|The Bactrian Treasure is a massive gold hoard that lay under the "Hill of Gold" in Afghanistan, known as Bactria when Alexander the Great conquered the country 2100 years ago.|
The hoard is a spectacular collection of about 20,600 gold ornaments found in six burial mounds just beyond the oasis town of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan.
This is the treasure of Tillya Tepe, the Hill of Gold.
|The treasure lay undisturbed until Soviet archeologists exposed it shortly before the 1979 invasion. Soon after the discovery, a guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation began, followed by civil war. |
During those years the treasure was kept in the Kabul Museum, which has since been looted. The day before the Russians fled Kabul in February 1989, the treasure was moved to the presidential compound, the safest place in the capital.
Gold stater of the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides, Weight: 169.2 gm., Diam: 58 mm., the largest gold coin of antiquity.
On the Taliban's last night in power, as coalition forces pounded the country with bombs, the Taliban stuffed the central bank's cash reserves into tin trunks and arrived at the vault for the gold bars. They spent four hours trying to open the vault. Mr Askerzai watched. Unknown to them, five years earlier he had broken the key and left it in the lock. The Taliban gave up and fled Kabul as Northern Alliance forces edged closer. That saved the treasure.