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11 - Regional study: Baktria – the crossroads of ancient Eurasia

from Part II - Trans-regional and regional perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2015

Craig Benjamin
Grand Valley State University, Michigan
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The country that the Greeks called Baktria with its double-named capital of Baktra-Zariaspa was located on the plain that comprises northern Afghanistan from the Hindu-Kush mountains in the south to the Amudaria River in the north and west, and the Badakhshan mountains in the east. During the Bronze Age, hundreds of desert oasis settlements arose on both sides of the Amudaria. The first written references to Baktria occur after its inclusion in the Achaemenid kingdom. During Alexander the Great's campaign in Persia, a relative of the Persian king, Darius III Commodanus, and satrap of Baktria-Sogdia, Bessos, commanded the Baktrian cavalry at the Battle of Gaugamela. The history of this period is generally viewed as an interlude marking the transition from the end of Greek rule to the beginning of the Kushan Empire. It is generally agreed that the Kushans were one of the several tribes of the Yuezhi, among whom some probably spoke Tokharian, mentioned by the Chinese sources.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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