The disintegration of these two empires toward the close of the 5th and the 6th centuries ushered in what has been called the medieval period ( 8th–12th centuries), marked by the appearance of a large number of states and dynasties, often at war with each other.
Their rise to power and their decline was part of a constantly recurring process, for none of them was able to hold onto a position of even relative paramountcy for any extended period of time.
Although there is no clear proof of historical continuity, scholars have noticed several striking similarities between this early culture and features of later Indian civilization.
Large Hindu kingdoms enjoying differing degrees of independence continued to exist chiefly in Rājasthān and portions of southern India, but overall political supremacy was vested with the Islāmic states.The Muslim powers were also divided into many kingdoms, despite attempts made by the sultanate of Delhi, and later by the Mughals, to achieve paramountcy over large portions of India.The earliest urban culture of the subcontinent is represented by the ), which possessed several flourishing cities not only in the Indus Valley but also in Gujarāt and Rājasthān.The circumstances in which this culture came to an end are obscure.Indian art is the term commonly used to designate the art of the Indian subcontinent, which includes the present political divisions of India, Kashmir, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Although a relationship between political history and the history of Indian art before the advent of Islām is at best problematical, a brief review will provide a broad context.Among these, the Śuṅgas () in the north and the longer-lived Sātavāhanas in the Deccan and the south are particularly noteworthy.Though these kings were Hindu by religion, Buddhist monuments form the great majority of surviving works.In modern times, the absorption of European influence is a more natural, freer process that affects artistic development in a vital and profound way.Indian art is spread over a subcontinent and has a long, very productive history; but it nevertheless shows a remarkable unity and consistency.They were often at war not only with their powerful neighbours to the north but also with the great Pallava and Cōḻa kingdoms of southern India.