Michael's Dispatches

Whatzis?

24 September 2008
Jalalabad, Afghanistan


The shawal kameez is standard wear for Afghan men.  Since I plan to spend a great deal of time exploring Afghanistan unembedded, I headed into downtown Jalalabad to pick out the material and get fitted by a local tailor.  My Afghan guide and I walked through the markets for nearly two hours.  The only western presence we encountered was when two American OH 58 Kiowa helicopters flew high overhead, and I wondered for a moment if I might know the pilots.

Selecting the material.

Jalalabad is mostly safe, and I felt no threats walking the backstreets and the crowded bazaar, save for one time my danger bell chimed.  There was a young man wearing a black shawal kameez with a bandage on his head and one eye puffed closed.  He gave a long hard look with his one good eye, and I stared back.  But the other thousands of people I saw either seemed to ignore me or were overtly friendly.  I felt safe.  When I travel in northern India, if someone says “hello” in an urban environment, I am immediately suspicious about what’s coming next.  Yet here in Jalalabad, dozens after dozens of people said hello, or gave a thumbs up, and that was it.   Sometimes we shook hands and they just said goodbye and walked away smiling.

The Tailor’s Shop: They were all smiles and laughter and wanted me to photograph them, but the moment the camera came up, they took a serious pose.  Then they started smiling again, wanting to see the photo.  My shawal kameez (similar to the one the tailor is wearing) will be ready on Thursday.

When we shopped for a few items, such as the material for the shawal kameez, there was none of the hard selling or pushy shopkeepers that can be found in many Asian countries.  The atmosphere was altogether peaceful.  One shopowner was a Sikh, and I asked if he was from India, but he was Afghan.  In India and the U.S., I’ve always had good luck with Sikhs.  They tend to be honest and straightforward.

This Sikh man was selling shoes.

There are even some Hindus here.  Interestingly, down south in Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, up in Kabul, and out here in Nangarhar province, most everyone seems to hate or at least greatly distrust the Pakistanis.  Yet when I ask Afghans what they think of Indians, every Afghan I have asked, and that would be many, express affection for Indians.  I ask the Afghans, “You don’t care that most Indians are Hindus?”  “No, no, we don’t care.  We are Muslims and they are Hindus, but we like India.  The Indian people are welcome here.”  Yet the Muslims in Afghanistan do not like the Muslims in Pakistan, while the Hindus in India, in my experience, equally despise Pakistan.  Yet Americans who travel to Pakistan (I have yet to go myself), have always given me positive reports about the people.  From a distance, it looks like all Pakistanis hate all Americans.  Yet, again, the Pakistanis I meet around Asia have always been hospitable and even gracious to me.  I am convinced that we often go to war based on mostly false perceptions of each other.

We kept strolling around the market.  Dozens more people smiled, while many wanted their photos taken, or wanted to shake hands quickly and walk away.

Whatzis?

Mista take piktcha!

Some of the foodstuffs I could identify, but others left me clueless.  There were many stands selling peanuts.  I was getting hungry, but was told that Afghans do not boil peanuts, so we kept going.   It’s Ramadan so the Muslims are not eating or drinking during the day time.

Whatzis?

Gun store.  What kind of guns are these?

Anybody know?  Please leave comments.

Whatzis?

Side one

I came across a coin (at least that’s what I think it is) in the bazaar.  It looked very old, and so I took a few photos, hoping that a reader might be able to identify it.  Maybe it’s a real coin, or perhaps a counterfeit.

Side two

And so it was just another day in Afghanistan, shopping in the bazaar, talking with the people, seeing all sorts of things, some I could identify, others I couldn’t.  Luckily, I can ask readers around the world – Whatzis?

Comments   

 
# Casstx 2008-09-24 20:58
Whatzis- it's a coin. The Koreans made coins that looked liked that about 400 years ago, except some of them had square holes in the center. It makes sense that others in Asia had square coins.
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# Doug Wright 2008-09-24 21:09
Those look like Martini Henry, or sometimes called the Martini Enfield, rifles. The Brits used that model in their defense of Rorke's Drift in 1879. I bet those might be replicas, for which the Khyber Pass region is famous. It's a single shot, breech loading rifle, firing a large caliber brass cartridge.
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# Ben Obese-Jecty 2008-09-24 21:10
The three rifles hung up on the left are Martini-Henrys, a la "Zulu". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martini-Henry
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# Ian Douglas 2008-09-24 21:12
Definitely Martini Henry's. Check out http://www.martinihenry.com

Regards,
Ian
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# Steven Hendrickson 2008-09-24 21:16
The rifles in question are Martini-Henry (also Peabody-Martini -Henry) rifles/carbines . The time period in which the British used these rifles, saw the British army involved in a handful of Colonial wars (Boer War, Anglo-Zulu, etc), so not surprising to see them where you are. Going by the receiver markings, the one in your hand was made in 1906 by the Royal Small Arms Factory - but then it might be possible that it is simply a copy made by local craftsmen (there's a proof marking on the receiver which was discontinued before 1906). I don't know Martini rifles that well, but I can at least give them a name for you.
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# Jose Diaz 2008-09-24 21:18
Most of the rifles shown here are Martini-Henry. These were the rifles the British used against the Zulus.If you watched the movie "Zulu Dawn" you will recognize them. Also check here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martini-Henry
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# Azure 2008-09-24 21:19
It COULD be a square coin but it could also be a seal or stamp for impressing into wax/clay/etc and leaving your signature so as to ensure legitimacy and prevent against forgeries. The letters seem to be Greek in the first image. I can see a mu, epsilon, lambda, and delta along the upper edge in this picture. The second bears an image of an ox or something similar and I can make out a psi, rho, and upsilon. If it's real, then it could date to an incredible period in Afghanistan where there was a fusion among Greek, Persian, Indian, Central Asian, and Afghani culture. There is an area in Northern Afghanistan that was known as Bactria and was conquered by Alexander the Great, who established colonies all over his empire including in Afghanistan. There were a number of Indo-Greek kingdoms all over the area. I can recommend you some readings on Greek and Roman influence and the hybrid cultures that developed in this area if you would like. Hit up my e-mail if you're interested. I'll see what I can find on this object in the meantime.
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# Barry Hobbs 2008-09-24 21:39
Okay, the Martinis were pretty easy. I'm betting the other weapon is a Snider OR a British Enfield which was orignally a muzzle loader but modified with a Snider Conversion to Breech Loader. In either event it looks like a carbine variant.
They date to the American Civil War era and predate the Martini. At least that's my SWAG.

http://www.hackman-adams.com/guns/TrapSniderConv.htm

http://www.militaryheritage.com/snider.htm
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# Chris West 2008-09-24 21:40
The other rifle is some sort of muzzle loading percussion cap rifle... I don't recognize the make, but that style of rifle dates back to the American Civil War.
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# Mark Baur 2008-09-24 21:44
The three rifles on the left are indeed Martini-Henry type. The one in the close up is almost certainly a local copy. Even if they were still making MH rifles at that late a date for colonial troops (The "Long Lee" had superseded them by then), they would have been of the later, "long lever" type and these appear to be "short lever" models. Did you notice if they were in .45 (.577-450 MH) or .30 (.303 British) caliber?

The rifle on the right end is never lighted well enough to see for sure, but looks like it might be a Trapdoor Springfield. If not, it's some sort of percussion muzzle loader.
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# Chris West 2008-09-24 21:50
Good call. On closer inspection, I have to agree. Trapdoor Springfield
http://www.armchairgunshow.com/ot53-pix/rd-2801.jpg
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# Paul W. Ross 2008-09-24 21:56
Ok, camera is a "street photography" camera. Takes picture on paper and does a reversal printing process without a negative. Very common in shore areas (like Atlantic City, New York, etc. maybe up through early 60s). See Focal Handbook of Photography for how it works.

As to guns, look like Martini-Henry rifles. See the movie "Zulu." Check into rec.guns news group for more detail. One on right looks like a Schneider (sp??) conversion of a percussion to early rolled metal cart. design. Block replaces end plug on a muzzle loader. Transition gun. I can't tell for sure. Otherwise some sort of percussion muzzle loader.

/paul


BTW, GREATLY enjoy your columns/writing . Keep up the good work!
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# TomInVan 2008-09-24 22:05
Michael, thank you again for another excellent and fascinating reportage.

Here's a Wikipedia entry on the "Khyber Pass Copy" rifles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khyber_Pass_Copy

More here: http://www.martinihenry.com/khyberpage.html
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# Ambush Alley Games 2008-09-24 22:24
. . . and all the Martinis were gone. Or in this case identified. ;-)
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# Captmatt 2008-09-24 22:30
Did you happen to notice a spider monkey nearby, on a leash, wearing a fez?

:-)

I couldn't resist.

Otherwise...no clue.

Thanks for everything you do Michael.
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# HLH 2008-09-24 22:39
Hmm.... looking at the pictures of the Market brings back visions of the markets in Korea. I lived in Korea for a year, and the markets were always an adventure into the strange and unknown. Ah, but they were fun. I have pictures of fried Silk Worm Larvae, and many other strange and unidentifiable delicacies (which I did NOT feel moved to try). YUM YUM! :-)
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# jtb-in-texas 2008-09-24 22:50
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martini-Enfield

Martini-Enfield...
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# Winefred 2008-09-24 22:51
Michael -- A quick browse tells me that you have an Indo-Greek,[may be Indo-Bactrian, -Kushian - Scythian] bronze coin, first or second century B.C.

I think the one in your top picture is flipped 90 degrees left -- it appears to be an equestrian figure. The word across the top (oriented as you have it) appears to be "MEGALOU" or something in the "MEGA" family.
The lower picture is pretty standard, a brahma bull. In all the examples I found, this side was in a different script (Hindi?) and the obverse side was always in Greek.

Possibly this one?: http://www.parscoins.com/itemdetail.asp?type=S&item=6234

Big Indo-Greek coin site here: http://www.anythinganywhere.com/commerce/coins/coinpics/indi-baktria.html

Other examples here (very clear pictures): http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?vpar=771&pos=0&sold=1

Another example seems something like yours (scroll to bottom): http://www.coinart.net/Indoscythian.htm

Lots of sites to be found under "Indo-Greek" [or Scythian, Bactrian, etc.] coins. Hope this is helpful. Nice find.

-- Winefred
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# poopie 2008-09-24 23:08
Beautiful colors and happy people! Very nice post ^j^
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# Binks, WebElf 2008-09-24 23:15
Michael:

Some greek there, plus another language.

It sure looks related to this:

http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/indo_scythians/azes_I/i.html
http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/indo_scythians/azes_I/AIC_255.txt
http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/indo_scythians/azes_I/AIC_255.jpg

Baktria, Indo-Scythian Kings, Azes I. ca 57-30's BC. ?? 26mm x 24mm. King on camel right, holding ankus / Zebu bull standing right; monogram below. Alram 1001.

New Search : Back to Search Results
?® Previous : Next ?¯

Sale: CNG 61, Lot: 984. Closing Date: Sep 25,
2002. BAKTRIA, Indo-Scythian Kings. Azes I. BID
Estimate $400

BAKTRIA, Indo-Scythian Kings. Azes I. Circa
57-30's BC. ?? 26mm x 24mm (12.90 gm). King on
camel right, holding ankus / Zebu bull standing
right; monogram below. Alram 1001; AIC 255. Good
VF, dark brown, almost black, patina. Rare. ($400)
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# Matt Sanchez 2008-09-24 23:18
I've seen those rifles in the bazaars, I never saw one that looked like it could actually fire. They look like colonial replicas from the 19th century.
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# Vance 2008-09-24 23:20
The 3 rifles starting from the left are British Martini-Henri rifles from the late 19th century. The one all the way on the left is the short version, a cavalry carbine (not that rare). The longer ones are std infantry issue and are very rare (esp with the bayonet).
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# Fred Wyant 2008-09-24 23:46
I agree about the Martini muzzleloaders, but think the one hanging on the right is a 45-70 trapdoor Springfield 1873; however, the light is not good. The barrel diamater and length are about right for the Infantry version.
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# Azure 2008-09-24 23:55
The other language and script would most likely be a form of Bactrian. I have some numismatics books en route that I hope will provide a clearer answer. The Azilises coin seems to fit the bill, however.

