In the trenches: Rescue archaeology at the Bala Hissar, Kabul

Alison L. Gascoigne, David Thomas, Fiona Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Bala Hissar was the royal, military and administrative heart of Kabul for a significant period before it was occupied by British forces during the first two Anglo-Afghan wars in the nineteenth century. Despite its archaeological and historical significance, part of the site continues to function as a military base, an expansion of which began in 2007 when nine large holes were bulldozed into the site before protests halted the work. This paper details the findings of an archaeological impact assessment undertaken in July 2007, and incorporates an analysis of satellite images documenting further construction in 2009. The results provide the first explicit archaeological (in particular ceramic) evidence suggesting deep continuity of occupation at the site. The contested ownership and uncertain future of the Bala Hissar in Kabul exemplify the pressures placed on archaeological sites around the world, in the face of uncontrolled development and competing agendas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-196
Number of pages46
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Afghanistan
  • Bala Hissar
  • Ceramics
  • Historic fort
  • Kabul

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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