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The Rise of World Faiths (200 - 600 AD)

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, explores when and how many of the great religious images we are familiar with today came into existence

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Arabian Bronze Hand

5/5 A mysterious bronze hand helps tell the story of religious belief in Arabia before Islam.

Sat 5 Jun 2010 00:30 BBC Radio 4

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  • The Rise of World Faiths (200-600AD)

    The Rise of World Faiths (200-600AD)

    41. Seated Buddha from Gandhara
    42. Gold coin of Kumaragupta I
    43. Silver plate showing Shapur II
    44. Hinton St Mary Mosaic
    45. Arabian bronze hand

    A small number of major faiths have shaped the world over the last 2000 years. The iconography and other key features of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism all developed within a few hundred years of each other. Buddhism first began to allow images of the Buddha in human form from AD 100 to 200, while the oldest images of Jesus Christ coincide with the acceptance of Christianity as the predominant religion of the Roman Empire in AD 312. At a similar time, Hinduism developed out of the Vedic religion in Gupta India. The birth of the Prophet Mohammad in AD 570 set the scene for the rise of Islam, which eventually replaced Zoroastrianism in Iran and the earlier religions of Arabia.

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