Buddhism originated in north India and spread to other parts of the subcontinent in the third century BCE.
The Andhra region, located along the south-east coast of India, welcomed Buddhism and an important shrine was built at Amaravati, probably to house relics of the Buddha brought from the north.
Amaravati was enlarged and embellished over several centuries from about 200 BCE, transforming it into what ancient inscriptions describe as a mahācetiya or ‘great shrine’. Although one of the most important Buddhist monuments in India, Amaravati declined from the 14th century.
It was re-discovered and then excavated during the 19th century. In 1880 more than 120 of the Amaravati sculptures entered the collection of the British Museum, while other pieces found their way to museums in India, Europe and America.
The papers in this book emerged from a conference at the British Museum held in September 2014 that brought together leading specialists from around the world to address aspects of Amaravati and its sculpture. Subjects covered in this volume include the rediscovery of the site at the end of the 18th century as well as its recreation and reinterpretation in the 21st century.
The art of Amaravati is also placed in the context of other sites and remains from the Andhra region which, despite its importance, has been relatively neglected in the study of the religious and visual cultures of South Asia.