This is a good example of the destruction of history that is being wrought throughout the world but especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. While objects are important in and of themselves they actually matter very little compared to the context in which they occur. For archaeologists context is everything. Removing artifacts from sites destroys nearly everything we can hope to learn from them. The trafficking in stolen objects is a serious problem for everyone, not just historians and archaeologists, because it robs the inhabitants of their heritage and deprives humanity of history. For those who dig up these objects they represent valuable merchandise that can be sold to tourists or the black market, often for much needed money. The poor are often contracted out to dig up "treasure" by people who will pay them a pittance in exchange and then sell them on the black market. As with the poppy crops in Afghanistan the people do it because they need money and there is little alternative, as archaeologists have small funds with which to counter this robbery. What needs to happen, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that the government (local eventually but U.S. at the moment) needs to provide funds for cultural preservation to build museua and archaeological surveys and hire guards to protect known sites. It seems small and insignificant compared to the work of defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban and reestablishing working infrastructure and government, but it is meaningful and important to build up a source of knowledge and pride in one's own country and districts. There are many reasons why so many civilizations and leaders have used art and history for the glorification of their own peoples and for propaganda. Look at the Taliban's destruction of the Buddhas in Bamayan, for instance, or the erection of monuments in Washington D.C. to take opposite examples. Consider Mussolini's excavations in Rome, Pompeii, and Herculaneum or Hitler's confiscations, destructions, and plans for construction of monuments and art work. The initial invasion of Iraq resulted in destruction and looting of the Iraqi national museum because it was not placed on the list of sites to be protected, even though numerous curators and archaeologists from around the world admonished the U.S. government about what would happen if no protection was provided. Subsequent years have seen the wholesale destruction of hundreds of archaeological sites throughout Iraq, some to the point of no return; they have been lost forever because of a lack of concern for their safekeeping. The guns as well as the coin are just a few examples of this kind of loss of history, though on very different timescales.

Anyway, enough rambling pessimism from me for the moment. :-)
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# Dave 2008-09-25 00:02
Great Photos Michael,

Be safe out there bro, looks like alot of fun what your doing though.

Dave
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# Jonathan Rubinstein 2008-09-25 00:04
Michae: Frank Holt, Into the Land of Bones is about Alexander the Great in A. which he used as his platform for invading the Indus Valley. A professor at the U. T. Austin, he has written extensively on the coinage which is a subject of special interest to classical scholars as Alexander had special coins srtruck for these campaigns. This is a book well worth reading. Knowing your interests, you will find it compelling and familiar. Godspeed.
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# John in Oregon 2008-09-25 00:08
Michael, your photos are excellent. Good indoor quality and color. Back in my youth I went to Brooks Institute of Photography. Keep up the good work and watch your six.

Best Regards,
John in Oregon
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# ~Paules 2008-09-25 00:14
I've been to some backwaters in my time, but this bazaar is impressive. I have no problem believing that a coin from the Greco-Bactrian kingdom might survive in this region, but I warn you not to purchase curios that might appear genuine. The locals are skilled at producing high quality fakes. Previous commenters have accurately identified the weaponry so I won't add my two cents. But I can give you insight into areas more prosaic. The produce, as near as I can tell from the photos, includes mostly staples. Rice and dahl (lentils) make up the base diet for the poor. Chick peas do well in an arid climate; they are easily turned into that favorite of the region known as falafal. I see a few bins that might contain fool beans. The spices I cannot identify by sight, but I expect many are some sort of curry or another. When I visited Kashmir back in the late '80's, I found cherries and apples in abundance due to the temperate climate. I would expect to see the same in Afghanistan.
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# KLM 2008-09-25 00:23
I'm worried about your safety, just as with all of the guys there. But I am so damn glad you're there, the one doing the reporting now. You are able to bring a human touch to what others slaughter in their version of "journalism". Please, dear Mr. Yon, PLEASE could you put out a photo book of your time in Afghanistan? Amazing pictures. Seeing these is the first time I've felt connected to the place where my husband is serving.

I'm reading your page every day now, and passing it around to others, too. Thank you for what you do.
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# Pat Patterson 2008-09-25 00:37
I agree that the coin is probably a Bactrian, also probably a drachma, or a fake Bactrian, from the late 1st Century BCE. But beware there are numerous fakes that are centuried old as the die for these coins were circulated widely and creative coinage was a fairly acceptable career choice. At least as long as the silver or gold content was comparable and the die wasn't so worn down that no one could recognize the symbology. This particular coin seems to have been incised with a tool as opposed to the larger die which would produced obverse and reverse in one pressing.
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# staghounds 2008-09-25 00:39
The rifle- now probably a shotgun- is a cut down or locally made Snider.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snider-Enfield

Here's a close up of the action:

http://www.pdhsc.com/snider5771.jpg

The coin is a modern tourist piece, a fantasy item made up from imagination. It looks like the creator had seen some Mesopotamian seals and they stuck in his head, but of course seals are intaglio rather than relief.

I love those bazaars.
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# staghounds 2008-09-25 00:52
I was basing my comment on the coin on the very modern Latin looking letters- there were roughly similar coins, true.

The rifle I'm talking about is one on the right, the others are Martinis. Clean and solid English ones go for $4-600 in the U. S.
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# yaacov 2008-09-25 00:59
Once you're in the area i suggest you take a look at the compelling speculations about Afghan origins documented in Simcha Jacabovici's film "Quest for the Lost Tribes of Israel" made for A&E Network.

In this connection: my layman's eye identifies both the Hebrew letters Ayin and Reish on the coin pictured. The film shows other examples of Hebrew script on ancient artifacts in Afghanistan.
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# Dora-Stryker MOM! 2008-09-25 01:51
Wow great pictures, What colors!!! You do everything with such passion...Keep it up and stay safe!!! HOOAH!!
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# Steve Singleton 2008-09-25 02:11
Great pics...remind me of times spent in souks from Sana'a, Yemen to Khartoum in Sudan. But the Martini-Henrys remind me of Kipling's tribute to the bravery of the Hadendoa (Fuzzy Wuzzies) when he wrote, "we sloshed you with Martinis" (meaning the rifle). My favorite poem:

"Fuzzy-Wuzzy"
Soudan Expeditionary Force, Early Campaigns

WE ƒ??VE fought with many men acrost the seas,
Anƒ?? some of ƒ??em was brave anƒ?? some was not,
The Paythan anƒ?? the Zulu anƒ?? Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest oƒ?? the lot.
We never got a haƒ??porthƒ??s change of ƒ??im:
ƒ??E squatted in the scrub anƒ?? ƒ??ocked our ƒ??orses,
ƒ??E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
Anƒ?? ƒ??e played the cat anƒ?? banjo with our forces.
So ƒ??ere ƒ??s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ƒ??ome in the Soudan;
You ƒ??re a pore benighted ƒ??eathen but a first-class fightinƒ?? man;
We gives you your certificate, anƒ?? if you want it signed
We ƒ??ll come anƒ?? ƒ??ave a romp with you whenever you ƒ??re inclined.

