- The Archaeology of Afghanistan: From Earliest Times to the Timurid Period ed. by F. R. Allchin, Warwick Ball, and Norman Hammond
Afghanistan is without doubt one of the most important regions of the world for understanding the interactions between humans in Asia and beyond, beginning from the earliest period of hominin evolution up until the present. This region has attracted antiquarians and historians from the earliest periods of recorded history and has been a magnet for archaeologists, numismatists, and art historians since the eighteenth century. The first comprehensive volume on the archaeology of Afghanistan, published over four decades ago (Allchin and Hammond 1978), was one of the most important resources for scholars working on the history of the region. This new revised and updated edition provides an amazing amount of detail that was not found in the earlier version, as well as totally new material that is both up to date and highly relevant to new research directions. Anyone familiar with the recent political instability of the region would have expected that there has been little new research in Afghanistan, but this volume clearly demonstrates that, even in the context of war and destruction, dedicated Afghan archaeologists and foreign scholars have managed to continue their heroic efforts at documenting and preserving previously discovered remains as well as discovering exciting new information on all periods of Afghanistan’s history.
In contrast to the first volume, the new edition has a large number of color maps and photographs. Some of the color photographs are of objects that were originally published only in black and white, but photographs of many newly discovered objects have also been added. A chapter on the Helmand Civilization has also been added to the book, for a total of nine chapters. Some of the chapters have been revised by new coauthors so that, although most chapters contain most of the original text, each chapter includes significant additional text, photographs, maps, and updated summaries. As with the 1978 edition, the 2019 edition was authored by outstanding foreign scholars and it includes a new foreword by a young Afghan scholar, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, Director of the National Museum of Afghanistan (also known as the Kabul Museum). While one of the editors, Warwick Ball, emphasizes the important new work being carried out in Afghanistan by local Afghan scholars in his introduction to the new edition, there is a significant lacuna in terms of bibliographic references to the research and publications of the Afghan archaeologists themselves. Hopefully, current Afghan archaeologists who have been excavating sites and documenting their own history will be able to prepare a supplement to this volume that includes their important contributions.
Chapter 1, written by Sophia R. Bowlby and Kevin H. White, covers the overall geography of Afghanistan using the same text as in the first edition, but their major revisions to the sections on climate and subsistence provide new information and more details. Other major additions are numerous color photographs showing different geographical features and subsistence patterns. Chapter 2 by Richard S. Davis repeats the same basic information on the Palaeolithic found in the first edition because relatively little new archaeology has been carried for this time period. New techniques for calibration of radiocarbon dates has allowed for more precise dating, however. The new calibrated dates provided in Table 2.2 will be useful for comparisons to other regions of West and South Asia. Another important update relates [End Page 492] to the dating and mDNA analysis of a human skull fragment from the site of Darra-i-kur. This skull was originally thought to date to the Middle Palaeolithic due to its association with some charcoal samples dating to 30,000 B.P., but direct dating of the bone itself has now dated the sample to around 4500 B...