Last week, the park welcomed three Afghan Provincial Directors of Monuments, who participated with park staff in an exchange of cultural resource management information.
The directors oversee monuments with sites of exceptional archeological importance that have serious problems due to looting, war damage, intentional destruction, and neglect. The goal of this program is to build relationships between cultural resource managers in Afghanistan and the United States. The directors will also visit other NPS areas as part of the information exchange to enable professionals from both nations to better preserve important cultural sites.
This professional and cultural exchange is being funded by the State Department and facilitated by the George Wright Society. The program will consist of two months of informational exchanges, followed by evaluation and follow-up meetings with National Park Service staff in Washington, DC. The program schedule includes all aspects of archeological site management, including site planning, preservation, salvage excavation, emergency mitigation, site and regional survey, public education, and community relations.
National Park Service sites were selected for participation based on similarities in resource type and management approach to protection, preservation and interpretation of cultural resources. Afghanistan has a rich heritage and many cultural sites that predate Alexander the Great by thousands of years. Sites in the southwest region of the United States offer examples of adobe and stone construction, standing historic buildings, and buried archeological sites that closely resemble the preservation requirements of sites in Afghanistan. Participation of local indigenous communities in the management of cultural sites and the role of tourism in economic development were also considerations.