National Archives


Street address: Beside Conservatory of Music, Salang Watt Street, Kabul, Kabul Province, Afghanistan
Telephone: 93 (0) 70 297805 (mobile)
Proprietor: Office of the Deputy Minister, Culture, Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs
Contact: Abdul Rasul Mahajoor Director
Additional contact: Mohammad Latif Rasteen Head of Historical Papers
Opening hours: 9am-3:30pm Sat-Thur, closed Fri
The National Archives building was constructed as a palace in 1890 by Emir Abdurrahman Khan and later fell into disrepair. In 1973 it was renovated and the interior decorations, notably the painted tin ceiling tiles and woodcarvings, were repaired. The National Archives functions to gather, preserve and exhibit historical and government documents. The building itself was relatively unscathed by the rocket attacks in the 1990s and is in good condition and the woodwork and painted tile ceilings are in good repair. The Taliban protected the materials contained here. However, the air conditioning system that helped preserve historic documents has been knocked out. An inventory has not yet been made and with the numerous transfers of power the Director fears that some manuscripts and books may have disappeared during the transitions. Students and academics use the archives with permission of the Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs. Tourists are welcomed in the display area that has photocopies of important documents and miniatures, with some signage in English. Their oldest paper is written and stamped by Timurlane in the 14th century. The most important books are 400 to 500 year-old Korans featuring gold printing. One written by Mustafa Heravi is dated 1799 but most have no name or date. There is no laboratory, equipment or materials to repair books and the staff has requested training. They have recently acquired electricity and the US Embassy bought vacuum cleaners, a mobile phone and phone cards and is currently sponsoring the digging of a well. It has been repaired, but the potential danger to the books with no climate control is acute. Some 1,200 books are in immediate danger. Covered with white mould, they need immediate attention, especially the oldest ones and those that were hidden in the basement. A number of books were copied onto microfilm but the reader is currently broken. The National Archives is situated in large grounds that hopefully will house a laboratory in the future. Recently (February 2003) an announcement was made on national radio asking people to bring in their old books. The Ministry of Culture has allocated a small fund to allow scholars from the archives to analyse and purchase new books.