Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

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Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:20 am

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2 ... _buddhas#0

Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan's Logar Province, boasts one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world. But it is also home to vast archeological ruins, including 5th century Buddhist monasteries and even older Bronze Age settlements. Preservationists -- working furiously to excavate the nearby ruins before they are buried under mining rubble -- have urged restraint in developing the copper deposits. But those focused on Afghanistan's economic development have urged the country to move full speed ahead, citing the dire need for the $1 trillion in revenue that the mine could bring to the impoverished country. Is the potential for economic growth worth more than the loss of cultural heritage?
Professor Brent E. Huffman, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University who has been making a film at Mes Aynak, says there is little hope that much will be saved when the mining begins in earnest. Here, we take a an inside look at the 2,000 year-old Buddhas, temples, and other relics that could soon be destroyed.


It is tragic that these treasures of Buddhist history will be lost forever. However, compared with the abject poverty faced by the population, perhaps industrial development is the more humane thing to do.

Here is more from the Facebook page of the forthcoming film "The Buddhas of Aynak" [ https://www.facebook.com/buddhasofaynak/info ]:

Abdul Qadeer Temore has been tirelessly working at the excavation site in the windswept moonscape of Aynak, Afghanistan for nearly a year. He hasn’t received any pay for the past four months from the Afghan government, but gets daily death threats from the Taliban on his cell phone demanding cash for his life. Abdul pledges he will keep digging until he is forced to quit.
Aynak, a desert region 20 minutes southwest of Kabul, is an archaeological treasure trove of ancient Buddhist artifacts dated at over 2,500 years old. An ancient Buddhist monastery complex, extensive wall frescos, devotional temples known as stupas, and more than 150 Buddha statues comprise a discovery of immense global importance and one of the country's richest historical sites. But it is also a site with a violent and troubled history. It was here that al-Qaeda planned the murderous destruction of 9/11, an event that became the catalyst for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
At the same time, Aynak is home to the largest undeveloped copper reserve in the world. Directly beneath the Buddhist site lie mineral deposits worth an estimated $100 billion. Following two years of aggressive bidding, China Metallurgical Group Corporation, a Chinese government-backed mining company, beat out all international competitors and was awarded an exclusive contract in 2008 by the cash-strapped Afghanistan government to exploit the site.
The fate of the ancient Buddhist artifacts hangs in the balance as the Chinese begin planning their destructive open-pit style copper mine.
Under immense international pressure, the Chinese company gave Afghan and French archaeologists three years to excavate and move the artifacts before the copper mine gets underway. But with extremely limited resources, the dedicated archaeologists have made little progress.
“We have only discovered the tip of the iceberg, a mere 10% of the site,” says French specialist Philippe Marquis, who believes this could easily be a ten-year excavation project. Efforts to save and preserve the site have been drastically scaled back to a project whose best hope is now merely to document what is known to exist at the site before the Chinese begin construction, which they are planning to do in 2012. The remaining cultural relics, which are both too large and fragile to be moved or are still underground and thus, undiscovered, will all be destroyed.
The Buddhas of Aynak will follow several main characters to tell this dramatic and multi-layered story: Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist leading the effort to save the Buddhist statues; Abdul Qadeer Temore, a leading Afghan archeologist at the Afghan National Institute of Archeology working to protect his cultural heritage in Aynak; Liu Wenming, a Chinese manager working for China Metallurgical Group Corporation in the compound at Aynak; and Laura Tedesco, an American archaeologist working for the Kabul-based U.S. Embassy, who is using a million dollars of U.S. military funding to attempt to save the Buddhist ruins.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:25 am

Ugh. Pain.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:54 am

Industrial development?

Money for globalists. Not Afghans.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:08 am

Konchog1 wrote:Industrial development?

Money for globalists. Not Afghans.


I know what you mean. But provided the development is not entirely hijacked by utter corruption, there is still chance that the income that eventually flows into government coffers would benefit the country as a whole, in the long run anyway.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:30 am

The mining is being done by a Chinese company.

In 2007, the Afghan government sold the China Metallurgical Group (MCC) a 30-year lease to develop the Mes Aynak deposit for $3 billion dollars. Beside its proximity to archeological artifacts, the deposit is also located over the ground table that provides drinking water to Kabul's 3 million residents. According to a petition protesting the mine on Change.org, an international network of activists, the MCC has not released any environmental impact statement or plan to minimize contamination of the water supply.


The profits will go to the investors, mostly Chinese. The Afghans get the $3B, a few low-level jobs, a permanent blight on their landscape and water supply, and the destruction of their history.

