This sculpture of a water goddess standing atop a makaraa mythical Hindu water creaturewas found at the Begram archaeological site in northern Afghanistan.
Begram is one of the four sites from which ancient works of art have been drawn for a 2008-2009 touring exhibition of Afghan treasures in the U.S.
Artifacts from the site include elaborately carved Indian ivory reliefs, ivory statues, vases, and painted glasswaremany of them imported from Roman, Indian, Chinese, and East Asian markets.
When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, they destroyed statues, paintings, and artifacts deemed to be idolsspecifically those depicting human and animal forms.
"People were trying to hide animal and human structures from them," Said T. Jawad, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States, told National Geographic News.
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Photograph ) Thierry Ollivier/Musee Guimet