Documentation and conservation at Topdara, Parwan, and Tepe Maranjan, Kabul, 28 November 2016

On 24th September 2016 a Federal Assistance Award was signed by the US State Department to enable ACHCO to begin documentation and conservation at Topdara in Parwan province and Tepe Maranjan in District 8 of Kabul. 

Situated close to the provincial capital of Charikar, the complex at Topdara is one of the best-preserved of the Buddhist complexes in the region. Possibly commissioned by the Kushan ruler Kanishka in around 400AD, the principal structure is a stone stupa whose drum has a diameter of 23 metres and stands almost 30 metres above the surrounding fields. The drum retains a decorative band formed from small pieces of schist, with on the east side a tripartite niche that housed a seated figure of Buddha (or boddhisatva) flanked by donors, aligned with a ceremonial stair aligned with Begram, the Kushan capital in the valley below. The site was identified in the 1830s by Charles Masson and included in Wilson’s 1841 publication ‘Ariana Antiqua’ but not surveyed until 1965 by a team of Japanese archaeologists. For further images go to the

Tepe Maranjan stands on a ridge that was the site of several Buddhist religious complexes, east of Kabul’s old city. Excavations by F archaeologists in 1933 revealed a fort-like structure that was thought to date from the 4th century AD, over which a small stone stupa was superimposed in the 6th or 7th century AD. This latter structure yielded an assortment of objects, including a fine schist boddhisatva figure (now in the National Museum) as well as coins from the 3rd-4th century and ceramics from the 5th to 9th century AD. Subsequent excavations by Afghan archaeologists between 1981-7 exposed on the lower part of the site a large stone platform for a stupa. It is this area that will be the focus of stabilisation, after the site is fenced, accumulated waste is cleared and detailed documentation has taken place.

Publish Date:2018-11-25