A Cultural Exchange

Article excerpt

"We hope tonight is the start of a long-term effort that will promote a scholarly and cultural partnership between your country's storied past and ours," NEH Chairman Bruce Cole told Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an event held in the president's honor at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

'As a pivotal partner in the Silk Road trade of two thousand years ago, Afghanistan has been the home of one of the most vibrant cultures the world has witnessed," continued Chairman Cole. 'Artifacts, such as the golden hoard of the Bactria and the Begram ivories, reflect not only the creative genius of the Afghans, but the cross-pollination of cultures that the Silk Road wove through China, India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

"But in one of history's recent dark chapters, many of the treasured objects of Afghanistan's past were hidden, lost, or spirited away. It is our shared joy that many of priceless artifacts have been rediscovered and protected in these brighter times. President Karzai, we salute you for undertaking the difficult work of keeping Afghanistan's cultural heritage alive.

"We at the NEH have undertaken special efforts to support such brave work. We have awarded several important grants to preserve and document the art and artifacts of Afghanistan. New York University is creating a digital library of Afghan works from 1871 to 1930. Another grant helped fund a digital catalog of the Begram ivories. And in the last year, the NEH awarded a series of grants to the National Geographic Society to catalog the priceless collections in the National Museum of Afghanistan. …


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