a 4,000-year-old city in Turkmenistan made headlines around the world. In 2004 Hiebert rediscovered, catalogued, and returned to the National Museum in Kabul, Afghanistan the treasure trove of 20,000 Bactrian gold pieces that had gone missing during that country’s decades of war and upheaval. He went on to serve as curator of National Geographic’s touring exhibition Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures. He has also searched for submerged civilizations underwater in the Black Sea with Dr. Robert Ballard, in South America’s highest body of water, Lake Titicaca, and off the coast of Cuba.

    Hiebert completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1992. He joined the National Geographic Society as its Archaeology Fellow in 2003. He also holds active positions with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Institute for Nautical Archaeology, and Robert Ballard’s Institute for Exploration.”

    Tickets for the original speaker are still valid on January 25 th , 2013. Patrons who wish to change their tickets are asked to contact the Washington Center Box Office at 360-753-8586.

    Queens of the Nile

    Wall painting of Queen Nefertari playing senet, an ancient Egyptian board game.

    Most museum exhibitions about ancient Egypt focus on male rulers such as the famous King Tutankhamen. “Queens of Egypt,” which will run from March 1 to Sept. 2 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., spotlights seven women who ruled the land of the Pharaohs.

    The show posed a formidable curatorial challenge, says National Geographic Archaeology Fellow Fredrik Hiebert, because “Egyptian written history is from a man’s point of view.” Even though “the pharaohs were always partnered with very powerful women,” he explains, the queens usually operated behind the scenes, so “you don’t read about them.”

    “Ancient Egyptian women enjoyed liberties unmatched in any other part of the classical world,” says Erin Branigan, exhibition content specialist at the museum. They could own property, divorce, work outside the home and bring court cases. Time has largely erased those women’s stories, but some traces of powerful queens remain. Hatshepsut ruled as pharaoh in the 15th century B.C., and the exhibition includes two scarab amulets inscribed with her hieroglyphic name. Displays devoted to other queens, such as Nefertiti and Tiye, include small statues and wooden furniture fragments bearing the royal likeness.

    Nefertari, the first wife of Ramses the Great, who ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 B.C., gets the most space. Visitors can use 3-D glasses to view a model of Nefertari’s two-level tomb, a famous Egyptian archaeological site, using virtual reality-style technology. Art on the tomb’s walls depicts Nefertari’s meetings with the goddesses of the underworld. In one painting, she plays senet, a popular board game, but she has no opponent the picture plays on another meaning of the word senet, “passing,” as an allegory of the afterlife.

    Discovered in the early 1900s, the tomb had been looted earlier in its history, but artifacts survived. These include tiny, painted wooden figurines of the queen that, it was believed, would come alive in the next world. A sarcophagus lid has survived as well, along with a pair of gold-covered sandals, mostly made of woven palm leaves. (It isn’t known if the queen actually wore them.)

    Continue reading your article with a WSJ membership

    Afghan treasures found

    Archeologists have identified more than 22,000 rare Afghan art and historical treasures as artifacts that vanished from the Afghanistan national museum during the 1979-89 Soviet invasion and occupation of that country, elating officials and scholars who hope to restore them to a rebuilt museum in downtown Kabul.

    The priceless artworks, dating to 500 B.C., were spirited away from the museum by unknown individuals early in the period of Soviet rule and hidden for safekeeping in various locations in Kabul, said Fredrik Hiebert, the National Geographic archeologist who led a team that has inventoried and identified the treasures.

    It was long feared that the treasures--from gold coins to religious statues to relics of kings--were lost. But Hiebert said Wednesday that Afghan authorities began recovering the largely unmarked safes and metal boxes containing the treasures last year, after U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban and a new government took power, though at first they had no idea what they held.

    The museum, formally known as the Kabul Museum, was badly damaged during the Soviet occupation and suffered during the Taliban Islamic dictatorship and the war with the U.S. that followed.

    While the museum is being reconstructed--and possibly relocated from the outskirts of Kabul to a better site downtown--Afghan officials want the artifacts to tour the world, reintroducing viewers to the image of Afghanistan as a country with a proud tradition and not just a suffering nation victimized by Soviet communists and Islamic extremists.

    The Kabul Museum's roof was destroyed, its windows blown out and its interior burned in fires that consumed its records.

    An estimated 70 percent of the museum's collection probably was looted or destroyed, Hiebert said. But the gold, bronze, ivory and terra cotta objects recovered and identified so far amount to "the majority of the masterpieces previously displayed in the Kabul Museum," he said.

    "We were worried about animal damage, water damage, temperature damage," he said. "But they came out of their wrappings looking like they had just come from the museum. They're in really wonderful condition, and I can't explain it. It was an amazement to us and a joy."

    Some artifacts were wrapped in pink toilet tissue, he said.

    Renowned for their craftsmanship and beauty, the objects relate more than 2 millennia of Afghan history.

    There are nearly 2,000 gold and silver coins bearing portraits of Afghan royalty that represent nearly the entire history of the Afghan monarchy.

    Also recovered were all 20,000 pieces of the museum's famed "Bactrian Gold" collection, representing Afghan culture during the centuries the region prospered as a major crossroads and central point along the fabled Silk Road caravan route connecting the Orient with the western reaches of Asia.

    Three ivory statues nearly 3 feet high were identified as sculptures of historic water goddesses. Also among the objects are relics of Kushan Kingdom monarchs who ruled in the area in the 1st Century and plaster medallions depicting court life at their summer palaces. Of particular interest were hundreds of terra cotta Buddhist religious sculptures and carvings.

    "Every box we opened was like a Christmas package," Hiebert said.

    No one knows precisely who removed the treasures to safekeeping or how they did it. "There are many stories, and it's impossible to select one from all the others as the truth," Hiebert said.

    The removals apparently occurred early in the Soviet period when the area around the museum became a hotbed of Afghan resistance to the Soviet puppet state and it seemed likely the museum would be caught in the crossfire--as in fact it was.

    Hiebert said the museum director and Afghan culture minister at the time apparently knew the whereabouts of the treasures, but they disappeared in the civil war between the Soviet-backed regime and Islamic rebels who were supported by the United States.

    He said another person who likely had knowledge of the artifacts' location, but never revealed it, was Najibullah Ahmadzai, a communist who headed the Afghan secret police early in the Soviet period and became president of the country in 1986.

    Najibullah was captured by the Taliban and hanged from a traffic light post when the Islamic extremists seized control of Kabul in 1996.

    The Taliban was interested in finding the missing treasures, possibly to destroy the Buddhist statues, as it did with other non-Islamic objects left behind in the museum, along with the monumental Buddha statues set in a cliff face at Bamiyan, Afghanistan. But it was unable to find anyone who would reveal the treasures' whereabouts.

    In 2003, some pieces from the museum began turning up on the Tokyo, London and New York art markets, prompting fears that all the treasures had been looted. But the same year, the provisional government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai began to find the steel safes and metal boxes, many badly damaged. Some were in the presidential palace complex. Others were in bank vaults and more obscure locations.

    Watch the video: National Geographic: Gold! 1978 (August 2022).