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Afghan Artifacts Repatriated by Customs Officials

On May 22, 2008, agents from Customs and Immigration Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security formally repatriated eight historic artifacts that had been illegally smuggled out of Afghanistan. The artifacts were presented to Abdul Karim Khurram, Afghanistan’s Minister of Culture and Information, and Omara Khan Masoudi, Director of the National Museum of Kabul, during a ceremony at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

According to archeologist Fredrik T. Hiebert of National Geographic, the eight artifacts date back to the Bactrian Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, and hail from burial sites located in northern Afghanistan. Made of cooper or bronze, the artifacts include a spear, a ceremonial axe, a dagger blade and a knife.

The repatriation ceremony coincided with the opening of the exhibit “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibit features 228 historic artifacts, some dating back over 4,000 years, that were hidden away during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and unearthed only after the Taliban was driven from power in 2001. More information on the exhibit is available here.

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