The archeological site wasn't found until 2010. Who has $3B + to buy it back from MCC?

:namaste:

P.S. There are actually several petitions: http://www.change.org/petitions#search/Mes%20Aynak - not that any of these will prevail...
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:21 am

viniketa wrote:The mining is being done by a Chinese company.

In 2007, the Afghan government sold the China Metallurgical Group (MCC) a 30-year lease to develop the Mes Aynak deposit for $3 billion dollars. Beside its proximity to archeological artifacts, the deposit is also located over the ground table that provides drinking water to Kabul's 3 million residents. According to a petition protesting the mine on Change.org, an international network of activists, the MCC has not released any environmental impact statement or plan to minimize contamination of the water supply.


The profits will go to the investors, mostly Chinese.


And it is very likely they will import chinese workers to Afghanistan to work on the mines, instead of hiring Afghans. I think this is the normative case whenever Chinese companies operate in Africa.

and the destruction of their history


True. And at the same time, a segment of their own people have no qualms destroying their own non-Islamic heritage anyway.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:54 am

The film maker, Brent E. Huffman, is trying to make a case to save the site:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/22/opinion/a ... ?hpt=hp_t3

Yes, segments of the population wish to destroy that most ancient of heritages, and their tactics hold others in fear, but I can't help but think that, one day, Afghans will think differently.

Even so, whether or not Afghans feel the loss, the whole world will. Most of all, it will be a great loss to the international Buddhist community, such as it is. How sad that there is very little cohesion among the various Buddhist traditions, as nationalism has set in so many places. In my propensity for naivete, I think of the possibilities if some of the gargantuan stupa projects were to be abandoned and the funds used to save the Buddhist heritage in Afghanistan, which would go a long way toward providing more stable employment and perhaps bring new possibilities for lasting peace to this area that has been war torn practically since the decline of Buddhism there.

That's not 'lucid' dreaming... :roll:

:namaste:
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:44 pm

Konchog1 wrote:Industrial development?

Money for globalists. Not Afghans.

Exactly.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:45 pm

viniketa wrote:The film maker, Brent E. Huffman, is trying to make a case to save the site:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/22/opinion/a ... ?hpt=hp_t3

Yes, segments of the population wish to destroy that most ancient of heritages, and their tactics hold others in fear, but I can't help but think that, one day, Afghans will think differently.

Even so, whether or not Afghans feel the loss, the whole world will. Most of all, it will be a great loss to the international Buddhist community, such as it is. How sad that there is very little cohesion among the various Buddhist traditions, as nationalism has set in so many places. In my propensity for naivete, I think of the possibilities if some of the gargantuan stupa projects were to be abandoned and the funds used to save the Buddhist heritage in Afghanistan, which would go a long way toward providing more stable employment and perhaps bring new possibilities for lasting peace to this area that has been war torn practically since the decline of Buddhism there.

That's not 'lucid' dreaming... :roll:

:namaste:

Couldn't agree more.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:12 pm

viniketa wrote:
Yes, segments of the population wish to destroy that most ancient of heritages, and their tactics hold others in fear, but I can't help but think that, one day, Afghans will think differently.


There is some cause for optimism, as can be seen in the case in Egypt, when fundamentalists took the opportunity during the 'Arab Spring" to try to destroy the Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the Museum of Cairo. I remembered reading that large groups of civilians took it upon themselves to ring the museum and defend the national treasures at their own risk.


viniketa wrote:Even so, whether or not Afghans feel the loss, the whole world will. Most of all, it will be a great loss to the international Buddhist community, such as it is. How sad that there is very little cohesion among the various Buddhist traditions, as nationalism has set in so many places. In my propensity for naivete, I think of the possibilities if some of the gargantuan stupa projects were to be abandoned and the funds used to save the Buddhist heritage in Afghanistan, which would go a long way toward providing more stable employment and perhaps bring new possibilities for lasting peace to this area that has been war torn practically since the decline of Buddhism there.


I am not sure having large groups of Buddhists settling in the area for years on restoring Buddhist art would go very well with the forementioned segment of Afghans. In the deteriorating sociopolitcal environment, there is probably elevated risk of fundamentalist confrontations.

Like yourself, I really hope there is a way we can preserve the heritage. I wonder what is hidden underneath. Perhaps a large collection of lost sanskrit/prakrit texts? A complete set of the Mahasamghika Agamas?? More relics of the Buddha?
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:26 pm

pueraeternus wrote:There is some cause for optimism, as can be seen in the case in Egypt, when fundamentalists took the opportunity during the 'Arab Spring" to try to destroy the Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the Museum of Cairo. I remembered reading that large groups of civilians took it upon themselves to ring the museum and defend the national treasures at their own risk.


