A lecture by Alka Patel, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, UC Irvine. Part of the conference "Beyond the Bamiyan Buddhas: Archaeology and History in the Modern and Ancient Persianate World."
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The destruction of the giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan in March 2001 briefly brought the world’s attention to the rich pre-Islamic heritage of Afghanistan. Appalling as it was, the tragedy at Bamiyan has overshadowed the larger stories that surround the Buddhas, both in terms of the longer history of archaeological excavation in Afghanistan and the plurality of ancient cultures that flourished in the region. Bringing together archaeologists and historians, these two half-day conferences at UCLA and UC Irvine explore two related issues. First, what archaeological, art historical and philological research can tell us about the evolution and interaction of societies and religious groups in the ancient and late antique Persianate world. And secondly, what roles have domestic and international politics had to play in the sponsorship or reception of historical and archaeological research on pre-Islamic Afghanistan. By addressing these questions, the conferences aim to understand the larger issues that surrounded both the creation and the destruction of the great Buddhas of Bamiyan.
Showcasing the cutting-edge of international research on Afghanistan’s archaeology and history, Beyond the Bamiyan Buddhas is jointly organized by Nile Green, chair of the UCLA Program on Central Asia, and Touraj Daryaee, Director of the UCI Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture, with support from the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, the UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion, and the Musa Sabi Term Chair in Iranian Studies (2004-2009).
Please visit the conference archive page for "Beyond the Bamiyan Buddhas: Archaeology and History in the Modern and Ancient Persianate World."