We took our chanst among the Kyber ƒ??ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
Anƒ?? a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We ƒ??eld our bloominƒ?? own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ƒ??oller.
Then ƒ??ere ƒ??s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, anƒ?? the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, anƒ?? of course we went anƒ?? did.
We sloshed you with Martinis, anƒ?? it was nƒ??t ƒ??ardly fair;
But for all the odds aginƒ?? you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

ƒ??E ƒ??as nƒ??t got no papers of ƒ??is own,
ƒ??E ƒ??as nƒ??t got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill ƒ??e ƒ??s shown
In usinƒ?? of ƒ??is long two-ƒ??anded swords:
When ƒ??e ƒ??s ƒ??oppinƒ?? in anƒ?? out among the bush
With ƒ??is coffin-ƒ??eaded shield anƒ?? shovel-spear,
An ƒ??appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an ƒ??ealthy Tommy for a year.
So ƒ??ere ƒ??s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, anƒ?? your friends which are no more,
If we ƒ??ad nƒ??t lost some messmates we would ƒ??elp you to deplore;
But give anƒ?? take ƒ??s the gospel, anƒ?? we ƒ??ll call the bargain fair,
For if you ƒ??ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

ƒ??E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
Anƒ??, before we know, ƒ??e ƒ??s ƒ??ackinƒ?? at our ƒ??ead;
ƒ??E ƒ??s all ƒ??ot sand anƒ?? ginger when alive,
Anƒ?? ƒ??e ƒ??s generally shamminƒ?? when ƒ??e ƒ??s dead.
ƒ??E ƒ??s a daisy, ƒ??e ƒ??s a ducky, ƒ??e ƒ??s a lamb!
ƒ??E ƒ??s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
ƒ??E ƒ??s the onƒ??y thing that does nƒ??t give a damn
For a Regiment oƒ?? British Infantree!
So ƒ??ere ƒ??s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ƒ??ome in the Soudan;
You ƒ??re a pore benighted ƒ??eathen but a first-class fightinƒ?? man;
Anƒ?? ƒ??ere ƒ??s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ƒ??ayrick ƒ??ead of ƒ??airƒ??
You big black boundinƒ?? beggarƒ??for you broke a British square!
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# CRASH67 2008-09-25 02:17
Those are not replicas they are the real deal a collector and reenactors dream. There is a story from a guy in Louisiana that when he was in Afghanistan was taking a break from a detail when he saw the sand in front of him move he dug into the sand to find a miniball they had taken fire from an enfield rifle they engaged the enemy dispatched him accordingly and he brought the gun back to the base and asked since this is a relic more than a modern weapon and that he was a reneactor could he send it home and according to those who told the story he has it now at home with him as far as i know
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# Victoria A. 2008-09-25 02:20
Michael, shoot me an email with an addy that I can send a PDF to you. I co-authored a report on Afghanistan which you likely will find of both interest and utility while in that country. The report is unclassified, so I can share it. I'm happy to provide digital or hard copy versions.

I second the motion made by one of the other posters: At some point, a coffee-table style book of your photography would be highly appropriate, and well received. I too am a photographer, and at one point in my life made my living designing coffee-table books. Your work is very worthy of such a publication, and would market well.

Let me hear from you when you've got a moment!

Victoria
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# Hermes Mendez 2008-09-25 02:28
Michael,
Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your work. As someone who has not traveled through these parts of the world, I do appreciate being able to see the every day people and hear of their struggles, their likes and dislikes, and their way of life. Your work is invaluable and I salute you!! Keep them coming!!
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# Simon 2008-09-25 02:37
The Martini Henrys are locally produced copies, as you can tell by the fact that one is dated "1906 V.R." when Queen Victoria died in 1901. Notice that one even has a ramrod, which was totally obsolete by the time MHs came along. Not sure what the standard of engineering on them would be, probably quite low.

The other rifle is a Snider, again probably a locally produced copy.
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# xoxoxoBruce 2008-09-25 03:15
Mike, I'd like your permission to post that picture of the box camera, at Cellar.org, as the "Image Of the Day". With full credit and a link to this page of course, because I'd like to direct more people to your photographs.
I've linked to your site often in the last several years, but the pictures might attract some of the people that don't follow the "Politics" or "Current Evens" threads.
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# Carl Nogueira 2008-09-25 03:26
Reading through, as I do with all your communications. I know you know what your are doing, but it always worries me when you are on your own outside the wire. Be extra careful picking up your stuff on Thursday. Appointments have been used throughout time as a wonderful way of pinning down a person's where-abouts to do harm to them. Be safe, your the only real voice we have out there.
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# clyde Kirkman 2008-09-25 03:41
The three on the left appear to be Martini-Henry rifles, which were standard issue British Military arms of Victorian times.
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# Emal 2008-09-25 04:07
Dear Micheal, Its so nice to hear that atleast some of internationals dare to walk around the cities in Afghanistan. Being the resident of Jalalabad city, I appriciate your this initiative. In order to have the real picture of local thoughts and thinking, you should go out meet and talk with the people then you well get the idea what do the people want.
I perssonaly ask other soldiers to come outside of their bases, leave the armed humvees and weapons, wear civilian dress and meet the people. It will show that Internationals have come here to heal Afghan wounds.
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# Sheila Pickerill 2008-09-25 04:37
Michael, the rifle on the right end looks like a Tower made 1864 in England for the North during the American Civil War. If so, it is a powder and ball.
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# Twotypetwos 2008-09-25 05:23
The photo above the coin is a Braendlin Carbine My understanding is they were contracted to fill Enfield's orders and are at least as well made as the Enfields were. This would have been originally chambered in .450 caliber.
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# Amy K 2008-09-25 06:24
Always a pleasure to see the world -- especially the day-to-day bits -- through your lens. Regards from Berlin!
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# Karen 2008-09-25 06:48
I don't know anything about the rifles or coins, but I do know good photos when I see them. I second the idea of a coffee table book (in your spare time!).

Please be safe. I worry about your safety over there when unembedded, as others do. I do love and appreciate your dispatches and share them with others who are interested in an objective view. Thanks for keeping us connected to the action over there.

