Kandahar from Signal Tower


This photograph of Kandahar from the vantage point of a signal tower is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. A section of the city wall starts at the right side of the photograph and stretches out of sight into the left background. The unusually shaped mountain shrouded by haze in the back right holds the Chilzina, a chamber hewn out of the rock that was part of the old Kandahar citadel, accessed by the "Forty Steps" carved in the rock. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Kandahar from signal tower

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. “View of city [Kandahar] from Signal tower looking west,” Royal Geographical Society, http://images.rgs.org/imageDetails.aspx?barcode=36901.

Last updated: September 30, 2016