Bactria (Bactriana-ancient Greek, Bahtri in ancient Persian, Bahdi in Avestian) was a historical cultural region that spread on both banks of the Amudarya (Oxus) river from the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan to the Guissar mountain range in the present-day Uzbekistan
Initially it occupied a small territory in the valley of the Balhab river. Its capital was the city of Baktry, later on - Balh in North Afghanistan. Man settled in that area in the Neolithic period. In the beginning of the 2nd millennium B. C, possibly somewhat earlier, farming tribes belonging to the Dashly-Sapalli culture came from the Murgab Valley and South Turkmenistan and settled in the south and north of the Amudarya Valley. Small oases appeared in river valleys where scores of settlements with fortified centers were built. They were characterized by a high level of farming based on artificial irrigation and systematized crafts: pottery and metal working.
Architecture, construction and trade were rather well developed. Monumental buildings, palaces and temples (Dashly-3, Djarkutan) were erected.
In the first half of the 1st millennium B. C, the first cities sprang up in that area, and possibly, an early state - the ancient Bactrian Kingdom. From the middle of the third quarter of the 6th century B. C. till 330 B. C. Bactria, with the rights of a satrapy, was part of the state of Akhemenids. In 330-327 B. C. it was conquered by Alexander the Great, and from 306 B. C. to the middle of the 3rd century B. C. it belonged to the Seleucids. In the middle of the 3rd century B. C. a Greco-Bactrian kingdom was formed on the territory of Bactria. It existed for over 100 years. During that period of time, a lot of cities were built in Bactria, the material and spiritual culture formed on the local background under a considerable influence of Hellenism, achieved rather a high level. Outstanding monuments of that time are the Ai-Khanum settlement site in North Afghanistan and Takhti-Sanghin in South Tajikistan.
In the Surkhandarya region of Uzbekistan
which constituted the north-western part of Bactria, layers dating back to the Hellenistic time were uncovered on the Dalverzintepa, Kampyrtepa and Old Termez settlement sites. The same period is associated with the formation of commodity-money relations. The earliest coins found there (in Termez, Kampyrtepa and Denau) were drachmas and halks of King Antiochus I of the Seleucids (280-268 B. C). Greco-Bactrian coins were found in much greater numbers -about 50 pieces. Among them were tetradrachmas, drakhmas, obolis dihalks and halks of all Greco-Bactrian kings: Diodotus, Eutidemus, Demetrius, Antimachus, Eucratides, Apolodotus and Heliocles. These coins, especially copper ones, testify to the fact that North Bactria was part of the Hellenistic states.
In the second half of the 2nd century B. C. Bactria was conquered by Saha and Yueh-Chi tribes who came from the north and north-east.
Diverse mint dies ascending to Greco-Bactrian and Parthian prototypes, testify to a complex political situation in North Bactria during the Yueh-Chi period (the second half of the 2nd century B.C. - the first half of the 1st century A. D.). Among the coins circulated there, were Yueh-Chi imitations of two groups of Heliocles' coins (with Zeus and a horse on the reverse side), imitations of Eucratides obolis, coins of Sapadbizes and Sanab-Heraios, imitations of Parthian coins of Phraates IV and V with countermarks.
When North Bactria joined the Kushan state in the middle and the second half of the 1st century A. D., coins issued by Soter Megas, Kadphises II, Kanishka, Huvishka, Vasudeva and Kanishka III were circulated on a mass scale. Crafts, agriculture, trade, arts and culture were flourishing, and a lot of cities and towns were built. The period was characterized by a diversity of religions, with the leading role played by a local version of Zoroastrianism and partially, Buddhism. After the downfall of the Kushan state in the first half of the 3rd century A. D., independent domains sprang up in North Bactria, whose existence was reflected in numismatics by imitations of Kushan coins of Huvishka, Vasudeva and Kanishka III.
From the second half of the 3rd century A. D. and probably, till the end of the 4th century Bactria-Tocharistan was part of the state of the Sassanid kushanshahs, which determined mass circulation of copper Kushano-Sassanid and Sassanido-Kushan coins, as well as drachmas of the Sassanid kings.
In the 1 st millennium B. C. - the first centuries A. D. the population mostly consisted of Bactrians, who spoke an East-Iranian language. Probably, in the middle of the 1st millennium B. C. a script of foreign extraction, and at the end of the 4th-3rd centuries B. C. the Greek script appeared there. Under King Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty or under his predecessor Kadphises II, the Bactrian script based on the Greek script began to be used there, and it existed till the 8th -9th centuries. During the Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, other scripts, such as Kharoshthi, Brahmi, Pehievi. Aramian, Sogdian and a script of an unknown origin were used in Bactria-Tocharistan.