Sep 28, 2007
ATHENS (AFP) — Greece will dedicate a museum to Alexander the Great in the northern town of Pella, his birthplace and the seat of the Macedonian kingdom that ruled an empire from Europe to India, an official said Friday.
Expected to be ready by late 2008, the new museum will contain mosaics, weapons, jewellery and other finds from a 20-year excavation of the Pella archaeological site, an official at the culture ministry's museums department told AFP.
"The finds, mainly from temples, show how these people lived ... we even found a curse which shows that the Macedonians spoke Doric, an ancient Greek dialect, from the 5th century BC," the official said.
"This is very important, also in political terms," she said.
In recent years, Greece has faced a challenge from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the spiritual rights to Alexander's heritage and has been at pains to stress that the ancient Macedonians were Greek.
But the tiny Balkan nation, which became independent after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, has staked a claim as it lies on what was once part of ancient Macedonia.
Greece has refused to recognise its neighbour under its constitutional name of Macedonia because that is also the name of the northern Greek province of Macedonia.
Athens has threatened to block Skopje's bid to join the European Union and NATO until it changes its name, and efforts by the UN to resolve the 15-year dispute have so far proved fruitless.
Skopje last year infuriated Athens by officially renaming its capital's main airport after Alexander the Great.
Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander conquered the Persian Empire and much of the world known to ancient Greeks before dying in Babylon in 323 BC.
His conquests were followed by a three-century period of Greek political and cultural dominance in Egypt and the Middle East known as the Hellenistic Age.
The Alexander-themed collection will replace an older museum in Pella.