Godspeed!
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# Linda from Bama 2008-09-25 09:32
Hi Mike, hope you remember "Pocahontas", your nickname for me when we were corresponding when you were in Mosul with Deuce Four. Hard to do now that you're so famous. LOL Would love to hear from you again though even though youƒ??re very busy. (hint, hint)

I just wanted to tell you I get a vicarious thrill from your travels because of both your photos and your writing. Both are excellent and make me feel like I've actually traveled along with you. As I've told you before you make the reader and the person looking at your photos feel they're in on the action and there with you viewing everything that's going on. Also, you tell the truth with your words and show the truth with your photos. You let us know whatƒ??s going on. The good, the bad and the ugly. And thatƒ??s why so many of us like your work so much. Kudos on keeping it real.

No clue about the coin. Some letters look Greek to me (pun intended :-)

The earliest gun I have in my collection is the Colt M1873 single-action .45 revolver used during the Philippine-Amer ican War. If I remember correctly these revolvers were only used for a short while during that war, however, had been used for several decades later on in the late 1800s.

If the guns you photographed are real I'd sure love to get my hands on one cause ya know how I love guns and knives. (drool)

I second everyone who suggested you do a coffee table style book of all your photos. They are wonderful. I'd certainly be the first in line to purchase one (with your signature of course).

You watch your six and be careful over there. You've got more writing, photo taking and truth telling to do. Don't get careless just because everyone seems so friendly. And I second the other poster who told you to be extra careful with planned appointments. Be especially careful.

Just to make ya laugh since ya liked my southern idioms so much when we were corresponding.. .....if'n ya get yerself in truble Ah'll haf ta pitch mahsalf a gud ol fashioned, Redneck, hot flashin, tee totally ticked off menopausal hissy fit. An ya know how bad they's can be!!!!! An afer that ya can call on the ƒ??Hormonal, Hot Flashin, Redneck, Menopausal, Bama Bitch Brigadeƒ? ta help ya out. Weƒ??re always at your service. LOL BTW, this comment reminded me of my very southern hick sounding voice when I talked to you on that Boston radio show. I recorded it and both my husband and I think I sounded like Ellie Mae Clampet and you and the host sounded like y'all got a kick out of it too and prolly everyone who listened to it even the critters by the cement pond. LOL (Ah did sound terrible). My accent even sounds southern to native southerners. Now that's bad! ACK!

Godspeed to you my friend and keep up the above excellent work you are doing. As usual you are in my prayers.

Linda in Bama aka "Pocahontas"
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# DagneyT 2008-09-25 11:30
I'm curious about the gentleman with the apparently dyed red beard??? Is it a cultural statement?
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# Ron Luycx 2008-09-25 12:40
My first thought was that this is a street organ. I agree with Captmatt, you should keep an eye out for that monkey. I did a Google search and saw many street organs in the photos but none like that one.

Love your work, stay safe.
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# ilene neterer 2008-09-25 13:06
thank you, thank you, Michael, you are the best ambassador to bring alive through
pictures the faces of the people we view as our enemy. You are doing a great job!!
Godspeed
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# Hans Mast 2008-09-25 13:13
I'm curious about the gentleman with the apparently dyed red beard??? Is it a cultural statement?

I live and work with Muslims in the Israel/West Bank.

The red beard is a sign that the person has made hajj to Mecca. However, more recently some people do it just because it makes them look cool.
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# Cindy 2008-09-25 13:14
There's no women in that marketplace. Where are they?
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# mayanin 2008-09-25 14:01
So, that does mean that their weapons come from many places? How are they sent over there?
I see alot of grain, with all that is going on, how do they havest it, or where do they get it?
Beautiful fabric, how do they keep like that with everything that is going on?
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# gobluejoe 2008-09-25 14:14
Those rifles hanging on the wall are Martini-Henry's . Those are the type used by the British army in the late 1800's. If you ever saw the movie Zulu, that's the rifle used. I have one and they kick like a mule when shot.
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# Frankie Mayo 2008-09-25 14:50
Michael - be careful. There I've said it. I love your work, but I would not be a good "Army Mom" if I didn't say PLEASE BE CAREFUL!
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# MarcW 2008-09-25 14:55
One of the rifles has a side plate stamped with a crown and the letters "V R". That stands for Victoria Regina, or Queen Victoria, so the 1906 stamp shows they are probably copies as Queen Vic died in 1901.

I was really surprised to see a Sikh in Afghanistan. Surprised the Taliban had not already killed him for being a Kaffir. Thanks for the info on the attitudes of the different people. Long ago a friend and I sponsored two Pakistani officers at the infantry officer advanced course at FT Benning. They were smart, tough, and had a real appreciation and respect for the US.
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# owlhoot 2008-09-25 15:24
That was a real coin, and although I can't identify the period, side one had Greek writing, and side two had Hebrew. I have seen old Roman coins and this one looks at least as ancient. It may date back to the Hellenic period which predated the roman occupation of Palestine. A great find even if you can't pin it down.
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# dano 2008-09-25 15:27
I agree with Simon. The three on the left are definately 'Kyber Pass' Martini-Henrys. http://www.martinihenry.com/khyberpage.html

The date is a dead give away. However, that is not a ramrod. M-H's originally had a cleaning rod. The other rifles just have them missing.
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# Joseph Matteini 2008-09-25 15:46
Michael love your photos and what you are doing for our great country.Be safe. Those Martini rifles are single shot,is that standard eqipment for their troops? How hard is it to buy rifles there? No laws ,gun control? One writer mentioned the Colt single action 45 caliber handgun.They used those in the Philipine insurection because the .38 handguns that were standard issue could not stop the drugged up men who had machetes.They 45's stopped the in their tracks.
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# Belasarius 2008-09-25 15:56
I asked my Indian friend, who said, "I see two bags in front are chick peas bags,the one next to it(green stuff) is Masoor dal which is lentil,there is rice flour,whole rice and some other lentils which i dont even know.There are some whole chillies in too"

I'm guessing some of the beans are foul medames which a previous poster called "fool" beans. I think some of the pastel stuff may be cardamom.
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# Jim Johnson 2008-09-25 16:45
They are called 'Kyber Pass Specials' Some may be original, but most are handmade copies of British Enfield/Snider and other early Enfield type guns from the 1800's.
They try to even reproduce the English markings. May not be very old but will still have the crown insignia over VR. (Victoria Regina) Vicky died in 1901.
The Brits left many for them to copy as they had a rough time there years ago.
Available for sale here as non-shooters, display only.
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# andy 2008-09-25 17:11
Michael,
Great pics. Is it a pinhole camera?
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# Victoria Allen 2008-09-25 18:14
In the photo with the bags of food staples, the bowl at top right with a black substance in it highly likely is flax seeds, which are about the size and shape of fleas and are a shiny black. Flax is grown all over Afghanistan, not for linen fibers, but as an oil seed crop. In the south, and also in the north around the Balkh province, there are orchards where apricots, grapes, almonds, walnuts, figs, mulberries, and pistachios are grown. Cereal grains are also traditional staple crops, including wheat, barley, millet, rice (in the south) and maize.

