The Logar Bridge
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a bridge across the Logar river near Kabul in Afghanistan, taken by John Burke in 1879-80. The strategically sited city of Kabul spreads along the Kabul river at an elevation of 5900 feet. It lies in a triangular valley flanked by the steep heights of the Asmai and Sherdarwaza ranges, and commands the approaches towards the Khyber Pass and thence to the Indian sub-continent. The 300 mile long Kabul is the most important river in Afghanistan, rising in the Sanglakh range, an offshoot of the Hindu Kush towards Bamian and Afghan Turkestan. Its basin forms the province of Kabul and from its source to the city of Kabul the course of the river is only 45 miles. Half a mile east of Kabul it is joined by the Logar, a much larger river, which rises beyond Ghazni among the slopes of the Gul Koh at 14,200 ft, and drains the valleys of Logar and Wardak.
The photograph is part of a series of images forming the Afghan War albums which provided a visual document of the country and resulted in Burke achieving renown as the first significant photographer of Afghanistan and its people. The British became involved in Afghanistan, trying to create a buffer state and protect their Indian empire in the face of Russian expansion in Central Asia. The Anglo-Russian territorial rivalry created what came to be known as the Great Game between the powers. In 1878 Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan, despite being rejected for the role of official photographer. He financed his trip by advance sales of his photographs 'illustrating the advance from Attock to Jellalabad'. In his two-year expedition in Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War (1878-80), Burke became the photographer of the region where the strategies of the Great Game were played out. In a latter phase of the war, from October 1879 to the summer of 1880, British troops (the Kabul Field Force) under General Roberts occupied Kabul. Burke stayed here for too for many months, photographing the city and its inhabitants.