Characteristic for the ancient history of Turkmenistan is the formation of the Zoroastrian ancient Iranian civilization, which influenced the areas of today’s Turkmenistan. In the VI to IV century B.C. the Margiana Satrapy (with its centre in the city of Merv), which is part of the acheminid state, was formed here.
The first state whose centre was on the territory of Turkmenistan was Parthia with the capital Nisa. Another important centre of the country at that time was Merv. The core of the Parthian state was formed by the Sak tribe of the Parthians, who lived on the territory of Turkmenistan as nomads. They took advantage of the weakening of the Seleucid Empire and subordinated first the neighbouring areas of Hyrcania and Khorasan, then all of Persia, Mesopotamia and Bactria. However, the Central Asian nomads who spoke Indo-European languages – Tohars (Yuezhi) – became a serious enemy of the Parthians.
After the fall of Parthia, the Turkmen country once again became the periphery of Iran (Sassanids). At that time the territories of Turkmenistan were known as North Khorasan. In the IV century Christianity penetrated the territory of Turkmenistan: in 334 a bishop’s chair was established in Merv.
In the V-VI centuries, the Turkmen territory belonging to the Sassanids was conquered by nomads who were Iranian speaking Ephtalites, after whose defeat the Sassanids regained the lost influence. Ancient history of Turkmenistan ends with the formation of the Turkish Kaganate near the northern borders of Iranian speaking Turkmenistan.