About the exhibit: In 1978, on windswept plains of northern Afghanistan, archaeologists unearthed tombs of ancient nomads that had been sealed for two thousand years and discovered an extraordinary trove: some 22,000 individual pieces of gold buried with the remains of six Bactrian Central Asian nomads. Within months of this discovery at Tillya Tepe, the country descended into war, and the so-called Bactrian Hoard disappeared into legend once more. Twenty-five years later, in 2003, Afghanistan surprised the world by announcing that the priceless artifacts had been located intact in the presidential palace bank vault in Kabul. They had been rescued, along with other masterpieces of the National Museum, Kabul, and protected in the intervening years of turmoil by a group of selfless Afghan heroes who have come to be known as "the key holders."
Strategically located on the commercial routes between China and India in the east and Europe in the west, Afghanistan was at the crossroads of civilizations in Central Asia. Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul explores the rich cultural heritage of ancient Afghanistan from the Bronze Age (2500 BCE) through the rise of trade along the Silk Road in the first century CE. Drawn mainly from three archaeological sites, the exhibition features nearly 230 artworks, including gold objects from the famed Bactrian Hoard, bronze and stone sculptures, ivories, painted glassware, and other ancient Afghan works of art.