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Safed Sang, view from across the river, showing Sapper bridge.

Safed Sang, view from across the river, showing Sapper bridge.

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1879

Shelfmark: Photo 487/(98)

Item number: 98

Length: 17.9

Width: 31.9

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph taken in Afghanistan by John Burke in May 1879, showing a British army camp on the brow of a hill near the Safed Koh mountain range which is situated at the north-westerly end of the great Himalayan Range. The army camped here as the river provided a good water supply in an environment which was stony, treeless, dusty and very exposed. The camp was in a strategically important position in the North West Frontier Province on the route from Peshawar (now in Pakistan) to Kabul (Afghanistan).

Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan in 1878 and covered the events of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), becoming the first significant photographer of the country and its people in the process. The British, having taken the Khyber Pass and defeated the Amir Sher Ali's forces, wintered in Jalalabad, waiting for the new Amir Yakub Khan to accept their terms and conditions. The military administrator Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari (1841-1879), a half-Irish, half-Italian aristocrat appointed as emissary by the Viceroy Lord Lytton, negotiated the Treaty of Gandamak with Yakub Khan in May 1879, whereby the Amir had to agree to a permanent British mission at Kabul and ceded Afghan territory.

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