When we envision Afganistan it is likely that we imagine a war-torn, third world nation ravaged by poverty and less than civilized circumstances. However, there was a time before the Taliban rose to power, a time when Afghanistan was a very different country.

Recently a series of photographs have surfaced, pulling back the curtain and revealing the truth about life in Afghanistan in the 1960s. The photos were taken William Podlich, a professor at Arizona State University at the time. Podlich had taken a two-year sabbatical from work, traveling to Afghanistan to work for UNESCO in 1967. During the time he worked for the Higher Teachers College in Kabul as the Expert of Principles of Education.

The trip occurred just a decade before the country went through a significant change, triggered by the invasion of the Soviets pulling the country into war. This was, at the time, seen as the biggest change that the country had ever seen, but that quickly changed with the implementation of Taliban rule in 2001.

Podlich retired from Arizona State University in 1981 and died in 2008 at the age of 92. The photographs were then given to his daughter Peg Podlich. Looking at the incredible difference between these images and the current view of the war-torn country, she made the decision to have the photographs published, eager to share this unique insight with the rest of the world.

“When I look at my dad’s photos, I remember Afghanistan as a country with thousands of years of history and culture, stated Peg Podlich. “It has been a gut-wrenching experience to watch and hear about the profound suffering which has occurred in Afghanistan during the battles of war for nearly 40 years. Fierce and proud yet fun-loving people have been beaten down by terrible forces.”

Peg Podlich’s husband, Clayton Esterson, took up the role of archivist for the photographs, highly interested in all that the images revealed. When asked about the photos, Esterson expressed his interest saying, “Many Afghans have written comments showing their appreciation for the photographs that show what their country was like before 33 years of war. This makes the effort to digitize and restore these photographs worthwhile.”

For those that are familiar with today’s Afghanistan, the images are surprisingly different. They paint a picture of a happier time, one where the citizens lived happily together as part of a greater community.

Take a look at these 60+ fascinating photographs of Afghanistan in the 1960s taken by William Podlich:

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