Copper Mining Threatens Afghan Site

A recent article in the LA Times describes the threats faced by an ancient Afghan archaeological site, Mes Aynak. The threats include war, looting, and now bulldozing by a Chinese mining company searching for copper.

…a dozen archaeologists and 100 Afghan laborers are working like army ants to finish the dig. Many valuable relics were looted long ago, and the archaeologists won’t be able to save the ancient edifices from the mining company. But they can remove the statues, pottery and gold and silver coins still buried within the buildings.

“We don’t know exactly how much time we have to excavate the site. Sometimes the deadline is 14 months and sometimes it’s two years.”

Photographs of the excavation published online by the LA Times are available here.

Highlighting the Smart Museum’s Buddhist Caves Exhibit

The most recent University of Chicago newsletter highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the Smart Museum‘s current exhibition, Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan:

Visitors can step inside re-creations of spaces and groupings of sculptural images that no longer exist today. The displays combine digital imagery of the caves with physical artifacts such as three-foot-tall limestone heads of bodhisattvas and the Buddha. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a multimedia installation known as a “digital cave,” designed by artist Jason Salavon, Assistant Professor in Visual Arts and the Computation Institute. Salavon conceived of the cave as an immersive experience, using multiple screens to give visitors a glimpse inside the largest temple at Xiangtangshan.

The article also discusses at length the extensive research undertaken by The University of Chicago’s Katherine Tsiang (exhibition curator) and Wu Hung, among others. This Sunday at 2pm, Jason Salavon will discuss the components of his installation in an Artist Talk at the Smart.

The exhibition will be open from September 30, 2010 to January 16, 2011 and, like all Smart Museum exhibitions, is free.