Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.) established a brief period of Greek rule in northwestern India (a marble bust of Alexander, carved by the late-fourth-century B.C. Greek sculptor Lysippos, is shown). After his death, the eastern part of the Greek empire was ruled by the Seleucids, based in Syria. At the same time, an Indian empire was established by Chandragupta Maurya. The emperors of the Mauryan Dynasty (322–185 B.C.) maintained relations with the Seleucids (Chandragupta is said to have married a daughter of the first Seleucid king, Seleucis Nikator). The great Mauryan king Ashoka (272–232 B.C.) even sent emissaries throughout the Hellenistic world—who may well have brought back to India seminal Greek ideas about sculpted images.