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    Remote assessments of the archaeological heritage situation in Afghanistan

    Hammer, E. and Seifried, R. and Franklin, Kathryn and Lauricella, A. (2018) Remote assessments of the archaeological heritage situation in Afghanistan. Journal of Cultural Heritage 33 , pp. 125-144. ISSN 1296-2074.

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    Analysis of spatial and temporal patterns in looting and destruction at archaeological sites using satellite imagery has become a focus of multiple research groups working on cultural heritage in conflict zones, especially in areas controlled by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. In this paper, we apply similar methods to investigate looting and destruction at archaeological sites in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, where Taliban-related cultural heritage destruction events have also frequently made international headlines. Using the time depth provided by high-resolution, time-stamped DigitalGlobe satellite and BuckEye aerial images as well as CORONA and other historical satellite images and maps, we quantitatively document spatial and temporal patterns in destruction from looting, agricultural activity, military occupation, urban growth, mining, and other kinds of development at over 1000 previously known archaeological sites across Afghanistan. This analysis indicates that several common narratives about cultural heritage destruction in Afghanistan may require revision. Specifically, we conclude that significant amounts of systematic looting of archaeological sites in Afghanistan already occurred before Taliban-related conflicts, that there has been little increase in systematic looting in Taliban-controlled areas post-2001, and that the most pressing threats to Afghanistan’s heritage sites come from development activities, including agricultural expansion, urban growth, and future mining. The analysis demonstrates that the situation in Afghanistan both parallels and contrasts with that seen in the post-Arab-Spring Middle East.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Afghanistan, cultural heritage, satellite imagery, archaeology, spatial analysis
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Kate Franklin
    Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2018 15:59
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:46


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