Mes Aynak was a major Buddhist site in Afghanistan and is one of the most extensive archaeological finds made anywhere in the world. The site covers an area around the size of Pompeii, and has a similar significance as that ancient city.
The site was at the centre of the Silk Routes linking Europe, India and China and therefore played a central role in the diffusion of culture, especially Buddhist culture, throughout the region. It contains a 100 acre monastery complex besides other buildings, and a recently uncovered bronze age site below the Buddhist level.
It was built where it is because of the extensive copper deposits found in the grounds around the area, and ironically it is this source of rich mineral deposits which now threaten it, as the Afghan Government, working together with a Chinese company want to exploit the remaining copper, estimated to be worth around 100 billion dollars, which would entail the destruction of the whole site.
This film by Prof. Brent E. Huffman focuses on the work on one young Afghani archaeologist, Qadir Temori, as he works on the site and faces many difficulties: from lack of time and resources, threats from the local Taliban leaders, and the pervasive corruption in the Government which might put short term and personal interest above cultural preservation.
In following his work we see some of the amazing treasures that have been unearthed at the site and the patient work of the Afghan archaeologists and workers at the site who are racing against time, neglect and terrorism to help save their heritage.