Bactria’s ancient history is owed to its unique location, cradled by the Hindu Kush mountain range in modern day Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Bactrian culture and its surrounding kingdoms date to 2200 B.C.E., during the Bronze Age culture of Central Asia. Bactria’s fertile soil and protective barriers of both the Turanian desert and the Hindu Kush Mountains allowed the Bactrian culture to thrive in their work and their arts. It is said that the prophet Zoroaster began his teachings in ancient Bactria, sparking the Zoroastrian religion.
Their arts span from abstract representations of local gods and goddesses to the Persian influences of the early 5th and 6th centuries B.C.E. By the dawn of the first millennium C.E., a mix of cultures and conquests had removed any semblance of the ancient Bactrian culture from the surrounding areas. One of the most famous foreign invaders was Alexander the Great, who not only introduced the Bactrian kingdom to many of Rome’s emerging technologies, but also married a local princess in order to further unite his disparate empire. Today, Bactria’s history is seen in the population centers in the same valley, surrounded by the same protective mountains, and its kingdoms have remained the region’s great population centers.