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A History of Afghanistan in 100 Objects

Treasures from the National Museum of Afghanistan

Gil J. Stein, Alejandro Gallego López, and M. Fahim Rahimi


A History of Afghanistan in 100 Objects tells the story of this extraordinary country by highlighting significant pieces in the National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul. The museum is the most important repository for the artistic masterpieces and objects of daily life that exemplify Afghanistan’s 50,000-year history and role in world cultural heritage.

Afghanistan is the quintessential “crossroads of cultures” where the civilizations of the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and China met and interacted for millennia in a constantly shifting mixture of trade, cultural borrowings, migrations, and clashing empires. This complex history gave rise to outstanding treasures in world heritage, encompassing cultures as diverse as the Bronze Age cities of Bactria, the Persian empire, the easternmost Greek colonies founded by Alexander the Great and his successors, the Hellenistic-Indian fusion in Early Buddhist art, the Silk Road empires, and the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan.

The 100 objects presented here illustrate the creativity and connections that shaped Afghan culture through the millennia.

Author information

Gil Stein is the Rowe Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Chicago and Director of the Chicago Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation. From 2012 to 2022 he directed four cultural heritage preservation projects in Afghanistan, including the University of Chicago Partnership with the National Museum of Afghanistan (NMA).

Alejandro Gallego Lopez is an archaeologist and museology specialist. From 2016 to 2022 he served as the Field Director of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute (OI) heritage projects in Kabul, where he supervised the joint OI-NMA digital inventory of the collections of the NMA, and the Mobile Museum Outreach Partnership.

Mohammad Fahim Rahimi is the Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul.