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Bactria (
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. Bactria proper was north of the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
mountain range and south of the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
river, covering the flat region that straddles modern-day
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
. More broadly Bactria was the area north of the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
, west of the
Pamirs The Pamir Mountains are a between , and . It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the , , , and the mountain ranges. They are among the world's highest s. Much of the Pamir Mountains lie in the of . To the south, th ...
and south of the
Tian Shan The Tian Shan,; dng, Тянсан, ; otk, 𐰴𐰣 𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, ; tr, Tanrı Dağı; mn, Тэнгэр уул, ; ug, تەڭرىتاغ, , ; kk, Тәңіртауы / Алатау, , ; ky, Теңир-Тоо / Ала-Тоо, , ; uz, Tyan- ...

Tian Shan
, covering modern-day
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
and
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes), is a doubly landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...

Uzbekistan
as well, with the Amu Darya flowing west through the centre. Called "beautiful Bactria, crowned with flags" by the
Avesta The Avesta () is the primary collection of religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to ...

Avesta
, the region is one of the sixteen perfect Iranian lands that the supreme deity
Ahura Mazda Ahura Mazda (; ae, , translit=Ahura Mazdā also known as Oromasdes, Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, and Hurmuz) is the creator deity A creator deity or creator god (often called the Creator) is a deity A deity or god is a su ...

Ahura Mazda
had created. One of the early centres of
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
and capital of the legendary Kayanian kings of Iran, Bactria is mentioned in the
Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bisotun, Bistun or Bisutun; fa, بیستون, Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian ...

Behistun Inscription
of
Darius the Great Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym ( ...

Darius the Great
as one of the
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
ies of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
; it was a special satrapy and was ruled by a crown prince or an intended heir. Bactria was centre of Iranian resistance against the
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
invaders after fall of the Achaemenid Empire in the 4th century BC, but eventually fell to
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. After death of the Macedonian conqueror, Bactria was annexed by his general,
Seleucus I Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Victorious) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general, a Diadochi of Alexander the Great and ultimately king who fought for control over ...
. Nevertheless, the
Seleucids The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
lost the region after declaration of independence by the satrap of Bactria,
Diodotus I Diodotus I Soter (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
; thus started history of the
Greco-Bactrian The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Hellenistic Greece, Greek state, and along with the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world in Central As ...
and the later
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
s. By the 2nd century BC, Bactria was conquered by the Iranian
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
, and in the early 1st century, the
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...

Kushan Empire
was formed by the
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
in the Bactrian territories.
Shapur I Shapur I (also spelled Shabuhr I; pal, 𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩, Šābuhr ) was the second of . The dating of his reign is disputed, but it is generally agreed that he ruled from 240 to 270, with his father as co-regent until the death ...
, the second
Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...
King of Kings King of Kings was a ruling title employed primarily by monarchs based in the Middle East. Though most commonly associated with History of Iran, Iran (historically known as name of Iran, Persia in Western world, the West), especially the Achae ...
of
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, conquered western parts of the Kushan Empire in the 3rd century, and the
Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom (also called Kushanshas KΟÞANΟ ÞAΟ ''Koshano Shao'' in Bactrian, or Indo-Sassanians) is a historiographic term used by modern scholars to refer to a branch of the Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, off ...
was formed. The Sasanians lost Bactria in the
4th century The 4th century (per the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in Crisis of the ...
, however, it was reconquered in the 6th century. With the
Muslim conquest of Iran The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire of Iran (Name of Iran, Persia) in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrian religion. The rise of Muslims coinc ...
in the 7th century,
Islamization Islamization (also spelled Islamisation, see spelling differences; ar, أسلمة, ), Islamicization or Islamification, is the process of a society's shift towards the religion of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in ...
of Bactria began. Bactria was centre of an Iranian Renaissance in the 8th and 9th centuries, and
New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or re ...
as an independent literary language first emerged in this region. The
Samanid Empire The Samanid Empire ( fa, سامانیان, Sāmāniyān) also known as the Samanian Empire, Samanid dynasty, Samanid amirate, or simply Samanids) was a Sunni Islam, Sunni Iranian peoples, Iranian empire, from 819 to 999. The empire was centred in ...
was formed in Eastern Iran by the descendants of
Saman KhudaSaman Khuda (Saman Khoda, Saman-khudat) was an 8th-century Iran, Persian noble whose descendants (the House of Saman) later became rulers of Persia (the Samanid Empire). He was a Dehqan from the village of Saman in Balkh province in present-day north ...
, a Persian from Bactria; thus started spread of Persian language in the region and decline of Bactrian language.
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
, an
Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Ira ...
, was the common language of Bactria and surroundings areas in ancient and early medieval times.
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
and
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
were the religions of the majority of Bactrians before the
rise of Islam The spread of Islam spans about 1,400 years. Muslim conquests following Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and o ...
.


Name

The English name Bactria is derived from the grc, Βακτριανή (
Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
: ''Baktriani''), a
Hellenized Hellenization (other British spelling Hellenisation) or Hellenism is the historical spread of ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from ar ...
version of the
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
(
Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
: ). Analogous names include
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
''Bakhdi'',
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
''Bāxtriš'' ,
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasan ...
''Baxl,''
New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or re ...
بلخ (
Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
: ''Balx''),
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
大夏 (
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objecti ...

pinyin
: ''Dàxià''),
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
Bactriana and sa, बाह्लीक (
Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
: ''Bāhlīka'').


Geography

Bactria was located in central Asia in an area that comprises most of modern day Afghanistan and parts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. To the south and east, it was bordered by the Hindu Kush mountain range. On its western side, the region was bordered by the great Carmanian desert and to the north it was bound by the Oxus river. The land was noted for its fertility and its ability to produce most ancient Greek agricultural products, with the exception of olives. According to Pierre Leriche:


History


Bronze Age

The
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (short BMAC), also known as the Oxus civilization,: "The Oxus Civilization, also named the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (or Culture) (BMAC), developed in southern Central Asia during the ...
(BMAC, also known as the "Oxus civilization") is the modern archaeological designation for a
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), assemblage of types of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, buildings and monuments from a specific period and region that may constitute the material culture remains of a particular ...
of
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
, dated to c. 2200–1700 BC, located in present-day eastern
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, northern Afghanistan, southern
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes), is a doubly landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...

Uzbekistan
and western
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, centred on the upper
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
(known to the ancient Greeks as the Oxus River), an area covering ancient Bactria. Its sites were discovered and named by the
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for Old Persian ''Bāxtriš'' (from native *''Bāxçiš'') (named for its capital Bactra, modern
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh
), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and ''Margiana'' was the Greek name for the Persian
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
y of
Margu Margiana ( el, ''Margianḗ'', : ''Marguš'', : ''Marv'') is a historical region centred on the oasis of and was a minor within the satrapy of , and a province within its successors, the , and empires. It was located in the valley of the ...
, the capital of which was
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
, in today's Turkmenistan. The early Greek historian
Ctesias Ctesias (; grc, Κτησίας, ''Ktēsíās'', fifth century BC), also known as Ctesias the Cnidian or Ctesias of Cnidus, was a Hellenic civilization, Greek physician and historian from the town of Cnidus in Caria, who lived during the time that ...
, c. 400 BC (followed by
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
), alleged that the legendary Assyrian king
Ninus Ninus ( el, Νίνος), according to Greek historians writing in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman E ...

Ninus
had defeated a Bactrian king named
Oxyartes:''For the stick insect genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer ...
in c. 2140 BC, or some 1000 years before the
Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the ...
. Since the decipherment of
cuneiform script Cuneiform is a - that was used to write several languages of the . The script was in active use from the early until the beginning of the . It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (: ) which form its . Cuneiform was origi ...

cuneiform script
in the 19th century, however, which enabled actual Assyrian records to be read, historians have ascribed little value to the Greek account. According to some writers, Bactria was the homeland (
Airyanem Vaejah (; ; ; , 'expanse of the Aryans Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping o ...
) of
Indo-Iranians Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were a group of Indo-European peoples who brought the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Irani ...
who moved south-west into Iran and the north-west of the Indian subcontinent around 2500–2000 BC. Later, it became the northern province of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. It was in these regions, where the fertile soil of the mountainous country is surrounded by the
Turan Depression The Turan Depression, Turan Lowland or Turanian Basin is a lowland, low-lying desert Depression (geology), basin region stretching from southern Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan. The lowland region lies to the east of the Caspian Sea an ...
, that the prophet
Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōroastrēs''), also known as Zarathustra (, ; ae, , ''Zaraθuštra''), Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra (Modern fa, زرتشت, ''Zartosht''), was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer t ...

Zoroaster
was said to have been born and gained his first adherents.
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
, the language of the oldest portions of the
Zoroastrian Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōr ...
''
Avesta The Avesta () is the primary collection of religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to ...

Avesta
'', was one of the
Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking these languages * India–Iran relations * ''Indo-Iranian Journal'' See ...
, and is the oldest attested member of the
Eastern Iranian languages The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times (from c. the 4th century BC). The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. As opposed to the Middle Western Iranian diale ...
.


Achaemenid Empire

Ernst Herzfeld Ernst Emil Herzfeld (23 July 1879 – 20 January 1948) was a German archaeologist and Iranologist. Life Herzfeld was born in Celle, Province of Hanover. He studied architecture in Munich and Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, while also ta ...

Ernst Herzfeld
suggested that Bactria belonged to the
Medes The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western Iran, western and nor ...
before its annexation to the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
by
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
in sixth century BC, after which it and
Margiana Margiana ( el, ''Margianḗ'', Old Persian: ''Marguš'', Middle Persian: ''Marv'') is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria (satrapy), Bactria, and a ...
formed the twelfth satrapy of Persia. After
Darius III Darius III ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayavaʰuš; grc, Δαρεῖος, translit=Dareîos; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian l ...

Darius III
had been defeated by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, the satrap of Bactria,
Bessus Bessus, also known by his throne name Artaxerxes V (died summer 329 BC), was a prominent Persian satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as ...
, attempted to organise a national resistance but was captured by other warlords and delivered to Alexander. He was then tortured and killed. Under Persian rule, many Greeks were deported to Bactria, so that their communities and language became common in the area. During the reign of
Darius I Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym ( ...
, the inhabitants of the Greek city of Barca, in
Cyrenaica Cyrenaica ( ; ar, برقة, Barqah; grc-koi, Κυρηναϊκή παρχία Kurēnaïkḗ parkhíā after the city of Cyrene, Libya, Cyrene) is the eastern coastal region of Libya. Also known as ''Pentapolis'' ("Five Cities") in A ...

Cyrenaica
, were deported to Bactria for refusing to surrender assassins. In addition, Xerxes also settled the "Branchidae" in Bactria; they were the descendants of Greek priests who had once lived near
Didyma Didyma (; grc, Δίδυμα) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and ...

Didyma
(western Asia Minor) and betrayed the temple to him. Herodotus also records a Persian commander threatening to enslave daughters of the revolting Ionians and send them to Bactria. Persia subsequently conscripted Greek men from these settlements in Bactria into their military, as did Alexander later.


Alexander

Alexander Alexander is a male given name. The most prominent bearer of the name is Alexander the Great, the king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), Macedonia who created one of the largest empires in ancient history. Etymology T ...

Alexander
conquered
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
na. In the south, beyond the Oxus, he met strong resistance, but ultimately conquered the region through both military force and diplomacy, marrying
Roxana Roxana (c. 340 BCE, – 310 BCE, grc, Ῥωξάνη; Old Iranian The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Irani ...

Roxana
, daughter of the defeated Satrap of Bactria,
Oxyartes:''For the stick insect genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer ...
. He founded two Greek cities in Bactria, including his easternmost,
Alexandria Eschate Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally "Alexandria the Furthest", was a city founded by Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 ...
(Alexandria the Furthest). After Alexander's death,
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
tells us that Philip received dominion over Bactria, but
Justin Justin may refer to: People * Justin (name), including a list of persons with the given name Justin * Justin (historian), a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire * Justin I (c. 450–527), or ''Flavius Iustinius Augustus'', Eastern Roma ...
names Amyntas to that role. At the Treaty of Triparadisus, both Diodorus Siculus and Arrian agree that the satrap Stasanor gained control over Bactria. Eventually, Alexander's empire was divided up among the generals in Alexander's army. Bactria became a part of the Seleucid Empire, named after its founder, Seleucus I Nicator, Seleucus I.


