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The Hellenistic kingdoms of Indo-Bactria in the 2nd and 1st cents. BC

(1,433 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M. | Wiesehöfer, J.
The region of Bactria in north-eastern Iran, an old cultural centre of Iranian population with an urban culture that developed at an early stage, was richly endowed by nature (grain, livestock, resources, e.g. gold). Its capital, Bactra, lay on what later became the Silk Road. Another long-distance trade route followed the course of the Oxus and its tributary the Bactrus west to the Caspian Sea. To the south, yet another route — which, despite the difficult passes, had been in use since the 4th …

The Achaemenid Kingdom (6th to 4th cents. BC)

(2,101 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M. | Wiesehöfer, J. | Klinkott, H. | Sommer, M.
The Achaemenid Empire was more than just the first great Persian empire; for under the rule of the Teispids (i.e. the kings before Darius I) and the Achaemenids (from Darius I), it unified for the first time all of the Near and Middle East and then kept it together, mostly in peace. It lasted from c. 550 (conquest of the Median kingdom) until 330 BC, when it was itself conquered by Alexander the Great. The Persians created an exemplary infrastructure comprising a network of roads, a uniform currency, an official language and an efficient and durable administrative system. I. The expansion of…