Victoria
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# Hugh Kelly 2008-09-25 19:20
"I am convinced that we often go to war based on mostly false perceptions of each other."

Some comfort can be found in acknowledging with equal convction that an upright person goes to war driven by scrupulous cognizance of the maniacal disorder levied on the citizenry by ruthless leaders empowered by propogating and perpetuating false perceptions.

I applaud these upright people that go to war endowed with an innate sense of compassion for the suffering innocents and love of liberty. I applaud them for rejecting the temporary comfort of passivity or the longer lasting yet equally devestating recklessness of revenge to embrace the more difficult role of duty to neighbor so that truth and ultimately liberty for innocents prevail.

I count you among the upright Michael. Please accept my deepest gratitude for your unselfish duty to others by providing the world with the truth about Iraq which as events have revealed played some role in gifting liberty to the citizens of Iraq.

I anticipate no less an outcome from your truthful reporting in Afghansitan.
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# Bdoon 2008-09-25 19:26
Mike

Fotos terrirfic....en vy you.

Azure
U are so right about preservation... what happened in Iraq was horrific...muse ums looted etc. A millenia from now the small wars will be forgotten but the knowledge we get from artifacts pricelss. What the Spanish did to the Mayan , Aztec and Toltec scripts etc because they were not Christian was horrible..or for that matter the Taliban destroying the Buddha because it was not of Islam. We are mortal...knowle ge is eternal.
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# Kaimiloa Chrisman 2008-09-25 23:05
Michael, I sent your query/pictures to an immensely knowledgeable friend in England who if extremely familiar with English guns and a great many others. He also used to work for the famous English gunmaker Westley Richards.
Here is what he wrote back about the guns you pictured:

"From the left, what would appear to be various Martini's:- a Cavalry carbine, a Mk.11 or Mk.111 infantry rifle, an early Mk.1 conversion to Mk.1*, and a Snider infantry rifle, with a local hammer.

Whilst these certainly have the look of genuine pieces, a close examination will probably reveal, as is more likely, a collection of bits, some genuine, some locally made.

The hand held pieces are easy, an out and out fake, "VR 1906".????? She died in 1901.!!!! The other is probably a genuine Birmingham made Martini body. With the lettering being the clue, and the state of the various body pins etc.

Very many of the 'old' guns now showing up in the region, are purpose built bazaar specials, intended for the American market. The Afghans are never ones to miss a trick.!! Many of the pieces in the 'heap' picture are examples of the same - although there is something interesting at the far left back, sticking up - definitely European."

That's it. Aloha, Ka'imiloa
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# Kaimiloa Chrisman 2008-09-25 23:07
Michael, I sent your query/pictures to an immensely knowledgeable friend in England who if extremely familiar with English guns and a great many others. He also used to work for the famous English gunmaker Westley Richards.
Here is what he wrote back about the guns you pictured:

"From the left, what would appear to be various Martini's:- a Cavalry carbine, a Mk.11 or Mk.111 infantry rifle, an early Mk.1 conversion to Mk.1*, and a Snider infantry rifle, with a local hammer.

Whilst these certainly have the look of genuine pieces, a close examination will probably reveal, as is more likely, a collection of bits, some genuine, some locally made.

The hand held pieces are easy, an out and out fake, "VR 1906".????? She died in 1901.!!!! The other is probably a genuine Birmingham made Martini body. With the lettering being the clue, and the state of the various body pins etc.

Very many of the 'old' guns now showing up in the region, are purpose built bazaar specials, intended for the American market. The Afghans are never ones to miss a trick.!! Many of the pieces in the 'heap' picture are examples of the same - although there is something interesting at the far left back, sticking up - definitely European."

That's it. Aloha, Ka'imiloa
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# Buck 2008-09-26 08:39
Michael,

thanks for being there. beware of ALL that stuff because there is a huge industry in counterfeiting EVERYTHING that Westerners want to buy. Particularly the weapons.

http://www.armscollectors.com/darra/darra.htm

Of course, when I was there I picked up an Enfield for a case of Coke...
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# Marine Mom 2008-09-26 10:05
Cindy, there are no woman in the pictures because they are not allowed out of their homes unless accompanied by a male! Even a litlle boy, say 4 or 5 years old, can "escort" a female outside, but a woman NEVER goes outside the home without being escorted. In the Islamic culture, women are practically property and therefore have many rules which they must follow. A women going out without being escorted is free game for ANYTHING. A very dangerous and foolish thing to do. The Koran does have sections advocating violence against women, even going so far as to state they deserve it and "enjoy" it. Islamic men on the whole dislike Western women immensely because they are independent and yes, rather aggressive, in many ways. I have worked with Islamic doctors as a nurse and some really despise American women for their behavior and freedoms. There was an article a few years back by an "Islamic" women who wrote how many freedoms they have, but she was talking as a Westerner in America, not as to what it is truly like in a full Islamic country. In fact, she probably wouldn't have been allowed to write the article much less have it published outside of a Western country I would think. I am very thankful to live in the West, and while abhoring feminism, and being grateful for the chivalry of true men, I do feel very sad for the claustrophobic and closed lives of many women in Islamic countries.
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# Keith V 2008-09-26 12:32
Michael, here is a link to a gunco.net discussion of what those rifles might be:

http://www.gunco.net/forums/f108/help-identifying-rifles-41089/
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-1 # Azure 2008-09-26 15:02
MarineMom: There is no monolithic "Islamic culture", though there are obviously some shared features among Islamic populations. While some of what you say is correct for some places it is incorrect for others. Go to Lebanon or Kosovo and say that women have to be escorted or risk rape. Exceptions? Maybe, but look at Jordan or Syria if you want less liberal examples of places where women, though still faced with patriarchal repression, nonetheless are free to hold high-ranking jobs and have freedom of movement without male escort. Hell, look at Pakistan and the late Benazir Bhutto. That's not to say Afghanistan is not extremely repressive in terms of social mores but that every country (every city even) has its own traditions, interpretations , and beliefs that may vary slightly to radically from others. The continued existence of the Taliban and the legacy of their rule will exert heavy influences on the way society operates throughout Afghanistan. What may have happened (I'm sure Michael can correct us) is that any women in the market, if there were any, avoided having their picture taken by a Western foreign man.

