Conservation experts at Munich’s Technical University have been studying fragments of the statues for the last 18 months and have concluded that the smaller one, which stood 125 feet tall but was only about 6 feet deep, could be reconstructed by reassembling the recovered parts. (They do not advocate trying to restore the Buddha to its original appearance.) Erwin Emmerling, one of the scientists, is to present the group’s findings this week at a Unescoconference in Paris on the long-term fate of the statues.
The conference will be attended by Afghan officials, who would have to approve any plan to reconstruct them. There are also practical obstacles: According to the German experts, the restoration would require the construction of a small factory in the Bamiyan Valley; otherwise, some 1,400 fragments weighing up to two tons each would have to be shipped to Germany. As for the larger statue, which was 180 feet tall, Mr. Emmerling said its much greater depth — about 40 feet — made it much more difficult to restore.