At the crossroads of Earth’s largest continental landmass, this area of towering peaks, barren deserts, and the ecological and human diversity of the Indian subcontinent has always been a potent cultural milieu of influences from all directions. The Indus Valley Civilization (founded ca. 3300 BCE) built the region’s first cities at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa and developed ceramic and metallurgical techniques that ushered in the Bronze Age (ca. 3000 to 1300 BCE). Emerging Hinduism in the Vedic period (ca. 1750 to 500 BCE) and beyond created a new artistic language of colorful gods and exciting stories. To the north, the Bactria-Margiana culture developed their own bronze tradition, living in small farming villages and towns connected to the Silk Road trade network. Nomadic groups whose lifestyles relied on the horse, like the Scythians (ca. 800 to 100 BCE), created gold, silver, and bronze objects of immense beauty and then took them to their graves. The rise of the Buddhist religion (ca. 400 BCE) and its spread outward from India dramatically changed the artistic styles and subjects, and then Alexander the Great’s journey across the region (ca. 326 BCE) opened it to Greek influence, again shifting artistic styles. Gandhara, the wealthy trade center, created Greco-Buddhist art whose naturalism endures to this day. The introduction of Islam and the rise of the Mughal Empire in India alongside the conquests of the Mongol Empire to the north and east and contacts with the Vikings from the north and west brought further influence from afar into this artistically rich area.