Seleucid Empire

The Macedonia (ancient kingdom), Macedonians, especially Seleucus I and his son Antiochus I Soter, Antiochus I, established the Seleucid Empire and founded a great many Greek towns. The Greek language became dominant for some time there. The paradox that Greek presence was more prominent in Bactria than in areas far closer to Greece can possibly be explained by past deportations of Greeks to Bactria.


Greco-Bactrian Kingdom

Considerable difficulties faced by the Seleucid kings and the attacks of Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus gave the satrap of Bactria,
Diodotus I Diodotus I Soter (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
, the opportunity to declare independence about 245 BC and conquer
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
. He was the founder of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. Diodotus and his successors were able to maintain themselves against the attacks of the Seleucids—particularly from Antiochus III the Great, who was ultimately defeated by the Roman Republic, Romans (190 BC). The Greco-Bactrians were so powerful that they were able to expand their territory as far as India: The Greco-Bactrians used the Greek language for administrative purposes, and the local Bactrian language was also Hellenized, as suggested by its adoption of the Greek alphabet and Greek loanwords. In turn, some of these words were also borrowed by modern Pashto.


Indo-Greek Kingdom

The Bactrian king Euthydemus I and his son Demetrius I of Bactria, Demetrius I crossed the Hindu Kush mountains and began the conquest of the Indus valley. For a short time, they wielded great power: a great Greek empire seemed to have arisen far in the East. But this empire was torn by internal dissension and continual usurpations. When Demetrius advanced far east of the Indus River, one of his generals, Eucratides, made himself king of Bactria, and soon in every province there arose new usurpers, who proclaimed themselves kings and fought against each other. Most of them we know only by their coins, a great many of which are found in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
. By these wars, the dominant position of the Greeks was undermined even more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. After Demetrius and Eucratides, the kings abandoned the Attic standard of coinage and introduced a native standard, no doubt to gain support from outside the Greek minority. In the Indus valley, this went even further. The Indo-Greek king Menander I (known as Milinda in India), recognized as a great conqueror, Greco-Buddhism, converted to Buddhism. His successors managed to cling to power until the last known Indo-Greek ruler, a king named Strato II, who ruled in the Punjab region until around 55 BC. Other sources, however, place the end of Strato II's reign as late as 10 AD.


Daxia, Tukhara and Tokharistan

''Daxia'', ''Ta-Hsia'', or ''Ta-Hia'' () was the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to Tukhara or Tokhara: the central part of Bactria. The name "Daxia" appears in Chinese from the 3rd century BC to designate a little-known kingdom located somewhere west of China. This was possibly a consequence of the first contacts between China and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. During the 2nd century BC, the Greco-Bactrians were conquered by nomadic Proto-Indo-Europeans, Indo-European tribes from the north, beginning with the Sakas (160 BC). The Sakas were overthrown in turn by the Da Yuezhi ("Greater Yuezhi") during subsequent decades. The Yuezhi had conquered Bactria by the time of the visit of the Chinese envoy Zhang Qian (circa 127 BC), who had been sent by the Han Dynasty, Han emperor to investigate lands to the west of China. The first mention of these events in European literature appeared in the 1st century BC, when Strabo described how "the Asii, Pasiani, Tokhari, and Sakarauli" had taken part in the "destruction of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom". Ptolemy subsequently mentioned the central role of the Tokhari among other tribes in Bactria. As ''Tukhara'' or ''Tokhara'' it included areas that were later part of Surxondaryo Province in Uzbekistan, southern
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
and northern Afghanistan. The Tokhari spoke a language known later as
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
– an Iranian language. (The Tokhari and their language should not be confused with the Tocharians, Tocharian people who lived in the Tarim Basin between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD, or the Tocharian languages that form another branch of Indo-European languages.) The name Daxia was used in the ''Shiji'' ("Records of the Grand Historian") by Sima Qian. Based on the reports of Zhang Qian, the ''Shiji'' describe Daxia as an important urban civilization of about one million people, living in walled cities under small city kings or magistrates. Daxia was an affluent country with rich markets, trading in an incredible variety of objects, coming from as far as Southern China. By the time Zhang Qian visited, there was no longer a major king, and the Bactrians were under the suzerainty of the Yuezhi. Zhang Qian depicted a rather sophisticated but demoralised people who were afraid of war. Following these reports, the Chinese emperor Emperor Wu of Han China, Wu Di was informed of the level of sophistication of the urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria and Parthia, and became interested in developing commercial relationship with them: These contacts immediately led to the dispatch of multiple embassies from the Chinese, which helped to develop trade along the Silk Roads. Kujula Kadphises, the ''xihou'' (prince) of the Yuezhi, united the region in the early 1st century and laid the foundations for the powerful, but short-lived,
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...

