Afghanistan: A long European History

Tracking Alexande’s expedition, the exhibition in the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim leads visitors from the Ancient Near Eastern metropolis of Babylon, the intended capital of the Alexandrian empire, to its periphery, Central Asia. Selected archeological finds impressively reveal the fertile encounters and intercultural influences: Greek, Achaemenid, Bactrian, steppe nomadic and East Asian traditions converged on one another productively. This produced such fascinating results as treatments of Greek mythology in the visual world of the Kushan and Gandhara cultures and even the first depictions of Buddha as human. With the oncome of Buddhism in Central Asia also came motifs from India and with them some of the earliest portrayals of Buddha. This revolutionary novelty in art imagery possibly derives from Greek traditions as well, in which the depiction of deities in human form was common.