An Afghan labourer works at the ninth-century mosque Masjid-e Haji Piyada in Balkh Province, November 8, 2017.
Photo by Farshad Usyan / AFP
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In the white dusty plains of northern Afghanistan, archaeologists are seeking to unravel the secrets of one of the oldest mosques in the world, whose structure is still standing after a thousand years of solitude.The mosque, which has weathered the centuries partly due to the arid climate of the region, is one of the best preserved Islamic buildings of its age in the world, Tonietti said, adding that it is "highly valuable and highly vulnerable".Time has washed most of the color from its columns, but the mosque was once a dazzling spectacle.Noh Gonbad, its Persian name, was only rediscovered by chance.In the late 1960s, an American archaeologist traveling in the region asked local people to take her to a mosque destroyed by Genghis Khan, the Mongol emperor who rampaged across the region in the early 13th century.Noh Gonbad's domes were toppled soon after the mosque was built and have lain at the site during the centuries since.
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