The new find sheds light on the rich trade relationship between Rome and India.
Researchers have discovered a two-foot-tall Buddha statue in an ancient Egyptian port city called Berenike.
The artifact is the first Buddha ever found west of Afghanistan, according to the regional expert William Dalrymple. Made from Mediterranean marble, it provides new evidence of trade between ancient Rome and India.
Based on stylistic details, the researchers think it was made in Alexandria around the second century C.E. A halo around the statue’s head is covered with rays of sun, “which indicates his radiant mind,” says the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Founded in the third century B.C.E., Berenike eventually became one of the largest ports in Roman-controlled Egypt, according to the antiquities ministry. Goods such as ivory, textiles and semi-precious metals passed through the city for many years, until it was eventually abandoned around the sixth century C.E.
Such finds are part of a growing body of evidence that shows just how interconnected the Roman Empire was to its ancient Indian counterpart. They also help shed light on the unique role played by Egypt, which was “centrally located on the trade route that connected the Roman Empire to many parts of the ancient world,” says the antiquities ministry.