Renowned for a magnificently treacherous mountain terrain, and for a brave tradition that has defeated invaders from ancient nomads to the Soviet Army, the Afghans bestride one of the most famous and lucrative trading routes in history, the Silk Road. At the nexus of this route, Afghans laid claim to a fabulous wealth of treasures from Europe, the Middle East, China, India, Africa, and the West. Among these troves, one glitters with a particular intensity. Lost for centuries and unearthed only months before the Russian invasion of 1979, this find and its centerpiece, known as the Bactrian Hoard, was saved from invaders and the Taliban by a group who have come to be known as "the key holders": curators and guards of the Afghan National Museum, who risked their lives to hide the finest pieces for nearly thirty years. These ordinary Afghans withstood the threat of violence (and in at least one case, actual torture) at the hands of ruthless would-be thieves, and endured hardship, hunger, fear and temptation to keep their dangerous secret, until the exquisite craftsmanship of the Bactrian Hoard was again revealed - and exhibited as a symbol of a newly resurgent Afghanistan. This unique and beautiful collection travels the United States from the spring of 2008 until the fall of 2009. This volume is the catalogue for this exhibition, a stunning full-colour portfolio of hundreds of photographs that captures all the drama, beauty, and historical heritage of the Bactrian Hoard and the Afghan culture it so eloquently represents.