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H.R. 915 (109th): Cultural Conservation of the Crossroads of Civilization Act

The text of the bill below is as of Feb 17, 2005 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.

HR 915 IH


1st Session

H. R. 915

To authorize the President to take certain actions to protect archaeological or ethnological materials of Afghanistan.


February 17, 2005

Mr. ENGLISH of Pennsylvania (for himself, Ms. HART, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. HOLDEN, and Mr. PAYNE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means


To authorize the President to take certain actions to protect archaeological or ethnological materials of Afghanistan.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Cultural Conservation of the Crossroads of Civilization Act'.


    The Congress finds as follows:

      (1) Afghanistan enjoys a geographical position that made it a crossroads of civilizations. Its tumultuous history can be traced back as early as the 4th millennium B.C. and, as a result, it is a living tapestry of ethnic and linguistic cultures. Historically as well as artistically, it is a major contributor to the world community.

      (2) Afghanistan, flanked by Central, West, and South Asia, has seen waves of migrating peoples pass through what has been referred to as the roundabout of the ancient world.

      (3) Archaeologists have identified evidence of Stone Age technology and a 20,000-year-old sculpture head in Aq Kupruk.

      (4) The earliest settlers in Afghanistan, who migrated from northern territories approximately 50,000 years ago, lived as individual hunters in the caves of the northern Hindu Kush mountains.

      (5) Evidence has been uncovered at the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains and Darra-e Dadil (near Darra-e Suf), Hazara Sum (near Aibak), and Qara Kamar (near Khulm) indicating that North Afghanistan was home to the earliest domestic plants and animals.

      (6) The Khyber Pass, a 33-mile passage through the Hindu Kush mountain range and dating back to 326 B.C., connects the northern frontier of Pakistan with Afghanistan.

      (7) During the 4th century B.C., Alexander the Great defeated Darius III. Later on, the last Achaemenid ruler took control of Afghanistan and introduced to the region Hellenistic civilizations as well as new coins and artistic styles.

      (8) Alexander the Great and his army marched through the Kunar Valley to reach the plains of India. The Aryan, Persian, and Greek armies and the Scythian, White Huns, Seljuk, Tartar, Mongol, Turk, Moghol, and Durrani armies made successful inroads into territories beyond the Peshawar Valley and Hindukosh Valleys.

      (9) Graeco-Buddhist Gandharan culture reached its height during the Kushan Empire of Afghanistan.

      (10) During the Kushan Empire, under King Kanishka, Buddha was for the first time represented with a human face. Centuries later, the world's largest standing Buddha statues, between 120-175 feet tall, were carved into the Great Cliff of Bamiyan.

      (11) The Silk Road passed through Afghanistan, bringing Roman glass and Chinese lacquer ware.

      (12) In 962, the rise of the Ghaznavid Dynasty ushered in the Islamic era and gave Afghanistan a permanent political and cultural role in Islamic civilization.

      (13) In 1219, Changiz (Genghis) Khan invaded Bukhara to avenge the looting of his caravan. Changiz eventually defeated Khwarazn Shah and proceeded through Afghanistan in his conquest of Asia.

      (14) Most archaeological material excavated in Afghanistan during the 20th century was housed in the National Museum in Kabul or in regional museums.

      (15) The Archaeological Institute of America has published articles listing thousands of artifacts that are among the stolen or imperiled treasures of the National Museum in Kabul.

      (16) The nation of Afghanistan has endured a raping and pillage of its cultural property over the past two decades, leading Abdul Wasey Feroozi, former director of the National Archaeological Institute in Kabul, to state, `The catastrophe of war annihilated seventy years of our hard work and accomplishments. In the period from 1992 to 1994 . . . over 70 percent of the Kabul National Museum was burned and damaged and 100 percent of the objects were stolen or vandalized. Illegal excavations and extensive clandestine digging started at most historical sites, and thousands of valuable objects were transported to other countries, notably through Pakistan, to the international markets.'.

      (17) It should be recognized that the cultural heritage of Afghanistan is at extreme peril and this legislation is a result of a profound concern for the damage to Afghan antiquities, sites, monuments, and cultural institutions.


    (a) Authority- The President may exercise the authority the President has under section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Afghanistan as if Afghanistan were a State Party under that Act, except that, in exercising such authority, subsection (c) of such section shall not apply.

    (b) Definition- In this section, the term `archaeological or ethnological material of Afghanistan' means cultural property of Afghanistan and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance (including coins, manuscripts, and statuary artifacts) illegally removed, after the date of the enactment of this Act, from the National Museum in Kabul or other locations, including archaeological sites, in Afghanistan.


    The authority of the President under section 3 shall terminate upon the earlier of--

      (1) the date that is 5 years after the date on which the President certifies to the Congress that normalization of relations between the United States and the Government of Afghanistan has been established; or

      (2) September 30, 2010.