'It was when the Soviets retreated in the early 1990s, and civil war broke out, that most damage to the cultural heritage of the country occurred.'
Afghanistan is just recovering from 22 years of destructive war within its boundaries. First, from 1979 until the late 1980s, the fighting was between Soviet invaders and various mujehadin groups. Cultural destruction was relatively slight and generally accidental, although rockets did damage one of the minarets at Ghazni and one at Herat. It was when the Soviets retreated in the early 1990s, and civil war broke out, that most damage to the cultural heritage of the country occurred.
During the civil war different war lords - regionally and ethnically based but struggling for national power - fought for Kabul. At this lawless time the Kabul Museum - one of the most important museums in the world, packed with treasures of the highest quality - was sacked. It stands in a south-western suburb of Kabul, in the front line between the warring factions. Before its collections could be fully removed it was hit by rockets and set alight, and within months 70 per cent of its contents had been destroyed or looted. Lost are the Kunduz Hoard and the Bagram Treasure - looted rather than destroyed because coins and ivories, well known from catalogue records, continue to turn up on the illicit art market.