A Visit to Afghanistan


A Visit to Afghanistan is an account of a two-month trip to Afghanistan in 1909 by Dr. Walter Saise, a British mining expert. Saise had been invited to Afghanistan by Amir Habibullah Khan (1872–1919, reigned 1901–19, whom Saise often refers to as king), who was interested in developing national sources of coal to power the royal factories and workshops. The latter, many of which were established by Habibullah’s father ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan, produced boots, uniforms, guns, ammunition, and other military supplies. Saise visited the coalfields at Ghorband (present-day Chahadah-ye Ghorband) as well as the lead mines at Ferengal (present-day Koh-e Firingal) and the ruby mines of Jagdallak (present-day Jigdalai or Jegdalek). His account describes the mineral seams at these locations and the mining techniques used by the Afghans. Saise also recounts his visit to the Madrassa Herbeia Serbajia (Royal Military College), his observations on how the Afghans built and maintained their roads, and his discussions with the amir. Like other Afghans, Habibullah believed that the people of Afghanistan were descendants of the Beni-Israel, the ten lost tribes of Israel, who after the Arab conquest of Kabul in the middle of the seventh century had converted from Judaism to Islam, later converted back to Judaism, and finally reconverted to Islam in circa 690‒700. Habibullah also described for Saise the conquest of the Kafirs of Kafiristan by his father and his own role integrating this formerly non-Muslim minority into Afghan society. Saise’s paper was read at the Central Asian Society in London on April 12, 1911, and originally published in the Proceedings of the society.

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Central Asian Society, London


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22 pages ; 25 centimeters


  1. “Walter Saise, Dr.,” in Who’s Who section of the website of Durham Mining Museum, U.K. http://www.dmm.org.uk/whoswho/s643.htm.

Last updated: August 17, 2016