This is a lesson I did about the spread of Buddhism from India and how it engaged in the process of cultural diffusion, changing and incorporating local beliefs as it spread to central Asia, east Asia, and southeast Asia. In order to do this, I used five different images of the Buddha that reflect different aspects of Buddhism and how it changed over time.
Students examine these five images (from India, Afghanistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Japan) and discuss how the Buddha is depicted, and how it shows the process of cultural diffusion. Each image has a reading that analyzes and explains the image, and some discuss the differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
I did this as a group stations activity, but class sets of the images could be made for students to work independently as well. Students (especially those who are visually oriented) really loved this activity and I thought it did a great job of showing the process of cultural diffusion in action. This would be ideal as a reinforcement activity after a lecture on Buddhism.