Science: The Golden Nobles of Shibarghan

Uncovering a dark epoch in an ancient melting pot's past

As long as anyone can remember, villagers called it Tillya Tepe—the Golden Mound. Even so, no one dreamed of the precious relics that might be unearthed in the strange, 12-ft.-high rise of ground located in a cotton field three miles north of the town of Shibarghan in northern Afghanistan. In 1977 a Soviet-Afghan archaeological team began serious excavations. By last fall they had uncovered the mud-brick columns and cross-shaped altar of an ancient temple dating back to at least 1000 B.C. Then they struck...

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