Leverhulme Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage Project
Oxford University launches the ‘Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage Project,’ funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project has a dual aim of undertaking new research on Afghanistan’s early Islamic history, and in building the capacity of Afghan colleagues in cultural heritage research. For three years, from September 2011 to September 2014, a team of scholars in the UK and abroad will be studying the textual and material culture of Balkh in northern Afghanistan. Historical Balkh (near modern-day Mazar-i Sharif) was one of the oldest, largest and most important cities of Afghanistan until late medieval times. The study opens up exciting new areas of knowledge on Afghanistan’s pre-Islamic past, and the way in which Islam was incorporated into historical memory. The project is led by Professor Edmund Herzig, and includes a team of experts with specialist knowledge on Afghan archaeology, coins, ceramics, and Persian and Arabic texts. The project partners with several research and cultural heritage organisations in Afghanistan, including the Ministry of Information and Culture, the Kabul National Museum and the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA).