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Visual Connections between Buddhism and Ancient Greece

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Cultures +4 Age Levels Middle School (12 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "See Think Wonder," this activity investigates the cultural connections between Ancient Greece, Rome, and Gandhara* as seen through a sculpture of the Buddha, created in the 2nd century CE. Buddhist sculptures from Gandhara are significant, not only because they show the extent of Alexander the Great's influence on Asia, but also because they are some of the first human depictions of the Buddha in the history of Buddhist art.

Even without a deep knowledge of the art of this period, students can make visual observations and comparisons that reveal the blending of Asian and Greco-Roman culture in this particular region.

*Gandhara is a region in what is now modern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Keywords: greek, kushan, mathura, india, inquiry strategy, classical, roman, gautama, siddhārtha, siddhartha, shakyamuni, lakshanas, signs of the buddha

#visiblethinking

Mystery Object

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Mystery Object 1

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Head of Buddha (Shakyamuni)

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Mystery Object 1

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

See/Think/Wonder: Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access