01 June 2020

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Friday February 7, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The recovery of an ancient limestone temple sculpture stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan almost 30 years ago sends out a “powerful message” that related pieces looted at the same time can now be tracked down, says St John Simpson, assistant keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum. The second-century work, which adorned a temple sanctuary, was part of a composite frieze; the other looted limestone blocks are still missing.
The sculpture, which shows two humped bulls, comes from the Surkh Kotal site in northern Afghanistan. Earlier today at a special ceremony, Saib Tayeb Jawad, Afghanistan's ambassador to the UK, acknowledged the British Museum’s role in the recovery. The sculpture is on display at the museum in London before returning to the National Museum in Kabul later this year.
The piece was offered for sale late last year by the Harwich-based online auction house Timeline Auctions. The limestone sculpture was withdrawn after the Art Loss Register, an international database of stolen art, spotted the piece; it was then seized by the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police service. Its stolen status was subsequently confirmed by the British Museum.
Christopher Wren of Timeline Auctions says that the vendor immediately relinquished any claim to ownership on being told of the origin and agreed that the sculpture must be returned to the National Museum of Afghanistan. He tells The Art Newspaper: “This piece was only discovered due to our policy of employing, and paying for, the Art Loss Register to examine all Western Asiatic items submitted to us for potential sale, irrespective of 'value'; this is also done for many pieces from other cultures and regions.”
The limestone corner block was excavated by a French archaeological expedition in the 1950s at Surkh Kotal. It formed part of a ceremonial frieze comprising other blocks showing human figures and bulls, which is thought to have adorned the inner part of a temple.
Following their discovery, the blocks were taken to Kabul and entered the collection of the National Museum of Afghanistan. All of the pieces, numbering more than a dozen, were however looted during the Afghan civil war (1992-94); the sculpture returning to Afghanistan is the first stolen antiquity from the Surkh Kotal temple to be recovered.
“The museum was on the front line,” Simpson says. “This is the first [missing work from the temple] that can be identified. I’m optimistic; we have seen a growing number of pieces identified and returned.” Since 2009, the British Museum has worked with the police and the UK government to return more than 2,300 antiquities illegally excavated at sites across Afghanistan. “The view in the museum sector is that we want by ethical and legal means, and in a timely manner, to return such pieces,” he adds.


Thursday, February 06, 2020
Kabul (BNA) During a farewell meeting, the country’s deputy minister of information and culture on publications affairs, Fazel Sancahraki was appreciated, BNA reported Wednesday.
During the meeting which was attended by ministry’s leading body and officials, Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Hasina Safi said the meeting was not held to bid farewell with Fazel Sancharaki, but appreciate his work and achievements during his few years as former deputy to publication minister of information and culture, said the agency.
She called Sancharaki as an experienced and cultural personality of the country who was suffering long illness.
“This is not a farewell meeting, but to appreciate the work of Fazel Sancharaki who quit job due to long serious illness he was suffering and needed rest and treatment.”
Other Participants of the meeting including Najib Shinwari and Farid Ahmad Farhang also spoke about the characteristics of Sancharaki and called him one of the country’s experienced, academic, cultural and political figure.
In his farewell speech, Fazel Sancharaki also noted that during his work as deputy minister of information and culture, he had not treated his subordinates as a boss, but the relation was friendly, that caused the related affairs get improved.
He added that he was suffering illness and needed to have rest and treatment.
Directors of Bakhtar News Agency and Government Dailies awarded appreciation letters to him, at the sideline of the farewell meeting.

Thursday, February 06, 2020
Kabul (BNA) In a meeting with the UNESCO head, Prof. Mohammad Rasul Bawari, the deputy minister of information and culture on cultural affairs, spoke about the preservation and protection of the country's ancient relics and said further cooperation from the organization was needed to well protect and preserve Afghanistan’s ancient artifacts, BNA reported the other day.
During the meeting, Prof. Bawari pointed to the enrichment of the country's historical and cultural relics and said Afghanistan was a country with rich ancient and historical relics and monuments and their protection was not possible alone, the agency quoted.
He asked the UNESCO for enough cooperation to protect the historical artifacts, quoted the agency. Head of the UNESCO also spoke about the issue and pledged his led organization’s cooperation in various parts of cultural sections with the ministry of information and culture.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Acting Minister of Information and Culture Ms. Hasina Safi, the other day introduced the women support procedure to the ministry’s staffs, BNA reported.
Calling the main aim of the procedure was creation of safe work environment for women, the acting minister noted that women, with no discrimination were working in similar posts with men in the ministry.
She went on as saying: “Women shouldn’t misuse the opportunities available for them and should not demand for support from the authorities,”  The leadership of the ministry, according to her, supported hardworking women and those using the opportunities for their capacity building and making efforts to appear as an efficient and innovator in her administration.
She advised the women staffs and personnel of the ministry to work hard based on job description and ask their rights from the authorities in case of being refused.  “They shouldn’t allow others to lose their rights or disrespect them.”
She thanked the commission which has provided and approved the procedure.
Hasib Sharifi, expert in development and policy of the ministry, also explained the women support procedure to the meeting participants and said that the commission in charge has provided the procedure in four chapter and 24 articles.  According to him, the women, after studying the procedure, can share their views and suggestions for its enrichment.
Masouda Qarizada

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