What is “BACTRIA”?

Bactria (from Βακτριανή, the Hellenized version of Old Persian Bāxtriš; Bactrian: Baktra; Persian: Bākhtar; ) is the ancient name of a historical region located south of the Amu Darya and west of Gandhara, covering the modern-day flat region that straddles Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Ancient Bactria was in present-day northern Afghanistan, between the Hindu Kush mountain range and the Amu Darya. Once Zoroastrian, this region subsequently hosted Buddhism before becoming Muslim after the arrival of the Rashiduns and Umayyads in the 7th century. Bactria was also sometimes referred to by the Greeks as Bactriana.


“Bactrian Gold” are golden items found in 1978 in Afghanistan, in the settlement of Tilla-Tepe, during the excavation of the Kushan royal tombs of the 1st Century B.C. The excavations were carried out by the Soviet-Afghan archaeological expedition. “Bactrian gold” is a collection of about 25,000 golden ornaments which were found in six tombs (five women and one man) with extremely rich jewelry, dated to around the 1st Century B.C. Altogether, several thousand pieces of fine jewelry were discovered: the majority are made of gold, turquoise and/or lapis-lazuli. The Bactrian treasure includes coins, necklaces set with gems, belts, medallions and crowns. However, the collection went missing during the wars in Afghanistan.