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Berenike Buddha

The Berenike Buddha statue (Circa 2nd century CE)

According to Will Durant, Mauryan Emperor Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Egypt, Syria, and Greece during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.[1] This would be the earliest known connection between Buddhism and Egypt. Pharaohs, including Alexander the Great, Ptolemy I Soter, and Caesarion visited India; however, there is no concrete evidence that they encountered Buddhists.

Buddhism was well-known by Egyptian scholars, such as Philo, Lucian, and Clement of Alexandria during the Roman Period of Egypt. It is during the Roman Period that the first Buddhist artifacts are known, such as the Berenike Buddha. Interestingly, the Berenike Buddha statue was located in a temple dedicated to the goddess Isis.[2]


  1. Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, Part One (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1935), vol. 1, p. 449.