Many empires and kingdoms have also risen to power in Afghanistan, such as the Greco-Bactrians, Sakas, Kushans, Kidarites, Hephthalites, Alkhons, Nezaks, Zunbils, Turk Shahis, Hindu Shahis, Lawiks, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Khaljis, Kartids, Lodis, Surs, Mughals, and finally, the Hotak and Durrani dynasties, which marked the political origins of the modern state. Throughout millennia several cities within the modern day Afghanistan served as capitals of various empires, namely Bactra (Balkh), Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum), Kapisi, Sigal, Kabul, Kunduz, Zaranj, Firozkoh, Herat, Ghazna (Ghazni), Binban (Bamyan), and Kandahar.
The country sits at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within vast regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, and the Islamic Empire. For its success in resisting foreign occupation during the 19th and 20th centuries, Afghanistan has been called the "graveyard of empires," though it is unknown who coined the phrase.