This period is distinctive because it saw the spread of bronze metallurgy (copper melted with tin, one of the most effective metal alloys among others made from lead, arsenic and others) and the appearance of nomadic cattle-breeding.
The archaeological investigations of cemeteries and settlements were conducted by A.M. Mandelshtam, B.A. Litvinsky, N.M. Vinogradova, A. Isakov, L.T. Pyankova, S.Bobomulloev, Yu. Kutimov, H.-P. Francfort, R. Besenval, M.Toifer and other scholars.
On the territory of southern Tajikistan, corresponding to ancient Bactria, sites of the late bronze age (the last quarter of the 2nd millennium B.C.) were discovered and excavated until recently. New excavations in recent years of the cemeteries of Kangurttut (Temurmalik district), Farkhor (Farkhor district) and Helot (Vose district) are evidence of the formation of a Bactria-Margiana civilization in this region at the beginning of the end 3rd – early 2nd millennium BC.
At present, only four settlements are known. All are located in the northern part of the South Tajikistan highlands: the Kangurttut and Barakikurug settlements near the Kangurt village; the Teguzak settlement on the left bank of what is now the Nurek reservoir, between Nurek and Sebiston village, and Dakhana settlement in Nurek town. All the settlements were situated in places ideally located for pasture and maintenance of dry farming.
Not all the mountain settlements conform to the same layout and there is no specific system of building. The walls of the houses were built of pakhsa (wattle and daub) on stone foundations. In pottery production, there is a prevalence of vessels made on potters’ wheels. The one-bladed bronze scythe was very widespread. Foundry production was also developed. The remains of the ritual bonfire (7m x 3.6 m) were also uncovered where vessels, probably with sacrificial food and drink, were thrown into the fire at the end of the ceremonies.
The materials of that mountain settlements attest to the common habitat of tribes with different cultures. In the south of Tajikistan distinctive complexes from the late Bronze Age with their cultures started to appear.
The sites of the Bronze Age steppe is similar in many of its features to a mountain settlement located 12 km to the south of the town of Bokhtar city (former Qurghonteppa). The cemeteries in Hissar valley and in the suburbs of the Nurek town (Tandir’ul, Zarkamar, Kumsai) provided very rich materials: a large collection of pottery (vessels), bronze objects, many beads made of lapis lazuli, paste and bronze earrings with trumpet-shaped ends were discovered in this cemeteries.
In lower Vakhsh the cemeteries of Vakhsh Sluit, the Tiger’s Oikul, Jarkul, and Amu Darya I, were investigated. Two graves were opened in the Tigrovaya Balka cemetery which belonged to tribal nobility.
In the valley of Kafarnigan river, in the gorge between the mountains of Beshkent valley, the burials of Rani’i Tulukhar, Rani’i Aruktau, and Beshkent I-III were excavated. All the materials, found in the cemeteries attest to complex ethno-cultural processes (ceramic dishes, bronze work, weapons and tools, ornaments etc.).
The cemeteries of Aktanga, Dashtikozi, Chorbogh, and the burial site of Zardchakhalifa were found in the Zaravshon valley. The funeral ritual was carried out with fire. Objects of the material culture, which were recovered (including pottery, jewellery, weapons etc.), enabled the identification of these burials as being those of sedentary, agricultural and cattle breeding populations.
In the post-Soviet period archaeologists have discovered new sites of the Bronze age. One settlement of the end of the 2nd millennium B.C. was explorated near the village of Sarigar in Khovaling district. Well-preserved potter's kilns of original design, which has no analogues in the neighboring territories are the most impressive finds.
On the outskirts of the district of Farkhor, archaeologists discovered the cemetery. The exploration of this cemetery closed the previously existing gap in the history of the Tajik people. Previously, in southern Tajikistan only sites relating to the Late Bronze were known, now the date of appearance of the tribes shifted to a much deeper, i.e. to the beginning of the 3th century B.C. Among the finds there are ceramic vessels, stone warders, which can be compared with the symbols of throne – incense burners, beads, etc.
The tombs found in the area of the villages of Gelot and Darnaichi were left by the tribes of the three waves of migration that moved through the territory of modern Tajikistan. The materials obtained during the excavations of these tombs show that in this region the most close contact of agricultural, pastoral and steppe tribes migrated here who was during the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. The rarest marble figurine, the nearest analogy of which can be found only in the sites of the Iranian plateau, indicates about long-distance trading and cultural relations of the local population.