07.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

International Mission to Mes Aynak

WebGIS for Mes Aynak – Online GIS platform ©UNESCO

April 24th 2018 | Within the framework of the “Afghanistan Heritage and Extractive Industries Development Initiative – Phase II”, generously funded by the World Bank via the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC), UNESCO organized a mission to the archaeological site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan.

Located in the Logar Province, around 40 km northeast of Kabul, Mes Aynak contains the world’s second largest copper deposit, but is also a vast complex of over 90 archaeological sites excavated by the Afghan Government since 2009, and covering an area of around 450,000 square meters. Over the last 2 years, UNESCO has been assisting the Afghan authorities in improving the survey and documentation of the site. The mission organized in March 2018, was specifically aimed at:

- Improving the quality of the archaeological survey, with specific regard to the accuracy and detail of the topographic data;

- Continuing the preparation of a GIS platform, as an updatable source for collection of all the data coming from on-going field activities.

The 10-day mission was carried out by a team of five international experts, including GIS specialists and archaeologists with previous experience in the region, in close collaboration with Afghan archaeologists from the Afghan Institute of Archaeology.

The mission resulted in the installation of a series of fixed topographical benchmarks allowing the creation of a high precision topographic network, essential in the development and implementation of a GIS platform. This activity was also the occasion to train Afghan officials and professionals, as well as the local workers employed at the site, on topographical and archaeological surveying.  The field mission was followed by the further updating of the layout for the GIS platform of the entire Mes Aynak archaeological area, including the preparation of a standardized data-sheet for reporting analytical data from the site.

Improving the survey and documentation of this prominent site will help in identifying priorities, and establishing suitable strategies for its future protection. The work implemented in Mes Aynak is part of a wider project aimed at providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Information and Culture and to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, in promoting an integrated approach which ensures the protection and preservation of Afghanistan cultural heritage while proceeding with the development of the extractive sector in the country.

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