Unlikely to happen, here. Average Afghans are still fighting to just to keep alive in the war-torn country. Moreover, the site is in a Taliban area.

pueraeternus wrote:I am not sure having large groups of Buddhists settling in the area for years on restoring Buddhist art would go very well with the forementioned segment of Afghans. In the deteriorating sociopolitcal environment, there is probably elevated risk of fundamentalist confrontations.


I'm not suggesting that Buddhists settle there. I'm suggesting the possibility of Buddhist funding for preservation of the site. The Afghan lead archeologist has not even been paid out of the $3B the Afghan gov't received:
Lead Afghan archaeologist Abdul Qadeer Temore has been tirelessly working at the excavation site for nearly a year. He told me last July he hadn’t received any pay for the past four months from the Afghan government while struggling to feed his three young children.

“I feel like a mother and the artifacts feel like my children,” Temore said. “We work so hard uncovering the pieces and protecting them. When they get destroyed, it will feel like losing a child.”

To make matters worse, the Mes Aynak site is located in the heart of Taliban country. Abdul gets regular death threats from the Taliban on his cell phone demanding cash for his life. Early this year, two Afghan workers were severely wounded when they dug up a land mine buried at the archaeology site. One worker lost his eyes and another lost his legs in the blast. Abdul stressed to me that despite the extreme risk, he and his team of Afghan specialists would keep excavating on the site until they are forced to quit. http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/are-ch ... tan-images


pueraeternus wrote:I wonder what is hidden underneath. Perhaps a large collection of lost sanskrit/prakrit texts? A complete set of the Mahasamghika Agamas?? More relics of the Buddha?


Who knows? The site is very extensive:

...2,000 year-old religious site with over 200 Buddha statues, devotional temples called stupas, and a monastery complex.... ...Philippe Marquis, director at the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA)... “We have only discovered the tip of the iceberg, a mere 10 percent of the site”... http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/are-ch ... tan-images


Mes Aynak is also a vast complex of over twenty ruin locations, including numerous 5th-6th century Buddhist monasteries, a fortress, and evidence of even older Bronze Age settlements buried beneath the rubble of ancient copper mines. Archeologists from around the world hold that Mes Aynak represents a cultural heritage site of immense importance... The Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (“ARCH”) International, Inc. is laying the groundwork for a major public campaign to prevent the decimation of ancient Buddhist temples and Bronze Age metal foundries at Mes Aynak, a major site on the ancient Silk Road that is endangered by a current plan to mine copper from this historic location. We understand that Afghanistan is in great need of the funds that would flow from this projected mineral extraction, so we are working with engineers and other experts to find the means of balancing new methods of copper mining with the careful preservation of our priceless cultural heritage. http://www.archinternational.org/mes_aynak.html


The problem is that, even should the Chinese MCC agree to the cooperation necessary for preserving the site (unlikely), the Afghans who want to save the site have no funding.

:namaste:
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:01 pm

viniketa wrote:I'm not suggesting that Buddhists settle there. I'm suggesting the possibility of Buddhist funding for preservation of the site. The Afghan lead archeologist has not even been paid out of the $3B the Afghan gov't received:


Japanese and Taiwanese Buddhist organizations are probably the most well-funded ones who might have some of the financial clout. Perhaps a consortium of these with UNESCO and several well-endowed charitable foundations. But then again, the Chinese really really want those copper, since they are hungry for raw materials, so I am not sure if they can be outbidded. And the Afghan government is unlikely to sway to the argument for cultural and environmental preservation.

viniketa wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:I wonder what is hidden underneath. Perhaps a large collection of lost sanskrit/prakrit texts? A complete set of the Mahasamghika Agamas?? More relics of the Buddha?


Who knows? The site is very extensive:

...2,000 year-old religious site with over 200 Buddha statues, devotional temples called stupas, and a monastery complex.... ...Philippe Marquis, director at the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA)... “We have only discovered the tip of the iceberg, a mere 10 percent of the site”... http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/are-ch ... tan-images


Mes Aynak is also a vast complex of over twenty ruin locations, including numerous 5th-6th century Buddhist monasteries, a fortress, and evidence of even older Bronze Age settlements buried beneath the rubble of ancient copper mines. Archeologists from around the world hold that Mes Aynak represents a cultural heritage site of immense importance... The Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (“ARCH”) International, Inc. is laying the groundwork for a major public campaign to prevent the decimation of ancient Buddhist temples and Bronze Age metal foundries at Mes Aynak, a major site on the ancient Silk Road that is endangered by a current plan to mine copper from this historic location. We understand that Afghanistan is in great need of the funds that would flow from this projected mineral extraction, so we are working with engineers and other experts to find the means of balancing new methods of copper mining with the careful preservation of our priceless cultural heritage. http://www.archinternational.org/mes_aynak.html


The problem is that, even should the Chinese MCC agree to the cooperation necessary for preserving the site (unlikely), the Afghans who want to save the site have no funding.

:namaste:


It is amazing the few Afghans are doing it on their dime and at risk of their lives.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:31 am

pueraeternus wrote:It is amazing the few Afghans are doing it on their dime and at risk of their lives.


Not all Afghans are uneducated fundamentalists. Not even all the uneducated are fundamentalists, most are just everyday folk trying to survive.

It seems some efforts have been made, I was surprised at US involvement:

On 15 March, finds from Mes Aynak went on display in Kabul. “Along the Silk Road: Recent Excavations from Mes Aynak”, featuring 70 of the most important discoveries, was funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

The government has plans to build a new museum near Mes Aynak, on a site in Logar province. It will be five miles from the mine. There are hopes of moving some of the stupa bases and reconstructing them in the new museum.
http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles ... camp/23443


This part of Afghanistan along the old Silk Road is so fundamental in the history of Buddhism, which also means of importance to the history of Asia. You really cannot separate the two.

:namaste:
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:55 am

Image

Image
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:03 pm

viniketa wrote:Image

Image


Brings to mind Xuanzang's travels to the west. Those were the classic times - Bactria, Sogdiana, Samarkand, vast deserts, fertile valleys, kings holding pandits and sages in ransom for prajna.
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:45 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
viniketa wrote:Image

Image


P.S.: Should have given attribution for this before: http://www.penn.museum/silkroad/

Brings to mind Xuanzang's travels to the west. Those were the classic times - Bactria, Sogdiana, Samarkand, vast deserts, fertile valleys, kings holding pandits and sages in ransom for prajna.


As it should, or, even earlier, Faxian's travels. The Tarim Basin area was mixture of Greek, Trocharian, Bactrian, Indic, Xiongnu (Chinese nomadic), Turkic, Mongolic, Iranian, and Uralic cultures.

The Mes Aynak site is in the western foothills of the Hindu Kush (Pāriyātra Parvata), and would have been part of the Mauryan Kingdom of Aśoka from around 304–232 BC, then part of the Kingdom of Gandhara, which lasted from the early 1st millennium BC to the 11th century AD.

In other words, this large complex would been an important center of Buddhism for around 1300 years.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:25 am

December 2012 is the deadline:

http://www.williamyale.com/tag/mes-aynak/

This site is called Mes Aynak and is nothing short of awe-inspiring: a massive walled-in Buddhist city featuring massive temples, monasteries, and thousands of Buddhist statues that managed to survive looters and the Taliban. Holding a key position on the Silk Road, Mes Aynak was also an international hub for traders and pilgrims from all over Asia.

Hundreds of fragile manuscripts detailing daily life at the site are still yet to be excavated. Beneath the Buddhist dwellings is an even older yet-unearthed Bronze age site indicated by several recent archaeological findings.

Mes Aynak is set for destruction at the end of December 2012. All of the temples, monasteries, statues as well as the Bronze age material will all be destroyed by a Chinese government-owned company called China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC). Six villages and the mountain range will also be destroyed to create a massive open-pit style copper mine.


Short of a miracle, it is almost certain there is no stopping the Chinese.
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby viniketa » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:28 am

pueraeternus wrote:Short of a miracle, it is almost certain there is no stopping the Chinese.


Unfortunately, I have to agree.

:namaste:
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby lobster » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:09 am

This giant Buddha was built in direct response to the
destruction in Afghanistan :twothumbsup:
http://www.cits.net/china-guide/places/lingshan-grand-buddha.html

You build some, you lose some
remind me of something about impermanence
. . . but it has gone from my mind . . .
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Re: Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper

Postby pueraeternus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:51 pm

Thanks, didn't know about this statue before.

Noted that it was completed in 1996, hence it can't be built in response to the events in Afghanistan.

lobster wrote:This giant Buddha was built in direct response to the
destruction in Afghanistan :twothumbsup:
http://www.cits.net/china-guide/places/lingshan-grand-buddha.html

You build some, you lose some
remind me of something about impermanence
. . . but it has gone from my mind . . .
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

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