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Officials Recover Limestone Sculpture Looted from Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Afghanistan Bull SculptureLONDON, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that a sculpture stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan some 30 years ago has been identified at a London auction house and will go on display at the British Museum before it is returned to Kabul. Members of the Art Loss Register spotted the limestone statue, known as the Surkh Kotal Bull, while reviewing items offered for sale. The sculpture had been part of a second century A.D. ceremonial frieze in a temple at the site of Surkh Kotal, which was excavated in northern Afghanistan in the 1950s and put on display at the museum. In 2001, the frieze was sledge-hammered by the Taliban, along with about 75 percent of the museum’s artifacts. “It is the only one to be recovered,” said St. John Simpson of the British Museum. “All of the other limestone blocks—more than a dozen—are still missing.” To read about the twelfth-century Minaret of Jam in western Afghanistan, go to "Minaret in the Mountains."

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