About the Author: Caitlin Hayden serves as Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On December 16, U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and a team from the U.S. Embassy visited Mes Aynak in Logar Province to take a first-hand look at the work taking place at this historical site. Mes Aynak is one of the largest Buddhist archaeological sites in Afghanistan and is co-located with the world's second largest known copper deposit.
Mining operations will begin at Mes Aynak roughly three years from now, but before that occurs the recovery and preservation of the cultural heritage at Mes Aynak must be completed so that valuable Afghan history is not lost.
"It is vital for the Afghan people to benefit from the mineral resources at Mes Aynak, but it is equally important to preserve these remarkable artifacts of Afghanistan's Silk Road history, not just for the Afghan people but for humanity," said Ambassador Eikenberry.
As part of the United States' broad commitment to preserving Afghan cultural heritage, a U.S. Embassy Cultural Heritage Program Manager has been consulting with Afghan and international experts for several months about how best to preserve the artifacts that have been found at Mes Aynak. This effort is supported by U.S. Forces, Afghanistan civil affairs experts and planners, as well as technical assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers. The command's leadership has an ongoing relationship with the Ministry of Information and Culture, supporting the U.S. Embassy's Cultural Heritage Program.
The United States is committed to working with Afghan and international partners to ensure that the short-term archaeological work and long-term preservation of the cultural heritage at Mes Aynak are carried out as effectively as possible. The Afghan people are proud of their heritage and we look forward to helping them reclaim it, and sharing in their pride.