KABUL, Afghanistan — Every piece of antiquity that is restored to the halls of the bombed, pillaged and now rebuilt National Museum of Afghanistan sends a message of defiance and resilience.
These are messages to the Taliban, who in 2001 smashed every museum artifact that they could find that bore a human or animal likeness. But these are messages for others as well: to the warlords who looted the museum, some of whom are still in positions of power in Afghanistan; to corrupt custodians of the past who stood by while some 70,000 objects walked out the door.
Just a few years ago, the National Museum here was defined by how much it had lost — some 70 percent of its collection destroyed or stolen, including precious objects dating back to the Stone and Bronze Ages, through Zoroastrianism and Buddhism to early Islam, and documenting some of the world’s most mysterious ancient cultures.
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