An ancient land in an ancient corner of the world, Afghanistan has consistently found itself at the crossroads of civilizations. The territory now claimed by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been occupied by humans since the Middle Paleolithic area and is an invaluable home of human heritage. Unfortunately, Afghanistan has also hosted a seemingly endless series of imperial wars that have degraded its rich historical resources. One such resource is the Buddhas of Bamiyan statues, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Thanks to advanced holographic technology, the Buddhas of Bamiyan are once again standing in Afghanistan for the world to see.
Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires. In the “Great Game” of the 19th century, the competing British and Russian Empires tried and failed to conquer Afghanistan. The Soviet Union also failed in the late 20th century, while the United States is still struggling to withdraw from its Afghan quagmire that has become the longest war in American history. The Buddhas of Bamiyan are just one casualty of this long history of violence. Built in the 6th century, the 120 – 180 feet statues were carved into a cliff, at an altitude of 8,202 ft, in Bamiyan Valley of the Hazarajat region, 143 miles northwest of Kabul. In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed the statues, attacking them first with artillery, then using explosives to finish the job.
Janson Yu and Liyan Hu, a Chinese couple, were compelled to recreate the statues but with a 21st century twist. The couple supported the creation of a 3D projector, which cost $120,000 and was given to the people of Afghanistan as a gift. Tested in China then brought to Bamiyan with the permission of the Afghan government and UNESCO, the projector displays a hologram of the statues at the exact site where the originals once stood. Though this method will never recapture the power of the original, it may be used to great effect to temporarily replace the human heritage sites lost in similarly war-torn regions such as Syria.