Cameron University Department of Art presents National Geographic Live! visual lecture by Dr. Fredrik Hiebert

The Cameron University Department of Art will sponsor a National Geographic Live! visual lecture by Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist, explorer and curator of National Geographic’s exhibition, “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul,” on Tuesday, March 27. Dr. Hiebert’s appearance is presented in conjunction with Cameron’s triennial Academic Festival, “Afghanistan: Its Complexities and Relevance,” and will take place at 7 p.m. in the University Theatre. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture. The event is open to the public at no charge.

photograph of Fredrik HiebertDr. Hiebert has traced ancient trade routes overland and across the seas for more than 20 years. He has led excavations at ancient Silk Road sites across Asia, from Egypt to Mongolia. He also conducts underwater archaeology projects in the Black Sea and in Lake Titicaca, South America's highest lake, in search of submerged settlements.

Hiebert completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1992 and held the Robert H. Dyson Chair of Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the National Geographic Society in 2003. He rediscovered lost Bactrian gold in Afghanistan in 2004 and is currently the curator of National Geographic's exhibition, “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul,” which is touring major museums around the world. He is the author of the exhibition catalog, “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures,” which will be available for purchase.

As National Geographic's archaeology fellow, he extends his enthusiasm for archaeology to the public in lectures, presentations, films, and museum exhibits. Hiebert also holds positions with the University Of Pennsylvania Museum Of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Institute for Nautical Archaeology, and Robert Ballard's Institute for Exploration.

About The Hidden Treasures

In 1988, Afghanistan was 10 years into a violent civil war. As the security situation in the capital worsened, government and National Museum officials worried the Kabul museum, home to thousands of historical artifacts and works of art, would be destroyed or looted. They made a plan to transfer many of the objects to secret hiding places. By 1989, the transfer was complete, and caches of priceless historical objects were secured in the Ministry of Information and the Central Bank treasury vault at the presidential palace. Among the hidden treasures were Bronze Age gold pieces, hundreds of ancient coins, and the famous "Bactrian hoard," a collection of some 20,000 gold, silver, and ivory objects from burial plots at Tillya Tepe in northern Afghanistan.

The objects remained hidden despite nearly constant conflict and political upheaval in Kabul until a 2001 campaign by the Taliban to "destroy all images" resulted in the loss of thousands of irreplaceable artifacts throughout the country, including many of the items hidden in the Ministry of Information. But the palace treasures survived.

In 2003, after the Taliban had been thrown from power and Afghanistan's first open elections had installed Hamid Karzai as president, a report from the Central Bank in Kabul revealed that the museum trunks deposited at the palace vault in 1989 were intact.

A team of local and international experts, including archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, assembled in Kabul to see the vault opened and verify the authenticity of its contents. When the first safe was finally cracked, the team saw piles of small plastic bags with old labels, each one containing beads and jewelry. Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi, whose team had discovered the Tillya Tepe objects in 1979, smiled when he spotted an artifact with a small wire repair that he'd made with his own hands.  An international effort was mounted to preserve these collections and put them on exhibition for the world to see.

"Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul" offers the world a look at a selection of the contents of the Central Bank vault. It is a collection of some of the most remarkable archaeological finds in all of Central Asia, pieces that are not only artistically splendid but also reveal a diverse and thriving ancient culture.

Partial funding for this event was provided by the Cameron University Department of Art with additional support from Student Activity Fees and Cultural and Lectureship Fees.



March 9, 2012