Article

Bactria

Pierre Briant and Amélie Kuhrt

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics


Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.1038

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Enormous region lying (roughly) between the *Oxus (Amu-Darya) to the north and the Hindu Kush to the south; the term occasionally also includes Sogdiana to the north (Tadjikistan/Uzbekistan). The Achaemenid satrapy (Bāxtriš) is cited several times in the *Persepolis tablets. Because of the silence of the classical sources, Bactrian history only becomes more fully recoverable with *Alexander (3) the Great, who had to fight tough battles here. The discovery of 30 parchments and 18 wooden boards from the late *Achaemenid period (*Artaxerxes (3) III to *Alexander (3) the Great), including two possibly dating to the 5th cent. (as well as palimpsests), written in Aramaic, is now revealing some details of the Achaemenid administration of the region (Bagavant, governor of Khulmi, under Akhvamasda, satrap of Bactria) and Persian-held domains. Recent excavations have profoundly enhanced our knowledge, especially excavation of the site of *Ai Khanoum, a Hellenistic city, (possibly) founded by Alexander himself, on the upper Oxus (Alexandria Oxiana?).

Article.  505 words. 

Subjects: Historical Geography ; Middle Eastern History

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