Perhaps you can show us the passages of the Qur'an where it advocates the beating of women and their enjoyment of it. I haven't seen these and am interested to read about them.

As far as that article goes, does where someone lives determine how Muslim they are? You put "Islamic" in quotes, as though living in the West makes her less of a Muslim. Does that mean Christians who live in the East aren't really Christians?

It's funny that you mention the world chivalry, because it's originally a concept taken by Crusaders from their Islamic opponents. And you may "abhor feminism" but you can thank it for allowing you to type on your computer and espouse your views.
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# Mark Walter 2008-09-26 15:35
Mike, I have loved your work since the days I got to know you in the PAO office in Mosul - even if I did help inadvertinly do the press release of Mark and Fadah after the stryder hit. I bring out your work to everyone who wants to know the truth about our troops and the war. God Bless - and keep your powder dry.
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# Charlotte 2008-09-26 16:41
Comments from my nephew, a riflesmith: Cool! A bunch of old Martinis and a Springfield Trap door. I understand how the British Martini rifles made it to Pakistan, but that old Trap door is a long way from home, made at the US Armory in Springfield Mass., probably some time after 1873. I own one from 1884 that is in far better shape than the one in the photos. Springfield Armory made weapons from 1795 until after WWII. After that we have had all our weapons made by privately owned manufacturers.

They are authentic weapons from a bygone era of western colonialization . It shows you the reality of the region and how it has been influenced by the west over the centuries. I found a number of old Enfields, the British follow on to the Martini, and even an old American WWI rifle made by Eddystone Arsenal for the British in 1914. The western European powers just dumped their old rifles on the colonial governments to keep peace and the weapons remain to this day. I doubt any are functional, and even if they were they have no ammunition. They are just oddities of an odd place.

Recently in Nepal they found an old palace that was held by the government as a storehouse that was full to the ceiling with weapons from the Napoleonic wars. It was cool... suddenly the world had access to hundreds of 200 year old rifles some predating America!
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# Jason 2008-09-27 17:34
Those guns look like old british rifles, you can tell by the crown stamped on the metal, looks like an Enfield, not a lee enfield though, wonder where they got them from.
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# sam carpenter 2008-09-27 22:18
Michael: I've spent some serious time in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir and, yes, the folks are generally quite hospitable despite polls and op/ed pieces stating the contrary. One hears that old chestnut, "the people love Americans but hate the American government." But, I donƒ??t fully buy the premise that the people hate the American government ƒ?? most Pakistanis havenƒ??t had a shred of direct contact with it. In my travels to the back country I have not felt threatened often, but have heard some quite angry ruminations in Urdu coming from local mosques (those times, I was glad I didn't speak the language). Once one gets away from Pakistani cities, westerners are few and far between. Re your general comments regarding women, the same holds for those in Pakistan although there is the incongruence regarding strict Sharia tenents and leadership positions (ie Bhutto). There is a wide range of beliefs re womenƒ??s rights but, for sure, the further one gets from the cities, the less latitude women have.
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# John Parry 2008-09-28 02:27
Martini Henrys of course!
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# Darryl 2008-09-28 03:53
Alot of other people have chimed in on this, and I agree that the three rifles on the left of the picture are probably local copies of British Martini-Henry short lever carbines (caliber .454 British). The short carbine on the far left may have been rebarrelled to accept the newer .303 British Enfield cartridge (an attempt to keep the aging rifles in colonial service a bit longer). A few of the rebarrels made their way into Nepal and down into what is now Pakistan, and some of these few have Svengali or Urdu script on them, a real rarity and an interesting conversation piece.

The rifle on the far right is an 1853 model Lee-Enfield rifle musket (caliber .577 British) that has had the stock cut down and the Snyder cartridge conversion done to the breech. The British made note of the Allen trapdoor conversion for the U.S. Springfield and copied it for their Crimean War era Enfields. The Snyder conversion differs from the Allen in that the Allen trapdoor flips forward to eject the cartridge and open the breech, whereas the Snyder conversion hinges out sideways to the right to expose the breech. Both systems were intended to save their governments the expense of buying all new rifles with the advent of brass cartridge breech loading weapons in the 1860s.

Should you wish to buy one of these weapons for a souvenir, examine all the cartouches and armory markings on the weapon carefully (even under the barrel inside the stock), and check them against one of the weapons websites. I'm not sure how the process works for a civilian (you may have to go to the American embassy in Kabul and fill out a BATFE form 6 to import them), but any firearm predating 1898 is considered an antique by the BATFE, and does not require a Class III FFL to ship to the United States. Hope this helps.

The coin appears to be Bactrian, and may be a fake (the Afghans are pretty good at counterfeiting coins). If if is genuine, then it's not terribly uncommon for the region, but is a good piece to aquire.
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# Bozazz 2008-09-28 05:54
Wow. I have to say these photos certainly changed my perceptions of Afghanistan. News media could be so uninformative sometimes. I expected lots of deserts and whatever cities exist to be in ruin. Glad to have that dispelled. You're pretty lucky to have a chance to travel there where civilians can not go. When the country becomes stable and safe it would be nice to travel there and take in the local culture. As for pushy salesmen around Asia, I would have to say Beijing is pretty bad. They'd come up and follow you until they get tired or you end up saying no many times. Since I didn't venture away from the tourist locals I can't say if this is indicative of local customs, or if it is just something people picked up by being around the tourists.
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# A. Non 2008-09-29 23:52
I was in Afghanistan 40 years ago and there was a Sikh presence there back then. They controlled the "currency trading market" (that is a euphemism) for many of the neighboring countries.
I have no idea whether or not it still exists, but you could always find an old guy and ask him about it.trn0
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# Don Ward 2008-09-30 14:26
The inscription at the top of the second coin is easily read as hebrew. Unfortunately my abilities to translate them have dimmed, but any Hebrew prof or Rabbi can tell you what the word may be. There are no vowel pointings, so it could be several words and suggests something pretty ancient.
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# Christoph Pelzer 2008-09-30 18:18
I know it doesn't really belong here, but I spotted the picture of Farah and Major Mark Bieger, that Michael took in 2005, in the musicvideo "Letters Home from the Garden of Stone" by Everlast.
I don't know if Michael is aware of that, just wanted you to know.

