The 'other' decimated twin Wonders of the World and the tragic country of Afghanistan
The Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, carved in the sixth century AD, represented two aspects of the Buddha, universal and historical. In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed them. They were massive, 55m and 38m tall, hewn out of the solid rock face and it took weeks to bring them down. The Buddhas have a remarkable story to tell, from their creation at a time when Greek culture left behind by conquest influenced Buddhism to their role in the lead up to the destruction of two other colossi from a different era in New York in that same year. A book about the Buddhas is also a book about Bamiyan, a place that occupies one of the most strategic positions on earth and is also stunningly beautiful. And about the remarkable Hazara people who live in that valley and have played a central historical role in the history of the whole region. It is rare that a historical account of an extraordinary monument can also be of urgent contemporary relevance.
Llewelyn Morgan teaches Classics at Oxford where he is a Fellow of Brasenose College. He has been to Afghanistan several times and has written a number of pieces on the country ancient and modern.
'Llewelyn Morgan's exquisite storytelling brought me back to the "peaceful valley" and the magnificent Buddhas of Bamiyan. Written with great authority and affection, this entrancing book ensures their rich history and meaning will not be lost.', Lyse Doucet, BBC Special Correspondent
'the latest addition to Profile's brilliant Wonders of the World series ...tells the fascinating story of these figures ... He begins with their ignominious end and recounts western responses to them, their construction and the wealth and importance of Bamiyan to have been able to create such structures.', Financial Times
'I was also much moved by Llewelyn Morgan's brilliant The Buddhas of Bamiyan: a history of the two colossal statues destroyed by the Taliban. Scholarly and even-handed, it is simultaneously heart-rending.', Tom Holland, books of the year, Telegraph