Who's Stealing Afghanistan's Cultural Treasures?

The plunder of antiquities will leave the country's history in the dark.

"All of this is the tepe," says Abdul Wahid, a neatly dressed farmer in his 40s, pointing at a dirt expanse so pitted it looks like it has been carpet-bombed. He gets out of the car and walks over crumbling humps of dirt, skirting pits left by looters.

"You see that big hole over there," he says, gesturing. "During the civil war, some people were working it and they took out a lot of things." Still, there is more to find, he says.

Abdul Wahid is showing me around the tepe, or hill, across the dirt lane from his compound in Balkh—a city in northern Afghanistan that ancient Arab explorers once called Umm Al-Belaad or "Mother of Cities" for its great antiquity.

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