Grand thoroughfares spear through the heart of the Mauryans' homelands, disseminating everything from philosophical ideas to ways of life.
The Mauryan empire, which emerged along the plains of the Ganges and Indus rivers in the fourth century BCE, was the result of increasing urbanization and the centralization of power in North India. The expansion of imperial authority across the subcontinent paved the way for a golden age in culture and art that would reach every province.To learn more:
The Mauryan Dynasty was founded in 324 BCE upon the accession of Chandragupta. During his reign and the reign of his two successors, Bindusara and Ashoka, they controlled territories as far as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Starting in the 7th century BCE, the state took advantage of a long process of urbanization and standardization of its material culture which led, in the 6th century BCE, to the emergence of the first centralized kingdoms. After inheriting the kingdom of Magadha, the Mauryan kings returned their capital to Pataliputra. The heart of the Mauryan realm was located in the Ganges valley. Here, the Mauryan kings took control of the administrative systems that had been built by their predecessors. They harnessed the immense agricultural resources of this densely populated area, allowing them to maintain the army of over 200,000 men that they would use to conquer India. Under their rule, styles of art and representation developed that were copied and spread throughout most of the Empire. The motifs and themes of the sculptures, engravings, and monuments produced for royal commissions, such as the Pillars of Ashoka, became widespread throughout the population and were reproduced in more affordable materials such as terra cotta.Did you know?
Ashoka is an ambivalent figure in Buddhist texts. Initially nicknamed Chandashoka or “Ashoka the fierce” due to his violent accession to power (his execution of 99 brothers, 500 of his father’s concubines, and 500 ministers; his violent methods of pacification; etc.), he was later referred to as Dharmashoka, “Ashoka the righteous,” for the pacifism he was known for during the rest of his life.