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The project was based at the British Museum, British Library and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and was funded by an ERC-Synergy grant during 2014-2020. The project focussed on the period of the Guptas (circa 320 to 550), a pivotal moment in the history of Asia, marked by an astonishing fluorescence in every field of endeavour. The Gupta kingdom and its networks had an enduring impact on India and a profound reach across Central and Southeast Asia in a host of cultural, religious and socio-political spheres.

During the Beyond Boundaries project, IDP at the British Library was responsible for developing an online database for inscriptions from South and Central Asia, which was launched in 2018. The project also employed research assistants working on Buddhist monasteries and merchants in India (Gethin Rees), and medical traditions represented in Khotanese manuscripts (Matthew Kimberley). As Principle Investigator, Sam van Schaik carried out research on the role of magical practices in the transmission of Buddhism from India through Central Asia and China, and published the book Buddhist Magic: Divination, Healing, and Enchantment Through the Ages, based on a Tibetan book of spells from Mogao Cave 17. Also under the Beyond Boundaries project, the catalogue of Khotanese manuscripts at the British Library by Prods Oktor Skjaervo was encoded in TEI for access through the IDP website.

A major conference titled “Asia Beyond Boundaries: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Primary Sources from the Premodern World” was held at the University of Leiden, also a partner in the project, in August 2018. An Open Access series of monographs and collected papers generated by the Beyond Boundaries project was established at the publisher de Gruyter. In addition to these, the project resulted in a multi-disciplinary volume on Bodhgaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment in India, published on an Open Access basis by the British Museum.