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CONTENT] An Afghan labourer surveys the Mes Aynak archeological dig,... News PhotoAfghanistan,Ancient,Archaeology,Buddhism,Digging,Hill,Horizontal,Science and TechnologyPhotographer Collection: Moment ©Jerome Starkey[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] An Afghan labourer surveys the Mes Aynak archeological dig, on the site of an ancient Buddhist settlement, from outside his hilltop tent, November 14, 2011. More than 250 of his colleagues are working with a team of international experts to excavate a series of monasteries and homes, on the site of a massive copper deposit, before it is destroyed by an open cast mine. The team, lead by the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (DAFA), has already unearthed a series of four monasteries stocked with murals and statues, thought to date from the 3rd to the 7th centuries AD. The monasteries and adjoining settlements, in the Hindu Kush mountains, 35km south of Kabul, may have been first used by humans up to 5000 years ago. The copper deposit, which is one of the largest in the world, was effectively sold by the Afghan government to a Chinese state mining company, the China Metallurgucal Group Corporation (MCC) in 2007, amid allegations of ministerial level corruption. The MCC paid $3billion for the rights to mine, and promised to build a railway to get the metal out of landlocked Afghanistan.