An Afghan Water Mill in Afghanistan


This photograph of an Afghan water mill is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The mill, rectangular shaped with a thatched roof, was probably operated on a part-time basis by the family pictured in the photograph. The water mill is a traditional design with a small horizontal mill-house built of stone, or perhaps mud bricks. The men look directly at the camera, but a woman wearing a chador partially screens her face for modesty. The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879, after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, portraits of ordinary Afghan people, and depictions of British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by John Burke (circa 1843–1900), another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831–1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known.

Attributed Name

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

An Affghan Water Mill in Affghanistan

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. Richard Tapper and Keith McLachlan, editors, Technology, Tradition and Survival: Aspects of Material Culture in the Middle East and Central Asia (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

Last updated: September 30, 2016