U.S. National Park Service

Paul Davidson, an architect with HABS, records field notes in front of the Mas'ud III tower. Photo credit, Agnieszka Dolatosia.
Paul Davidson, an architect with HABS, records field notes in front of the Mas'ud III tower. Photo credit, Agnieszka Dolatosia.
For the documentation of the Ghazni Towers, the Department of State partnered with the National Park Service's Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP). The programs—the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS)—prepare and transmit documentation of historic sites and structures to a special collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, where it is made available to the public copyright-free in downloadable, publishable format. The collections currently survey over 41,000 sites and structures, with approximately 400,000 large-format photographs, 66,000 sheets of measured drawings, and 263,000 data pages.

HABS is the Federal government's oldest historic preservation program, established in 1933 as part of the New Deal's Civil Works Administration to create a permanent record of America's architectural heritage. The significance of the HABS (and HAER and HALS) program resides in the broad scope of the collection and its public accessibility, as well as the establishment of national standards for recording historic architecture. The collection represents "a complete resume of the builder's art," as one of HABS's founders articulated its mission, including all building types and styles, from the monumental and high style to the vernacular and utilitarian. Priority is also given to endangered structures for which no record would otherwise exist. HABS, along with the HAER and HALS programs, is also responsible for the development of guidelines for the production of drawings, histories and photographs, and the criteria for preparing them for inclusion in the collection.

U.S. Department of State

The Cultural Heritage Center in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports the foreign affairs functions of the U.S. Department of State related to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. It serves as a center of expertise on global cultural heritage protection issues. In particular the Center supports efforts to conserve the heritage of Afghanistan and other countries threatened with damage or loss during times of conflict or crisis. Such efforts include documentation of monuments, training for heritage and law enforcement professionals, and dissemination of information about heritage at risk. Along with the Ghazni Towers Documentation Project, the Center has supported publication of the Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk in Pashto, Dari, Urdu, English, and French (produced by the International Council of Museums in 2007), and has partnered with the U.S. National Park Service to provide professional training in archaeological and historical site management to cultural heritage specialists of the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan.

Team Photo
National Park Service architects, Dana Lockett and Paul Davidson, with colleagues from the U.S. Department of State

The United States Embassy in Kabul recognizes the that preservation of cultural heritage is an important part of the U.S. government's efforts to support Afghanistan's people and government as they establish a more secure, prosperous and resilient state. This support acknowledges the universal value of Afghanistan's endangered culture patrimony and includes the conservation and protection of Afghanistan's national cultural heritage, including historic monuments, archaeological sites, folk arts and traditions, and museums, with a major focus on the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul. Afghanistan, located at the crossroads of Asia, is the cradle of profoundly important and diverse cultural traditions. The nation's heritage which is of universal value is in peril as the result of decades of war, un-controlled urban development, political instability and looting at archaeological sites and at the regional Afghan museums.


Fast Facts
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a non-governmental international organization dedicated to the conservation of the world's monuments and sites. The U.S. National Committee of ICOMOS (US/ICOMOS) is part of this worldwide network of people, institutions, government agencies, and private corporations who support the preservation of our global cultural heritage. US/ICOMOS fosters heritage conservation and historic preservation at the national and international levels through education and training, international exchanges of people and information, technical assistance, documentation, advocacy and other activities consistent with the goals of ICOMOS and through collaboration with other organizations such as the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Department of State.

Since the US/ICOMOS International Exchange Program was created in 1984, more than 600 young preservation professionals and over 70 countries have participated. The aim of the program is to promote an understanding of international preservation policies, methods, and techniques and to enable interns to make professional contacts and form personal friendships that will ensure a continuing dialogue between countries. The program is made possible through generous grants from many U.S. foundations, government agencies and individual contributors, and ICOMOS National Committees of participating countries. Thanks to the efforts of US/ICOMOS director, Donald G. Jones, two Afghan architects from Kabul were invited to participate in a 10-week internship with HABS to assist with the Ghazni Towers Documentation Project.

Map of Afghanistan