Kushan Empire
. In the 3rd century AD, Tukhara was under the rule of the ''Indo-Sasanians, Kushanshas'' (Indo-Sasanians).


Tokharistan

The form Tokharistan – the suffix ''-stan'' means "place of" in Persian – appeared for the first time in the 4th century, in Buddhist texts, such as the ''Vibhasa-sastra''. Tokhara was known in Chinese sources as ''Tuhuluo'' (吐呼羅) which is first mentioned during the Northern Wei era. In the Tang dynasty, the name is transcribed as Tuhuoluo (土豁羅). Other Chinese names are Doushaluo 兜沙羅, Douquluo 兜佉羅 or Duhuoluo 覩貨羅. During the 5th century, Bactria was controlled by the Xionites and the Hephthalites, but was subsequently reconquered by the Sassanid Empire.


Introduction of Islam

By the mid-7th century, Islam under the Rashidun Caliphate had come to rule much of the Middle East and western areas of Central Asia.History of Buddhism in Afghanistan
by Dr. Alexander Berzin, ''Study Buddhism''
In 663, the Umayyad Caliphate attacked the Buddhist Kabul Shahi, Shahi dynasty ruling in Tokharistan. The Umayyad forces captured the area around
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh
, including the Buddhist monastery at Nava Vihara, causing the Shahis to retreat to the Kabul Valley. In the 8th century, a Persian from Balkh known as Saman Khuda left Zoroastrianism for Islam while living under the Umayyads. His children founded the Samanid Empire (875–999). Persian became the official language and had a higher status than Bactrian, because it was the language of Muslim rulers. It eventually replaced the latter as the common language due to the preferential treatment as well as colonization.


Bactrian people

Bactrians were the inhabitants of Bactria. Several important trade routes from India and China (including the Silk Road) passed through Bactria and, as early as the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
, this had allowed the accumulation of vast amounts of wealth by the mostly nomadic population. The first proto-urban civilization in the area arose during the 2nd millennium BC. Control of these lucrative trade routes, however, attracted foreign interest, and in the 6th century BC the Bactrians were conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, Persians, and in the 4th century BC by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. These conquests marked the end of Bactrian independence. From around 304 BC the area formed part of the Seleucid Empire, and from around 250 BC it was the centre of a Greco-Bactrian kingdom, ruled by the descendants of Greeks who had settled there following the conquest of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
. The Greco-Bactrians, also known in Sanskrit as Yavanas, worked in cooperation with the native Bactrian aristocracy. By the early 2nd century BC the Greco-Bactrians had created an impressive empire that stretched southwards to include north-west India. By about 135 BC, however, this kingdom had been overrun by invading
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
tribes, an invasion that later brought about the rise of the powerful
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...

