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Afghanistan: The lasting legacy of Alexander the Great

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ethical world came to Afghanistan with Alexander the Great between 329 BC and 327 he conquered the area before moving into India but he left behind in settlers cities that he'd founded and of course being Greeks they expressed their culture the Greek legacy is so strong because their art is so divinely beautiful the legacy of Greek art reached Afghanistan by sea and overland and came up into the places where Alexander had formerly ruled it I Harlan was a city that was founded by one of Alexander the Great's generals in 300 BC it was really the furthest outpost of the green hand we know so much of it from a Greek site of a big city on the banks of the river oxus miles away from Greece as far as Tasmania from London one feels it had Greek statuary it had a theater it had a gymnasium this is a director of a gymnasium found at the far end of this building is very much of the tradition of Greek sculpture and he would have probably paid for the gymnasium in the city of ikana it was here that the culture of Greece met with the local culture of Bactria and thus formed this fusion between Greece and bactria this figure here is the statue of Heracles who later became hercules his body is not as idealized as he would have appeared in in greece these two female figures often accompany Dionysus in Greece they are depicted as very much human to female human figures but here in the far-flung corners of Bactria they've become almost specialized they're almost like little animals they have horns and they have a skin which is almost like a an animal skin we have the single most amazing monument I know the most amazing thing in London at the moment well that's a big claim but I'll explain why it's the base inscribed of what would have been a display of 150 little one-line sayings from the seven wise men of the world on how we should behave they're not very dramatic when you're young study hard when you're a young man be sober very good advice when you're old be wise die without pain and that was found in the central shrine of the city [Music] unfortunately the area became involved in the civil war on the warm of the Russians and indeed there was a mortar paste just by the city lobbing rockets to people on the other side of the river oxus and when that was over the site was cross plowed by people with bulldozers thinking that they could find treasure this of course is disastrous it destroys all the stratigraphy and the wonderful things that could have been found for Afghanistan in the future I have been to Afghanistan I've been three times it breaks my heart to think of what is happening to some of the most wonderful people I've known in my lifetime but you have to see the setting you marvel at how an army thirty forty thousand strong could have been brought into this area by the great commander Alexander once you see the landscape and once you stand as I once stood on the join of the Oxus and cocksure River you simply think I'm dreaming [Music] you you