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Hidden treasures revealed

A story of daring and intrigue - archaeologists discovered the treasures of Afghanistan's nomadic ancestors but then had to hide them to keep them safe. © Trustees of the British Museum. Created by British Museum.

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Video transcript

These gold treasures give a gleaming insight into Afghanistan's nomadic ancestors They tell a story of daring and intrigue caught up in their country's turmoil since their discovery in 1978 at the northwestern site of Tillya Tepe Tillya Tepe the golden hill was the graves of six nomads dug into a hill This was discovered by a Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi He decided to excavate this area for the Bronze Age With a team of Afghani archaeologists started the excavation on the site they discovered these six graves five of that were for the women and one was for the man The team didn't have very much time to excavate, inventory, pack and take the objects to Kabul museum And it was in the late eighties when the decision was taken for some of the most precious objects to be hidden under the Presidential Palace And this decision was made by a committee of curators and archaeologists and they moved these objects into the Presidential Palace vaults There they remained for thirteen years and these four or five curators kept a secret they didn't tell anyone, they didn't even tell their wives We kept quiet and didn't tell anyone until 2003 They went back down into the vaults and there was this incredible moment of discovery when they realised that they'd managed to save some of their most precious objects The archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi and his Afghan colleagues watch intently as the vault reveals its horde Is it the treasure they secreted away thirteen years previously? A nod of the head confirms it These are indeed the same precious gold objects that so excited them all those years ago The reason that I have supported this exhibition to go outside of Afghanistan is that we would like to show the world that we are getting from the culture of war to culture of peace And this treasure we want to share it with the world that this is not only for Afghans but belongs to the humanity And we need to share that with all the world that Afghanistan has a culture heritage that we are proud of it and the world should enjoy it