Kushan Empire
. Bactrians were recorded in Strabo's Geography' "Now in early times the Sogdians and Bactrians did not differ much from the nomads in their modes of life and customs, although the Bactrians were a little more civilised; however, of these, as of the others, Onesicritus does not report their best traits, saying, for instance, that those who have become helpless because of old age or sickness are thrown out alive as prey to dogs kept expressly for this purpose, which in their native tongue are called "undertakers," and that while the land outside the walls of the metropolis of the Bactrians looks clean, yet most of the land inside the walls is full of human bones; but that Alexander broke up the custom." The Bactrians spoke
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
, a East Iranian, north-eastern Iranian language. Bactrian became extinct, replaced by north-eastern Iranian languages such as Pashto language, Pashto, Yidgha language, Yidgha, Munji language, Munji, and Ishkashimi language, Ishkashmi. The ''Encyclopaedia Iranica'' states: The principal religions of the area before Islam were
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
and
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
. Contemporary Tajiks are the descendants of ancient Eastern Iranian inhabitants of Central Asia, in particular, the
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
ns and the Bactrians, and possibly other groups, with an admixture of Western Iranian Persians and non-Iranian peoples. The ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' states:


In popular culture

* The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom during the age of Demetrius I of Bactria, Demetrius I is the setting for the historical fiction novel ''Anabasis: A Novel of Hellenistic Afghanistan and India'' by Geoffrey Storey. * The six-part documentary ''Alexander's Lost World'' explores the possible sites of Bactrian cities that historians believe were founded by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, including Alexandria on the Oxus. The series also explores the pre-existing Oxus civilization.David Adams Films
''Alexander's Lost World''
* The site was portrayed in the 2004 film Alexander (2004 film), ''Alexander'' where
Darius III Darius III ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayavaʰuš; grc, Δαρεῖος, translit=Dareîos; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian l ...

Darius III
was found dying.


See also

* History of Afghanistan * History of Uzbekistan *
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (short BMAC), also known as the Oxus civilization,: "The Oxus Civilization, also named the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (or Culture) (BMAC), developed in southern Central Asia during the ...
* Tillya Tepe * Bactrian camel * Bahlikas * Greater Khorasan * Dalverzin Tepe *
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh


Notes


Sources

* Bernard, Paul (1994). "The Greek Kingdoms of Central Asia." In:'' History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250,'' pp. 99–129. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. * Beal, Samuel (Translation, trans.). ''Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World, by Hiuen Tsiang.'' Two volumes. London. 1884. Reprint: Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1969. * Beal, Samuel (trans.). ''The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang by the Shaman Hwui Li, with an Introduction containing an account of the Works of I-Tsing''. London, 1911. Reprint: New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973. * Cotterell, Arthur. ''From Aristotle to Zoroaster'', 1998; pages 57–59. . * Hill, John E. 2003
"Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the ''Hou Hanshu''."
Second Draft Edition. * Hill, John E. 2004

Draft annotated English translation. * Holt, Frank Lee. (1999). ''Thundering Zeus: The Making of Hellenistic Bactria''. Berkeley: University of California Press.(hardcover, ). * Holt, Frank Lee. (2005). ''Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan''. University of California Press. . *Waghmar, Burzine. (2020)
"Between Hind and Hellas: the Bactrian Bridgehead (with an appendix on Indo-Hellenic interactions)"
In: ''Indo-Hellenic Cultural Transactions''. (2020). Edited by Radhika Seshan. Mumbai: K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 2020 [2021], pp. 187-228. * Tremblay, Xavier (2007) "The Spread of Buddhism in Serindia ― Buddhism among Iranians, Tocharians and Turks before the 13th century." Xavier Tremblay. In: ''The Spread of Buddhism''. (2007). Edited by Ann Heirman and Stephan Peter Bumbacher. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section Eight, Central Asia. Edited by Denis Sinor and Nicola Di Cosmo. Brill, Lieden; Boston. pp. 75–129. * Watson, Burton (trans.). "Chapter 123: The Account of Dayuan." Translated from the Shiji by Sima Qian. ''Records of the Grand Historian of China II'' (Revised Edition). Columbia University Press, 1993, pages 231–252. (hardback), (paperback). * Watters, Thomas. ''On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India (Anno Domini, A.D. 629–645)''. Reprint: New Delhi: Mushiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1973. *


External links


Bactrian Coins

Bactrian Gold




about the Termez region, an archeological site
Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley
an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Bactria {{Central Asian history Bactria, States and territories established in the 3rd millennium BC States and territories disestablished in the 10th century Buddhism in Afghanistan Buddhism in Iran Historical regions Historical regions of Afghanistan Historical regions of Iran History of Central Asia History of South Asia Iranian countries and territories