A visitor looking at the Tomb of Payava

Room 20

Greeks and Lycians
400–325 BC

Visiting the gallery

Limited opening times

Closed until further notice.

Gallery audio guides

Available on YouTube Music and Apple Music.

Following the defeat of Athens and the collapse of its empire in 404 BC, a power struggle on both sides of the Aegean Sea followed.

On the Greek mainland the once independent city states fell under the rising power of Macedon. On the other side of the Aegean, Persia reasserted its imperial power over the East Greek cities.

Objects on display in Room 20 illustrate the rise in private luxury that accompanied political and social change in the fourth century BC. This includes gold jewellery, exquisite metalwork showing the influence of Persian art, and a focus on novel representation of the human body.

A tomb from Lycian Xanthos, south-west Turkey, dominates the centre of the gallery. The tomb was built in about 360 BC for Payava, the Persian-appointed governor of the city.


  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language multimedia guide. This resource is temporarily unavailable.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available on Soundcloud.
  • Seating is available.
  • Step-free access.
  • View sensory map.

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.

Room 20 closure

Room 20: Greeks and Lycians 400–325 BC is temporarily closed. The Museum is an historic and listed building and there are ongoing infrastructure assessments across the site. We have a team of specialists who make regular checks across the Museum to monitor and ensure appropriate management of risks to the collection. The care of the collection and the safety of our visitors and staff are our utmost priority.

The essential works being undertaken are part of a programme of building maintenance and conservation which will help enable future works on the Museum estate. Alongside these essential repairs, we are developing a strategic masterplan to transform the British Museum for the future. It will involve actively renovating our historic buildings and estate, improving our visitor experience and undertaking an ambitious redisplay of the collection in the years to come.