A spot on the Silk Route with roots as old as 5,000 years and a Buddhist community marked by ancient monasteries.
But it is a page from another time that may be wiped away.
Mes Aynak is the name of the site, considered by some as an archeological jewel as valuable as any.
The fate of Mes Aynak is the theme of the documentary Saving Mes Aynak, a powerful and compelling work from Brent Huffman, and Kartemquin Films.
Qadir Temori, an Afghani archeologist with limited training but an enormous heart and ambition, represents one side and one face of the struggle, and an incredible amount of obstacles confront him.
There are the Taliban, who kill and frighten off the site’s workers and foreign experts. There is a Chinese-owned mining company, whose copper mine will decimate the site. Their work has yet to begin. There is a government in Kabul, hungry for the financial rewards that the mine promises. And there is a world of donors and supporters, whose promises are not only limited, but diminished in time.
How these forces are arrayed against Temori and those who believe in saving Mes Aynak is laid out block by block, a perfect example of good journalism by Huffman, an assistant professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. His own story of how he embraced the story and clung dearly to it is equally compelling.
“Nobody should allow their cultural history to be erased,” Temori says in the documentary.
There will be a free screening at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 23, at the Oriental Institute, with a panel discussion following.