MCA’s Exhibition Chaeronea, 2 August 338 BC: A Day that Changed the World

ATHENS – The exhibition Chaeronea, 2 August 338 BC: A Day that Changed the World opened at the Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA) on December 14, 2023 and runs through March 31, 2024. It was featured in the Wall Street Journal on March 4 and explores the historic day that set Alexander the Great on the political stage as one of the greatest figures in world history. The exhibition is part of the new series of archaeological exhibitions with the title ‘Human Histories’ by the MCA and is showcased at the Stathatos Mansion and the Neophytou Douka Wing, under the supervision of the Scientific Directors of the Museum Dr. Panagiotis Iossif, Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands, and Dr. Ioannis Fappas, Assistant Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

(Photo: Paris Tavitian © Museum of Cycladic Art)

Chaeronea, 2 August 338 BC: A Day that Changed the World highlights the significance of the Battle of Chaeronea in the transition from the Classical to the Hellenistic period. The battle established the Macedonians as the dominant power in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean during the reign of Philip. On that day, the 18-year-old prince Alexander made a dynamic entrance into the political and military scene, playing a decisive role in the defeat of the Theban Sacred Band.

The exhibition allows us to engage with the great king through archaeological objects in a unique and privileged way. Through approximately 260 objects coming from 25 Greek museums, two foreign museums, and four private collections, the exhibition will focus on the collision of two worlds. This acted as a catalyst for the birth of the new Hellenistic world in the aftermath of this historic battle, which changed the course of history.

(Photo: Paris Tavitian © Museum of Cycladic Art)

The ‘Human Histories’ series narrates significant events through objects chosen not only for their aesthetic value but primarily for their pivotal role in studying specific historical events that shaped human history. Through events like the Battle of Chaeronea, the series explores Humanity, its role in historical events and its emotions. MCA President and CEO Sandra Marinopoulou stated: “Why did we decide on the battle of Chaeronea? The one in which the Macedonians of Philip II and the young Alexander confronted Thebes, Athens and their allies? What happened in the middle of that summer of 338 BC in the valley of Boeotia to change the world? The exhibition, although it deals with the battle itself, focuses mainly on its consequences. With this battle, Macedonia was established as a dominant power in Greek affairs and the way was opened for the birth of the Hellenistic world. Democracy and the City State passed into a new era, that of the kingdoms, which laid the foundations for the creation of a way of being that allowed Greek civilization to reach the limits of the then-known world, where matchless wealth, new knowledge and experiences will be offered both to the Greeks and to the other peoples who participated in the new reality born after the victory of Chaeronea. For this exhibition, our two young curators, each holding a different point of view, united their knowledge, creativity and strengths.”

(Photo: Paris Tavitian © Museum of Cycladic Art)

The two curators of the exhibition explain in the catalogue: “Two decisive factors contributed to the selection of this particular topic: it is one of the few cases in the archaeological chronicles where descriptions and information about an event handed down to us by the ancient authors connect with the important archaeological remains of the event itself. An occasion largely beyond the awareness not only of the general public, but also of the archaeological community itself. The second factor is the central theme: the main protagonists of the battle were two of the leading figures of Greek antiquity and world history, Philip II and his son Alexander III of Macedon, whom History has characterized as the Great. In the few square kilometers on the plain of Chaeronea, these two protagonists met one of the most important orators of antiquity, the Athenian Demosthenes… they wrote the fate of the world to come […]. Our goal was to give the visitor the experience of a modern approach to an ancient event, also examining the way it has lived on in the collective memory of the Greek nation’.More information is available by phone: (+30) 210 7228321-3 and online: https://cycladic.gr.

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