In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great

History / Michael Wood

In 335BC, Alexander of Macedonia set off on an expedition to conquer the world. The voyage of Alexander the Great covered more than 22,000 miles in ten years, from Greece to India and back, through some of the most difficult and unforgiving terrain.

While the Maya Vision crew lacked the timescale, budget and manpower of Alexander’s original conquest, they did have the advantages of modern transport. Travelling by jeep, bus, truck, retired Russian ambulance and cadging occasional lifts in helicopters, they discovered that some parts of the world are still completely inaccessible to anything but the feet of camels, mules, horses and occasionally humans.

Leaving countless baffled border guards in their wake, the Maya Vision crew travelled through 16 countries, crossing post-Gulf War Iraq and entering Afghanistan during the rise of the Taliban. They crossed the Great Sea of Sand, the Great Salt Desert and the Desert of Death and climbed one of the highest mountain passes in the world to truly follow in the Footsteps of Alexander the Great.


EP 1 SON OF GOD. Alexander sets off from his native on a war of revenge against the Persian empire. He crosses the Dardenelles into Turkey, where he was welcomed as a liberator by the Greek cities along the coast. At Issus, Alexander defeats the Persian king, Darius and turned south, through Lebanon, Israel and Gaza to reach Egypt. There, the oracle of Siwa declared him Son of God.

EP 2 LORD OF ASIA. Alexander invades Persia – todays Iran. Michael Wood traces his route through the Zagros mountains to Persepolis. He hears from storytellers that this defeat is still remembered today by the Zoroastrian community. The programme ends at the Caspian Sea, the edge of the world for Alexander.

Ep 3 ACROSS THE HINDU KUSH Following Alexander’s route Michael Wood treks over the Khawak pass in Afghanistan, crosses the Oxus river and follows the golden road to Samarkand. He continues to Alexandria the Farthermost – Khodzent in Takjikistan – retraces Alexander’s famous vistory at the Sogdian rock, and visits the ruins of the ancient city of Balkh with the help of an Afghan war lord.

Ep 4 TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH Alexander turns towards India, heading for what he believed would be the end of the earth. Michael Wood traces Alexander’s route through the northwest frontier region of Pakistan, the plains of the Punjab, down the Indus river, and by camel across the Makran desert back to Babylon – where Alexander died, aged 32.


4 X 60 mins for BBC 2/PBS. Director: David Wallace  Producer: Rebecca Dobbs Camera: Peter Harvey

BBC2 July 1998.

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