Behind them, there are caves decorated with precious paintings from 5th to 9th century A. The caves also suffered from destruction but today they have become the source of a major discovery.Scientists have proved that the paintings were made of oil, hundreds of years before the technique was "invented" in Europe.An X-ray identification technique, carried out at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, was able to determine that about a dozen of the 50 or so caves were painted in pigments suspended in drying oil, possibly walnut oil or poppy seed oil, mediums still in use today.

Bamiyan - famous for empty hillside niches that once sheltered giant Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban - is a rare oasis of tranquility that has largely been spared the wrenching conflict that afflicts the rest of Afghanistan.

The use of oil painting in Europe most likely was developed independently, but like the “discovery” some time ago that paper, ink and even movable type, existed in China well before their use in Europe, cultural prejudices have to be readjusted as the past continues to change.

Not only were these true artistic paintings, but examination of the structure of their paint layers has shown the use of glazes much as in classical and modern oil painting technique.

In 2008, it was claimed that caves in Afghanistan, near the Bamiyan buddhas which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, contained even earlier oil paintings, dated to around 650 AD.

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Can you resist the exhibitionist housewifes phone sex chat?Pre-civil war days are a subject of whispered nostalgia in Bamiyan, when it wielded control over strategic mountain passes connecting trade routes from India, China and Persia and the local markets swarmed with stoned backpackers hopping overland on the so-called 'hippie trail'.Trudging halfway up a jagged goat trail, guide Mohammad Ibrahim extolled the panoramic view: a vast, ancient landscape of russet-hued cliffs that is on the frontline of Afghan efforts to jump-start warzone tourism.Bamyan city was a stopping point for many travelers and caravans that were passing the region.Hiking up to the ruined ramparts of Shahr-e-Gholghola - the City of Screams, which was destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century - Ibrahim stopped to catch his breath and picked up a spent bullet shell from the ground, one of many Soviet-era casings that litter the windswept trail overlooking the sandstone cliffs and snow-clad pyramids of the Hindu Kush range.A third great 17th-century master of oil painting was the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn.