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Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bamiyan Buddhas

Evening Program (Session 2 of 4-Session Course) on Zoom

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0091B
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Clockwise; Roman and other ruins at Palmyra, Syria, Bamiyan Buddha ruins, Afghanistan; Great Mosque of Djenné, Timbuktu, Mali; Stony Coral Colony and soldier fish Great Barrier Reef Australia

Save $20 when you purchase all 4 sessions of the Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites course!


There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Each of them offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. Some, however, are facing an existential crisis. This series offers an in-depth overview of four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have suffered grievous damage in recent decades, from Palmyra to the Great Barrier Reef. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience by incorporating the insights of the latest scholarship and research.  

Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, is the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He is currently producing a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for The Great Courses.

Session Information

The Bamiyan Buddhas

The standing stone statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan were the largest representations of the Buddha in the world until their destruction by the Taliban in 2001. Jacobs delves into the history of the Bamiyan Buddhas, their construction, original purpose and function, and how they exemplified the epitome of Buddhist civilization in Central Asia. He also examines their complex and surprising relationship with successive Muslim rulers of Afghanistan, as a means of placing their destruction by the Taliban into proper historical context.

Additional Sessions

If you are interested in additional Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites sessions this spring, view the upcoming schedule:

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