Archaeological Treasures of Uzbekistan
From Alexander the Great to the Kushan Empire

04.05.2023 to 05.11.2023

The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte has repeatedly presented the early cultures of Central Asia. Now the focus is on Uzbekistan. The exhibition presents outstanding art and cultural treasures never shown outside Uzbekistan, from the time of Alexander the Great to the Kushan Empire. In addition to the exhibits, specially produced video recordings and computer animations of the archaeological sites guide visitors through the lively cultural landscape of Uzbekistan from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic period of the Graeco-Bactrian Empire

Alexander the Great is one of the most outstanding persons in the world history. Within a few years, the king of Macedonia defeated in the 4th century BC the hitherto overpowering Persian Empire of the Achaemenids under the leadership of King Darius III and conquered parts of the Central Asian region to present-day India. In an introductory section of the exhibition, numerous exhibits from different archaeological collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin illustrate the diverse worlds Alexander encountered on his march.

In his newly created empire, he founded numerous Greek cities based on the well-developed administrative system of the conquered territories. On his return journey, Alexander died because of malaria at the age of only 33. After his death, the area came under the power of his successors, who founded the Greek Seleucid Empire, which later developed to the Graeco-Bactrian Empire. During this period, the economic, craft and cultural life of the region flourished. Ceramics, weapons and much more from Kampyrtepa, the potential Alexandria Oxiana, and the recently explored border fortresses of Uzun Dara and Kurgansol attest to the pronounced Greek influence in Central Asia.

The Kushans - New Rulers from the North and the Blossoming of Buddhism

According to Chinese sources, one of the five aristocratic tribes of the Yuezhi was that of the Kushans, who created a powerful empire in Bactria. In the 1st century AD, the Kushans penetrated as far as the Gandhara region of present-day Pakistan and India. Under King Kanishka (100–126 AD), the Kushan Empire reached the pinnacle of its power, revealed in monumental architecture and masterpieces of art.

Following the Greek model, the Kushans began minting gold, silver and bronze coins depicting rulers and deities. Besides portraits of the aristocratic rulers of southern Uzbekistan, it is the early Buddhist art from the first centuries that surprises and captivates us. From the numerous monasteries, temples and sanctuaries, some larger-than-life sculptures of Buddhist deities and monks as well as wall paintings of outstanding quality are preserved. In the exhibition these impressive exhibits will be faced with representations of Gandhara art from the collection of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, which also originated from Greek mythology and early Buddhist imagery.

The large settlement of Dalverzintepa, situated on the Surkhan-Darya River, developed into an important urban centre, with its own city quarters and buildings for administration, residential districts, craft quarters and temples of various faiths. Evidence of the immense economic power of the city is a gold treasure buried in the residential area, weighing 36 kilograms, consisting of ingots, jewellery and other small objects, parts of which will be on display in Berlin. Impressive terracotta figurines, once placed in the main hall of a palace complex in the village of Khalchayan, will also be on display.

The exhibition is funded by the Kuratorium Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

A special exhibition by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in collaboration with the Art and Culture Development Foundation in Uzbekistan

Sun 10:00 - 18:00
Mon closed
Tue 10:00 - 18:00
Wed 10:00 - 18:00
Thu 10:00 - 20:00
Fri 10:00 - 18:00
Sat 10:00 - 18:00

Opening times on public holidays Opening hours