And while I'm at it.
Michael, I really appreciate the work you do and I'd like to express my gratitude and respect for your effort, dedication and the risk you take, to do the job you do.

And to say in my own language: Danke!
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# Frank Wood 2008-09-30 18:50
Mike,
Most of the rifles you in your pictures appear to be the Martini-Henry (also known as the Peabody-Martini -Henry) a breech-loading lever-actuated rifle adopted by the British, combining an action worked on by Friedrich von Martini (based on the Peabody rifle developed by Henry Peabody), with the rifled barrel designed by Scotsman Alexander Henry. It first entered service in 1871 replacing the Snider-Enfield, and variants were used throughout the British Empire for 30 years. It was the first British service rifle that was a true breech-loading rifle using metallic cartridges. The other appears to be a percussion cap carbine and is very similar to the US Springfield that Cavalry Troopers used early in the Indian Wars except the barrel is much longer than that particular model, next time look for manufacture makings..." Always Ready...Second to None"
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# HLH 2008-10-01 04:26
I asked my brother, who knows Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic... he agrees the first side has Greek letters and the second side has Hebrew letters. Unfortunely, the letters are hard to make out in the pictures... he says, if you get a chance, next time see if you can make a "rubbing" of the "coin". Something that will show the raised areas contrasted well.
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# Kristopher 2008-10-01 18:04
That carbine is abrit Snider conversion, not a US Springfield.

If you look carefully at image _y4q2542ac730.j pg , you can see that the hinge pin runs along the side of the carbine, and the shoe swings to the side to reveal the chamber.

On a Springfield conversion, the hinge pin would be in front of the shoe, and it would open by swinging forwards instead of sideways.
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# JRF 2008-10-01 18:30
They have been at the faux weapons business for a long time, not necessarily for the tourists. My father picked up a sword there in 1949 or before that is a counterfeit of a thousand-year-o ld weapon, but it turns out that the forgery itself is about 300 years old and a valuable antique in its own right. Exactly how valuable we will never know, because it will not appear at an auction house while I live.
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# voice_in_dc 2008-10-02 15:06
Awesome photos and awesome post.

"Yet here in Jalalabad, dozens after dozens of people said hello, or gave a thumbs up, and that was it. "

That says a lot about how they receive Americans, doesn't it?
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# Paula L 2008-10-02 16:50
Well before the US went into Afghanistan, I watched a documentary (History or Discovery shannel) on the Afghanis and their resoursfulness at reconstructing weapons. I was impressed with their ingenuity at making needed parts from old cooking pots, wreaked cars or any scrap of metal not in use. Of course they were using the weapons against the Russians so at the time I gave no thought to it. Now that itis our troops, I see it in a different light.
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# Brian Liston 2008-10-02 18:09
Three of those rifles are Braendlin Martini Cadet Rifles

They date from the 1890s and were most likely made in Birmingham England.

See the link below for more information:

http://cas.awm.gov.au/technology/REL/19127
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# Kerry 2008-10-02 18:56
...or very old replicas.
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# Solomon2 2008-10-02 23:49
Greek on one side, reading something like "Great King ----". Reverse doesn't look quite like Hebrew, may be Kharo ?œ ??hŽ®. Which doesn't mean it isn't a fake.
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# Edward Williams 2008-10-03 21:32
Darn, I was thinking that I was going to be the first one to say what they were but it appears that I am very late. As the others have said, most of the rifles in the pictures are indeed Martini Henrys. How much do they want for them? Maybe you should pick one up for a couple of bucks as a piece of history. ;-)

http://www.martinihenry.com/

Keep up the good work!
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# Edward Williams 2008-10-03 21:46
Hmm, upon closer look at the images one of the Sovereign's Cypher on the Martini Henry has "V.R 1906" (Victoria Regina), queen's crown on the insignia. This is strange, by that time it should have a king's crown and probably say "E.R" (Edward Rex). I suppose that if you do buy one, be sure to examine the quality to make sure they are not fakes.

http://www.martinihenry.com/metalmarkings.htm
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# Azure 2008-10-04 15:56
Solomon2 is on the right track. I finally got hold of the numismatics books I'd been looking for. I haven't pinned down which coin it is yet but I'm getting closer. I'll keep looking. Nice work, Solomon. :-)
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# gus 2008-10-07 21:33
camera appears to be an old, a very "jerry" rigged or possibly homemade, large formate view camera - negative size would be more than likely 4x5...
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# G45 2008-10-16 01:19
Martini-Henrys are the lever-actioned guns. The musket-ish one looks like a Snider rifle. Both 1800s English rifles.
The Afghans seem to be packrats - clearly a male-dominated society.
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# Pezy 2008-10-16 23:59
On side one: ?????œ?????????  (on the left) ????????????? (on top) - Kings (of) Great

It's Greek.
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# ajacksonian 2008-10-24 11:55
I remember early on in Afghanistan that someone from Overstock.com flew into the country to start purchasing jewelry and other local goods for sale on the world market. She went in with a briefcase and checkbook and started arranging for contract production work, which put hard currency into the local markets. Immediately after the majority of the initial conflict she was told that the largest single employer in the country was Overstock.com! That is the power of the global market and a dedicated company willing to find personnel that will risk their lives to benefit local producers.

While the rifles are not in my league, I am reminded that many post-war German pistols bore Nazi markings and yet were finally constructed and sold in 1946-48. Just because the Queen is dead doesn't mean the contracts died with her. Contract out for some piece-work or put in that markings must be to certain specifications, and you can get oddities showing up. Only an expert, on the spot, can know for sure, but Afghanistan looks to be a antique dealer dream and nightmare, due to the ability to copy antiques so well. Even so, a 100 year old copy is still an antique and of value in its own right.

I do wish that the Administration had the Dept. of Ag. team up with the DEA and DoD to start a new 'low tech, new technique' technology influx to change farming over to dryland techniques and to offer a bit of price support for crops while pointing out that poppy fields make great ordnance testing ranges. Use DEA to do multi-spectral analysis, Dept. of Ag. to ground-truth and push for better crops and techniques, and DoD to make a point with impromptu test ranges. GIH has had much of the opium market secured via contacts for decades, and his contacts with the Red Mafia are more than slight speculation. Add gem smuggling and semi-precious stone smuggling and you get to understand how he can run an organization going through the 'stans all the way to London. The ISI should never have supported him in the '70s.

Keep safe, Mr. Yon... and a picture book of your works is something I would purchase!
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