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The influence of Greek and Roman styles of art
Greek and Romans to Byzantines
325-300 B.C., Greek, South Italian
Ancient Roman mosaic
Impact of the foreign rule
The control of Central Asia as well as northern India by the Kushans from the first to the third centuries AD provided security to the overland trade – routes from India to Central Asia. Central Asia formed cross – roads or trade routes to India and China and the Roman empire through Western Asia.
India benefited greatly from the brisk trade that flourished during that period. Demand for fine Indian textiles, ivory goods, swords and other handicrafts led to the prosperity of skilled craftsmen and development of towns and cities like Takshshila, Mathura, Varanasi and many others as marketing and industrial centres. Port towns on the western coast of the peninsula, such as Broach, Sopara, Kaylan and Cranganore also flourished due to increased overseas trade with Roman empire during the Satavahana period. Spices, textiles and semi – precious stones were exported from the western ports to the Roman empire. Gold and horses were important items of imports.
The early rulers of Greek, Scythian, Parthian or Kushan origin patronized Buddhism. The most famous of them was Kanishka who made a great contribution to the popularization of the Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhist monks travelled with the trade caravans to to Central Asia and China to propagate their religion. A monk named Kumarajiva is the first known person to have gone to China to preach the gospel of the Buddha. In the course of time, the teachings of the Buddha spread from China to Japan and Korea.
Indias learnt new principles of astronomy from the Greek and Indian contributions in the field of mathematics were learnt by people of other countries. The influence of Greek and Roman styles of art in the north – western region of the country led to the development of a new style which is now known as the Gandhara school (style) of art. By the fifth century, however, the Gandhara influences had been completely assimilated by local styles at Mahatma, Nagarjunakonda, Sarnath and other regions.
In course of time, the foreign immigrants were so completely assimilated into the Indian society that they lost their foreign identity altogether.