The Bamiyan valley marked the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion and was a crucial hub of trade for much of the second millennium CE.
It was a place where East met West and its archaeology reveals a blend of Greek, Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Indian influence.
Bamyan was the site of an early Hindu–Buddhist monastery from which Bamyan takes its name (Sanskrit varmayana, "coloured").
Bamyan's name is translated as ‘The Place of Shining Light’.
The cave paintings were probably the work of artists travelling along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia to the West, the ESRF says.
Afghanistan's Taliban government used dozens of explosive charges to bring down the two 6th century giant Buddhas in March 2001, saying the statues were un-Islamic.
is the capital of Bamyan Province in central Afghanistan.
French-based scientists have been investigating cave paintings at the ancient complex of Bamiyan.
The findings suggest these may be the oldest known examples anywhere of painting with oil.
Lessons from Bamiyan The wall-paintings were devotional art showing the Buddha, often in colourful robes.
Artists in Afghanistan were painting using oils as far back as the 7th century, research shows, hundreds of years before oil paint was used in Europe.
The world's first oil paintings were in caves near two destroyed giant statues of Buddha at Bamiyan.