Ancient Afghanistan


The ancient history of Afghanistan, a landlocked country in Central Asia, is full of fascinating cultures, from early nomadic tribes to the realms of Achaemenid Persia, the Seleucids, the Mauryans, the Parthians, and Sasanians, as well as steppe people like the Kushans or the Hephthalites. All these civilizations have left their mark on the region, leading to a unique blend of cultures and religions.

More about: Ancient Afghanistan


  • c. 50000 BCE
    Farmers and herdsmen confirmed to be present in Afghanistan.
  • c. 3200 BCE - c. 2300 BCE
    The Helmand culture erects settlements such as the Mundigak site.
  • c. 2200 BCE - c. 1700 BCE
    The Oxus civilization flourishes.
  • c. 2000 BCE
    Estimated founding of Shortugai in North-East Afghanistan as a trading outpost associated with the Harrapans.
  • c. 2000 BCE - c. 1200 BCE
    The Indo-Aryan people migrate to India from Central Asia.
  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 500 CE
    The Gandhara Civilization flourishes in what is today the northern portion of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • c. 700 BCE - c. 550 BCE
    The Medes seamlessly incorporate most of Afghanistan into their territory.
  • 550 BCE
    The Achaemenid Persians topple the Medes and establish the Achaemenid Empire.
  • c. 550 BCE
    Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest recorded monotheistic religions, is most likely extensively practiced in Afghanistan.
  • c. 520 BCE - c. 325 CE
    Achaemenid rule in the Gandhara region.
  • 486 BCE
    Death of Darius the Great, the third Achaemenid ruler. Extensive civil and infrastructural achievements shaped his reign.
  • 327 BCE
    Alexander the Great takes Bactria, the last remaining satrapy of Persia.
  • c. Mar 327 BCE
    Alexander the Great marries the Bactrian girl Roxanne.
  • c. 320 BCE - c. 180 BCE
    Mauryan rule in the Gandhara region, beginning with Chandragupta Maurya.
  • 312 BCE
    Seleucus I Nicator establishes the Seleucid Empire in large parts of Alexander's former empire in the east, including Bactria in northern Afghanistan.
  • 305 BCE - 303 BCE
    Seleucid conflict with the Mauryans. Seleucus afterward cedes large land areas, including parts of southern Afghanistan.
  • 268 BCE - 232 BCE
    Reign of Ashoka the Great, who becomes a great patron of Buddhism.
  • c. 250 BCE
    The Greco-Bactrian kingdom emerges around 250 BCE via a revolt against the ruling Seleucids.
  • c. 247 BCE
    Beginning of the advance of nomadic people that were later known as Parthians.
  • 212 BCE - 205 BCE
    Seleucid ruler Antiochus III achieves brief successes through multiple victories against the Parthians and Greco-Bactrians.
  • c. 188 BCE - c. 140 BCE
    After various defeats against the Roman Republic and inner conflicts, the Seleucid Empire crumbles and loses control over the Iranian plateau.
  • c. 180 BCE - 80 BCE
    Period of Indo-Greek rule in the Gandhara region.
  • c. 180 BCE
    Greco-Bactrians start expanding as far as modern India.
  • c. 171 BCE
    Clashes between ruling dynasties in Greek kingdoms erupt.
  • c. 164 BCE - c. 155 BCE
    Mithridates I of Parthia expands the reach of his realm, critically weakening the Greco-Bactrians.
  • c. 140 BCE
    Waves of nomadic people, mainly the Yuezhi and Scythians, push into areas of contemporary Afghanistan.
  • c. 80 BCE - c. 75 CE
    The combined Scytho-Parthians rule Gandhara.
  • c. 10 CE
    Hellenistic influence in the Afghanistan region succumbs to the advances of the Parthians, Yuezhi, and Scythians.
  • 19 CE
    The Indo-Parthian Kingdom begins when Gondophares I secedes from the Parthian rule.
  • 30 CE - 375 CE
    The Yuezhi form the Kushan Empire, which becomes a significant political power and trading hub in the ancient world.
  • c. 127 CE - c. 150 CE
    Under Kanishka the Great's leadership, the Kushans extend their reach the farthest and become dedicated patrons of Buddhism.
  • 224 CE
    The Sasanian Empire takes control over the regions of the Parthian Empire, using the weakened state of the Parthian rule due to prolonged internal conflicts and warfare with the Romans.
  • c. 230 CE
    Shortly after or during the reign of Vasudeva I, the Kushan Empire splits into Western and Eastern parts. The Sasanians soon subjugate the Western Kushans.
  • c. 350 CE
    The Kidarites begin their invasions into Sasanian territory.
  • c. 442 CE
    Hephthalites (White Huns) advance into Central Asia. Soon conflict with the Sasanians erupts.
  • 484 CE
    Sasanian King of King Peroz I dies in the Battle of Herat against the Hephthalites. With his army shattered, the Hephthalites roam the Sasanian realm for years.
  • c. 560 CE
    Together with the First Turkic Khaganate, the restrengthened Sasanians fragment the regional Hephthalite influence.