Until the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Americans who thought of Afghanistan at all thought of it as a remote, mountainous and landlocked country, first a pawn in the Cold War, then oppressed by the Taliban. The country’s geographical location—north of India, east of Persia and west of China—gave it a prominent place on the Silk Road, the network of trade routes that connected China and the Mediterranean and produced a unique culture.The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., ...

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