The story is familiar to every child: The Macedonian king Alexander the Great sets out in Greece to fight against the Persians, who have a number of communities of Greek origin in Asia Minor under their suzerainty. He is surprisingly successful against the militarily far superior enemies and finally overthrows the Persian king Darius III, who is murdered by his own people while fleeing. Alexander moves deeper and deeper into Asia with his army, in which soldiers of other peoples fight for him in addition to the Macedonians. It comes as far as India. Then the soldiers mutiny; until the end of the world, they don't want to follow him anymore. So he takes the way back. He dies a short time later in Babylon before he can carry out his plan to conquer the West after the East.

Tilman Spreckelsen

Editor in the feuilleton.

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That sounds like an unsustainable strategy, in which blind conquest is first made and the consideration of what to do with it is only asked when the army moves on again. In view of the overstretched, hastily assembled empire and the early death of the conqueror, what remains of the Greeks in distant Central Asia?

This question is at the beginning of an exhibition that has just opened in Berlin. The idea apparently became concrete in 2019, around the same time that Uzbekistan's extensive opening up to Western tourists led to the abolition of visa requirements for visitors from countries like Germany. Four years between the first plans and the opening: That's quite short, especially in view of the logistical challenges that arise with such a cooperation. In fact, the exhibition presents such a wealth of exhibits from Uzbekistan, most of which have never been seen outside the country before, that one would like to take one's hat off to curator Manfred Nawroth and his Uzbek partners in view of this abundance and quality. In addition, there is the successful narrowing down of the topic and finally the presentation in the context of this exhibition, the downside of which can only be found in the fact that the catalogue for the opening was finished in typesetting, but not yet printed.

Geographically, the selection is limited to the south-east of present-day Uzbekistan on the border with Afghanistan around the city of Termez, that is, the region where Alexander moved for two years to break the resistance of the local elites. In terms of time, the exhibition of the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, takes a look at the epoch from the Alexander Campaign to the Kushan Empire, i.e. from the fourth century BC to about the fifth century AD.

From Pella to the Hindu Kush

Like the Schliemann exhibition that opened in May last year, "Treasures from Uzbekistan: From Alexander the Great to the Kushan Empire" will take place at the Neues Museum and the James-Simon-Galerie, albeit in a different order. The exhibition begins in the "Patriotic Hall" of the Neues Museum, where it occupies other rooms and shows the Alexander Procession as well as finds from two mountain fortresses in the Oxus area, which owe their existence to the conquerors from the West. This prelude, whose exhibits initially come mainly from the holdings of various museums of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, shows horizontally in the center of the hall a huge map of the conquest from the Macedonian Pella to the Hindu Kush with the most important stations, battles in particular, surrounded by military testimonies of the Macedonians as well as the Persians. The cast of a depiction of Helios from the temple of Athena in Troy shows the setting sun god with Alexander's features, it is the spatial prelude to stations of the deification of the Macedonian king, which are also commemorated by other exhibits.