When, during the Persian wars, Athenian soldiers burst into the tent of the enemy’s King, they were stunned by the overwhelming luxury - goblets, chalices, thick gold plates and even furniture crafted from precious metals, a treasure trove that the sovereign and his faithful didn’t forego, even in battle. For Greek historians, that spectacle became the symbol of Persian decadence, an immense and powerful empire, defeated because of its own excesses. Magnificent jewellery, objects in gold, silver and decorated glass bring this splendour back to life in the halls of the British Museum. Going beyond the accounts of ancient writings, the exhibition explores the real significance of luxury among the Persians, a formidable instrument of political dominance which was hardly eclipsed by the battle of Salamis. In reality, Eastern pomp found a home in Athens as well, where it was metabolised and adapted to Grecian customs. Later on, when Alexander the Great swept away the Persian empire, Eastern and Western civilisation met in the new Helenistic society which then went on to amaze - and conquer with its elegance and pleasures - the rather austere Romans. At the British Museum, we discover it all, journeying from the Middle East to Eastern Europe, all the way to Afghanistan, to Egypt and on to India, with wondrous objects which seem to have made their way right out of a fable. Like the nine heavy golden vases from the Panagyurishte Treasure from Bulgaria which the noble Thracians of 300 B.C. used in banquets as carafes and wine goblets.